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Coronavirus latest: Nearly 500 new cases, PM says no need for emergency powers yet, outbreak at Stora Enso mill, Veikkaus closes gaming machines

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

Oulun Stora Enson tehdas, edustalla työntekijä selin
An undisclosed number of workers at the Stora Enso mill in Oulu, northern Finland, have been infected. Image: Paulus Markkula / Yle
  • 23,148 lab-confirmed infections as of Thursday 26.11 (up by 496 since Wednesday 25.11)
  • 388 deaths attributed to coronavirus as of Wednesday 25.11 (up by 13 since Friday)
  • 134 people in hospital, 21 of them in intensive care
  • Hospital districts report on deaths and hospitalised patients on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

26.11 20:25 Veikkaus shuts most slot machines and gaming arcades

Finland’s state-owned gaming company Veikkaus will close gaming arcades and slot machines in areas of the country that are in the acceleration or community transmission phase of the epidemic. They will remain shut until at least mid-December, the firm said on Thursday.

More details here.

26.11 17:44 APN Podcast: Covid, cost-cutting and Father Christmas

On this week's episode of the All Points North podcast, we explore fresh restrictions and talk of new emergency measures.

We also speak to Helsinki University aerosol scientist Mikael Ehn who tells us why he believes airborne particles are so efficient at spreading the virus and find out if Santa is coming to town. Read more on this here

You can also listen to the full podcast via the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed.

Audio: Yle News

Blog continues after audio.

26.11 16:00 Stora Enso cuts production in Oulu after outbreak

Forest products company Stora Enso has shut down some paperboard production following a coronavirus outbreak at its Oulu mill.

Numerous coronavirus infections have been confirmed among employees at the site, but the company has not released information on the number of people who have been infected or quarantined.

At least 18 employees of the Valmet corporation, which is the main contractor for a new paperboard machine being installed at the site, have also been infected.

Full article here.

26.11 12:48 Finland reports 496 new cases

The National Institute for Health and Welfare of Finland (THL) announced on Thursday that 496 new coronavirus infections had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall total number of cases to 23,148.

As usual, by far the largest number, 315, were in the densely populated Helsinki and Uusimaa healthcare district, with nearly half of those in the capital.

26.11 11:52 Marin: No emergency powers -- yet

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) said that the continuing rise in coronavirus infections is bringing the government closer to declaring a state of emergency, but Finland is not at that stage yet.

Read more on this story here.

26.11 9:19 Papers: Government reviewing emergency powers

Finland's largest circulation daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, is reporting on Thursday morning that it has seen an internal government memo stating that the increase in the number of coronavirus infections has brought the country close to conditions for the imposition of a state of emergency.

Read more on this story, and the rest of our paper review, here.

25.11 20:20 Trade union: Wellbeing of service workers at risk

Finland's service workers' union PAM is worried about workers in the retail sector being overburdened during the coronavirus crisis.

“I am very concerned about the well-being of all workers in the service sector,” said Sirpa Laakso, Service Union United PAM's Chair and Hämeenmaa Cooperative’s steward.

Continued mask use, risk of exposure and misbehaving customers have reportedly taken a toll on retail workers.

Read more on this here.

25.11 19:23 PM Marin: No plans for a mask mandate

Finland is not planning to impose a mandatory mask ruling, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) told reporters ahead of a government discussion on the coronavirus situation on Wednesday evening.

We are not planning to force people to wear a mask or, for example, to penalise those who do not use a mask,” Marin said.

During Wednesday’s session, the government will among other matters, review the coronavirus situation and discuss if there is a need to invoke the Emergency Powers Act as it did during spring. According to Marin, the situation doesn’t seem to call for a state of emergency.

Read more on this story here.

25.11 15:06 Helsinki City Theatre begins layoff talks

Helsinki City Theatre began co-determination negotiations affecting its entire staff, the company said in a press release on Wednesday. Cancellations caused by the coronavirus epidemic and the decline in the number of audiences have significantly weakened its finances, the theatre said.

Helsinki City Theatre employs about 240 monthly paid theatre professionals and about 100 temporary workers.

The theatre had to cancel its performances until 13 December, to comply with the latest coronavirus-related restrictions imposed in the capital region last week.

25.11 14:06 Finland reports 363 new infections, four deaths

The National Institute for Health and Welfare of Finland (THL) announced on Wednesday that 363 new coronavirus infections had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall total number of cases to 22,652.

The majority of the new cases, 231, were detected in the Helsinki University hospital district (HUS).

THL also reported four more deaths linked to coronavirus since Monday. There are now 134 people being treated in hospital for the virus, 21 of whom are in intensive care.

25.11 11:28 Traficom announces layoff talks, Plantagen closes stores for winter

Finland's Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom) has announced that layoff talks with staff representatives will begin in early December, with the aim of cutting up to 120 jobs.

The agency said in a press release that the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the transport sector, and will continue to do so for at least the next three years.

Meanwhile nationwide garden centre chain Plantagen said it plans to close five of its stores for the winter, as the adverse economic conditions have led to a downturn in sales. Plantagen stores in the cities of Kaarina, Lahti, Lappeenranta and Raisio have already shut their doors, with the Jyväskylä outlet set to close on Friday.

25.11 9:10 Papers: Minister v Mayor row escalates

Finland's largest circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat is reporting of increasing tensions between Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori (NCP) and Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) over the correct strategy for curbing the spread of coronavirus infections in the capital region.

Read more on this story, and the rest of our paper round-up, here.

Read previous updates here.

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