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Coronavirus latest: Corporate subsidies to be extended, less than 2% vaccinated so far, rollout delayed by AstraZeneca problems, UK and Ireland flights resume

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

Nainen menee koronatestiin.
A woman heads in for a Covid-19 test (file photo). Image: Juuso Stoor / Yle
  • 42,772 lab-confirmed infections as of Monday 25.1 (up by 192 since Sunday)
  • 644 deaths attributed to coronavirus as of Friday 22.1 (up by 6 since Thursday 21.1)
  • 136 people in hospital, 24 of them in intensive care as of Friday 22.1.
  • 105,620 people have received vaccinations as of Sunday 22.1
  • THL reports on Covid-related fatalities and hospital patient statistics on weekdays

25.1 12:31 THL urge caution over coronavirus vaccine and pregnancy

Finland's health agency THL is recommending that recipients of a coronavirus vaccine should avoid becoming pregnant for up to two months after receiving the shots.

Read more on this story here.

25.1 12:31 Covid grants to be repaid

Officials have said some businesses will have to repay grants paid last year to help them over the Covid crisis. The grants were paid out on the basis that the owner's salary could be covered by the cash, but that was against official guidance. Read our story here.

25.1 12:08 Finland reports 192 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 192 new coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing Finland's total to 42,772 cases.

The largest number of cases was once again recorded in the Helsinki University Hospital district, with 128 new cases.

25.1 10:37 Will the show go on?

Finland's festival organisers are hoping for a return to normality this year, with some planning to welcome back crowds at full capacity.

Read more on this story here.

25.1 9:03 Monday's papers: Subsidies surplus and Covid-safe classrooms

Monday morning's papers report on the unexpectedly positive impact the pandemic has had on municipal finances around Finland, while a Helsingin Sanomat survey of teachers found that maintaining social distancing in schools is "like telling birds not to fly."

Read more on these stories, and the rest of our review of Monday's paper, here.

24.1 17:18 More infections in past 2 weeks, less than 2% of population vaccinated

During the past two weeks, 3,990 new Covid-19 infections have been diagnosed in Finland, which is 377 more than during the preceding fortnight.

Well over half of these cases, 2,243, were confirmed in the past week.

Meanwhile the number of residents who have received vaccinations has passed the 100,000 mark – or less than two percent of the population. On Sunday the THL said that 105,620 people have gotten the jab, with 4,434 of them having received a second dose.

24.1 14:28 PM says coronavirus subsidies to be extended

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) says it is highly likely that the government will extend coronavirus subsidies for companies.

In an interview with the Tampere daily Aamulehti on Sunday, the premier said that the cabinet is preparing for more supports, which are to be extended for as long as the Covid-19 crisis lasts.

More information here.

24.1 12:22 246 new cases on Sunday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) announced 246 new coronavirus infections. Altogether 42,580 cases have been diagnosed in the past year.

The largest number of cases, as usual, was in the Helsinki and Uusimaa healthcare district, with 117 new cases, 64 of them in the capital. North Savo reported 26, followed by North Ostrobothnia with 22.

23.1 18:14 Mass vaccinations delayed by AstraZeneca problems

The rollout of widespread coronavirus vaccinations in Finland will have to be postponed due to drug company AstraZeneca's manufacturing problems, says the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

THL Chief Specialist Mia Kontio described the situation as a major disappointment.

The THL had told municipalities around Finland to be ready to begin large-scale vaccinations starting in the week of 8 February. Now that timetable will have to be adjusted.

You can read more here.

23.1 14:12 Finnair requires negative test for flights to Finland

Finnair will restart regular passenger flights between Finland and the UK and Ireland on Monday.

The move follows a decision on Friday evening by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom), which said it would not extend restrictions on air services from the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa.

The national airline said it will require a negative Covid-19 test certificate of all passengers on all flights to Finland beginning on Thursday 28 January.

Full story here.

23.1 13:00 419 new cases, highest rate in Vantaa

The THL announced 419 new Covid infections on Saturday, bringing the overall tally to well over 42,000. Half of the new infections were in the Helsinki-Uusimaa region. Vantaa has the highest rate per capita so far, with 2,000 confirmed cases per 100,000, followed by Helsinki and Espoo.

More than 2,000 new cases have been confirmed nationwide this week.

As of Friday, the number of patients in hospital was down slightly to 136, with two dozen of them in intensive care.

