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Coronavirus latest: Finland begins shutdown, 459 new cases, Parliament approves bar closure

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

Äänestysaluekylttejä Helsingin kaupungin varastossa maan alla.
Voting location signage will remain in the City of Helsinki's underground storage facility for a couple of months longer (file photo). Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
  • 62,522 lab-confirmed infections as of Monday 8.3 (up by 459 since Sunday)
  • 774 deaths attributed to coronavirus as of Monday 8.3 (up by 7 since Friday)
  • 251 people in hospital, 37 of them in intensive care as of Monday 8.3
  • 481,577 people (8.7% of the population) had received at least one vaccination dose as of 8.3
  • THL reports on Covid-related fatalities and hospital patient statistics on weekdays

8.3 20:15 Election postponement "understandable," president says

President Sauli Niinistö said the decision to postpone Finland's upcoming local elections due to coronavirus concerns was not problematic and understandable.

On Saturday, the justice ministry announced that the municipal elections scheduled for 18 April would be postponed until 13 June. Eight out of nine parliamentary parties agreed to delaying the elections, with the only opposition coming from the Finns Party.

Read more here.

8.3 18:56 Covid home testing kits likely headed to Finland

Coronavirus quick test kits for home use will likely reach the Finnish market, according to Nelli Karhu, senior inspector at pharmaceutical regulating agency Fimea.

Read more here.

8.3 17:15 President approves bar and restaurant closure order

On Monday, Finland's Parliament approved a bill ordering bars and restaurants to close their doors for three weeks in an effort to tackle the worsening coronavirus situation in many areas of the country.

President Sauli Niinistö signed the bill into law later on Monday.

Read more here.

8.3 16:02 Coronavirus nasal vaccine developers plan human trials

Development of a nasally-administered coronavirus vaccine has taken a step forward in Finland, according to researchers who said that clinical trials are being planned as they look for further funding.

Read more here.

8.3 13:32 Parliament approves closure of bars, restaurants

Parliament has approved a bill ordering bars and restaurants to close their doors for three weeks in an effort to tackle the worsening coronavirus situation. Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö is expected to sign the bill into law later on Monday.

The order applies to cafes, bars, restaurants and nightclubs in the accelerating and community transmission phase of the pandemic and will come into effect overnight on Monday.

8.3 13:24 Justice Chancellor receives election postponement complaints

At least seven complaints challenging the legality of the postponement of municipal elections in Finland had been lodged with the office of the Chancellor of Justice as of Monday, with a further two pending. Municipal elections have been shifted from April to June due to the worsening coronavirus situation.

8.3 12:25 Three-week shutdown begins: What does it mean in your city?

Finland begins a three-week period of partial shutdown on Monday, with restrictions depending on whether a region is in the baseline, accelerating or community transmission phase of the epidemic.

Check our our city-by-city breakdown of what the shutdown means in your region here.

8.3 11:54 Finland reports 459 cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has reported 459 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing Finland's overall total since the beginning of the pandemic to 62,522.

8.3 11:37 Pandemic has "increased inequality"

In a press statement marking International Women's Day on Monday, UN Women Finland says physical violence and online harassment of women have increased alarmingly during the pandemic.

"Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the forces opposing women's rights had strengthened, and they are trying to push back the trend towards equality," Executive Director Jaana Hirsikangas wrote.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament also says that the level of domestic violence has increased in Europe during the pandemic.

8.3 9:24 Papers: Restaurant closures, falling mask production

Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat reports on Monday morning that although a three-week closure of restaurants has been announced for the period of 8 March to 28 March, the bill empowering the government to order the shutdown has not actually been passed by parliament yet.

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

7.3 14:59 THL: "Too much attention" paid to worst-case scenario

According to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), its calculation that daily new coronavirus cases could exceed 11,000 by April was mainly a theoretical exercise that has received too much attention. The Justice Ministry said that the THL prognosis was among the factors in the decision to postpone municipal elections from April to June.

Mika Salminen, Director of the THL's Department for Health Security, told Yle on Sunday that the main purpose of the calculation was to show what exponential growth would mean if it was not curbed at all.

The document, which the THL published on Saturday evening, predicts that if current infection trends continue unabated, Finland could see daily new infection levels of 2,600-11,200 by mid-April. So far, the highest daily number of new infections was 797 cases, last Wednesday.

