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Coronavirus latest: 498 new cases over weekend, 1.3m vaccinations given

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

Kesäinen ilma houkutteli ihmisiä ulos huhtikuun 17 päivänä.
Warm weather attracted Helsinki residents outdoors on 17 April. Image: Sasha Silvala / Yle
  • 84,131 lab-confirmed infections as of Sunday 18.4 (up by 498 since Friday)
  • 887 deaths attributed to coronavirus as of Friday 16.4 (up by 2 since Thursday)
  • 161 people in hospital, 34 of them in intensive care as of Friday 16.4
  • 1,318,725 people (23.7% of the population) had received at least one vaccination dose as of 18.4
  • THL reports on Covid-related fatalities and hospital patient statistics on weekdays
  • Check a range of regional, national and international Covid data at Yle's dashboard.

18.4 14:15 Taxpayers can expense home office, masks

The tax office is urging telecommuters to adjust or update their pre-filled tax declaration forms in line with how and where they worked last year. A 900-euro deduction is available to people working from home last year while workers commuting on public transit are eligible to deduct mask costs.

More on this story here.

18.4 14:05 Some 1.3m vaccination doses given

More than 1.3 million people—some 24 percent of the population—had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine on Sunday, according to public health institute THL.

18.4 12:00 Finland records 498 new infections

The Finnish institute for health and welfare (THL) on Sunday reported 498 new coronavirus cases over the past 48 hours, bringing the country's overall case total since the beginning of the pandemic to 84,131.

Most new infections were in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS), which recorded 251 new cases.

17.4 13:53 Many want vaccination passports to help reopen society

The majority of people in Finland are in favour of coronavirus vaccine certificates playing a role in the reopening of society, according to a poll by Toivo, a think-tank closely aligned with the National Coalition Party (NCP).

More here.

17.4 12:39 Finland releases €68m to offset educational inequality

Finland has put 67.8 million euros in a one-off education equality fund to help schools and pupils struggling during the pandemic.

"The coronavirus crisis is a wakeup call to stop the trend of growing educational inequality," Education Minister Jussi Saramo (Left) said.

Read this story here.

17.4 12:22 No new stats on Saturday

Public health institute THL on Saturday said system maintenance was preventing it from releasing coronavirus updates. The latest coronavirus figures will be available on Sunday, 18 April, according to the agency.

16.4 19:58 Festivals cancelled

It's been a difficult year for the events industry, and several Finnish festivals announced this week that they would be cancelled for the second year in a row. Our story here.

16.4 15:45 Epidemic claims 2 more lives in Finland

Two people have died of coronavirus-related illness over past day in Finland, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare THL. The fatalities brought the country's overall Covid-19 death toll to 887.

Meanwhile there were 161 people receiving hospital treatment for Covid-19 on Friday, 34 of whom in intensive care, according to THL.

16.4 15:34 Helsinki firm sold 70-euro fake negative Covid certifications for travel abroad

A Helsinki-based company has sold forged certificates that baselessly state the document's holder is Covid-free for international travel purposes, according to an Yle investigation.

Many countries require passengers to present proof they are Covid-free in order to board flights. Some domestic employers also require such proof from, for example, workers from abroad. The firm has sold the certificates for 70 euros apiece, a significantly lower price than legitimate ones issued by private health care companies.

Read more about this here.

16.4 13:59 Vaccine priority approved

Finland will start redircting vaccines to the worst-affect regions, but only until the end of May and only once risk groups and over-70s across the country have received at least one dose. Read our story here.

16.4 12:25 THL: 380 new cases in Finland

Health agency THL reported 380 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing the country's overall case total since the beginning of the pandemic to 83,633.

16.4 9:10 Paper review: Parliament approves early restaurant hours

The tabloid Iltalehti reports that parliament gave its approval Thursday to new restrictions on restaurant opening hours in regions of the country in the acceleration or community spreading phases of the coronavirus epidemic.

The president is expected to ratify the law on Friday and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will make a formal announcement of the new rules later during the day.

For this and more stories from Friday's newspapers, head here.

15.4 20:39 Helsinki putting children first during Covid exit strategy

The Helsinki region says it is going to put children first as it exits Covid restrictions. The region's co-ordingation group outlined its strategy on Thursday, and they had some harsh words for the government. Our story is here.

