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Coronavirus latest: Cases fall even as testing increases, closure of schools had little effect

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

Vantaan kaupungin koronaviruksen drive in -testauspiste Pakkalassa
Coronavirus tests have increased this week due to a spike in flu infections and respiratory symptoms. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva
  • 7,294 lab-confirmed infections as of Sunday 12.7
  • 329 deaths linked to coronavirus (none since 3.7)
  • 6 people in hospital as of Friday 10.7 (decrease of -13)
  • 0 in intensive care as of Friday 10.7 (decrease of -2)
  • 90% of all confirmed cases have recovered, says THL
  • Basic reproduction (R0) number is 0.65-0.90

11.7 17:23 Dozen more cases, five deaths in past month

Twelve new coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Finland, the national health agency THL said on Saturday. That brings the official total of lab-confirmed cases to 7,291, although the actual number is likely to be many times higher.

As of Friday, there were six patients in hospital, but none of them in intensive care. THL will update the numbers of patients in hospital and any possible deaths on Monday.

There has only been one death in the past two weeks. That occurred on July 3, bringing the total to 329. Prior to that, there were single fatalities on June 11, 14, 22 and 26, for a total of five the past month. In comparison, an average of 16 people died in traffic accidents during each of the first five months of this year.

10.7 18:47 30,000 furloughed workers had no access to unemployment fund

Almost 30,000 workers, who were temporarily laid off from their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic, were unable to claim earnings-related unemployment benefits, leading Centre Party chair Katri Kulmuni to call for a reform of Finland's income-linked unemployment benefits system.

10.7 17:36 School and daycare closures had little effect, THL says

The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) revealed in a statement on Friday that the closing of schools and daycares in the spring had minimal impact on the number of confirmed coronavirus cases among children and young adults.

Read more here.

10.7 16:20 Coronavirus cases fall even as testing increases

The number of lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in Finland continues to drop, despite a recent increase in the number of tests being carried out due to a spike in summer flu infections.

10.7 14:10 Update tax card as soon as possible, authority advises

The Finnish Tax Administration has advised people to update their tax cards in good time to avoid any nasty surprises later, especially if their income has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

There is more on this story here.

10.7 13:20 Six new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported six new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. The new infections bring the total number of cases to 7,279. The death toll now stands at 329. Information on hospitalisations and fatalities is now updated three times weekly, on Mondays. Wednesdays and Fridays.

9.7 17:50 Ministry makes €100m protective equipment order

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has submitted a tender proposal to Finland's National Emergency Supply Agency (Nesa) for protective equipment worth approximately 100 million euros.

The order will include 3.2 million surgical mouth and nose protectors and 9.5 million FFP3 or FFP2 respirators.

9.7 15:25 No new coronavirus cases for two weeks in 16 hospital districts

The coronavirus situation in Finland remains calm, according to the weekly report produced by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the National Institute for Health and Welfare of Finland (THL). No new cases were reported in 16 of Finland's 20 hospital districts over a two-week period.

There are currently a total of 19 patients in hospital, two of whom are in intensive care. The number of patients in hospital has fallen markedly from April and May, but has levelled off in recent weeks.

8.7 20:58 Finland lifts travel restrictions on several other countries

Travel restrictions between Finland and several European and non-EU countries will be officially lifted starting 13 July, government announced at a press conference on Wednesday. Entry restrictions will be lifted at the borders between Finland and the following countries — Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Greece, Malta, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Switzerland, Liechtenstein.

Travel restrictions will also be lifted on certain countries outside the EU and Europe. Work-related and essential travel between Finland and Algeria, Australia, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China will be permitted. Read the full story here.

8.7 15:31 Pandemic pushes talks on gov't job creation plan to year end

Initial discussions on a government plan to create 30,000 new jobs have been pushed to the end of the year, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday. The discussions were originally scheduled to take place during government budget discussions in September. The job creation plan is part of the government’s target to reach a 75-percent employment level. The coronavirus crisis has now postponed the negotiations to the end of the year. Read more here.