The upper-end calculation does not take into account the effect of new restrictions but were purely mathematical curves based on infection trends, Salminen said.

Read more here.

7.3 13:28 2,000 more new cases in past two weeks than previous

The THL on Saturday reported 511 new lab-confirmed infections nationwide, raising the confirmed total over 62,000, up by some 4,400 in the past week. More than 70 percent of the new cases, 365, were in Helsinki and Uusimaa, followed by Pirkanmaa (including Tampere), which reported a new one-day record of 52 new cases.

In the past two weeks, there have been 8,300 new cases nationally. That is over 2,000 more than during the previous fortnight.

The number of patients in intensive care has however remained steady at 38 for the past week.

7.3 12:18 Niinistö slams EU vaccine procurements

President Sauli Niinistö has criticised the European Union for its joint procurement of coronavirus vaccines.

In an interview with Ilta-Sanomat, Niinistö was critical of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which approves vaccines in the EU, saying it was "far behind" on the AstraZeneca vaccine and that "now Johnson & Johnson is lagging behind".

The president commented on whether Finland should try to procure vaccines itself, calling the idea "interesting".

Read our article here.

6.3 18:28 THL warns daily new cases could exceed 11,000 by April

More details have emerged about the decision to delay municipal elections from April to June.

Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson (SPP) cited a dire report provided to her by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Friday.

The document, which the THL published on Saturday evening, predicts that if current infection trends continue, Finland could see daily new infection levels of 2,600-11,200 by mid-April.

So far the highest daily number of new infections was 797 cases last Wednesday, eclipsing previous high of 720 recorded the previous Friday. There were also more than 700 new cases this past Friday.

The THL noted that due to seasonal variations "it is more likely that by late May and early June the epidemic will be in a calmer phase than on 18 April and that a larger proportion of the [most at-risk] population will be protected by vaccinations" by then.

6.3 13:53 Municipal election rescheduled for June

The Ministry of Justice has agreed with the secretaries of the parliamentary parties that municipal elections should be postponed until 13 June due to the coronavirus situation.

In a tweet, the ministry said that eight out of nine parties backed the delay at a meeting with Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson (SPP).

This ensures that the move will be approved by Parliament, which must ultimately make the decision.

Full story here.

6.3 13:03 648 new infections, Helsinki accounts for 29% of all cases so far

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Saturday that 648 new coronavirus infections have been diagnosed in Finland.

As usual, the largest increase was in the Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) hospital district, where 414 new infections were diagnosed.

Of the 61,552 lab-confirmed infections since January 2020, more than 58 percent have been in the HUS area, with 29 percent of the nation's cases in the capital itself.

6.3 12:21 Construction firms impose tougher measures

Construction companies have tightened their practices on the use of face masks at building sites. Two of Finland's biggest construction firms, YIT and SRV, have begun requiring workers to wear masks whenever feasible.

More details here.

5.3 19:45 Paper: Corona to prompt municipal election postponement

Finland's municipal elections planned in April will be postponed until June over coronavirus concerns, according to evening newspaper Iltalehti.

The paper reported on Friday evening that Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson (SPP) suggested that the elections should not be held in April as planned, due to the worsening coronavirus situation.

Read more here.

5.3 19:33 Åland sees uptick in cases

The number of coronavirus cases on Åland has risen sharply in recent days, according to local health authorities.

As of Friday, confirmed coronavirus cases on the autonomous island have risen to more than 427 infections per 100,000 inhabitants over the past two weeks. Åland has a total of about 30,000 residents.

Read more here.

5.3 18:06 HUS plans to postpone non-urgent care

The Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS) will begin taking measures enabled by the Emergency Powers Act as soon as possible, it announced on Friday.

The district said it could begin postponing non-urgent care of patients as early as next week.

The hospital district implemented similar measures last spring but, according to HUS medical director Markku Mäkijärvi, the coronavirus situation is currently more difficult than it was last year, because there are many patients in the hospital.

On Friday, the government issued a decree to Parliament about bringing into force four sections of the Emergency Powers Act to tackle the worsening coronavirus situation.

5.3 14.26 Government proposes emergency powers

The government will present a request to Parliament to invoke four sections of the Emergency Powers Act.

At a press conference earlier on Friday, PM Sanna Marin (SDP) said the proposed sections of the law would allow for centralised government communication, clarifying of responsibilities between different authorities and the easing of pressure on health care services.

The prime minister also said no decision had yet been made on whether to impose a curfew as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Read more here.