15.4 13:56 Drive-in or outdoor voting may be possible for local election

The Ministry of Justice has published an online guide to safe voting in local elections during the Covid-19 epidemic.

The measures include the possibility for drive-in voting in some municipalities, but the option may not be available in every location. Casting a ballot may also be possible at an outdoors booth, both for advance voting and on election day.

The ministry also recommends that voters wear a face mask or covering, use hand sanitiser and stay two metres away from others at the polling station

The All Points North podcast will be covering the local elections in the run-up to polling day on 13 June. You can hear the latest episode of the podcast in this embedded player, via Yle Areena, on Spotify or via your favoured podcast provider.

15.4 12:12 Culture Minister: Take the summer one month at a time

Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko (Cen) told Yle Thursday that the organizers of summer events will have to watch developments one month at a time while doing their planning. "June will be a completely different thing than August," she said. She described the next few coming weeks as crucial for the whole summer in the events sector.

Saarikko also announced that her ministry is currently preparing a large package of financial support for freelancers in the field of culture and events.

15.4 11:58 Finland reports 289 new cases

Health agency THL has reported 289 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Thursday. Finland's overall total since the beginning of the pandemic now stands at 83,253.

15.4 11:52 THL: Case numbers, infection rate 'clearly declining'

Finland's rate of new coronavirus infections is clearly falling, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Speaking at Thursday morning's weekly coronavirus briefing, THL Director of Health Security Mika Salminen said that the health authority recorded just over 2,500 cases last week, which was almost 750 fewer than the previous week.

Read more on this story here.

15.4 9:08 Vaccination schedules being revised

Finnish newspapers report that because of suspended deliveries of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to Europe and the decision on Wednesday that the target group for the AstraZeneca vaccine, people 65 years of age and older, will remain the same national vaccination schedules are being set back by about two months. More on this and other items in our press review here.

14.4 17:47 Finland continues use of AstraZeneca vaccine for over 65 age group only

The National Vaccination Expert Group (KRAR) has recommended that Finnish health authorities continue to use the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people aged 65 years and over only.

Read more on this story here.

14.4 16:41 Yle sources: Bars and restaurants set to reopen, but with new restrictions

Following six weeks of epidemic-related closures, restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs will be able to open their doors again in 13 regions, but their operations will continue to be partially restricted, according to Yle sources.

Read more on this story here.

14.4 11:54 THL: 400 new cases in Finland

Finland recorded 400 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 82,964, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare THL.

The majority of Wednesday's cases (231) were diagnosed in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district.

THL also reported four more deaths linked to the virus, bringing Finland's death toll to 881.

14.4 11:21 Mid-May jab rollout to working age population still realistic

The timetable to roll out coronavirus vaccinations to Finland's working-age population is still realistic, despite anticipated delays in deliveries of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to Hanna Nohynek, chief physician at the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

On Tuesday, US-based pharma firm Johnson & Johnson announced that it was pausing deliveries of its coronavirus vaccine to Europe, following reports of rare blood clotting.

Read more here.

14.4 9:26 New restrictions unlikely, tweaks to vaccine policy

The Helsinki daily Helsingin Sanomat reports it unlikely that the government will impose any new restrictions related to the coronavirus epidemic. The cabinet will review the situation on Wednesday, but the talks are not intended to address restrictions on movement or mask mandates. Also, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL is to issue new recommendations on Wednesday on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, particularly concerning age limits and booster doses. More on these and other items in our review of the Finnish newspaper press.

13.4 17:27 Johnson & Johnson delay vaccine rollout in Europe

Pharma firm Johnson & Johnson has announced that it will delay the roll out of its Covid-19 vaccine in Europe after authorities in the US moved to suspend use of the shot due to concerns over side effects.

"This is an issue that is also taken into account in Finland and the European Union," Maija Kaukonen of the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea told Yle, adding the National Vaccine Expert Group (KRAR) is meeting on Tuesday to consider how the vaccine will be distributed in Finland.

"A recommendation on its introduction or possible restrictions should be made before its use is even started," Kaukonen said.

