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Coronavirus latest: Uusimaa event restrictions to end, ministry proposes return to offices, nearly 69% of 12-and-overs fully vaccinated

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

Ihmisiä menossa Suomenlinnan lauttaan.
File photo of people walking in Helsinki city centre. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Check Yle's dashboard for a range of regional, national and international Covid data.

25.9 14:48 Nearly 69% of 12-and-overs fully vaccinated

The health institute THL said on Saturday that nearly 69 percent of the population aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated. Almost 84 percent have received at least one jab.

The government says it aims to lift restrictions when at least 80 percent of those aged 12 and over have received two vaccination doses.

As of Friday there were about 110 patients in hospital, 21 of them in intensive care units. The death toll rose by three on Friday to 1,065.

24.9 14:27 Savitaipale becomes first municipality to reach 80% vaccine coverage

The town of Savitaipale in the South Karelia region has become the first municipality in Finland to have vaccinated 80 percent of its population aged 12 and over, which is the target set by the government for the lifting of restrictions nationwide.

The vaccine rollout in the town progressed at a fast pace from the outset, local authorities said, as the municipality has a large number of elderly and at-risk residents. More than one third of Savitaipale's approximately 3,300 residents are over 65 years of age.

24.9 13:55 Ministries propose ending remote work recommendation

The nationwide recommendation for people to work remotely where possible should end on 15 October, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health have proposed in a joint press release.

The proposal further suggests that a return to workplaces could begin earlier, depending on risk assessments and each region's epidemiological situation.

Read more on this story here.

24.9 11:16 Uusimaa gathering restrictions end next week

Restrictions on gatherings and public events in Uusimaa will end next week, the Southern Finland Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi) has announced.

The Southern Finland Avi took the decision after the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Coronavirus Coordination Group proposed allowing the current limits on gatherings to expire on 30 September.

Current recommendations on remote working and mask wearing will remain in place, as will hygiene requirements for indoor venues, the Southern Finland Avi said.

Read more here.

24.9 10:44 HUS chief doc: Severe flu season ahead

The coming influenza season -- which was much milder last year due to Covid restrictions -- will likely be more severe than usual, according to Asko Järvinen, infectious diseases specialist and chief physician at Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS).

Read more here.

24.9 09:05 'Tinfoil hat' jibe as MPs debate Covid passports

Thursday's parliamentary debate on Covid passports saw Culture and science minister Antti Kurvinen (Cen) express concern that many people in Finland were trusting "tinfoil hat theorists" on the internet, rather than the science behind vaccines.

The comment came as opposition Finns Party lawmakers accused the government of effectively forcing people in Finland to get vaccinated against Covid-19, a claim PM Sanna Marin (SDP) denied.

Read more on this story, and others, here.

23.9 12:25 THL: Some 800,000 people unvaccinated in Finland

There are still about 800,000 people in Finland above the age of 12 who have not received a Covid vaccine, said Mia Kontio, an expert at the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Kontio added that the number of those getting the first dose of the vaccine has waned. Although the trend is predominantly observed in younger age groups, there are also some pockets of unvaccinated people above the age of 40, she said.

In the 40 to 49 age group, coverage has nearly reached 73 percent while some 82 percent of those between the ages of 50 and 59 have received both jabs. The vaccination coverage for those over the age of 60 has surpassed 86 percent.

Around 83 percent of the total Finnish population aged 12 or older have now received at least one dose of the vaccine while 67 percent have received two doses, according to THL.

23.9 11:50 THL does not recommend a third dose for men under 30

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is not currently recommending second Covid vaccine booster doses for men below the age of 30, according to THL leading expert Mia Kontio.

"We do not recommend a third dose for men under the age of 30," Kontio said. Speaking at Thursday's weekly Covid briefing, the vaccine expert added that more research needs to be conducted in order to ensure its safety in the group.

Third dose vaccinations are, however, recommended and already underway for those with severely weakened immune systems, those whose two-dose vaccine protection has been compromised, those who received two doses with a shorter interval at least six months ago, and those whose interval between doses was six weeks or less.

Finland announced plans to begin rolling out booster doses last week.

22.9 12:27 THL: 5 further deaths, 109 patients in hospital

Public health agency THL has reported five further deaths linked to coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing Finland's overall death toll since the beginning of the pandemic to 1,062.

There are currently 109 patients being treated in hospital for the virus, THL added, 20 of whom are in intensive care.

Authorities also recorded 477 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing Finland's overall total to 137,594.

21.9 17:47 Helsinki authorities set to lift restrictions from October

The Helsinki Metropolitan Area Coronavirus Coordination Group has proposed that restrictions on public events in the capital region should not be extended beyond the current end date of 30 September.

"We are now finally in a situation where restrictions are ending and the return to normal begins," Helsinki Mayor Juhana Vartiainen (NCP) said at a press conference announcing the proposal.

The expert group further suggested that restrictions on hobbies and the use of sports facilities should also end.

Read more on this story here.

