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Tuesday's papers: China offers help, emergency stocks opened, calming the kids

The Helsinki newspaper Iltalehti reports that China has offered to help Finland battle the novel coronavirus.

Ostoksilla kauppakeskus Jumbon K-citymarketissa Vantaalla 21. maaliskuuta.
The farmers' union daily Maaseudun Tulevaisuus assures its readers that shops will continue to have plenty of food. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

The tabloid Iltalehti says that it has confirmed from several sources that China has offered to help both Finland and Estonia with efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

According to the paper, the Estonian government has been in contact with the Finnish government, inquiring if Finland is interesting in making joint acquisitions of personal protective equipment from China.

Iltalehti writes that public officials and politicians have had talks to consider whether to take up the offer, or if China has an ulterior motive, such as expecting future diplomatic favours from Finland.

The paper's sources say that it is likely that Finland will purchase materials from China, if Finland's own stores begin to run out.

Iltalehti adds that Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has good relations with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, which it sees as a factor in the offer.

The government of Prime Minister Sanna Marin is now ready to restrict movement out of the southern Uusimaa region and to order the closure of bars and restaurants, according to Iltalehti.

Again, relying on sources, the paper writes that a proposal to implement these restrictions was tabled in a cabinet meeting as early as last week. However, at that time the Centre Party and the Swedish People's Party took the position that the government was not constitutionally empowered to take these actions.

Emergency stockpiles opened

Kuopio's Savon Sanomat is among the papers reporting that top official at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Päivi Sillanaukee told Yle on Monday evening that Finland is opening its emergency reserve stocks, something she referred to as "an historic day".

"This means, if we look at it in numbers, that a million surgical gowns, masks and hundreds of thousands of respirators will be available. They will not run out," Sillanaukee stated.

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat took a look at what the national emergency reserve stockpile contains.

The reserve stocks include materials as diverse as medicines and medical equipment, fuels, bread, seeds and vegetable proteins.

By law, the reserves should be able to get the country through a year of poor harvests, with a six-month supply of grain in storage at facilities around the country, and enough imported fuel to cover five months of normal consumption.

In addition to medical supplies, food and fuel, reserve stocks also include military supplies and production equipment.

Traffic tumbles

Tampere's Aamulehti reports a sharp fall in travel and transport since the government urged people to shelter at home 12 days ago.

It notes that, for example, on Saturday traffic on one of Helsinki's main highways was 43 percent lower than usual. On some of the main roads in the Pirkanmaa region and in the southwest, it was down by close to 50 percent.

Around one-third of all long-distance bus departures have been cancelled. As of Saturday, the number of flights in and out of Helsinki Airport was at less than half of normal.

Passenger rail traffic has declined by 70 percent on long-distance routes and by 80 percent on commuter services.

Taxi operators say that they have almost no business at all.

Food trends changing

The farmers' union daily Maaseudun Tulevaisuus assures its readers that food hoarding by some Finns was a passing phase and that while people are buying more from retailers, the coronavirus epidemic is not expected to affect total consumption.

It is likely, though, that there will be a continuing trend toward the purchase of basic foodstuffs with long shelf lives, as well as a fall in foods that spoil quickly, such as fresh fish. The paper also expects to see a further upsurge in home food deliveries, which it says may change consumer habits over the long term.

Also, demand has fallen at restaurants, hotels and tourist spots, a fact being reflected in the structure of the market.

The kids are ok

Helsingin Sanomat offers readers an extensive interview, and advice, from a child psychologist, Janna Rantala, on how to help children deal with these exceptional times.

Among the advice she offers is to realise the importance of accepting that it's an unusual situation - you can be flexible about home routines and lower expectations.

What is most important, says Rantala is for parents to provide children with a sense of security, but to also accept that they can't be perfect.

Rantala points out that feelings of security spring from different sources for adults and children. Adults find security in, for example, information. For children, security is above all an emotional state, the knowledge that an adult is present, listens and understands their feelings.

"Children will not remember the news and facts about the coronavirus, but rather what emotional atmosphere fills the home," Rantala told the paper.

She advises against continuously talking about the epidemic in the presence of children, although the subject should not be ignored.

According to Janna Rantala, special situations such as this increase the resilience of children and improve their psychological flexibility to deal with difficult times in their lives. They feel that someone important to them is listening and validating their emotions, she adds.

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