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Coronavirus latest: 61 new cases and 2 deaths on Monday, app tracks 500 infections

This article brings you the latest updates on the novel coronavirus pandemic in Finland.

Henkilön kädessä puhelin jossa koronavilkku sovellus.
Finland's coronavirus tracing app Koronavilkku has been downloaded some 2.2 million times. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle
  • 9,743 lab-confirmed infections as of Monday 28.9 (up by 61 since Sunday)
  • 345 deaths linked to coronavirus as of Monday 28.9 (up by 2 since 23.9)
  • 22 people in hospital, 4 of whom in intensive care as of Monday 28.9
  • Hospital districts report on deaths and hospitalised patients on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

28.9 15:44 Ski party prompts local outbreak in eastern Finland

About 70 young people were exposed to the coronavirus during a party at a ski resort in Kuopio on 19 September. So far 21 have been diagnosed with Covid-19, health officials said on Monday.

As of Friday, 12 infections had been traced to the festivities. The latest cases have emerged among people who were already under quarantine. There is so far no evidence of onward transmission to others who did not attend the party. Read more on this story here.

28.9 15:39 THL reports 2 new coronavirus-related fatalities

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported two new Covid-caused deaths on Monday, bringing the overall death toll to 345.

THL also reported that 22 people were being treated in the country's hospitals for coronavirus infections, four of whom in intensive care.

28.9 12:50 500 cases reported through coronavirus tracing app

Finland's coronavirus tracing app Koronavilkku has proven to be useful in fighting the virus, Aleksi Yrttiaho, THL's Director of Information Services told Yle on Monday. So far, 500 infections have been reported through the app.

According to Yrttiaho, the application has been used to detect exposures that might have otherwise been hard to trace.

"For example, last week in Vaasa, an infection was first reported on the app, through which 50 people were found and quarantined, Yrttiaho said.

According to Yrttiaho, the benefit of the app is greater in situations when an infected person or a cluster of infections has moved from one area to another — it can help trace wider connections faster.

Koronavilkku has been downloaded almost 2.2 million times since it was launched last month.

28.9 12:15 Finland reports 61 new cases on Monday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 61 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Monday, bringing the country's overall total to 9,743.

THL is expected to report on hospitalisations and possible deaths later in the day.

28.9 12:03 Restrictions on arrivals from Sweden and Norway now in force

From Monday travellers from most EU countries arriving in Finland are once again required to isolate and asked to take a coronavirus test. Finland reintroduced entry restrictions on travellers arriving from EU countries including Sweden, Estonia, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Spain, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, and Slovakia starting Monday.

The interior ministry has also posted new self-isolation and testing measures for travellers which will remain in effect from 1 October to 22 November. Read more here.

28.9 09:58 Monday's papers: Helsinki in 'spreading phase'

Helsinki and Uusimaa district's coronavirus situation is moving from an accelerating stage to a spreading phase, Director of Diagnostic services at Helsinki University Hospital Lasse Lehtonen told daily Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Finland is considering how restaurants should be restricted with the worsening coronavirus situation. Papers report that an idea is being put forth similar to the 'traffic light model' used for border traffic. Restaurant and bar restrictions would be tightened if the area had moved from an acceleration phase to a spreading phase and would be relaxed if the spread has been curbed.

Read more on this story and the rest of our paper review here.

27.9 12:40 More than 700 new cases in past week

On Sunday the THL reported 105 more lab-confirmed Covid-19 diagnoses since the previous day. That brought the total for the past week to 702 cases, and the overall running tally to 9,682.

In the past two weeks, there have been over 600 more new cases reported than during the preceding fortnight.

The rate of new cases has been rising since August, when people in Finland began returning to schools and workplaces after the summer holidays.

This week the death toll rose to 343, just over six months since the first one was confirmed. As of Friday, there were 19 Covid-19 patients in hospital wards and two in intensive care units.

Health authorities are to update these figures on Monday.

27.9 11:59 Initiative demanding referendum on EU stimulus gains support

A citizens’ initiative calling for a national referendum on last summer’s EU stimulus package has garnered enough signatures to send it to by Parliament. The petition, launched by the youth group of the opposition Finns Party, reached 50,000 signatories late Saturday.

The Finns Party has been sharply critical of the government’s approval of the EU stimulus package in July. The deal is aimed at helping member states’ economies recover from the corona crisis.

Find out more here.

26.9 19:14 President and PM rated best at Covid communications

President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) were ranked as best at providing information about the coronavirus pandemic in a new survey.

The poll was published on Saturday by the Foundation for Municipal Development (Kaks), an independent, non-profit think tank. Details here.

26.9 13:06 Restaurants and clubs may face earlier closing hours

The government plans to reimpose restrictions on restaurant and nightclub opening hours. Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) says ministers will consider a proposal on opening hours in government negotiations on Tuesday.

