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Coronavirus latest: Seven more deaths, Finland likely to first get Pfizer vaccine, strong support for officials’ handling of crisis, Finland's first reinfections

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

Kasvomaskiin pukeutunut nainen katsoo jouluvaloin koristeltua tavaratalon ikkunaa.
Helsinki Metropolitan Area authorities have announced a slew of stricter measures to combat the rapidly deteriorating coronavirus situation. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle
  • 26,758 lab-confirmed infections as of Friday 4.12 (up by 336 since Thursday 3.12)
  • 415 deaths attributed to coronavirus as of Friday 4.12 (up by 7 since Wednesday 2.12)
  • 141 people in hospital, 21 of them in intensive care (patients down by 24 since Wednesday 2.12)
  • Hospital districts report on deaths and hospitalised patients on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

4.12 20:10 Strong support for officials’ handling of crisis

People in Finland seem to be generally pleased with how top state officials have managed the coronavirus crisis so far.

A poll carried out for Yle by Taloustutkimus asked residents how well or poorly various officials and organisations have responded to the pandemic.

Eighty-two percent of respondents said that the government has performed quite or extremely well. The president and prime minister received the highest marks for their leadership during the pandemic.

You can read more here.

4.12 16:08 Finland likely to first get Pfizer vaccine

Experts say Finland will initially receive the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

Ville Peltola, chair of Finland’s National Advisory Committee on Vaccines (KRAR), on Friday said it was very likely the Pfizer vaccine would be available in Finland in the near future.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) announced on Thursday that coronavirus vaccinations will be rolled out to healthcare workers in January, and then to the elderly and at-risk groups in February, followed by others in the spring.

Full article here.

4.12 13:15 Chancellor of Justice criticises ministries

Chancellor of Justice Tuomas Pöysti has criticised two government ministries over their handling of the procurement and storage of personal protective equipment (PPE) after the initial outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring.

Read more on this story here.

4.12 12:08 THL reports 336 new cases

Health agency THL has reported 336 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, bringing the total of confirmed infections to 26,758.

The largest increase in infections was recorded in the Helsinki University Hospital District, where 190 new cases were diagnosed.

THL also reported that there were a further seven deaths linked to coronavirus since Wednesday. There are now 141 people being treated in hospital for the virus, a drop of 24 patients since Wednesday, and 21 are in intensive care.

4.12 9:23 Papers: Covid reinfections in Finland

Helsingin Sanomat is reporting in Friday morning's edition that Finland's first cases of people becoming reinfected with Covid have been detected in both Turku and Uusimaa.

Read more on this story, and the rest of our round up of Friday morning's papers, here.

3.12 18:32 'Party people' playing games

Meanwhile some in the night time economy have not accepted the restrictions lying down, but police say they will crack down on those trying to skirt around the regulations. Our story is here.

3.12 18:30 Government reveals new restrictions

Finland has introduced additional rules governing bars and pubs in the different 'phases' of the epidemic. They represent a tightening for those in lower tiers. Details here.

3.12 13:35 Police: Sharp rise in domestic incident reports

Finland's National Police Board has revealed that domestic incident reports are expected to be up by about 25 percent this year compared to last year, as the need to spend more time at home due to coronavirus restrictions is creating tensions within households and between neighbours.

Read more on this story here.

3.12 12:20 Vaccinations to begin as soon as possible

Coronavirus vaccinations will be rolled out to healthcare workers in January, and then to the elderly and at-risk groups in February, according to Chief Physician Taneli Puumalainen of the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). Read more details of the Finland's vaccination programme here.

3.12 12:02 THL reports 540 new infections

Finland's health agency THL has reported 540 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, bringing the total of confirmed infections to 26,422.

The largest increase in infections was recorded in the Helsinki University Hospital District, where 308 new cases were diagnosed.

Some 48 new infections were reported in the hospital district of Southwest Finland, which contains the city of Turku, and 41 in the hospital district of Päijät-Häme, where the city of Lahti is located.

3.12 9:28 Papers: Coronavirus vaccine strategy, and concerns

Finland's press on Thursday morning is full of reports about the government's strategy for a vaccination programme aimed at bringing the coronavirus epidemic under control.

One paper, Helsingin Sanomat, also writes that many healthy middle-aged and young people are concerned about the potential risks associated with the vaccine.

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

2.12 19:13 Far-right protest cancelled due to limits on public events

Coronavirus restrictions have led to the cancellation of a planned demonstration in the city of Tampere on Finland's Independence Day by a far-right group called Suomi herää or 'Finland Awakens'.

Read more on this story here.

2.12 17:16 Finnish hockey league set for unscheduled break

The Finnish Hockey League is preparing to postpone fixtures as the latest coronavirus restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend public events come into effect.

There is more on this story here.

2.12 15:52 Demand for masks rise, but supply shortage unlikely

Finland's biggest retail chains are reporting a spike in demand for face masks as the coronavirus situation deteriorates, but they reassure customers that there are adequate supplies to meet the increased demand.

Read more on this story here.

2.12 13:56 Valmet furloughs, UPM redundancies

Finnish pulp, paper and energy industry firm Valmet has announced that 372 workers will be furloughed, or temporarily laid-off, for a maximum of 90 days after the conclusion of co-determination talks with employee representatives. In a press release, Valmet said that the lay-offs were due to continued uncertainty and low workloads caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The negotiations had included nearly 1,000 of the company's 5,000+ workforce in Finland.

Meanwhile, forestry firm UPM has said it will shed 181 jobs in Finland after the completion of separate co-determination discussions.