21.9 15:51 Government submits Covid pass to Parliament, no changes to border restrictions

Finland's government will submit a proposal to Parliament on amending the Communicable Diseases Act to allow domestic use of the EU digital coronavirus certificate.

According to Yle sources, private companies will be allowed to require a valid coronavirus pass for entry by anyone over 12 years of age in areas where restrictions are in effect.

The government also announced that there will be no changes to Finland's current cross-border entry regulations, which are to be extended until the end of the year.

Read more on this story here.

21.9 14:09 Employment rate hits highest level since pandemic began

Finland's employment rate trend rose to 72.8 percent in August, according to Statistics Finland's latest Labour Force Survey, with 104,000 more people in employment compared to the same month last year.

This is a very slight improvement on the numbers from July, when the rate hit 72.7 percent. That was then the highest level since February 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic first began to impact the Finnish economy.

Read more on this story here.

21.9 11:31 THL: Most kids can skip Covid tests

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has updated its guidance around children under 12, who are not yet eligible to receive Covid vaccines in Finland.

Those aged 12 or over should always seek a test if they are suffering from symptoms associated with Covid, according to THL.

But the institute now says that children under 12 should stay home from school if they are suffering from symptoms, but don't always need to be tested.

More details here.

20.9 16:41 Covid-era telecommuters kept burglars at bay

Telecommuting, closed borders and growing use of surveillance systems are all factors in the recent sharp drop in the number of burglaries targeting holiday homes, according to police.

Nationwide, burglaries at cottages have fallen by more than 40 percent over the past year. In some regions burglaries are down 60 percent. However, there are a few areas showing an exception to the trend.

Read more here.

20.9 13:36 Typos, wrong dates in some of Finland's EU Covid certificates

Many residents across Finland have started to notice errors in their digital EU Covid certificates which are available on the public health care platform.

In Helsinki, the mistakes include incorrectly spelled names or date of birth entries, according to Communications Manager of the City's Social Services and Health Care Sector, Jaana Juutilainen-Saari.

Read more here.

20.9 10:29 THL: Five further Covid-related deaths

Public health agency THL has reported that five further deaths linked to coronavirus occurred over the past weekend. This brings Finland's overall death toll to 1,057.

There are also currently 93 people being treated in hospital for the virus, the agency said.

20.9 10:29 Number of Covid patients in ICUs remains "stubbornly" high

The number of coronavirus patients in need of intensive care treatment in Finland has remained "stubbornly high" since the summer, according to a specialist report, despite the steady progress of vaccination coverage. An estimated 16 percent of patients that have been treated in intensive care units in Finland have died.

19.9 12:15 THL: 51 cases on Sunday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL has reported 51 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday. This brings the total number of infections diagnosed in Finland since the beginning of the pandemic to 136,257.

18.9 17:25 Government and health authority at odds over travel restrictions

Public health institute THL has criticised plans by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to ask Parliament to continue travel restrictions for inbound travellers through the end of the year.

These include demanding travellers get two Covid tests if they're unvaccinated.

The THL said transmission risks are smaller now, as the goal is for some 80 percent of people in Finland to be vaccinated by October.

Read more here.

18.9 17:15 Protest over Covid restrictions in Helsinki draws 1,000

A demonstration protesting against Covid restrictions drew some 1,000 people on Saturday afternoon in downtown Helsinki, according to police.

Organisers of the "freedom to choose" demonstration said they were protesting against Covid passports and the vaccination of minors.

18.9 15:35 Finland sees first cases of Mu

Last month the World Health Organization (WHO) designated Mu a "variant of interest." Now the strain has been detected in some 40 countries, including Finland.

Genome sequencing in Finland has identified a few cases of the Mu strain since the summer.

More here.

18.9 12:20 Finland plans for third Covid shots

Finland has made procurement contracts to purchase a third round of Covid vaccines for everyone 12 and older, according to Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP).

Speaking to Yle's Ykkösaamu show on Saturday, Kiuru said Finland has agreed to purchase third vaccine doses if experts recommend an additional rollout of jabs.

The minister said a decision regarding top-up doses would possibly be made during the autumn. "The procurement deals will guarantee that we have the doses if we need them," she explained.

More here.

17.9 11:30 Covid restrictions, remote learning hit schoolkids mental health

The latest school pupils well-being survey suggest that pupils have been hit hard by long stints of remote learning during the pandemic. Girls have been worse affected than boys, although that could be because they're better able to express their feelings in survey responses. Read more here.

17.9 9:50 HUS offers third doses of Covid jab

Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS) said on Friday it was starting to offer third doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine as it races to use the jabs before they go out of date.

In a statement, HUS said it would immediately begin offering the third dose of vaccine to fully vaccinated individuals at high risk from complications of infection as well as healthcare staff who care for Covid patients in the region.

Read more here.

17.9 9:17 Paper: Travel abroad grows as restrictions ease

Summer may be over but Finland's appetite for travel continues to grow, according to a report in online business publication Taloussanomat.

The paper spoke to experts from some of Finland's largest tour operators and found that more people are planning to travel abroad as the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic ease.

Read more about this and other stories in Friday's newspaper review.

For previous updates click here

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