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Coronavirus latest: Police break up anti-restrictions protests and religious gathering, daily case tally lowest since mid-February, more than 20% get first jab

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

Mielenosoittajia Helsingin keskustassa.
Anti-restrictions marchers in Helsinki on 10 April. Image: Teemu Hallamaa / Yle
  • 82,053 lab-confirmed infections as of Sunday 10.4 (up by 346 since Saturday)
  • 868 deaths attributed to coronavirus as of Friday 9.4 (up by 2 since Thursday)
  • 224 people in hospital, 41 of them in intensive care as of Friday 9.4
  • 1,120,602 people (20.2% of the population) had received at least one vaccination dose as of Sunday 11.4
  • 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.

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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