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Thursday's papers: Second wave worries, exit strategies for radicals, tropical nights

Newspapers report on renewed concerns among experts about the prospect of a second wave of coronavirus infections in Finland.

Joukko nuoria kävelee kadulla, yhdellä heistä on päällä kasvomaski.
The daily number of new coronavirus cases in Finland has clearly increased this week. Image: Arttu Timonen / Yle

The nation's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, devotes several of its Thursday articles to the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus infections arising in Finland.

The paper writes that a second wave is moving ever closer. The number of daily cases has clearly increased this week: Thirteen new coronavirus infections were confirmed on Monday, 17 on Tuesday and 29 on Wednesday.

The largest number of new infections have been seen in the Helsinki region.

On Wednesday, the Director General of the National Institute for Health and Welfare THL, Markku Tervahauta, told HS that he was concerned about the increase in the number of infections, as the numbers have been growing on a weekly basis, especially in the Helsinki region.

Many other experts are also concerned, the paper writes.

“Yes, unfortunately it looks like the situation is getting worse every week. Wednesday’s 29 infections looks really bad. I do not think we will get by without [renewed] restrictions. The virus is behaving in the same way here as elsewhere. The bug spreads when people gather,” Professor Lasse Lehtonen, Director of Diagnostics at the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS), told Helsingin Sanomat.

“In Helsinki especially, the number of infections have been going up, but gradually. There has been no firm response to them and the government has felt that the situation is calm and stable. But remember, decisions must be made two weeks in advance,” Pirta Hotulainen of the Minerva Foundation Institute for Medical Research pointed out to HS.

Helsingin Sanomat notes that a working group of professors and researchers published a paper on Tuesday warning of a return of the epidemic if more stringent measures are not taken to combat it.

At present, the virus is being kept in check mainly through testing and tracing. According to the research team, these should be made more efficient and faster. In addition, they recommended the use of masks in crowded indoor spaces and more attention to passengers arriving from high-risk countries. These experts says such travellers should be tested at the border and placed under stricter quarantine.

Paying for masks

The Turku daily Turun Sanomat points to media reports that a rush to buy face masks has created a shortage at many retail stores.

In addition right now, there has been a public debate about how low-income citizens can acquire masks, as the cost could be a significant burden for people with low incomes.

Tarja Myllärinen, Director of Social and Health Affairs at the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, told Turun Sanomat that if private individual are made responsible for the purchase of masks, municipalities may have to pick up the tab for low-income residents in the form of increased discretionary income support payments.

In Finland, application for basic income support is made through the national Social Insurance Institution Kela, and discretionary income support is handled by local social services.

“Basic income support takes into account minor healthcare expenditures. I can't say whether masks are covered by basic income support or not because we don't know yet what's coming,” Myllärinen says.

Minna Backman, Director of Social Financial Services at the Guarantee Foundation, a debt restructuring body, gave an example calculation on her Twitter account of how much money a family of four might spend on masks.

“A package of 50 costs 40 euros. The masks are disposable and need to be changed frequently. Our family of four would probably use 6 packages a week when we go back to school and work, so that is 240 euros a week and 960 euros a month,” she wrote.

Exit from radicalism

The local Helsinki newspaper Helsingin Uutiset reports on the launch of a new project aimed at preventing violent radicalisation and to support people who want to break free from radical ideologies.

Organised and run by the Helsinki Deaconess Institute, the Exit Project is targeted both at individuals caught up in Islamic radicalism and in far right movements.

According to Ilkka Kantola, who heads the institute’s social responsibility operations, the goal is to help people who already have the motivation to leave these groups.

Helsingin Uutiset reports that the Deaconess Institute was selected to implement the project because it is easier for an independent organisation to build trust with individuals seeking exit help than it is for the authorities.

The Deaconess Institute also has 26 years of experience in helping thousands of torture victims and war trauma victims.

“The background to radicalisation is most often trauma or traumatic experiences, as a result of which a person loses his or her basic trust in others,” says Kantola.

“Distrust and fear, as well as the experience of exclusion, alienate people into subcultures of radicalisation. Exit activities include individual mentoring, which builds long-term trust and helps people find new content for life,” Kantola explains.

Support activities will include both mental health services and practical matters related to everyday life, such as assistance in arranging a home, work or training place.

This new Exit Project is initially scheduled to run for one year, but the aim is to make the service permanent.

Tropical nights?

While Finland on Thursday is experiencing moderate summer temperatures of around 20C and rainy weather in many areas, the Helsinki tabloid Ilta-Sanomat is telling its readers to get ready for a hot weekend, including possibly what it calls “tropical nights”.

July was clearly cooler and wetter than usual in Finland, but August seems to be finally bringing the warmth expected by summer enthusiasts, the paper writes.

Friday's forecast is for daytime temperatures to top 25C, and on Saturday the thermometer is expected to rise to around 27C in the south, southwest and central Häme region.

The paper adds that there is a possibility of tropical nights over the weekend – defined as nights when the temperature does not fall below 20C.

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