13.4 16:39 MP compares police to 'enemy during war' over restrictions protest

Member of Parliament Ano Turtiainen has said that he considers the Finnish police to be like an 'enemy during war'.

In a Facebook post, the MP wrote that in his opinion the police do not protect citizens, but instead the bureaucracy of which they are also a part.

"I do not trust the police anymore. I treat them the same way I would deal with the worst enemy during war," Turtiainen wrote.

Read more here.

13.4 15:20 Youths get OK to resume outdoor sports in Southwestern Finland

Following regional improvements in the epidemic, some coronavirus-related restrictions in Southwestern Finland are being lifted, starting with children and youths activities.

The region's coronavirus coordination group has recommended that, starting on Tuesday, people 20 years old and under can resume participating in group outdoor sports activities. However, activities that involve close contact are not yet approved.

The coordination group is expected to assess whether youths will be able to return to indoor sports activities next week.

13.4 14:53 Kids in Finland could get vaccine before end of summer

Youths in Finland could start receiving coronavirus vaccinations before the end of summer break pending approval by European regulators, according to Mika Rämet, the director of the Vaccine Research Centre at Tampere University.

Read more on this story here.

13.4 11:41 Finland reports 286 new cases

Finland has reported 286 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Tuesday. The total number of cases now stands at 82,564.

13.4 10:55 Finnish peacekeepers evacuated from Lebanon over Covid

Finnish peacekeepers have been evacuated from Lebanon because some of the group were infected with Covid.

The evacuation flight landed in Finland on Monday, with the peacekeepers sent for treatment or into quarantine on Defence Forces property.

So far, nine of the 23 peacekeepers have tested positive for Covid.

The infections came to light when soldiers on leave tested positive while on leave in Finland, and the evacuation is a precautionary measure.

The UNIFIL and Finnish forces' specialist healthcare capacity in Lebanon is very limited. The rest of the 200-strong Finnish force remains in Lebanon and is part of the French deployment in the country.

13.4 9:21 Papers: Healthcare backlog and mask collecting jogger

The backlog of healthcare issues left neglected during the Covid pandemic is raised once again in Helsingin Sanomat.

Officials at the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs say that queues for hip, cataract and knee surgery have all grown since the pandemic began occupying medical staff last year.

Meanwhile, evening paper Ilta-Sanomat reports on a runner from Nurmijärvi who has managed to collect some 4,000 face masks discarded during the pandemic.

For more on these and other stories, find our whole newspaper review here.

12.4 18:39 New case numbers head downward

The incidence of new coronavirus cases in Finland has decreased in recent weeks, according to fresh data from hospital districts across the country.

Finland recorded 5,973 new coronavirus cases over the past two weeks, which is 3,102 fewer cases seen during the previous fortnight, according to the data.

Read more here.

12.4 17:50 THL: Six new deaths on Monday, hospitalisation drop

Finland recorded six new coronavirus-related fatalities on Monday since last Friday, bringing the country's overall Covid-19 death toll to 874, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare THL.

The health agency also reported that there were 185 people being treated for coronavirus-related illness, which is 39 fewer people than on Friday. Out of the hospitalised patients, 42 were receiving intensive care.

The number of hospital admissions of Covid-19 patients has sharply decreased in less than a week. Last Tuesday, for example, there were 249 people being treated for coronavirus illness.

However, a similar decline was not seen in the number of ICU patients, as there were 45 people receiving intensive care last Tuesday.

12.4 17:18 Vaccinations to rise in May as more jabs arrive

The pace of coronavirus vaccinations in Finland will accelerate next month, according to leading expert at the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Mia Kontio.

"About 200,000 vaccines will come to Finland this and next week and all of the vaccines coming to the country will be able to be administered," Kontio said on Monday.

Read more here.

12.4 14:17 Police break up student parties in Ostrobothnia

Some students in Ostrobothnia have continued to organise and attend parties, despite a regional coronavirus-related ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, according to local police.

Parties held in Vaasa in particular had been "almost without exception" organised by foreign exchange students, the region's police department said on Monday.

The parties have chiefly been arranged at student housing apartments' dorms, laundry rooms and common meeting areas. Police said that officers found as many as 50 people in attendance at the gatherings.

Law enforcement officers who arrived at a student party in the city of Vaasa made a number of arrests after attendees did not follow their instructions, police said.

