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Coronavirus latest: New border regulations in force, vaccine bookings open in Uusimaa, youth sports resume in capital region

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

Mehiläisen drive-in-testausasemalla Helsingin Hernesaaressa tehtiin koronavirustestejä lumisessa säässä 4. tammikuuta 2021.
File photo of a coronavirus drive-in testing point operated by private health care firm Mehiläinen. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
  • 43,616 lab-confirmed infections as of Wednesday 27.1 (up by 496 since Tuesday)
  • 660 deaths attributed to coronavirus as of Wednesday 27.1 (up by 5 since Tuesday 26.1)
  • 148 people in hospital, 20 of them in intensive care as of Wednesday 27.1
  • 117,555 people have received vaccinations as of Wednesday 27.1
  • THL reports on Covid-related fatalities and hospital patient statistics on weekdays

27.1 20:18 Youth and children's hobbies resume in Helsinki area

The cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa have decided to allow hobby and sport activities for those under the age of 20 to resume with a variety of restrictions.

Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori (NCP) said on Wednesday afternoon that the capital region's coronavirus coordination group had decided to open hobby activities for children and youth under 20 in municipal facilities in a limited manner and with specific safety instructions.

Read more here.

27.1 17:02 Restrictions on events extended through Feb. in south

Restrictions on gatherings in the four regions of Southern Finland will continue through at least the end of February, the Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) for Southern Finland said on Wednesday.

The decision covers markets, concerts, theatrical performances and sports events with spectators, for instance. It includes both indoor and outdoor events.

Details here.

27.1 1 15:27 Border residents understand need for tighter restrictions

Residents of Tornio in Finnish Lapland, on the border with Sweden, expect that new restrictions that came into force on Wednesday will make everyday life a little more difficult. At the same time, there is understanding that the government wants to reduce the chances of the further carriers of coronavirus variants entering the country.

Full story here.

27.1 12:08 Finnish companies see economic outlook improving

Expectations of economic recovery from the impact of the coronavirus crisis are on the rise in Finland, according to the results of a Business Tendency Survey carried out by the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) in January.

The news comes as Statistics Finland reports consumer confidence was at its highest level in over two years in January and as Nordea Bank predicts Finland's GDP to grow by three percent this year.

Read more on this story here.

27.1 11:43 Finland reports 496 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has registered 496 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections over the last 24 hours, bringing Finland's total since the beginning of the pandemic to 43,616.

The highest number of new infections were detected in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) where 270 cases were reported.

27.1 9:24 Papers: New border regulations come into force

Finland's papers report on the new travel restrictions that come into effect as of Wednesday, and will remain in place for the next 30 days, with tabloid Ilta-Sanomat writing that the new travel restrictions will reduce the number of passengers coming to Finland by air and sea by about 75 percent.

Read more on this story, and the rest of Wednesday morning's paper review, here.

27.1 9:11 Finnair require negative coronavirus test from passengers

As tighter restrictions on travel to and from Finland come into force, national airline Finnair has announced in a tweet that it will require a certificate of a negative coronavirus test from passengers aged 12+ arriving into the country, effective from 28 January.

The certificate can be either printed or digital. There is more information here.

26.1 20:21 Yle survey: Nearly 90% plan to take Covid vaccine

A majority of people in Finland are either 'definitely' or 'probably' going to take the coronavirus vaccine, according to the results of a survey commissioned by Yle and carried out by pollster Taloustutkimus.

Read the whole story here.

26.1 18:34 Finland confirms 100 coronavirus variant cases

A total of 100 mutated coronavirus cases have been detected in Finland, Taneli Puumalainen, chief physician at the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) confirmed at a joint press conference on Tuesday.

Puumalainen made the comments alongside Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health strategy director at Tuesday's press conference, offering an update on the coronavirus situation and the government's hybrid strategy in fighting the epidemic. Read more here.

26.1 16:41 Finns visiting national parks like never before

Ever since the coronavirus crisis prompted people to remain at safe distances from one another, there has been a steady increase in the number of visits to Finland's forests and national parks, where there's plenty of room to roam.

Finland's national parks had more than four million visitors last year, according to parks and forestry agency Metsähallitus. But the record visitor numbers weren't exclusively due to the pandemic.

Read more here.

Blog continues after photo.

Rajavartijat tarkistavat autoilijoiden henkilöllisyyksiä Tornion ja Haaparannan välisellä rajanylityspaikalla.
Members of Finland's Border Guard greet drivers at the Tornio-Haparanda border crossing last week, file photo. Image: Timo Heikkala / Lehtikuva

26.1 15:30 Family quarantine periods extended to 3 weeks

Mandated quarantine periods for family members living with a Covid-19 infected individual have been extended to three weeks, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Read more on this story here.

