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Thursday's papers: State of emergency, faster coronavirus tests, hibernating bats

Thursday's papers are preoccupied by a possible coronavirus state of emergency as case numbers continue to rise.

Luolassa makaava pohjanlepakko.
Thursday's Maaseudun Tulevaisuus advises against disturbing hibernating bats like this one. Image: Håkan Söderström / AOP

The papers all have an eye on a government coronavirus press conference scheduled for 09:30 on Thursday morning, with the expectation that much stricter restrictions are on the way.

Helsingin Sanomat carries a report, attributed to three sources, that the government is preparing to announce a state of emergency in order to combat rising numbers of coronavirus cases.

Officially, the state of emergency will be decided in cooperation with President Sauli Niinistö, the paper writes, also noting that Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) will call a meeting of party leaders, the speaker and vice-speakers of parliament, chairs of the parliamentary groups and government ministers to discuss the new measures at the House of the Estates at 12.00 on Thursday.

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat also looks ahead to the expected announcement, expressing surprise at the severity of a move to a state of emergency.

"As late as Wednesday, the general impression was that the government would decide to move to level two of the corona strategy," the paper writes.

Imposing a state of emergency would involve jumping to level three of the government's three-stage coronavirus strategy. The country is currently at level one.

One-hour coronavirus tests

Iltalehti covers a potential breakthrough in rapid coronavirus testing that could provide results within an hour.

Rapid testing is currently possible in large hospitals, the tabloid writes, but a Finnish company is working on mobile equipment that could allow such tests to be performed outside of larger laboratories.

"Fimlab, which analyses coronavirus samples, has introduced equipment that can be used to analyse a PCR test onsite," the paper says.

The process, known as bedside testing or point of care testing, would remove the need to send samples to a central laboratory for analysis, the paper says, speeding up the process.

There is a limit, however, to how many tests can be performed at speed using the equipment.

"Usually, this type of PCR diagnostics, which is carried out as a bedside test, is not able to examine very large numbers of patients," microbiologist Tapio Seiskari told Iltalehti.

Watch out for basement bats

Rural Finland's newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus brings some advice on how people can avoid disturbing sleeping bats this winter.

The Northern Bat is – as the name suggests – the world's northernmost bat, and lives throughout Finland, the paper writes.

The bats often find their way into cellars and basements to hibernate during winter, MS says. Disturbing them can have disastrous consequences, as it causes the bats to use up energy they have stored to get through the colder months.

"If you meet a bat in your basement, avoid making noise or creating artificial light," the paper says. "You should avoid staying near the wintering place as much as possible, as even a person's body heat can heat up the space quickly."

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