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Thursday's papers: Uusimaa to be cordoned off, pension worries and airport health checks

Finland is preparing to seal off Uusimaa by Friday to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

The government on Wednesday night said it would close off Uusimaa in an effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus, reports Helsingin Sanomat. The military will aid the police in enforcing movement restrictions in or out of the Uusimaa region.

"We expect the restrictions [on travel to and from Uusimaa] could take effect on 27 March," Prime Minister Sanna Marin said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The southern Finland region would be sealed off until 19 April, according to HS. However essential travel such as work commutes would be permitted, in addition to child custody visits.

Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson said the measure aimed to ensure that the entire country "doesn’t fall ill at once", which would overburden Finnish hospitals.

Marin also urged people who had left for the countryside to return home.

Virus fears devastate pension assets

In financial news, Finnish Pension Alliance Tela said the coronavirus market fall had wiped 20 to 30 billion euros off pension firms’ investments, reports business daily Kauppalehti.

The stock market rout has already weakened pension firms’ solvency, Finland’s Financial Supervisory Authority (FIN-FSA) told KL.

Pension firm Varma’s chief investment officer, Reima Rytsölä, told KL that the future was uncertain.

"It’s clear that if we have another month like this, solvency will become an issue."

Airport welcome

Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet reports that Finns arriving at Helsinki Airport will now be met by health care workers who will provide guidance regarding coronavirus. Travellers are instructed to self-isolate for two weeks after returning home.

All inward and outbound travellers must now pass through airport border security. Officials are particularly paying attention to people’s movements in and around the airport area, according to HBL.

Online grocery surge

Finnish grocery stores are struggling to meet a surge in online demand following the coronavirus outbreak, notes KL.

As most orders are paid for online, deliverers can drop purchases at the door without customer interaction.

Right now shops don’t have enough staff to collect and load items. Kesko Group told the paper it was adding ten new grocery stores to its online shopping network every week.

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