5.3 12.00 Helsinki mayor calls for mandatory testing for travellers

Helsinki's mayor, Jan Vapaavuori, says almost all Helsinki residents over the age of 85 have now been vaccinated.

It was one upside to an otherwise pessimistic press conference from the mayor, who said the coronavirus situation in the capital was "steadily deteriorating."

Vapaavuori said that Helsinki had seen 1,365 new infections over the past week. People aged 56-69 are currently being vaccinated, but the speed of vaccination was being held back by supply issues, the mayor said.

"We are ready to increase the rate of vaccination if we are able to get more of the vaccine," he told journalists.

Vapaavuori also commented on the rate of coronavirus infections in neighbouring Estonia, saying that high numbers there could be reflected in the capital unless additional restrictions were placed on travel.

"By the current laws, mandatory testing would only be possible by making an individual request to each passenger," Vapaavuori said.

"If it's possible in other Nordic countries, it should also be possible here," he continued.

5.3 11:53 Finland reports 704 new cases

Health agency THL has recorded 704 new lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus over the last 24-hour period, bringing Finland's overall total since the beginning of the pandemic to 60,904 infections.

5.3 11:15 Summer festivals postponed due to pandemic fears

Kuopio Dance Festival and Espoo's April Jazz are among the first of Finland's summer festivals to announce a change in their schedules, with both events pushed back to October.

There is more on this story here.

5.3 10:39 Parliament limits activities to urgent, essential matters only

Finland's Parliament has announced plans to limit its activities during the month of March to only essential and urgent matters.

Speaker of Parliament Anu Vehviläinen (Cen) told Yle's Ykkösaamu morning show on Friday that the restricting of activities will give Parliament more time to deal with urgent matters related to the worsening coronavirus situation.

"We will make every effort to ensure that Parliament remains operational in the coming weeks and months," Vehviläinen said.

5.3 9:21 Government considering emergency powers

The government is due to decide on Friday if the introduction of emergency powers is required to tackle the deteriorating coronavirus situation in the country.

In an interview with Yle's A-Talk on Thursday, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) said the introduction of such measures will need to be carefully considered.

"It must be remembered that when we talk about such severe restrictions on fundamental rights, they must be necessary and proportionate, and all other measures must be considered first," Marin said.

A government press conference is scheduled for 12pm on Friday to provide further details.

5.3 9:18 Halonen: Russia offered Sputnik vaccine technology to Finland

Former President Tarja Halonen has confirmed in an interview with commercial broadcaster MTV that Russian authorities offered the manufacturing technology for the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to Finland.

Read more on this story here.

5.3 9:05 HUS boss calls for Uusimaa to get vaccines first

Friday's paper review brings a call from Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) boss Juha Tuominen for the region's at-risk people to be vaccinated before those in other regions.

Speaking to Helsingin Sanomat, Tuominen said it was because of the higher infection rate in the HUS area when compared to most other hospital districts.

"Vaccines need to be directed here more, because the likelihood of death for at-risk people is higher here than in many other hospital districts," Tuominen said.

Elsewhere in the review, the papers report on a change to coronavirus testing policy in Pirkanmaa and the issues farmers can face when in quarantine.

You can read more here.

4.3 20:15 Satakunta secondary, vocational schools move to remote learning

Authorities in the southwestern Satakunta region announced on Thursday that students in grades 7-9 as well as high schools and vocational schools will move to remote learning for three weeks starting from Friday 5 March.

The schools were meant to make the switch to remote learning next Monday, but local authorities ordered the date to be moved forward.

Most of the region's coronavirus outbreaks have been recorded in Rauma, where nearly 800 shipyard workers were ordered to quarantine following a major coronavirus outbreak.

4.3 11:45 Finland hits 60,000 total infections

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has reported 758 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, bringing Finland's total number of since the beginning of the pandemic to just over 60,000.

The highest number of new cases, 517, were registered in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS), of which 244 were diagnosed in Helsinki, 102 in Vantaa and 81 in Espoo. The Hospital District of Southwest Finland had the next highest number of infections, with 87 lab-confirmed cases.

4.3 11:22 THL: Increase in infections putting strain on healthcare services

The recent rise in coronavirus infections is putting increased strain on healthcare services, with the need for patients to be treated in intensive care units especially evident in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS).

Finland has reported a total of 7,400 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases over the past two weeks, which is more than 2,300 more infections than in the previous two-week period.