12.5 13:57 Strict Covid rules for foreign seasonal farm workers

More than 10,000 foreign seasonal workers are expected in Finland this year, mainly from Ukraine, Russia and Thailand. The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK), which has begun operating charter flights from Ukraine, says that the flights and the transport of labourers to their workplaces are Covid-safe.

Read more about coronavirus precautions for farm workers here.

12.4 12:52 Virus delays defence review

Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) has said that a planned report on the state of Finland's Defence Forces will be delayed as government and Parliament focus on the pandemic.

The review is expected to feature a greater focus on cyber security.

Read more here.

12.4 11:59 Lowest new daily case figure since mid-January

On Monday the THL reported 225 new coronavirus infections, for an overall total of 82,278 since last spring. This was the lowest new daily case figure since mid-January. That follows Sunday's figure of 346 cases, which was the lowest since mid-February. Sundays and Mondays typically have the lowest reported numbers of cases.

The highest number of new infections, 132, was again in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district. Eighteen new infections were diagnosed in the Päijät-Häme hospital district and 16 in the Pirkanmaa district.

12.4 11:00 Sitra proposes vaccine certification to be linked to bankcards

The Finnish Innovation Fund (Sitra) is developing a model in which a coronavirus certificate or vaccine passport could be linked to individuals' payment cards.

Antti Kivelä, Sitra's "Capacity for Renewal" director, says that it would be technically possible to implement the connection, as the payment network is a secure, certified network.

The think-tank is studying the legal issues. For example, one question is whether the information could come from the state-operated Kanta Services, a secure platform for social welfare and healthcare patient data.

The project has been discussed with international payment network companies and the European Commission, as well as with the government and ministries in Finland. According to Kivelä, a decision will be made by the beginning of May on whether to launch a pilot project.

Almost all adults in Finland have debit cards, which they have agreed to keep in their possession when accepting the card terms.

12.4 10:29 Medical staff do not have much higher coronavirus infection chance, says THL

New statistics released by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) show healthcare workers had a similar coronavirus infection rate to other working-age people last year.

Infections among medical staff peaked in April and December last year, THL said. No deaths from coronavirus among healthcare workers have been recorded in Finland.

Read the full story here.

12.4 9:15 Monday's papers: "Come on, people"

An Oulu healthcare expert expressed frustration at public fears over blood clots and the Astra Zeneca vaccine in today's Ilta-Sanomat.

Jorma Mäkitalo told the paper that public fears over the risk were overblown.

"Come on now, people. Our country's leading, most experienced, independent vaccine and infection experts, after reviewing all the data, say the vaccine is safe with certain restrictions," he said.

Also in Monday's papers, the government exit strategy is on schedule reports Iltalehti, and Helsingin Sanomat asks what the human cost of distance learning has been.

Read more here.

11.4 18:28 Two detained at outdoor religious gathering in Espoo

On Sunday morning, police received a notification that about 20 people had gathered on a public plaza in Leppävaara, Espoo, just west of Helsinki.

Police found the gathering at Läkkitori Square to be a religious public event, and suspended it for violating of restrictions on public gatherings.

Authorities interrupted the gathering twice. Two detainees were fined for refusing to comply with police orders.

More details here.

11.4 13:54 More than 20% get first dose of vaccine, lowest rate in Uusimaa

As of Sunday, 1,120,602 people, or 20.2 percent of Finland's population, had received at least one dose of vaccine. However just 94,633 people, or 1.7 percent of the populace, had gotten a second jab. That share has barely risen since mid-February.

Eighty-six percent of those over age 80 have received at least one shot.

The highest rate of inoculations is in South and East Savo, where more than 26 percent of residents have had at least a first shot.

The Helsinki and Uusimaa district, which has by far the highest infection rate, has one of the lowest vaccination rates, 18.4 percent. Only North Ostrobothnia has a lower rate, 17.4 percent.

11.4 12:59 346 new cases, lowest daily tally since mid-February

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Sunday that 346 new coronavirus infections have been diagnosed in Finland, the lowest daily tally since mid-February. The daily total exceeded 800 cases on several days in mid-March. New case numbers tend to be lower on weekends.

