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Coronavirus latest: Swedish and Norwegian borders re-open, PM vows support for refinery job losses, inbound tourism collapses

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

Auto ylittämässä Suomen ja Ruotsin rajaa Torniossa
Checks on the Finnish-Swedish border ended on 19 September. Image: Antti Ullakko / Yle
  • 8,922 lab-confirmed infections as of Saturday 19.9 (up by 64 since Friday, 365 in past week)
  • 339 deaths linked to coronavirus as of Friday 18.9 (up by 2 since 9.9)
  • 13 people in hospital, three of them in intensive care as of Friday 18.9
  • Hospital districts report on deaths and hospitalised patients on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

19.9 13:40 Cases top 8,900, up by 365 in past week

On Saturday the THL reported 64 new lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the total for the past week to 365. The overall total has risen to more than 8,900 since the first one was confirmed in late January. The number of confirmed cases has risen by 5.3 percent in the past 10 days.

During the same period, the death toll has risen by two to 339. The two deaths were reported on Monday, bringing the tally for the past month to five.

19.9 11:31 Borders with Sweden and Norway re-open after more than 5 months

As of midnight, Finnish authorities lifted restrictions on entry for travel between Finland and Cyprus, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Poland and Sweden and the Vatican.

The change also affects residents of Australia, Canada and Japan who are travelling from their home country to Finland. The same applies to residents of Georgia, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Meanwhile restrictions on entry into the country have been re-imposed between Finland and Hungary and Italy.

More details here.

18.9 20:50 Government pledges support for Naantali job losses

Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Friday evening that government is committed to providing financial support to help ease the pain of possible major job losses stemming from planned cutbacks in oil processing in Naantali.

The PM said that her understanding was that the planned closure of the Naantali refinery was in line with Neste’s long-term strategy to transition toward more environmentally-friendly energy solutions.

She noted that in this regard, the government could draw down on hundreds of millions of euros to be allocated to Finland from the EU’s Just Transition Fund to help Naantali pivot toward a greener economy. Read more about this story here.

18.9 19:50 Wärtsilä begins talks to extend furloughs

Finnish power systems firm Wärtsilä announced on Friday that it was launching negotiations to extend furloughs for workers temporarily laid off earlier this year.

The talks will apply to all subsidiaries, locations and employee groups in Finland. In April this year, Wärtsilä decided to furlough more than 3,000 employees. Some of the furloughs were implemented by way of converting full-time jobs to part-time positions. Read more here.

18.9 18:55 Data confirm 87% decline in inbound travel in Q2

Overseas travel to Finland shrank by a significant 87 percent between April and June compared to the same period one year ago, according to new data from Statistics Finland. At the same time travel from Finland abroad collapsed by 93 percent during the second quarter against last year, the agency noted.

The decline in the value of tourism exports and imports in 2020 compared to 2019 further highlighted the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the Finnish tourism industry and the wider economy. Read the full story here.

18.9 12:55 Researcher casts doubt on tourist testing scheme

According to risk management modelling by Miika Linna, Docent of Health Economics at Aalto University, there are no solid grounds for the double coronavirus testing of travellers from high-risk countries as proposed by the Finnish government.

Read the story here.

18.9 12:34 Finland reports 59 new cases

Finland reported 59 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, bringing the running total of cases to 8,858.

18.9 10:55 More industrial plant closures on the way, minister says

Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Cen) told Yle Friday morning that he fears there will be more industrial plant closures seen in the country.

“Unfortunately, it will happen in some localities. I can anticipate the next place, but I will not say [where],” Lintilä said in response to the question of whether there will be new plant closures like the announced shutdown of a paper mill in Jämsä and the expected closure of an oil refinery in Naantali.

Lintilä also commented on tourism in Lapland. Read the whole article here.

18.9 9:27 Will Finns start traveling again?

Travel restrictions imposed by the Finnish government are being eased as of Saturday, and the nation's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, writes that it is not impossible that many Finns will rush to travel abroad.

Read Friday morning's press review for more on this and other stories.

17.9 20:58 Is there too much Covid in the news?

This week's All Points North podcast looked at whether coronavirus reporting might be affecting people negatively. We also discussed the government budget announced this week, which includes big money for coronavirus testing and to support municipalities after their incomes were slashed during the crisis.

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

Audio: Yle News

17.9 11:37 University moves to distance learning after four confirmed cases

Up to 500 students at the University of Turku’s Faculty of Medicine will move to distance learning until the end of September after four students were diagnosed with coronavirus.

Read more on this story here.

17.9 9:24 Thursday's papers: Reaction to budget plans

Finland's press on Thursday morning has looked into the government's 2021 draft budget and how it aims to deal with the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

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

16.9 17:37 Finland unveils corona-era budget

The Finnish government on Wednesday unveiled a spending package for 2021 that it would boost employment, advance climate targets and increase spending to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced a deal on Finland's state budget for 2021 on Wednesday after lengthy negotiations between different sections of her five-party coalition government.

“This budget has been prepared in the midst of an exceptionally grave health and economic crisis, and next year still holds a great deal of uncertainty. The budget as a whole aims to be a stimulus,” Marin said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. Read here for more details about the budget proposal.

16.9 15:40 Young people seek help for corona-based anxiety

The coronavirus crisis continues to adversely affect the wellbeing of children and young people, according to mental health advocacy organisations. However the youth-based online mental health discussion platform--set up by Mental Health Finland and the Finnish Red Cross--called Sekasin-chat, has grown in popularity during this rather unusual year. Read more here.

16.9 15:05 25 new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported 25 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, bringing the running total of cases to 8,750.

The agency said that 14 patients were receiving hospital treatment for the disease, three of them in intensive care. The number of deaths stands at 339.

16.9 14:05 Two million downloads for Koronavilkku app

Nearly two-fifths of Finland has now downloaded the country's version of a coronavirus contact-tracing app.

The app launched two weeks ago and has now been downloaded some two million times. It is designed to alert users when they may have been exposed to coronavirus.

THL said in a statement that the app is a useful aid to contact-tracing but does not replace other measures like hand-washing and physical distancing.

The app is available in Finnish and Swedish, but not yet English.

16.9 9:12 Testing ramps up

Finland has carried out more than 800,000 coronavirus tests since the epidemic hit the country, according to newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Testing has ramped up during that time and the one million test mark will be reached by the end of the month, the paper reports.

Find Wednesday's press review for more on this and other stories here.

For previews updates, click here.

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