Yle has learned that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health plans to propose to the cabinet that nightclubs opening hours be shortened throughout the country.

The ministry will also call for detailed regional measures for areas where the epidemic situation is now worsening rapidly.

You can read more here.

25.9 14:38 HUS: Time to take face masks seriously

Officials from the Helsinki University Hospital district (HUS) said on Friday that they would "strongly recommend" that people use face masks as proposed by the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare, THL. They also recommended cancelling or postponing any large private events.

HUS officials said infection sources are known in just 16 percent of cases, meaning Covid can be contracted anywhere. More details at this link.

25.9 13:01 MPs begin wearing masks in Parliament

Members of Finland's Parliament have started wearing face masks during plenary sessions, after the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, updated their recommendation on the use of masks in public places on Thursday.

Read more on this story here.

25.9 12:03 Finland reports 105 new cases on Friday

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported that 105 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Finland over the past 24 hours on Friday, bringing the country's overall total to 9,484. The number of deaths remained unchanged at 343.

25.9 11:45 HUS: Expect one-year wait for vaccine

Finland should prepare for the continuation of the coronavirus pandemic for some time to come, as a vaccine will not be available for at least another year, according to the Helsinki University Hospital district's (HUS) Director of Diagnostics Lasse Lehtonen.

Lehtonen said that HUS will apply for marketing authorisation for a vaccine at the end of this year, but there would still likely be a delay until any vaccine is ready for distribution. Read more here.

25.9 10:41 Finland's tax revenue down €2bn year-on-year

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has led to Finland's tax revenues falling for the first time since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

There is more on this story here.

25.9 9:47 Friday's papers: Regions react to mask recommendations

Newspapers across Finland carry stories on the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL’s) updated mask recommendation, with Jyväskylä-based Keskisuomalainen reporting on a very small number of mask wearers at a local shopping centre in the city, despite an uptick in recent cases.

Read more on this story, and the rest of our paper review, here.

24.9 20:55 Corona dogs begin sniffing at Helsinki Airport

Passengers are now being offered unique Covid-19 checks at Helsinki Airport on a voluntary basis.

Four specially trained dogs, who can detect the virus faster than laboratory tests, have gone on duty at Finland’s biggest airport this week as part of a pilot project.

Read more in our story here.

24.9 17:41 Will more people wear masks now?

This week's All Points North podcast looked at Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare's latest face mask guidelines that expand on a previous recommendation to use masks on public transport. THL is now asking people to use masks in indoor spaces and at public events, particularly where distancing from others may be difficult or impossible.

You can listen to the full podcast via the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player.

Audio: Yle News

24.9 16:30 Travel restrictions reinstated for many countries

The Finnish government has again tightened travel restrictions. On Thursday the cabinet decided to reinstate border controls with Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Germany and Slovakia due to their worsened Covid-19 situations as of next Monday.

As of 28 September, residents of Finland will only be allowed to travel to half a dozen European countries without facing a quarantine on their return.

You can read more here.

24.9 14:07 Nearly all large cities in accelerating phase

As of Thursday, the THL designated nine healthcare districts as being in an accelerated phase, meaning that there are between 10 to 25 new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous two weeks, there are local and regional chains of infection and that the health care system is not strained by patient volumes.

The areas exceeding that level are Helsinki-Uusimaa (HUS), Kanta-Häme, Päijät-Häme, Kymenlaakso, Pirkanmaa, Southwest Finland, South Savo, Central Finland and Central Ostrobothnia. The regions cover a broad swath of southern and central Finland, including all of the country's largest cities except Oulu. More details in this article.

24.9 12:55 Finland expands mask recommendation

THL announced new recommendations on mask usage on Thursday, as the case count mounts in many regions. Our story on the recommendations is here.

24.9 12:03 Finland reports 91 new cases on Thursday

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported that 91 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Finland over the past 24 hours on Thursday, bringing the country's overall total to 9,379.

24.9 9:43 New restaurant restrictions may be on horizon

Bars in Finland might face new restrictions as early as next week, reports Ilta-Sanomat, as Finland grapples with ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, daily Helsingin Sanomat wondered why there was a high prevalence of coronavirus infections among hockey players.

Find our whole press review here.

23.9 17:22 Ministry asks for regional reports as escalation fears grow

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has asked regional health authorities across Finland to prepare reports on how they plan to deal with an anticipated increase in infection rates.

Read more on this story here.

23.9 12:08 Finland reports 93 new cases on Wednesday

The Institute for Health and Welfare THL reported on Wednesday that Finland recorded 93 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 9,288.

THL also reported two further deaths linked to the virus on Wednesday, as well as confirming that there are now 22 people being treated in hospital -- an increase of three from Monday -- with four in intensive care, up by two since the last hospital district reporting day on Monday 21.9.