Speaking at the weekly coronavirus press conference on Thursday morning, THL's Chief Physician Taneli Puumalainen said that the epidemic has "deteriorated rapidly" in Finland.

"This is strongly reflected by the increased need for hospital care," Puumalainen said.

As of Thursday morning, there are 258 patients being treated in hospital for the virus: 115 in primary care wards, 106 in specialist care, and 37 in intensive care units.

4.3 10:17 HUS: Record number of young patients in Covid ICU

The number of young people being treated for coronavirus in intensive care units (ICU) in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) was at a record high last week, according to officials.

One-third of coronavirus patients in ICU were under 40 years of age, including several people under the age of 30 who had no underlying health conditions or long-term illnesses.

4.3 9:26 Papers: Vaccine strategies, career change, airport expansion

The Swedish language newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet reports on Thursday morning that a government decision is expected no later than Friday on requesting parliament to approve the implementation of four sections of the Emergency Powers Act.

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

3.3 20:20 Constitutional Law Committee gives green light for restaurant closures

The Finnish Parliament's Constitutional Law Committee has given the green light to a government proposal on the temporary closure of restaurants. The committee was unanimous in its decision on Wednesday.

The government announced last week it was planning a three-week closure of pubs, bars and restaurants, which meant the committee was given only a week to deal with the law on closures and compensation for businesses affected.

Read more on this story here.

3.3 20:10 Shutdown, Avi, Emergency Powers... What do they all mean?

Do you know your AVI from your STM?

Do you sometimes mistake the Communicable Diseases Act for the emergency powers laws?

Don't worry. As Finland's Covid response ramps up, we have tried to clear up some of the confusion around terms used in press conferences and speeches.

Read our explanations on commonly used terms here.

3.3 16:25 Coronavirus situation in Finnish armed forces "alarming"

At the moment, there are just over 70 people infected with coronavirus in the Finnish Defence Forces, and at least ten times as many have been exposed to the virus. The infections have risen considerably since February.

An epidemiologist with the military described the trend as "alarming".

An overall total of less than 400 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the Finnish armed forces throughout the pandemic. Around one-third of the infections have been diagnosed among staff, and two-thirds of infections have been among conscripts.

Read the full story here.

3.3 15:40 Pirkanmaa secondary, vocational schools move to remote learning

Authorities in the Pirkanmaa region, which contains Finland's second largest urban area in the city of Tampere, have reversed a previous decision to keep students in classrooms from 8 to 28 March. Instead, students in grades 7-9 as well as high schools and vocational schools will move to remote learning for three weeks starting from next Monday.

3.3 14:24 Half of Lapland's coronavirus cases found in visitors

Domestic tourists travelling to the north have been linked to a rise in coronavirus cases as half the coronavirus cases in Lapland in the past two weeks have been detected in visitors from outside the region.

Kolari Health Centre carried out 350 coronavirus tests last week, which is around a hundred more than in a typical week, said the municipality's chief doctor, Ulla Ylläsjärvi.

However, an infectious disease expert from Lapland Hospital District said that although the current incidence of coronavirus in Lapland was high, all infections had been traced and no mass exposures had been detected.

Read more on this here.

3.3 11:45 797 cases on Wednesday – a new daily record

THL reports 797 new coronavirus cases in Finland, bringing the total to 59,442.

The Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district saw 465 of those, with 114 in Southwest Finland and 65 in Satakunta.

797 is now the highest daily number of new coronavirus infections reported in Finland since the pandemic began, passing a previous high of 720 recorded last Friday.

3.3 11:30 PM Marin makes plea to stay in, even if places are open

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has called on people to avoid going to indoor leisure facilities, even though those facilities are still open.

Read more on this story here.

3.3 10:38 Government mulls curfew order

Finland's government is continuing deliberations over the introduction of a curfew in many parts of the country aimed at tackling the worsening coronavirus situation.

Although the exact details are unclear at this stage, the curfew is likely to involve restrictions on movement in certain areas or at certain times, especially in regions considered to be in the "accelerating" or "community transmission" phases of the epidemic.

Yle understands that the police would be given additional powers to enforce the curfew, and could fine offenders if necessary.

3.3 9:01 Papers: Pandemic lessons, vaccine alternatives

Wednesday morning's papers look at the lessons that can be learned from the past year fighting the coronavirus pandemic as well as the options Finland has for procuring coronavirus vaccines fall outside of the EU's joint procurement programme.