26.1 11:52 Infections surpass 43,000

The number of infections recorded in Finland since the beginning of the pandemic exceeded 43,000 on Tuesday, as the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) registered 348 new confirmed coronavirus cases.

The largest numbers were recorded in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS), where 187 new infections were confirmed, while the Pirkanmaa hospital district registered 24 cases and the Southwest Finland hospital district recorded 22.

26.1 11:02 Vaccine appointments open online for elderly in Uusimaa

Residents of Uusimaa aged 85 or over can now reserve appointments to receive the coronavirus vaccine by booking a slot online via koronarokotusaika.fi (link in Finnish).

In related vaccine news, Finland had originally hoped to have vaccinated everyone who wanted the jab by midsummer, but delayed delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine is likely to make that goal unattainable.

Read more on both of these stories here.

25.1 17:49 Finland sees 11 new coronavirus fatalities

Eleven people have died from coronavirus-related illness in Finland since Friday, the Institute for Health and Welfare announced on Monday. The overall coronavirus death toll in Finland on Monday was 655.

Meanwhile, as of Monday 110 people were receiving hospital treatment for coronavirus infections, 21 of whom in intensive care.

25.1 17:19 Government: No new restrictions, yet

Finland is not yet adjusting national coronavirus restrictions but is updating its testing and infection tracing strategy, members of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) government announced on Monday.

Marin said there is a risk the epidemic could accelerate in Finland at a rapid pace, noting that the new virus strains first seen in the UK and South Africa have spread at rates of 50 to 75 percent faster than the earlier form of the virus.

Read more here.

Blog continues after photo.

Nainen menee koronatestiin.
A woman heads in for a Covid-19 test (file photo). Image: Juuso Stoor / Yle

25.1 12:31 THL urge caution over coronavirus vaccine and pregnancy

Finland's health agency THL is recommending that recipients of a coronavirus vaccine should avoid becoming pregnant for up to two months after receiving the shots.

Read more on this story here.

25.1 12:31 Covid grants to be repaid

Officials have said some businesses will have to repay grants paid last year to help them over the Covid crisis. The grants were paid out on the basis that the owner's salary could be covered by the cash, but that was against official guidance. Read our story here.

25.1 12:08 Finland reports 192 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 192 new coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing Finland's total to 42,772 cases.

The largest number of cases was once again recorded in the Helsinki University Hospital district, with 128 new cases.

25.1 10:37 Will the show go on?

Finland's festival organisers are hoping for a return to normality this year, with some planning to welcome back crowds at full capacity.

Read more on this story here.

25.1 9:03 Monday's papers: Subsidies surplus and Covid-safe classrooms

Monday morning's papers report on the unexpectedly positive impact the pandemic has had on municipal finances around Finland, while a Helsingin Sanomat survey of teachers found that maintaining social distancing in schools is "like telling birds not to fly."

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

24.1 17:18 More infections in past 2 weeks, less than 2% of population vaccinated

During the past two weeks, 3,990 new Covid-19 infections have been diagnosed in Finland, which is 377 more than during the preceding fortnight.

Well over half of these cases, 2,243, were confirmed in the past week.

Meanwhile the number of residents who have received vaccinations has passed the 100,000 mark – or less than two percent of the population. On Sunday the THL said that 105,620 people have gotten the jab, with 4,434 of them having received a second dose.

24.1 14:28 PM says coronavirus subsidies to be extended

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) says it is highly likely that the government will extend coronavirus subsidies for companies.

In an interview with the Tampere daily Aamulehti on Sunday, the premier said that the cabinet is preparing for more supports, which are to be extended for as long as the Covid-19 crisis lasts.

More information here.

24.1 12:22 246 new cases on Sunday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) announced 246 new coronavirus infections. Altogether 42,580 cases have been diagnosed in the past year.

The largest number of cases, as usual, was in the Helsinki and Uusimaa healthcare district, with 117 new cases, 64 of them in the capital. North Savo reported 26, followed by North Ostrobothnia with 22.

23.1 18:14 Mass vaccinations delayed by AstraZeneca problems

The rollout of widespread coronavirus vaccinations in Finland will have to be postponed due to drug company AstraZeneca's manufacturing problems, says the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

THL Chief Specialist Mia Kontio described the situation as a major disappointment.

The THL had told municipalities around Finland to be ready to begin large-scale vaccinations starting in the week of 8 February. Now that timetable will have to be adjusted.

You can read more here.

23.1 14:12 Finnair requires negative test for flights to Finland

Finnair will restart regular passenger flights between Finland and the UK and Ireland on Monday.

The move follows a decision on Friday evening by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom), which said it would not extend restrictions on air services from the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa.

The national airline said it will require a negative Covid-19 test certificate of all passengers on all flights to Finland beginning on Thursday 28 January.

Full story here.

