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Coronavirus latest: Ministry pledges student loan refunds, Niinistö comments on Swedish border, Turku hospital begins Covid-19 drug trial

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

kaksi ravintolatyöntekijää työssään
Students studying in the hospitality and health care sectors were especially hard hit by the graduation delays. Image: AOP
  • 7,248 lab-confirmed infections as of Saturday 4.7
  • 329 deaths linked to coronavirus (one since Friday 26.6)
  • 20 people in hospital (down by 4 from Thursday)
  • 0 in intensive care (unchanged since last week)
  • 90% of all confirmed cases have recovered, says THL
  • Basic reproduction (R0) number is 0.65-0.90

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.

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.

Blog continues after photo

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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