2.12 12:54 HUS bans hospital visits

Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) has banned visitors at its hospitals. There are some exceptions for severely ill patients, but it is hoped the measure will help slow the spread of Covid. Our story is here.

2.12 12:40 Poll: Trust in politicians dips after Covid spring peak

Trust in Finnish politicians has fallen this year, according to a survey by the pro-market think tank Eva.

In October around a quarter of respondents said they trusted information given by politicians. In the same survey in the spring, around half of respondents said the same thing.

Read more here.

2.12 12:10 420 new cases

THL has announced that Finland recorded 420 new cases in the last 24 hours. That brings the total of confirmed infections to 25,882.

Some 256 of the new infections were recorded in the Helsinki region, with South-west Finland accounting for 28 and Pirkanmaa also at 28.

Meanwhile the health agency also announced a further nine deaths linked to coronavirus since Monday. There are currently 165 people being treated in hospital for the virus, 21 of whom are in intensive care.

2.12 11:03 Nearly a tenth of workers at Stora Enso site test positive

Stora Enso has said that just under a tenth of workers at its site in Oulu have tested positive for coronavirus. You can read our story here.

2.12 9:42 Covid sceptic postpones party following backlash

Nightclub entrepreneur and former football club owner Seppo 'Sedu' Koskinen has been in the headlines recently over his plan to host a 'party' at which guests would pay 200 euros as a 'contribution'.

The plans were widely criticised, and Iltalehti reported on Wednesday, however, that 'Sedu' has relented and moved the party to New Year's Eve instead, while also launching a screed of Covid-denialist invective on social media, saying the 'corona panic' was a 'political show'.

Read about this story and more in our paper review.

1.12 20:00 Little dissent over EU recovery plan in parliament debate

A majority of parliamentary groups have expressed support for Finland’s participation in the EU's Covid recovery plan. Minister of Finance Matti Vanhanen (Cen) said that EU’s joint plan supports Finland's and the EU's recovery from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Government parties' MPs seem to have fallen into line behind the plan, with no opposition from those groups expressed during the debate. Opposition NCP expressed its support too. Read our story here.

1.12 19:27 Independence Day flag ceremony moves to Hämeenlinna

This year for the first time ever, Finland’s traditional Independence Day flag hoisting ceremony will not be held in Helsinki but in Hämeenlinna in the wake of the worsening coronavirus situation in the capital region.

Read our story here.

1.12 18:05 South-Savo and South Karelia enter acceleration phase

The South Savo Social and Health Care Authority (Essote) has announced that the South Savo region has entered the acceleration phase of the coronavirus epidemic. On Tuesday, 14 new coronavirus infections were diagnosed in the area. Essote recommended a 20 person-limit at public events and in museums and other indoor public spaces.

South Karelia has also moved to the acceleration phase of the epidemic. The South Karelia Social and Health Care District (Eksote) will issue new recommendations this week.

1.12 17:40 Labs battle Covid testing supplies shortage

Finland is facing a shortage of coronavirus test supplies, according to Finland's largest laboratory company Fimlab. At the moment, Fimlab has the capacity to process half of the tests in 49 hours. However, the test processing time has increased to three or even four days due to a spike in the number of tests coming in, Fimlab officials said.

Read more on this here.

1.12 16:56 Public events restricted to 10 people in Pirkanmaa region

Public events are restricted to a maximum of 10 people in the Pirkanmaa Hospital District and the municipality of Punkalaidun, according to an announcement by the Regional State Administrative Agency of Western and Inland Finland on Tuesday. Organising private events with more than 10 people is not recommended.

The restrictions are in place for three weeks from 2 December to 21 December.

Visitors to hospitals and health centres are prohibited except in wards with children, young people and the critically ill. Expectant mothers can still be accompanied by a support person.

Events are restricted to 20 people in municipalities belonging to the hospital districts of Central Ostrobothnia (excluding Reisjärvi), Vaasa, Southern Ostrobothnia and Central Finland.

In addition, public events and general meetings can only be organised if the safety of the participants can be ensured in accordance with the coronavirus guidelines issued by the government.

The coronavirus situation has deteriorated rapidly in Pirkanmaa. A total of 215 infections were diagnosed in the hospital district last week. The region is close to moving from the 'acceleration' phase to 'community spreading' phase, according to authorities.

1.12 14:25 Online shopping boost

Retailers in Finland have seen a massive shift to online shopping during the pandemic. Both S and K groups say customers have switched in large numbers, and they're unlikely to switch back. Our story is here.

1.12 12:50 Second wave peak may come in a fortnight

Finland's regions have introduced new restrictions to try and tackle the second wave of Covid-19 cases, which means -- if all goes well -- the peak may be soon. Even so, people need to keep up their guard and continue to follow recommendations.

Our story is here.

1.12 12:15 550 new cases in Finland

THL announced this morning that there were 550 new coronavirus infections in Finland in the last 24 hours. The total now stands at 25,462.

The biggest increase has been in the Helsinki University hospital district, where some 178 new cases were confirmed. In Pirkanmaa there were 119 new cases and in Päijät-Häme there were 63.

1.12 10:56 List of new restrictions

Several cities and regions have brought in new rules and restrictions to try and slow the rise in coronavirus cases. We've rounded up details from some of the biggest cities here.

1.12 9:30 Christmas plans set to change

Tuesday's paper review has an advent-influenced focus on Christmas plans during the pandemic. Many people are not travelling as they would usually, while hospitals are wondering how they'll staff wards during the holiday season.

Read the full review here.

Read previous updates here.

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