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Thursday's papers: Vaccination schedules, Ukraine tensions, teen muggers

Most morning newspapers in Finland report that new Covid vaccination schedules will delay jabs for younger age groups.

Asikkaat jonottavat odotustilassa koronarokotukseen Messukeskuksessa.
Local residents awaiting coronavirus vaccinations at Helsinki's Fair Centre. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

Will 50 year-olds be vaccinated by May Day?

The daily Helsingin Sanomat asks that question and answers that at least in the Helsinki region, it is increasingly unlikely, as the supply of various vaccines to Finland may slow down the pace of vaccination.

The delivery of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to Europe has been postponed due to suspected blood clots. In addition, on Wednesday, health officials announced that the target group for the AstraZeneca vaccine, people 65 years of age and older, will remain the same.

Eeva Ruotsalainen, Deputy Chief Physician at Helsinki University Hospital told the paper that according to the original plan, it had been estimated that everyone over the age of 16 would have been vaccinated by no later than July.

"If [the Johnson & Johnson vaccine] stops permanently, and AstraZeneca is limited to those over the age of 65, it will of course be postponed by one or two months," she said.

According to Anu Mustakari, Chief Physician of the City of Espoo, no detailed plans had been made in Espoo for the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and she described the delay as "annoying", as the city had hope to use deliveries to speed up its vaccination schedule.

Helsingin Sanomat noted that in a Wednesday interview with its stablemate, Ilta-Sanomat, Vantaa's Deputy Mayor for Social Affairs and Health Timo Aronkytö said that Vantaa was looking to make vaccinations available for 50 year-olds around May Day and for 40 year-olds before the start of summer.

Now, however, the situation looks a little different as the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be on offer to younger age groups.

The situation is similar outside the capital region. Tampere's Aamulehti reports that the vaccination schedule is being revised in the Pirkanmaa region, including the city of Tampere.

Jaana Syrjänen, an infectious disease physician at Tampere University Hospital, estimates that the continuation of restrictions on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine and the delay in Johnson & Johnson's vaccine deliveries mean the same in the hospital district as elsewhere, that is a setback of about two months.

Ukraine-Russia tensions

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat writes that tensions in Ukraine are casting a dark shadow over Europe.

In a Thursday morning editorial, the paper says that the escalation of tensions between Ukraine and Russia is also being dangerously reflected in the security situation in the Baltic Sea.

Finland is also concerned, it writes, that NATO troops and air force units have been stationed in Estonia, just a stone's throw from Helsinki.

It points out that military movement in Finland's vicinity is on the rise in any case, as Russia will start a major military exercise, Zapad 2021, in cooperation with Belarus in September. Exercises to prepare for Zapad 2021 have already begun in the Baltic Sea.

Ilta-Sanomat continued by saying that it is good for Finland that President Sauli Niinistö has a working connection with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Because of this, Niinistö was able to directly express his concerns about Russian troop movements. He could also offer Finland's "good services" for a meeting between Putin and US President Joe Biden.

Hosting a summit this summer in Finland would be another big feather in Niinistö's cap, and also a fresh demonstration of appreciation for Finland. Hopefully the diplomats can successfully work to advance this, writes Ilta-Sanomat

Teen-on-teen muggings

Helsingin Sanomat is one of several papers reporting a spate of street robberies in the capital in which the perpetrators are suspected to be minors.

Last Sunday in Helsinki's Lauttasaari district, a 16-year-old boy is suspected of robbing three other young people of headphones, among other items.

Just a few weeks earlier, a robbery took place in Kannelmäki, in which the suspects are three under-age boys.

Several similar robberies have been reported to police around the capital area.

According to Police Inspector Marko Forss the muggers have approached their victims carrying knives or knuckledusters demanding cash and small items including clothing. In some cases the perpetrators have asked the victims their shoe size and made off with footwear.

Although the nature of the muggings has aroused media attention, Helsingin Sanomat also reports that statistics show that the number of robberies committed by juveniles has not shown a large increase over reports reports received by police last year.

Patience with the garden

Iltalehti tells its readers that Thursday should be a bright sunny day in most of the country, with the exception of Finnish Lapland which may see some sleet or snow.

Daytime temperatures are expected to range between +7C and +12C degrees in the south and west, +4C to +8C in central regions and around +5C in the north.

However, the weather continues to be variable, with rapid fluctuations in temperature.

With this in mind, Foreca meteorologist Markus Mäntykannas had this advice for Iltalehti readers, "If you are already planting something in the garden, don't get fooled by these warm afternoons. Nighttime temperatures can still fall well below freezing, especially at ground level."

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