23.9 9:25 Finland's Covid hotspots

Parts of Finland have so many Covid cases that travellers would face restrictions if they were a separate country, according to newspaper Iltalehti. The rule is that places with more than 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the preceding two weeks should isolate for a fortnight on arrival in Finland.

That level puts Central Finland in the 'red' zone, with 41.9 cases per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks.

Read more about this and other stories in Wednesday's press review.

22.9 18:00 THL to issue regionally-based face mask guidelines

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is updating its face mask recommendations based on regional infection rates, according to the institute's health security director, Mika Salminen.

If coronavirus infection rates increase rapidly in a certain part of the country, then mask recommendation guidelines would be broadened in that region, particularly for people in schools, shopping centres and other places, he explained.

Read more about this story here.

22.9 16:30 Finland tightens travel restrictions

Finland has said it will introduce mandatory quarantine rules for arrivals from Estonia and Sweden from next Monday. The move follows a rise in infection rates in the two countries.

Finland's government has said it will ask people to isolate for two weeks if the country they arrive from has had more than 25 confirmed Covid cases per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks.

Our story is here.

22.9 12:44 IS: Ohisalo says border checks could soon return on Estonian frontier

The government is set to reintroduce border checks on arrivals from Estonia, according to Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green).

Ohisalo told Ilta-Sanomat that Estonia's rate of Covid-19 infection had exceeded 25 cases per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks.

She said people would still be able to travel to and from work and conduct other daily business.

"Commuting to work in this situation can continue without quarantine recommendations in accordance with the government's decisions, if there is not a big difference in infection rates between Estonia and Finland," said Ohisalo.

Ohisalo told IS that a decision would be made on the matter this week. According to IS that means that from next week people arriving in Finland from Estonia will be asked to quarantine, but not if they are going to work.

22.9 12:33 149 new cases reported

THL reports that Finland has recorded 149 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 9,195.

21.9 15:50 HUS may face legal action over €100 million lab contract

Helsinki and Uusima Hospital District (HUS) is being criticised for awarding a giant 100 million euros contract to the private laboratory services company Synlab on Monday without calling for an open tender process. The 10-month-contract involves HUS renting premises and equipment for analysis of coronavirus samples from Synlab in Helsinki.

According to Jukka Hurme, CEO of Vita Laboratories, a competitor of Synlab, HUS initiated a direct procurement without properly examining the ability of other labs to provide the service.

Read the full story here.

21.9 15:47 66 new coronavirus cases and two deaths reported

Finland reported 66 lab-confirmed Covid-19 infections on Monday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. Monday's cases bring the running today to 9,046.

Two new deaths have also been reported bringing the total count to 341 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Finland. There are currently 19 people in hospitals, two of whom are in intensive care. THL reports disease-related deaths and hospitalisations three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

21.9 9:38 Papers report on vaccine trials and stockpiles

Online paper Uusi Suomi carries a popular story on Monday morning, reporting that pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer are stockpiling coronavirus vaccines in warehouses while phase three clinical trials are underway. Papers also cover Ruth Bader Ginsburg's lover affair with Sweden and ageism affecting mainly women in the workplace. Read the full newspaper digest here.

20.9 14:30 Is Finland a remote working paradise?

Some say Finland should have moved more quickly to attract location-independent professionals tired of lockdown life. More on this story here.

20.9 12:10 Finland reports 58 new cases; 400 in past week

Finland recorded 58 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), bringing the running total of cases to 8,980.

20.9 11:49 HUS director calls for late-night alcohol sales ban

A director at Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS) said recent infection clusters in Finland stemmed from bars, which is why he wants Finland to ban late-night drinks. Find out more here.

19.9 13:40 Cases top 8,900, up by 365 in past week

On Saturday the THL reported 64 new lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the total for the past week to 365. The overall total has risen to more than 8,900 since the first one was confirmed in late January. The number of confirmed cases has risen by 5.3 percent in the past 10 days.

During the same period, the death toll has risen by two to 339. The two deaths were reported on Monday, bringing the tally for the past month to five.

19.9 11:31 Borders with Sweden and Norway re-open after more than 5 months

As of midnight, Finnish authorities lifted restrictions on entry for travel between Finland and Cyprus, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Poland and Sweden and the Vatican.

The change also affects residents of Australia, Canada and Japan who are travelling from their home country to Finland. The same applies to residents of Georgia, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Meanwhile restrictions on entry into the country have been re-imposed between Finland and Hungary and Italy.

More details here.

18.9 20:50 Government pledges support for Naantali job losses

Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Friday evening that government is committed to providing financial support to help ease the pain of possible major job losses stemming from planned cutbacks in oil processing in Naantali.

The PM said that her understanding was that the planned closure of the Naantali refinery was in line with Neste’s long-term strategy to transition toward more environmentally-friendly energy solutions.