The largest increase in infections was, as usual, in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district, where there were 193 new infections.

That brings the overall total to more than 82,000 confirmed cases, with 2,657 of them registered in the past week.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 41 patients in intensive care units and 868 deaths since late March 2020.

10.4 16:14 Police break up anti-restrictions protests in Helsinki

Police detained 20 people during protests against Covid-19 restrictions in central Helsinki on Saturday. In addition, 10 motorists were fined for disruptive driving as part of a procession through the downtown area.

An estimated 300 people took part in the demonstrations. Most of those taken into custody are expected to be fined for refusing to obey police orders.

Police had come under criticism for not dispersing a similar 300-person demonstration three weeks ago.

More details here.

10.4 13:40 New cases down by 30% in past two weeks

The number of new Covid cases continues to decline. In the past two weeks, there were about 30 percent fewer new cases than during the preceding fortnight, a two-week decline of 2,811, falling from 9,368 to 6,557.

On Saturday the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 446 new coronavirus infections, well over half of them, 259, in the Helsinki-Uusimaa healthcare district.

As of Saturday, 19.6 percent of the population had received at least one vaccine dose, with 1.7 percent having gotten two jabs.

10.4 12:56 Event organisers demand more clarity

Event organisers have criticised the government's proposal regarding summer events as too vague. According to a cabinet proposal unveiled on Friday, public events could start in a limited way in June if health safety can be ensured.

However, organisers of major music events such as Ruisrock and Flow Festival say that time is running short for final decisions, and that solutions such as on-site instant testing and social distancing are not be feasible for large events.

You can read more here.

9.4 18:14 Survey: Half of Finns surveyed want to continue telecommuting post-pandemic

More than half of respondents would like to continue working from home even after the coronavirus pandemic has ended, according to the results of a survey by the University of Turku.

There is more on this story here.

9.4 16:55 Lapland variant found to be rare US-Mexican strain

A mysterious coronavirus variant detected in the Lapland municipality of Kemijärvi in late March has been found to be a rare American-Mexican strain of the virus.

Read more here.

9.4 14:02 Finland’s exports recovering from Covid crisis

Preliminary data on exports and industrial orders released by number-crunching agency Statistics Finland suggest that the Finnish economy seems to have been spared the deep export industry crisis feared last autumn.

Read more on this story here.

9.4 12:55 Government publishes exit strategy plan

The Office of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has on Friday published a detailed list of how the Finnish government plans to gradual relax and remove coronavirus restrictions.

There is a breakdown of the list here.

9.4 11:58 Finland reports 419 infections on Friday

Finland has reported 419 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing the total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 81,261.

9.4 9:16 Media looks at Covid passport, economy exit

Among the items in the morning newspaper press are reports on government preparations for the introduction of a digital coronavirus vaccine certificate and concerns that the government's exit strategy does too little for the economy.

Read our press review here.

8.4 18:33 Finland plans gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions

Finland's government has prepared a draft plan for the gradual relaxing and removal of coronavirus restrictions, beginning this month with the end of partial shutdown.

Read more about the plans for a step by step easing of restrictions here.

8.4 16:22 Police suspect 46 people of breaching restrictions at protest

Police in Helsinki suspect 46 people of violating restrictions on public gatherings during a demonstration against coronavirus restrictions held in the capital on 20 March.

Read more on this story here.

8.4 15:11 First dose of vaccine passes 1 million

Over one million people in Finland have now received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

This accounts for 18.5 percent of the population of the country. Only 1.6 percent have received two doses.

8.4 15:06 Covid restrictions lead to bumper year for Alko

Due to coronavirus restrictions on travel and bars last year, state-owned alcohol retailer Alko's position as an alcohol vendor significantly improved, with net sales up to 1.3 billion euros from 1.1 billion euros in 2019.

Read more here.

8.4 13:05 Survey: Finns most compliant with Covid restrictions

An international comparative study of 11 countries has found people in Finland were the most committed to complying with coronavirus restrictions and that Finnish respondents had the most trust in their government and medical care.

Read more on this story here.

8.4 11:45 Finland reports 426 more infections, new cases down by 2,500 in two weeks

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL has reported 426 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Wednesday. The total number of infections now stands at 80,842.