23.1 13:00 419 new cases, highest rate in Vantaa

The THL announced 419 new Covid infections on Saturday, bringing the overall tally to well over 42,000. Half of the new infections were in the Helsinki-Uusimaa region. Vantaa has the highest rate per capita so far, with 2,000 confirmed cases per 100,000, followed by Helsinki and Espoo.

More than 2,000 new cases have been confirmed nationwide this week.

As of Friday, the number of patients in hospital was down slightly to 136, with two dozen of them in intensive care.

Twenty-six more deaths have been announced this past week, bringing the total to 644.

23.1 12:17 Estonia calls on Finland to ease border restrictions

Estonia has asked the Finnish government to ease entry restrictions on workers arriving from Tallinn. Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said Finland's latest decision will in effect cut off work trips between the two countries.

As of Wednesday, work-based entry from other EU countries, including neighbouring Sweden and Estonia, will be restricted to essential duties.

More details here.

22.1 21:43 Finland tightens borders, increases testing

Finland is to bar all but essential travel as it looks to curb the spread of new, more highly contagious strains of the coronavirus.

Read more on the latest measures here.

22.1 18:03 No new cases at Tampere care home

There have been no new coronavirus infections detected at the Rauhaniemi hospital for seniors in Tampere this week, according to local authorities.

A total of 13 deaths linked to coronavirus had been reported at the facility since a localised outbreak which began in early December after Covid-exposed staff were told to return to work before their quarantine periods were complete.

22.1 16:08 Oulu police quarantine officers after Covid exposure

More than 20 officers of the Oulu police force have been exposed to coronavirus and been placed in quarantine until next week, according to a report in regional newspaper Kaleva.

Read more on this story here.

22.1 15:12 Over 83,000 now vaccinated

News agency STT reports on Friday afternoon that the number of people to receive at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Finland has now reached over 83,000.

The highest number of vaccines have been provided in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS), with about 22,000 doses. The second highest is the Pirkanmaa Hospital District with the Hospital District of Southwest Finland in third.

More than 20,000 people over the age of 70 have now been vaccinated, STT added.

22.1 14:03 Hospital districts deny hoarding vaccine

Hospital officials in Helsinki and Turku have both responded to an inquiry from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health for information on their vaccine supplies by saying the need to keep vaccine frozen means it must be distributed to municipalities in measured batches.

There is more on this story here.

22.1 12:42 Mask madness hits Finnish retail

Finland bought more than a million litres of hand sanitiser in 2020, and more than a hundred million face masks.

You can read more detail on the Covid retail boom here.

22.1 12:05 350 new cases

Finland has recorded 350 new confirmed coronavirus cases, said THL on Friday.

The largest share of new infections, 166, was recorded in the Helsinki University hospital district.

In south-west Finland there were 52. In all, Finland has recorded 41,915 confirmed coronavirus infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

22.1 9:28 Border restrictions in the papers

Friday's paper review includes speculation on new restrictions at the border, as Finland tries to clamp down on the spread of new variants of Covid-19. An announcement could come today. Read the review here.

21.1 16:07 APN Podcast: Who gets to have a hobby during Covid?

Debate in Finland has erupted over coronavirus restrictions on kids' hobbies. People are having a difficult time accepting that adults are able to sit in coffee shops and bars until 10pm while most children's activities are off limits.

You can 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.

Blog continues after audio.

Audio: Yle

21.1 15:25 Committee: Businesses must be compensated for shutdowns

Finland's efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus got a boost on Thursday, when a key parliamentary committee recommended local authorities could make quick decisions to shut down businesses under a temporary amendment to the Communicable Diseases Act.

The committee said that businesses should be compensated when their rights to operate are restricted.

More details here.

21.1 12:51 Mutated strains still spreading

Finland now has 86 confirmed Covid cases linked to the mutated strains.

The British variant is responsible for 80 of those while six are linked to the South African version. Most of the new variant cases were discovered among travellers and young people.

One infection chain linked to the new virus strains had led to 30 new confirmed cases.

The latest figure was announced at the weekly Covid briefing held on Thursday by THL and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Officials also again expressed concern about the decline in testing, said that more than 90 percent of intensive care unit workers had now been vaccinated, and that Christmas had not brought a spike in Covid cases as feared.

Intensive care units have not seen an increase in workload, with patient numbers remaining stable over recent weeks. Some 67 percent of patients in intensive care with Covid are male.

21.1 11:20 THL concerned about elderly welfare

Finland's national health agency THL says that older people have suffered during the pandemic, and their right to a secure and safe life has not necessarily been guaranteed.

The conclusions are based on THL's local government questionnaire, along with municipalities' Covid-19 situation reports submitted during the pandemic.

Full story here.

21.1 9:40 Covid concerns in the papers

Today's paper review includes concerns about 'test fatigue' as the number of people getting tested dips, and proposals to make it easier for guest workers to isolate if they test positive. Read the review here.

Read previous updates here.

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