She noted that in this regard, the government could draw down on hundreds of millions of euros to be allocated to Finland from the EU’s Just Transition Fund to help Naantali pivot toward a greener economy. Read more about this story here.

18.9 19:50 Wärtsilä begins talks to extend furloughs

Finnish power systems firm Wärtsilä announced on Friday that it was launching negotiations to extend furloughs for workers temporarily laid off earlier this year.

The talks will apply to all subsidiaries, locations and employee groups in Finland. In April this year, Wärtsilä decided to furlough more than 3,000 employees. Some of the furloughs were implemented by way of converting full-time jobs to part-time positions. Read more here.

18.9 18:55 Data confirm 87% decline in inbound travel in Q2

Overseas travel to Finland shrank by a significant 87 percent between April and June compared to the same period one year ago, according to new data from Statistics Finland. At the same time travel from Finland abroad collapsed by 93 percent during the second quarter against last year, the agency noted.

The decline in the value of tourism exports and imports in 2020 compared to 2019 further highlighted the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the Finnish tourism industry and the wider economy. Read the full story here.

18.9 12:55 Researcher casts doubt on tourist testing scheme

According to risk management modelling by Miika Linna, Docent of Health Economics at Aalto University, there are no solid grounds for the double coronavirus testing of travellers from high-risk countries as proposed by the Finnish government.

Read the story here.

18.9 12:34 Finland reports 59 new cases

Finland reported 59 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, bringing the running total of cases to 8,858.

18.9 10:55 More industrial plant closures on the way, minister says

Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Cen) told Yle Friday morning that he fears there will be more industrial plant closures seen in the country.

“Unfortunately, it will happen in some localities. I can anticipate the next place, but I will not say [where],” Lintilä said in response to the question of whether there will be new plant closures like the announced shutdown of a paper mill in Jämsä and the expected closure of an oil refinery in Naantali.

Lintilä also commented on tourism in Lapland. Read the whole article here.

18.9 9:27 Will Finns start traveling again?

Travel restrictions imposed by the Finnish government are being eased as of Saturday, and the nation's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, writes that it is not impossible that many Finns will rush to travel abroad.

Read Friday morning's press review for more on this and other stories.

17.9 20:58 Is there too much Covid in the news?

This week's All Points North podcast looked at whether coronavirus reporting might be affecting people negatively. We also discussed the government budget announced this week, which includes big money for coronavirus testing and to support municipalities after their incomes were slashed during the crisis.

You can listen to the full podcast via the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player.

Audio: Yle News

17.9 11:37 University moves to distance learning after four confirmed cases

Up to 500 students at the University of Turku’s Faculty of Medicine will move to distance learning until the end of September after four students were diagnosed with coronavirus.

Read more on this story here.

17.9 9:24 Thursday's papers: Reaction to budget plans

Finland's press on Thursday morning has looked into the government's 2021 draft budget and how it aims to deal with the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

Read more on this story, and the rest of our Thursday morning paper review, here.

16.9 17:37 Finland unveils corona-era budget

The Finnish government on Wednesday unveiled a spending package for 2021 that it would boost employment, advance climate targets and increase spending to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced a deal on Finland's state budget for 2021 on Wednesday after lengthy negotiations between different sections of her five-party coalition government.

“This budget has been prepared in the midst of an exceptionally grave health and economic crisis, and next year still holds a great deal of uncertainty. The budget as a whole aims to be a stimulus,” Marin said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. Read here for more details about the budget proposal.

16.9 15:40 Young people seek help for corona-based anxiety

The coronavirus crisis continues to adversely affect the wellbeing of children and young people, according to mental health advocacy organisations. However the youth-based online mental health discussion platform--set up by Mental Health Finland and the Finnish Red Cross--called Sekasin-chat, has grown in popularity during this rather unusual year. Read more here.

16.9 15:05 25 new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported 25 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, bringing the running total of cases to 8,750.

The agency said that 14 patients were receiving hospital treatment for the disease, three of them in intensive care. The number of deaths stands at 339.

16.9 14:05 Two million downloads for Koronavilkku app

Nearly two-fifths of Finland has now downloaded the country's version of a coronavirus contact-tracing app.

The app launched two weeks ago and has now been downloaded some two million times. It is designed to alert users when they may have been exposed to coronavirus.

THL said in a statement that the app is a useful aid to contact-tracing but does not replace other measures like hand-washing and physical distancing.

The app is available in Finnish and Swedish, but not yet English.

16.9 9:12 Testing ramps up

Finland has carried out more than 800,000 coronavirus tests since the epidemic hit the country, according to newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Testing has ramped up during that time and the one million test mark will be reached by the end of the month, the paper reports.

Find Wednesday's press review for more on this and other stories here.

For previews updates, click here.

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