Read more on these stories, and the rest of our paper review, here.

2.3 20:05 Confirmed cases continue at Rauma shipyard

A further 54 lab-confirmed coronavirus infections have been diagnosed among workers at a shipyard in Rauma. This brings the total number of cases since the outbreak was first detected two week ago to 324 - meaning that roughly a third of the yard's approximately 1,000 workers have been infected with the virus.

Testing will continue this week, so new confirmed cases are likely to still be found.

2.3 15:48 Employment rate drops below 70%

The number of people in employment in January this year was down by 61,000 compared to January 2020, according to preliminary figures released by Statistics Finland.

Finland’s employment rate now stands at 69.9 percent, which is two percentage points lower than a year ago.

In response to the latest jobs figures, the Finland Chamber of Commerce called on the government to ease the uncertainty in the Finnish economy created by the ongoing pandemic.

You can read more here.

2.3 15:14 Parliament begins debate on closure of bars, restaurants

Parliament has begun considering the government's proposal to close bars and restaurants from 8 to 28 March in regions in the spreading and community transmission phase of the epidemic, after which the matter will be referred to parliamentary committees.

The proposal is being heard as a matter of urgency on Tuesday, before being passed to Parliament's Constitutional Law Committee on Wednesday and the Committee on Economic Affairs a day later.

Read more here.

2.3 14:47 Gyms, sports facilities can reopen in southern Finland within limits

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland (Avi) have resolved a dispute over whether gyms and other free-time facilities may be open if they host no more than 10 people at a time.

There is more on this story here.

2.3 12:43 Situation stable at Meyer Turku Shipyard

Local health officials say that a coronavirus outbreak at the Meyer Turku Shipyard has stabilised after parts of the facility were closed and workers' contacts in the area limited. 128 cases have been confirmed among employees at the shipyard, as well as a further 25 associated with the outbreak.

2.3 12:34 Problems with vaccination bookings

Many people across the country say that they have had major difficulties in reserving appointments for coronavirus vaccinations, with long waits to get through to booking numbers and confusing variation in practice from municipality to municipality.

An Yle survey of 18 municipalities found the problem has been widespread, and was particularly evident in early February, when the vaccination roll-out expanded beyond nursing homes and moved to appointments at health centres.

More on the situation in this report.

2.3 12:13 581 more cases on Tuesday

THL reported 581 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 58,645.

About 60 percent of the new cases were in the Helsinki University hospital district, with much smaller numbers in the southwest, including Turku, and northern Ostrobothnia, including Oulu.

2.3 10:12 Tuesday's papers: Curfew models and restaurant payments

The possibility of emergency curfews has led some papers to speculate what restrictions on movement might look like.

The papers also look at calls to the state for a pledge to fully reimburse restaurants for their fixed costs during the government-ordered three-week shutdown that is to begin on 8 March, and speculation that the municipal elections scheduled for April may be postponed due to the upswing in the coronavirus epidemic.

Read our press review here.

1.3 21:11 Government halts roll out of emergency powers

Finland's government has rowed back on plans to apply two provisions of the Emergency Powers Act, announced earlier on Monday in conjunction with the declaration of a state of emergency.

Read more here.

1.3 19:17 Number of passengers turned away at Helsinki port triples

Nearly 100 people were refused entry to Finland at the Port of Helsinki last week, triple the number from the previous week, according to figures provided by the Finnish Border Guard.

The most common reasons for refusal of entry were a threat posed to public health and the pursuit of work in Finland that was not deemed to be necessary for the security of supply and the functioning of society.

1.3 16:28 Construction workers in Tampere quarantined after outbreak

The City of Tampere is to begin a mass coronavirus testing effort at the Uros Live arena construction site, after 10 workers at the facility tested positive for the virus in recent days.

There is more on this story here.

1.3 14:25 Finland declares state of emergency

The government of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has declared a state of emergency in Finland due to the worsening coronavirus epidemic.

Read more on this story here.

1.3 12:46 Pandemic may transform lives of civil servants

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to have a transformative effect on the working lives of civil servants, as the number of government office premises is expected to decrease sharply in the future.

Read more on this story here.

1.3 12:06 Finland reports 392 cases on Monday

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 392 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections in the past day, bringing Finland's overall total since the beginning of the pandemic to 58,064.