The THL says that the number of new infections declined in the past two weeks, down by 2,500 from the previous fortnight.

Finland's R number, the means by which the virus' likelihood of spreading is measured, has now dropped below 1 to between 0.75-0.90, meaning the rate of infections is falling.

However, THL Chief Physician Taneli Puumalainen said at Thursday's morning coronavirus briefing that the effects of Easter travel and gatherings are not reflected in the current figures.

"That will become clearer next week," Puumalainen said, adding that there has been a clear drop in cases among young people aged 20 to 29, which he attributed to the temporary closure of bars and restaurants.

On Thursday the THL also reported four more deaths, bringing the total to 866.

8.4 11:43 Events industry pins summer hopes on rapid testing

The Finnish events industry has been working on its own plan for summer activities which relies on the use of rapid coronavirus testing. If introduced, members of the public would be allowed into events after providing a negative result to an on-site test.

The practicality of such a system is to be evaluated with pilot events designed by event organisers in cooperation with researchers and testing professionals.

8.4 9:17 Exit strategy taking shape

Morning papers report on Finnish government talks on a plan to gradually lift restrictions and reopen the country, quoting Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) as saying she is "cautiously optimistic" life will improve by this coming summer with a gradual lifting of restrictions, and that the Midsummer holiday season in late June could be "fairly normal". More on this in our Thursday press review.

7.4 15:01 Corona restrictions prompt Finns to drink less

Alcohol consumption in Finland fell by five percent in 2020 year-on-year, the steepest statistical decline seen since 2012.

According to a fresh report by the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), the consumption drop was mainly due to a decrease in passenger imports from abroad — a result of coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Read more here.

7.4 12:31 Military academy outbreak worsens

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of coronavirus cases at a Defence Forces academy in Hamina, southeast Finland.

Seven new cases emerged over Easter, bringing the total number detected in the infection cluster to 49. All but five of the cases were detected in conscripts at the Reserve Officers School, with the remainder in other Army Academy students.

Read more here.

7.4 11:54 Government meets to discuss Covid 'exit strategy'

Finland's government are scheduled to meet at the House of the Estates in Helsinki on Wednesday evening to discuss plans for a Covid 'exit strategy', with the objective that Finnish society could this summer return to the same level of lighter coronavirus restrictions as last summer.

7.4 11:43 Finland reports 348 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL has reported 348 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Wednesday. Finland's total now stands at 80,416.

Finland has now reported 7,300 cases over the last two weeks, which is more than 2,000 less than in the previous two-week period.

Follow our tracker of regional, national and international Covid data here.

7.4 11:31 Outbreak calms among exchange students in Turku

A coronavirus outbreak among exchange students at a residential dormitory in Turku has now calmed, according to authorities in the city.

"It seems that the strict restrictive measures have succeeded in stopping this localised coronavirus outbreak within the city," said Jutta Peltoniemi, an infectious diseases doctor in the city.

More than 120 infections were diagnosed among the students, which prompted city officials to request assistance from the Police Department of Southwest Finland in monitoring quarantined people to ensure the outbreak was contained.

7.4 9:10 Wednesday's papers: Rapid testing bus to hit Helsinki streets

A story in today's Swedish-language Hufvudstadsbladet details how Helsinki residents will soon have more access to rapid coronavirus tests.

Local health district HUS is rolling out a so-called Corona bus that will offer free of charge testing at schools, workplaces and other public areas.

Officials told HBL that the idea is to boost testing at workplaces and in communities that have seen disproportionately higher levels of coronavirus infection.

Read more about this and other stories from Wednesday's papers here.

Blog continues after photo.

Henok Woge
Nurse Henok Woge prepares coronavirus jabs at Helsinki's Myllypuro vaccination point. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

6.4 17.44 Finland awaits official EMA position on AstraZeneca vaccine

Finnish health authorities have confirmed that they are planning to continue use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for the time being, after a senior official at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) linked the vaccine to blood clots.

Read more on this story here.

6.4 17.03 FMI: Covid restrictions may improve air quality

Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) has said that restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus are also having an impact on Finland's air quality, with less traffic on the roads leading to fewer toxic exhaust fumes in the air.

There is more on this story here.