Twenty-six more deaths have been announced this past week, bringing the total to 644.

23.1 12:17 Estonia calls on Finland to ease border restrictions

Estonia has asked the Finnish government to ease entry restrictions on workers arriving from Tallinn. Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said Finland's latest decision will in effect cut off work trips between the two countries.

As of Wednesday, work-based entry from other EU countries, including neighbouring Sweden and Estonia, will be restricted to essential duties.

More details here.

22.1 21:43 Finland tightens borders, increases testing

Finland is to bar all but essential travel as it looks to curb the spread of new, more highly contagious strains of the coronavirus.

Read more on the latest measures here.

22.1 18:03 No new cases at Tampere care home

There have been no new coronavirus infections detected at the Rauhaniemi hospital for seniors in Tampere this week, according to local authorities.

A total of 13 deaths linked to coronavirus had been reported at the facility since a localised outbreak which began in early December after Covid-exposed staff were told to return to work before their quarantine periods were complete.

22.1 16:08 Oulu police quarantine officers after Covid exposure

More than 20 officers of the Oulu police force have been exposed to coronavirus and been placed in quarantine until next week, according to a report in regional newspaper Kaleva.

Read more on this story here.

22.1 15:12 Over 83,000 now vaccinated

News agency STT reports on Friday afternoon that the number of people to receive at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Finland has now reached over 83,000.

The highest number of vaccines have been provided in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS), with about 22,000 doses. The second highest is the Pirkanmaa Hospital District with the Hospital District of Southwest Finland in third.

More than 20,000 people over the age of 70 have now been vaccinated, STT added.

22.1 14:03 Hospital districts deny hoarding vaccine

Hospital officials in Helsinki and Turku have both responded to an inquiry from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health for information on their vaccine supplies by saying the need to keep vaccine frozen means it must be distributed to municipalities in measured batches.

There is more on this story here.

22.1 12:42 Mask madness hits Finnish retail

Finland bought more than a million litres of hand sanitiser in 2020, and more than a hundred million face masks.

You can read more detail on the Covid retail boom here.

22.1 12:05 350 new cases

Finland has recorded 350 new confirmed coronavirus cases, said THL on Friday.

The largest share of new infections, 166, was recorded in the Helsinki University hospital district.

In south-west Finland there were 52. In all, Finland has recorded 41,915 confirmed coronavirus infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

22.1 9:28 Border restrictions in the papers

Friday's paper review includes speculation on new restrictions at the border, as Finland tries to clamp down on the spread of new variants of Covid-19. An announcement could come today. Read the review here.

21.1 16:07 APN Podcast: Who gets to have a hobby during Covid?

Debate in Finland has erupted over coronavirus restrictions on kids' hobbies. People are having a difficult time accepting that adults are able to sit in coffee shops and bars until 10pm while most children's activities are off limits.

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

Blog continues after audio.

Audio: Yle

21.1 15:25 Committee: Businesses must be compensated for shutdowns

Finland's efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus got a boost on Thursday, when a key parliamentary committee recommended local authorities could make quick decisions to shut down businesses under a temporary amendment to the Communicable Diseases Act.

The committee said that businesses should be compensated when their rights to operate are restricted.

More details here.

21.1 12:51 Mutated strains still spreading

Finland now has 86 confirmed Covid cases linked to the mutated strains.

The British variant is responsible for 80 of those while six are linked to the South African version. Most of the new variant cases were discovered among travellers and young people.

One infection chain linked to the new virus strains had led to 30 new confirmed cases.

The latest figure was announced at the weekly Covid briefing held on Thursday by THL and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Officials also again expressed concern about the decline in testing, said that more than 90 percent of intensive care unit workers had now been vaccinated, and that Christmas had not brought a spike in Covid cases as feared.

Intensive care units have not seen an increase in workload, with patient numbers remaining stable over recent weeks. Some 67 percent of patients in intensive care with Covid are male.

21.1 11:20 THL concerned about elderly welfare

Finland's national health agency THL says that older people have suffered during the pandemic, and their right to a secure and safe life has not necessarily been guaranteed.

The conclusions are based on THL's local government questionnaire, along with municipalities' Covid-19 situation reports submitted during the pandemic.

Full story here.

21.1 9:40 Covid concerns in the papers

Today's paper review includes concerns about 'test fatigue' as the number of people getting tested dips, and proposals to make it easier for guest workers to isolate if they test positive. Read the review here.

Read previous updates here.

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