Of the new infections, 251 were diagnosed in the Helsinki University Hospital District. The second highest number of infections, 33, was reported in the hospital district of Southwest Finland.

1.3 11:50 Experts claim few benefits to Covid tracing app

There have been few benefits from mobile device-based coronavirus tracing in Finland, according to an article in evening newspaper Iltalehti. Medical experts who were queried about Koronavilkku's benefits did not have much praise for the app, which cost the state around six million euros to develop. The general consensus, according to the paper, was that its tracing abilities are limited.

1.3 9:29 Papers: Finland to declare state of emergency

Yle News' newspaper review finds that tabloid Ilta-Sanomat was among several outlets reporting that the Finnish government is expected to formally declare a state of emergency at a cabinet meeting which starts just before noon on Monday.

As the paper points out, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) indicated in a Twitter post on Friday that the step was imminent, and President Sauli Niinistö told the Finnish news agency STT on Thursday that agreement had been reached on implementing stringent new measures.

Read the whole review here.

28.2 17:26 New rules confusing and unfair, sports associations say

Finland’s partial shutdown announced by the government this week brings a number of new restrictions on group gatherings. But rules may be applied differently depending on if a hobby takes place in a public or private facility.

Sports groups have criticised the government and Southern Finland's Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi) for issuing conflicting Covid rules for team hobbies.

More here.

28.2 13:30 Total vaccinations surpass 370,000

On Sunday, officials reported that Finland had vaccinated a total of 370,874 people against coronavirus, an increase of 9,130 since Saturday.

About 6.7 percent of the population has received a vaccination so far. Most of those inoculated are over 80 years of age, and about half of people in this age groups have received one dose of the vaccine. On Sunday 81,125 individuals, or 1.4 percent of residents, had received both vaccine doses.

28.2 13:15 Finland sees 120 cases per 100,000

Over the last 14 days Finland has reported nearly 7,400 new cases, up from some 5,100 in the previous two-week period.

In the last two weeks, Finland's Covid incidence rate rose to 120 cases per 100,000 people, a jump from around 90 two weeks prior.

28.2 12:23 Customs won't use Covid sniffer dogs

Finnish Customs said it won’t employ specially trained sniffer dogs at border points after the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said there was not enough evidence to support the canines' ability to detect the virus, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

More on this story here.

28.2 12:05 Finland reports 620 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Sunday recorded 620 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections, bringing Finland's overall total since the beginning of the pandemic to 57,672.

Of the new infections, 411 were diagnosed in the Helsinki University Hospital District. The second highest number of infections, 52, was reported in the hospital district of Southwest Finland.

27.2 12:16 Justice Minister: Finland preparing for curfew as situation worsens

Finland's Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson told Yle's Ykkösaamu morning tv show on Saturday that preparations are being made to introduce a curfew in the country under the Emergency Powers Act if the coronavirus situation continues to deteriorate.

Read more on this story here.

27.2 12:05 Finland reports 645 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has registered 645 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing Finland's overall total since the beginning of the pandemic to 57,052.

Of the new infections, 384 were diagnosed in the Helsinki University Hospital District. The second highest number of infections, 73, was reported in the hospital district of Southwest Finland while the third highest was found in the hospital district in Northern Ostrobothnia, with 26.

Finland has reported a total of 7,045 new infections over the past two weeks, which is about 1,900 more cases than over the previous two-week period.

27.2 10:23 MP diagnosed with coronavirus

Member of Parliament Eeva-Johanna Eloranta has been diagnosed with a coronavirus infection, according to a Parliament press release Parliament on Saturday. Parliament's Occupational Health Centre and the City of Helsinki's Infection Unit have launched follow-up investigations to determine possible exposures.

26.2 20:34 Capital region tightens measures - but ministry says not enough

Authorities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area have further tightened restrictions aimed at tackling the spread of coronavirus in the region, but the measures have been criticised by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM) as not going far enough.

Read more on this story here.

26.2 17:49 Minister: State support for events industry

Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Cen) said on Friday that the government will reimburse event industry firms for cancellations caused by coronavirus restrictions.

Read more here.

26.2 16:10 Authorities suspect fake Covid test certs behind Rauma outbreak

Health authorities in the Satakunta region suspect falsified coronavirus test certificates may have led to a major coronavirus outbreak at a shipyard in the city of Rauma.

There is more on this story here.

