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Monday's papers: Corona exit on schedule, remote schooling, AstraZeneca frustration

Light at the end of the tunnel as the papers look ahead to the end of the strictest coronavirus measures.

Alakoululainen tekee matematiikan tehtäviä kotonaan.
One of the many secondary school students who have been forced to study at home by the coronavirus pandemic. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

Plans for the gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions look to be on schedule, a government source has reportedly told Iltalehti.

The government's coronavirus exit strategy announced last Thursday would see the Emergency Powers Act expire this month, along with primary school students returning to classrooms and bars and restaurants reopening with limited capacity.

"The situation is developing such that this could come into effect soon. This week has shown significant movement," the source told the tabloid.

Parliament will decide on amendments to sections 58a and 58b of the Communicable Diseases Act this Thursday, Iltalehti writes.

"With that, the restaurants would reopen on 19 April. In some areas the lockdown already ended with last Thursday's announcement," the source told Iltalehti.

The exit strategy would see the strictest measures lifted in May, Iltalehti writes. The plan hinges on a THL assessment that the worst of the pandemic could be over by early next month.

The cost of remote schooling

As distance learning in the capital region is phased out from today, Helsingin Sanomat asks how the extended period of remote schooling has impacted young people.

The pandemic has not treated school students equally, the paper writes, highlighting that secondary school pupils in Kokkola and Kajaani have been able to attend class in person throughout the academic year, while those in the Helsinki metropolitan area and Turku have not.

Individuals have also responded differently to the unusual situation, HS writes. "The gap between those who succeed and those who don't is now bigger. For those who have problems, those problems can be very complicated," vocational college nurse Tuulia Ahopelto told the paper.

But one Helsinki student, Anna, told HS that in spite of the considerable difficulties she had faced while distance learning, the alternative could be worse.

"Better to be at home distance learning than to be the reason someone got sent to intensive care or died," she said.

AstraZeneca jab fears frustrate health experts

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat has been speaking to healthcare experts who say the furore over the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots has "transcended the boundaries of reason."

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) says that while the risk of blood clots in those who have received the AZ vaccine is a real one, it's very small, the paper writes.

Oulu's Director of Public Health, Jorma Mäkitalo, told the paper that public fears over the risk were overblown.

"Come on now, people. Our country's leading, most experienced, independent vaccine and infection experts, after reviewing all the data, say the vaccine is safe with certain restrictions," he told Ilta-Sanomat.

While the vaccine remains in use for patients aged over 65, THL has halted distribution to younger recipients. The health body is due to make a decision on who can safely receive the vaccine next week, IS reports.

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