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Monday's papers: Emergency response, free flu shots and rising anti-Semitism

Monday's papers feature stories on the firefighter school move, a rise in attacks on Jews and the upcoming flu season.

Myrsky teki tuhojaan Porissa 27.9.
Image: Katja Halinen / Yle

Daily Helsingin Sanomat writes that relocating the city's emergency response school from Helsinki to Kuopio could endanger the lives of the capital's residents.

The interior ministry has proposed to shut down the Helsinki Rescue School and to move all firefighter and first responder training to Kuopio where most of it already takes place. The aim is to save money and to improve the quality of education. The last batch of students from Helsinki would graduate in 2020.

Helsinki city officials oppose the plan because the region already suffers from a shortage of staff within emergency response services, and some think moving the facility will worsen the problem. Some administration staff at Helsinki University Hospital are also concerned that there will not be enough trained personnel to respond to unusual emergencies, which occur frequently in Helsinki, HS writes.

"This is not just any agency that can be relocated due to some regional policy. In the worst case scenario, the move could endanger the lives of Helsinki residents," says deputy mayor Sanna Vesikansa.

HS writes that students in Helsinki may not be keen to move to eastern Finland, whereas those graduating from the Emergency Service College in Kuopio are likely to stay in the area due to lower living costs.

Anti-Semitism on the rise

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat writes that the Jewish Community in Helsinki is increasingly concerned about security threats and has raised 90,000 euros from congregation members to improve safety at the synagogue.

On Saturday, a gunman attacked a synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh, killing 11 people.

"This is a horrific event, but unfortunately nothing new," said Yaron Nadbornik, president of the community, and lists recent attacks on Jews in Europe.

IS writes that, worldwide the harassment of - and violent attacks on - Jewish people increased by 60 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to figures from the Anti-Defamation League.

The Helsinki congregation has received malicious emails and the synagogue in central Helsinki has been vandalised, Nadbornik told the paper.

The 1,100 member congregation spends about 200,000 euros on security every year and launched a fundraising campaign this month to cover some of the costs.

According to Nadbornik, the current Finnish government does not support Jewish communities enough.

"When Päivi Räsänen was interior minister in 2015, we received 100,000 euros to purchase security devices," he said.

"Last year, we sent a request for funds to the education ministry but we haven't heard anything back."

Flu shots for free

Daily Keskisuomalainen reports that free flu shots for risk groups will be offered across the country at the beginning of November. The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said the vaccinations against influenza would be free to those under six years of age and people over the age of 65.

Pregnant women, military conscripts and volunteers, social and healthcare professionals as well as individuals who have been exposed to serious cases of influenza are also urged to get a free jab. Others can seek out the vaccine for themselves at health centres or get it through workplace health services.

"Influenza is a serious illness and globally 3-5 million people are hospitalised because of it every year," says Hanna Nohynek, chief physician and vaccine programme leader at THL.

THL says that the expanded type of influenza vaccine should be more effective in limiting outbreaks of the flu. The new vaccine is known as a quadrivalent because it combats four types of virus rather than three as last year’s trivalent jabs did.

The flu season is at its worst between January and March, Keskisuomalainen says.

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