26.2 13:54 PM Marin: No return to normal after shutdown

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) told Yle on Friday that life in Finland won’t return to normal immediately after the March shutdown, adding that most of the new restrictions announced on Thursday will continue.

Read more on this story here.

26.2 13:00 Finland hits new daily coronavirus record with 720 cases

Public health institute THL on Friday reported 720 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases--a new daily record for Finland. In the last 14 days the country has reported 1,665 more cases than in the previous two-week period.

26.2 10:50 Cases won't decrease for months, expert says

Veli-Matti Ulander, chief administrative physician at Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS), said new infections would only begin declining closer to May Day.

"The worst situation for hospitals could be at the end of March and during Easter, unfortunately," Ulander said.

The heightened restrictions, referred to by officials as a partial shutdown, were announced by the government on Thursday.

More on this story here.

26.2 9:21 Papers: School exposures, vaccines for teachers and jab queue

Among other topics in Friday's newspaper review, we learned that experts are concerned about the risk of secondary school pupils bringing coronavirus infections to classrooms after this week's winter holidays.

25.2 19:50 Incorrect vaccine doses given in Pirkanmaa

Around 50 people vaccinated in the town of Nokia will need to be revaccinated as they were given doses that were too small. Those affected will be contacted in person.

Using the so-called 'air bubble technique', shown at official vaccine training sessions, it is possible for vaccinators to inadvertently underdose when using the Pfizer and Biontech vaccine.

According to Katja Ylitolva, medical director at the town of Nokia, the incorrect doses were administered only on 24 February.

More on this story here.

25.2 17:30 How will the new shutdown affect you?

On Thursday, the government announced that Finland is about to enter a three-week shutdown, beginning on 8 March.

This means that in the areas where the virus is in the 'spreading' and 'acceleration' stages, an immediate transition to the stricter 'Tier 2' measures is recommended.

These tougher 'Tier 2' measures will apply to seven areas: Helsinki and Uusimaa, Southwest Finland, Satakunta, Kanta-Häme, Vaasa, Åland and Lapland.

The government also recommended for hospital districts in the acceleration stage to impose restrictions effective immediately.

These areas are East Savo, South Karelia, Pirkanmaa, Central Finland, Päijät-Häme, Länsi-Pohja, North Ostrobothnia, South Ostrobothnia and Kymenlaakso.

Read how the new shutdown will affect you here.

25.2 16:10 Tallink reports 108 million euro loss and 3,000 layoffs in 2020

Estonian ferry and shipping company Tallink lost 108.3 million euros in 2020, according to financial results published on Thursday.

The Helsinki–Stockholm route, operated by the company's Silja Line brand, was among those put on hold as the virus spread last year.

Read more here.

25.2 12:05 Case figures jump in Finland, 565 new cases on Thursday

Finland recorded another 565 confirmed Covid cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 55,687 since the start of the pandemic. Thursday's cases are concentrated in Uusimaa, which recorded some 366 of them.

At the weekly briefing on Covid, officials announced that in the week beginning on 15 February prevalence jumped to 62 cases per 100,000 residents. The previous week, that figure had been 46 per 100,000 residents.

Officials said that non-urgent procedures had been postponed in Helsinki because of the increased numbers of Covid patients in hospitals, and caseloads were increasing at hospitals nationwide.

The majority of infections are among working-age people, especially young adults. Of all cases, some 80 percent were detected among people aged under 50 and around 45 percent among people aged under 30.

Cases among those aged over 60 accounted for nine percent of the total, and the over-70s made up three percent of all cases.

Some 11,000 people were ordered to quarantine last week, which is some 2,700 more than during the previous week.

As of 22 February there had been some 690 cases of mutated Covid variants in Finland, with 660 of those the British variant.

Of those, some 529 were recorded in the Helsinki region.

25.2 10:38 Lockdown announced

Finland has announced expanded Covid control measures, including more remote learning for some pupils and a three-week shutdown for pubs and restaurants starting on 8 March. Read more here.

25.2 08:40 Papers: Another state of emergency?

Thursday morning's papers look ahead to a government coronavirus press conference scheduled for 09:30 this morning, with the expectation that the country is about to enter a state of emergency like the one last spring.

Elsewhere, Iltalehti raises the prospect of faster coronavirus testing, as a Finnish lab introduces portable equipment that can analyse PCR tests onsite.

You can read more about these stories and more here.

Previous updates available here.

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