6.4 14.54 Mobile data reveals Easter traffic less busy than usual

Statistics from Telia show while people travelled from Uusimaa over the break, it was still less than in previous years.

Read more on this story here.

6.4 13.45 Helsinki prison on Covid lockdown

Finland's Criminal Sanctions Agency RISE says the coronavirus situation inside Helsinki Prison has worsened, leading authorities to place all prisoners in quarantine until 17 April.

During the lockdown period no new prisoners will be admitted and none will be transferred to other facilities. All staff and prisoners will be tested for the virus.

Helsinki Prison is the largest closed prison in the country, with around 240 inmates.

Over Easter, coronavirus outbreaks were also detected at prisons in Jokela, Riihimäki and Turku, RISE said.

6.4 12:51 Government parties split on post-Covid budget plans

An Yle poll of MPs has found the government's coalition parties are divided over whether to decide on future budget cuts this year.

Read more on this story here.

6.4 12:44 Outbreak prompts quarantine at Tampere reception centre

A coronavirus outbreak at a Tampere asylum seeker reception centre has prompted city officials to quarantine all 140 residents at the facility, according to local officials.

A total of 17 residents from the centre — located at the city's former Kauppi Hospital — have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections and placed into isolation.

Meanwhile, the facility's other residents have been ordered into quarantine until 17 April.

Residents at the centre underwent coronavirus screening over the Easter holiday after individuals had tested positive. New cases were confirmed during the screening, according to the city.

The facility has 140 residents and 16 staff members. During the quarantine, residents have been ordered to remain at the centre.

The centre serves adults as well as families with children who have sought asylum in Finland.

6.4 12:11 Minister: Conscripts could sleep outdoors if Covid situation worsens

Healthy soldiers-in-training could sleep outdoors if the coronavirus situation at a Defence Forces barracks were to become particularly bad, Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) has said.

Read more here.

6.4 10:02 Finland's overall confirmed cases exceed 80,000

Finland has reported 331 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 80,068.

The highest number of new infections were detected in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District, with 202 cases.

6.4 10:02 Finlayson temporarily shuts 19 stores due to corona

Textile firm Finlayson will temporarily close most of its retail outlets in Finland due to the coronavirus situation, the company has announced.

The decision will result in the temporary shutdown of 19 Finlayson stores, beginning on Tuesday 6 April.

The company said that the conversation surrounding the coronavirus situation in Finland had significantly restricted peoples' movement and reduced the number of customers who visit their stores.

The firm, which sells printed fabrics like curtains and bedding, said the retail outlets would remain closed for the time being, until customers resume shopping in brick and mortar stores.

In a statement, the company's CEO Mikko Koponen said Finland was at a practical standstill, noting that customer traffic was currently quieter than during the quietest period of the coronavirus crisis last spring.

The company plans to keep four of its permanent outlets as well as four pop-up stores open for business, however.

6.4 9.15 Pöysti due in Parliament over lockdown law

Tuesday's papers look ahead to an appearance by Chancellor of Justice Tomas Pöysti before Parliament later today. Pöysti, the government's top legal adviser, is to explain to MPs how the government's lockdown legislation fell foul of a parliamentary committee before Easter.

Read more in today's paper review here.

5.4 14:07 Vaccination rate reaches 17.5%

In Finland, 974,153 people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, an increase of 277 since Sunday. This brings the vaccination rate to 17.5 percent of the population.

5.4 11:42 Finland records 341 infections on Monday

The number of total lab-confirmed infections in Finland to date is approaching 80,000 (79,737), growing by 341 new cases since Sunday.

Most new cases (207) were recorded in Helsinki University Hospital district, followed by districts in Päijät-Häme (28) and Southwest Finland (23).

4.4 17:50 Worst case Easter averted

Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district had expected a spike in Covid admissions at Easter, but that hasn't happened. Case numbers have also fallen, but that could be down to fewer people getting tested. Read our story here.

4.4 12:40 302 new infections

Finland has reported 302 new infections on Sunday, bringing the cumulative total to 79,396, said THL on Sunday.

The biggest increase was in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district, where 172 cases were added. In south-west Finland 23 were recorded, while in Kymenlaakso the figure was 23. Check the latest stats at Yle's dashboard.

See previous updates here

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