8.7 15:25 Average age of Covid patients falling

The public health agency THL said that the average age of infected persons has been declining, falling from 45 in April, to 41 in May and 39 in June. It added that in June, new cases were diagnosed mainly in young and working age adults. Although overall men and women have been equally affected by the disease, the THL said that last month there were twice as many 20-29 year-old men infected as women of the same age.

8.7 13:36 Roughly 100 conscripts begin military service in quarantine

Around 100 conscripts in Finland have begun their military service in quarantine due to the coronavirus epidemic. They have been placed in isolation at home or in separate facilities at army garrisons. So far 90 coronavirus tests have been administered to conscripts with mild respiratory symptoms. All of the test results have been negative to date, however some test results are still pending. Read the full story here.

8.7 12:50 Three new Covid-19 cases identified

Finland reported three new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The new diagnoses bring the total number of coronavirus cases in Finland to 7,265.

8.7 11:24 Poll: Coronavirus boosts regard for science, experts

More than 60 percent of people in Finland have said that they believe that science and expertise will be more important following the coronavirus crisis, according to a new survey by the Finnish Innovation Fund, Sitra. Read more about the survey results here.

7.7 20:25 Finnair flew 96% fewer passengers in June than last year

National air carrier Finnair is still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In June, Finnair carried 96 percent fewer passengers than in the corresponding period last year. However, the numbers — a total of 55,200 passengers — more than doubled from May 2020, Finnair said in a release on Tuesday. No scheduled flights were flown to Asia in June, and only one scheduled flight was flown to North America, the airline said. Read more about it here.

7.7 18:03 Pandemic disrupts international students' study plans in Finland

International students who secured study spots in Finland this autumn face the difficult choice of either cancelling their studies, starting their courses online or deferring studies by an entire year due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 700 student residence permits are currently pending in Finland, according to Finnish Immigration Service, Migri. Most Finnish embassies worldwide are closed due to the global pandemic, so students cannot complete the identification process which involves collecting biometric data such as fingerprints and photographs. Read more here.

7.7 15:55 Pandemic measures tougher than expected on Finnish economy

Finland's economic growth next year will be the slowest in the EU, according to an EU Commission economic forecast released on Tuesday. The economic impact of measures taken to limit the coronavirus pandemic and the slow rollback of restrictions has been more severe than expected, according to the Commission’s executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis. The forecast predicts that the Finnish economy will shrink by 6.3 percent this year to grow by just 2.8 percent next year. Read more here.

Blog continues after photo

Nuori nainen käyttää maksupäätettä torilla.
The European Commission says that Finland's post-pandemic economic growth would be driven by domestic spending. Image: Yle

7.7 14:15 Five new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland confirmed five new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, according to the finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, bringing the overall total to 7,262. The number of patients receiving hospital care was said to be 18 on Monday, with one person in intensive care. The death toll stands at 329. Fatalities and hospitalisations will next be updated on Wednesday.

6.7 15:35 Passengers exposed to virus on Tallinn cruise

Passengers who travelled on a short cruise to Tallinn aboard Silja Line's Europa vessel last week may have been exposed to Covid-19. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, said in a statement on Monday that health officials have confirmed that several persons onboard later tested positive for novel coronavirus. Read more about it here.

Blog continues after photo

Risteilyalus Europa
A number of passengers were exposed to an individual with mild symptoms on board the vessel. Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

6.7 12:17 Four new Covid-19 cases in Finland

Finland reported four new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Monday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The total number of infections in Finland now stands at 7,257. The death toll from the disease is 329.

6.7 10:40 Asylum seeker minors to be quarantined

A group of 25 children will be the first unaccompanied minors to arrive in Finland from refugee camps in Greece this week. The youngsters are the first of a total of 175 asylum seeker minors from the Mediterranean whom Finland agreed to accept last autumn. The coronavirus epidemic will affect the young asylum seekers, who will be quarantined for two weeks upon arrival. They will be allowed to spend time outdoors on reception centre compounds, but will be forbidden from using public transportation or going to the stores. Read the full story here.

