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Friday’s papers: Low-income commuters, at-risk groups, and mini baby boom

Friday’s papers look at workers who must commute during the coronavirus crisis as working from home is not an option.

Vauvan pienet varpaat.
More babies - 475 - were born during the start of this year than last year. Image: Anu-Maija Kärjä / Yle

Main Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat (HS) examines how not everyone is able to work from home during the coronavirus crisis. According to HS’s data, many of those who must make commuter journeys to their jobs live in suburbs with lower median incomes.

One of those people who travels from east to west every day is Mari Laasio, who lives in Vuosaari and works in Kulosaari as a cashier at the Alepa grocery store. As she says, “working in a shop can’t really be done remotely.”

Although the government's recommendation is to avoid public transit during the coronavirus crisis, it’s not an option for Laasio.

She says that she practices social distancing, for example, by trying to ensure that there are at least three steps on the metro station escalator between her and the next person. That is possible when it’s not rush hour, at least.

While the coronavirus outbreak has decreased the number of passengers in many parts of Helsinki, that hasn’t been the case in the east of the city, writes HS.

According to HS’s extensive survey of public transit in Helsinki, the largest number of trips is currently being made to and from the parts of the city where people’s median incomes are lower.

HS notes that a large proportion of coronavirus infections are suspected to have come to Finland from ski tourists from Central Europe. Those most at risk of infection now are blue collar workers who are unable to work from home, writes HS.

There is not yet any research evidence to say whether or not this is happening, says Maria Vaalavuo, research manager at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

“People have made such anecdotal observations, but we don’t yet have data to link the current infections to human background data,” says Vaalavuo.

Impact assessment released

Ilta-Sanomat reports on a THL impact assessment published on Friday that shows that the coronavirus epidemic and the related control measures have most affected at-risk groups, the elderly, people with mental health issues and substance abuse problems, and the homeless, who have not accessed services at the same rates as normal.

Ilta-Sanomat writes that the THL report also warns that the coronavirus epidemic and the related restrictive measures will have far-reaching implications on the well-being of the entire population.

For example, the number of visits to primary healthcare services have decreased as people are putting off what they deem to be non-essential appointments. However, the THL warns that after the crisis situation, there may be large queues for these services.

Mini baby boom

Tabloid ltalehti reports that more babies were born during the beginning of this year than the previous year, citing Statistics Finland figures released Friday.

According to fresh statistics, 11,407 children were born during the first quarter of 2020, which is 475 more than in 2019.

The Finnish population stood at 5,528,390 people at the end of March.

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