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Coronavirus latest: Gov't unveils new €5.5b spending plan, science panel recommends masks, virus found in wastewater

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

Nainen joka on suojautunut kasvomaskilla.
Government is expected to considers background reports on the benefits of using masks on Tuesday. Image: Fehim Demir / EPA
  • 6,887 lab-confirmed infections as of Tuesday (2.6), up by 2 since Monday
  • 320 deaths due to Covid-19 complications as of Tuesday 2.6 (up by 2)
  • 62 people in hospital on Tuesday with nine in intensive care
  • Some 5,500 patients have recovered
  • Papers react to the first full day of almost-normal life
  • Gov't science experts call for masks until vaccine is available
  • Most say they are planning holiday travel within Finland
  • Wastewater study finds coronavirus in samples from Helsinki, Turku
  • Full house for Vantaa drive-in movie night
  • Gov't lays out €5.5b additional spending plan

2.6 21:45 Gov't unveils historic €5.5b supplemental budget

Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government on Tuesday evening unveiled a record fourth 5.5-billion euro supplemental budget aimed at helping heal the damage caused by the coronavirus crisis.

In presenting the spending package however, Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni said that it would not be possible to avoid tax increases and reduced spending in the future. She also told reporters during a press conference that Finland would be borrowing an additional 18.8 billion euros this year to bankroll its programmes. Read the full story here.

2.6 20:40 Vantaa drive-in movie night draws capacity crowd

As Finnish society began returning to normal on Monday with the partial lifting of restrictions on public life, a different kind of event arrived to Vantaa when 80 cars filled a parking lot near Helsinki-Vantaa airport for a long-anticipated American-style drive-in movie screening. The event had been scheduled for spring but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more about it here.

2.6 19:25 Tests find virus in Helsinki, Turku wastewater

A study of municipal wastewater has identified novel coronavirus in samples from Helsinki and Turku, according to the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare. The public health agency said that it found no evidence of the virus in weekly monitoring samples in Tampere, Kuopio and Oulu. The most recently-released results are based on samples taken from 24 - 25 May. Read more here.

2.6 16:27 Majority of Finnish residents plan local holiday travel, survey says

More than half of Finnish residents say they plan to continue their tradition of domestic holiday trips this year, according to a survey by the Uutissuomalainen news group.

Forty-two percent of respondents said they plan to travel in Finland as they have done in the past, while 13 percent indicated they would be touring the country more than usual. Read more here.

2.6 14:50 Gov't science panel recommends mask use

A government-appointed scientific panel has recommended the use of protective masks in public and on public transportation to reduce the spread of coronavirus until a vaccine is found.

The panel noted that the risk for a second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic was significant. At the same time, work on an effective vaccine is widely expected to complete by next year at the earliest. Read the full account here.

2.6 14:25 Just two new coronavirus cases in Finland

The number of lab-confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Finland stands at 6,887 up by just two from Monday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The number of deaths stood at 318 as of Monday. That figure will be updated later on Tuesday.

2.6 9:21 Tuesday's papers: Terrace openings in cities across Finland as country opens up

Finland’s press reacts to a busy first day of summer as society reopened on Monday, read our press review here.

1.6 20:20 Patrons return as bars, restaurants reopen

Many people across the country were drawn to establishments following the easing of restrictions on restaurants, cafes and bars on Monday. In an effort to maintain social distancing, only half the normal number of customers are allowed inside restaurants at any given time. But there are no such restrictions regarding outdoor terraces. Read about how people across Finland reclaimed lost pleasures here.

1.6 19:15 Academic challenges ministry mask report

There is ample research to support the widespread use of masks by the public, contrary to a report on the issue by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, according to one Helsinki University academic.

Tarja Sironen, an associate professor with the university’s emerging infectious diseases unit said that the report produced by private health sector consultants Summaryx for the ministry did not provide a full picture of the value of masks in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Read our full story here.

1.6 18:56 Agency issues mask purchase guidelines

The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes has provided guidelines (in Finnish) to help consumers purchase homemade masks. The agency said on Monday that it had received dozens of questions about face coverings, which it said are incorrectly marketed as protective masks.

Tukes pointed out that fabric masks sold to consumers should not suggest that they will protect users against viral infections. The purpose of fabric masks is to protect others from the user’s spittle.

The watchdog has urged retailers and consumers to ensure that the purpose of the product is clearly stated and that use instructions make it clear to whom it is or is not suited, how it should be safely used and changed and how it should be cleaned.

Blog continues after photo

Nainen maski kasvoillaan.
Finland began to open up on Monday. Image: Esko Jämsä / AOP

1.6 17:39 Report warns of grave second wave of pandemic

Government’s emergency planning should prepare for a possible second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that is more severe and more difficult to control than the first, according to a follow-up report to an exit strategy plan prepared for the government.

The warning came as Finance Ministry permanent secretary Martti Hetemäki presented the second part of a government-commissioned exit strategy plan on Monday. The document reportedly focuses on post-pandemic recovery and reconstruction. Read more about the report here.

1.6 16:12 THL downgrades death toll to 318

Finland’s death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic now stands at 318, instead of 320 as reported on Sunday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The agency said however that one additional death was recorded on Monday. Sixty-eight people were said to be receiving hospital treatment for the disease, with 9 of them in intensive care.

1.6 15:01 PM returns to work to tackle pandemic exit strategy

Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced via her Twitter account on Monday that she has returned to work after a week-long sick leave. The PM initially took three days off work starting from 25 May due to a cold, which was then extended on Thursday until the end of last week. Marin was also tested for coronavirus as a precautionary measure, and the result of the test was negative. Read more here.

1.6 13:50 Survey: Finns satisfied with coronavirus news and information

When it comes to official coronavirus-related news and information, Finnish residents have high levels of trust in authorities, according to a survey by the University of Helsinki.

The survey found that 92 percent of respondents said they trusted researchers and doctors who disseminate information about the viral epidemic. Roughly 60 percent said they thought news outlets were generally reliable, with higher trust placed in traditional outlets. Read the full story here.

1.6 9:22 Newspapers: Outdoor safety, lessons from Sweden, youth gatherings

As Finland takes its first tentative steps towards a return to normality, one paper asks how safe it will be outdoors as terraces reopen and people "rush to parks and picnic areas". Meanwhile, another paper headed to Stockholm to gain an insight into how the lifting of restrictions in Finland might look across the course of the summer. Read more about what the Finnish press is covering here.

Read previous updates here.

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