5.7 15:25 Ministry pledges student loan relief

The ministry of education and culture has said that it is pushing reforms to the Student Aid Act to provide refunds to persons with student loans whose graduation was delayed by the coronavirus epidemic. As a result of the delay, students will not be eligible for a student loan refund as they did not graduate on schedule.

The partial state of emergency introduced to delay the spread of the disease caused the cancellation of contact teaching as well as internships. Students in the hospitality and health care sectors were affected most. However current legislation does not allow for student loan refunds. The ministry said that it hopes the legislative change to take effect from the beginning of next year.

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kaksi ravintolatyöntekijää työssään
Students studying in the hospitality and health care sectors were especially hard hit by the graduation delays. Image: AOP

5.7 15:10 Finland confirms five new Covid-19 cases

Finland reported five new lab-confirmed novel coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, bringing the running total to 7,253.

The death toll from the disease stands at 329. On Friday the number of patients receiving hospital treatment was 20, with none in intensive care. The THL has begun updating information on fatalities and hospitalisations three times weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

4.7 18:30 Niinistö: Border closure aimed against virus, not Sweden

President Sauli Niinistö says that Finland's decision not to re-open its borders to Swedes is not aimed against Sweden, but against the coronavirus. He made the comment in an interview with the Swedish news agency TT.

The president told Swedish reporters that he does not foresee any long-term harm to ties between the Nordic neighbours. Read more at this link.

4.7 13:40 Six new infections in Finland

Six new coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Finland, the national health agency THL said on Saturday. That brings the official total of lab-confirmed cases to 7,248, although officials say the actual number is likely to be many times that. Nine out of 10 patients have recovered.

THL will update the numbers of patients in hospital and any possible deaths on Monday. Since the pandemic situation has eased in Finland, authorities are only making such announcements three times a week rather than daily.

On Friday the THL reported the first death in a week, bringing the total to 329. There have been no patients in intensive care units this week.

3.7 17:40 Turku hospital begins Covid-19 drug trial

Turku University Hospital said on Friday that it is launching a study of a drug to treat Covid-19 patients with severe symptoms.

The drug, tocilizumab, is normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. There is evidence suggesting the medication could help treat the inflammatory nature of coronavirus infections.

For more details, click here.

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Suojavarustukseen pukeutunut hoitaja ottaa näytettä koronaepäillyltä potilaalta.
A nurse at Turku University Hospital takes a sample from a Covid-19 patient. Image: Roni Lehti / Lehtikuva

3.7 16:37 Baltic Sea passenger shipping lines cut staff

More than 300 Finns are losing their jobs at two Baltic Sea passenger shipping lines.

The shipping line Eckerö is shutting down its Birka Cruises subsidiary. For nearly half a century, it has sailed between Stockholm, Sweden and Mariehamn in the Åland Islands. More than 500 people will be made redundant, about half of them Finns.

Rival Tallink Silja Line also announced job cuts on Friday. The Swedish subsidiary of the Estonian-owned firm Tallink, known as Tallink Silja Sverige, will let go of 299 employees, 69 of them Finns. Both firms cited the pandemic as the primary reason for the decisions. More here.

2.7 19:50 Russian tourists eager to return, but will likely have to wait

Hotels in eastern Finland report an upsurge in attempted bookings by Russian tourists for late July.

There has apparently been a misconception that the Finnish-Russian border will reopen on 15 July. Restrictions on travel over the Finnish-Russian border are scheduled to remain in effect until at least 14 July. No decisions have yet been made on extending or ending the restrictions.

Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo says tourism to and from Russia will be among the last sectors to be allowed to reopen, as the pandemic situation is much worse in Russia than Finland. You can read more about it here.

2.7 13:23 Finland sees 5 new confirmed infections Thursday

Five new lab-confirmed coronavirus were detected in Finland on Thursday, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The increase brought the country's total number of Covid-19 cases to 7,241. There have been no deaths in nearly a week, since last Friday.

2.7 9:40 Covid and immigrant communities

There is evidence from across the world that the pandemic has hit ethnic minority groups and low-income people much harder than others. Helsingin Sanomat's editorial page on Thursday takes a stand on the question of migrant communities and coronavirus. Read more about this and other stories in our press review.

Read previous updates here.

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