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Tuesday's papers: Coronavirus, action against anti-Semitism, record cold

Some of the morning papers report that China's health crisis is impacting Finnish companies for better and for worse.

Vanha vuohenputki talventörröttäjänä räntäsateessa.
Lapland saw a record cold reading while the weather brings rain and sleet to much of the country. Image: Nella Nuora / Yle

Many of Tuesday's newspapers report on how the effects of China's coronavirus health crisis are being reflected here in Finland in a number of different ways.

The Helsinki daily Helsingin Sanomat carries one such report from Mikkeli where filtration systems manufacturer Genano has put workers on overtime and hired extra hands at their plant there to get 200 special air purification units built and shipped to China as soon as possible.

This is twice as many units for hospital and laboratory use as the company normally produces annually.

The devices, intended for use in hospitals, use extremely strong electrical fields to filter air. These units can filter out particles down to three-millionths of a metre in size, around 100 times smaller than the particles regular mechanical filters can screen out. According to the company's CEO Niklas Skogster, this is right at the border between particles and single molecules. The electrical field not only filters out bacteria and viruses, it also kills them.

Skogster said on Monday that his company had just received confirmation that its air purification units were going into hospitals in Wuhan, which is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

Two new hospitals with over 2,000 beds are being set up in Wuhan. Skogster told Helsingin Sanomat that his company will be donating air purification units to these facilities.

Surgical masks and stock prices

Rovaniemi's Lapin Kansa writes that surgical masks have become a major new "souvenir" for Asian visitors to Lapland.

The paper reports that dozens of Chinese tourists were seen queuing up outside a pharmacy in the city on Monday evening, awaiting a delivery of surgical masks.

Tarja Heikkinen of Rovaniemi's Sampo Apteekki pharmacy said that while aware of the situation in China, she was surprised when they sold out their entire stock of surgical masks over the weekend.

Lapin Kansa notes a BBC report that one Chinese online service sold over 80 million surgical masks in a single day last week and prices in China for the masks have shot up ten times over.

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat is one of the papers reporting that worries about the health crisis in China pushed down stock market prices across Europe on Monday, including on the Helsinki exchange.

Of the 130 stocks listed on the exchange, one eight showed any gains during the day's trading, and the Helsinki OMXH general index fell by 2.1 percent.

Hardest hit was the Finnish airline Finnair which saw its share price plunge by as much as eight percent, ending the day five percent down.

Gesture of support

Turun Sanomat reports that plans are being made for a public demonstration of support for the Jewish congregation in Turku, after the Turku Synagogue was vandalised overnight Sunday with its front door, steps and walls defaced with red paint.

The chaplain of Turku's Lutheran Cathedral, Miika Ahola, said that plans are underway to hold a demonstration sometime this week. The idea is to gather together as broad a range of social and religious representatives as possible to lay flowers at the city's synagogue as a gesture of support.

"Attacks often get a lot of attention, even though there are many more [people] who oppose them," Ahola told the paper.

Turku's Lutheran Bishop Kaarlo Kalliala said it was evident that the vandalism was aimed at causing offence and it was no coincidence that it happened on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Kalliala described relations among different faiths in Turku as extremely good.

A Catholic church and church offices were targeted by vandals recently in Turku, as well, Turun Sanomat reports. Church walls were defaced with spray paint on two consecutive weekends.

Police in Turku say that they take vandalism of any religious space seriously, but police detective Jussi Hellesvirta told Turun Sanomat that they consider these latest incidents as isolated events.

Record cold, hazardous driving

Several of the morning papers, including Kuopio's Savon Sanomat carry the news of a record cold reading for this winter of -38.8C registered on Monday evening at Kevojärvi in the far northern municipality of Utsjoki.

The paper carries a warning from the Finnish Meteorological Institute that rain, sleet and snow are likely to make for hazardous driving condition in most parts of the country over the next few days.

Western and eastern regions can expect intermittent snow and local freezing rain through at least Tuesday evening.

Temperatures will remain frigid in the far north, although not at the record cold level seen at the start of the week.

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