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Tuesday's papers: Covid rules frazzle parents, overload labs

Finland's public healthcare system is struggling to carry out Covid-19 tests on every runny nose.

Tyttö niistää.
A child's mild cold can now become a costly ordeal for parents forced to stay home while awaiting Covid-19 results. Image: Päivi Meritähti / Yle

Employers' patience is wearing thin when it comes to paying workers to stay home with children showing mild cold symptoms, reports national daily Helsingin Sanomat.

HS' top story on Tuesday lays out the financial blow many working parents face since new rules forced parents to pull children out of daycare and get a Covid-19 test at the first sign of a runny nose.

Employers generally allow four days off to care for sick children, but with Covid testing centres overburdened at the moment, this window is not nearly long enough for people to get tested and receive results.

HS found that some families were seeking Covid tests at private clinics--sometimes at a cost of 300 euros per family member to expedite the process and allow parents to return to work.

This untenable situation has led a number of infectious disease specialists at Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS) to call for children with slight cold symptoms to be allowed at daycare.

"In a situation where testing queues are backed up, children can’t go to school and parents can’t work, something has to give. Testing capacity must drastically improve or we have to take small risks," pediatric infectious disease specialist Harri Saxén told HS.

Testing supply chain overwhelmed

People are now queuing up to three hours on the phone to book a test and may have to wait three days to get a test appointment in the capital region, reports Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet.

To help move things along, Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District's board meeting on Monday evening decided that the district would purchase testing services from privately run laboratories.

However, private laboratory FimLab told HBL that labs across Finland are facing supply chain shortages for diagnostic testing--just like others around the world.

Ari Miettinen of FimLab said a discussion was needed on whether people could get tested at will.

"There has to be some criteria for getting tested. We don’t have the means to perform unnecessary tests," he said.

Newsstand tabloid Ilta-Sanomat meanwhile reports that HUS has only been able to trace the origin of a quarter of infections in recent weeks.

The government is expected to issue additional guidelines regarding coronavirus testing this week.

Remote work helped Finnish economy

Business daily Kauppalehti says Finland’s GDP contracting just over three percent in the second quarter was relatively good news--especially compared to the eurozone GDP shrinking 15 percent since the beginning of the year.

KL suggests that southern European states were more severely affected owing to their service and tourism centred economies. In Finland, workers were quickly able to revert to telework thanks to the nature of many jobs here.

Economists, however, told the paper that there’s not too much room for optimism yet as many industrial orders being filled now were placed before the pandemic hit, meaning a turbulent autumn and winter may still lie ahead for Finland's export-reliant economy.

Move over, therapy dogs. Hello, therapy chickens.

Reading companion dogs have become increasingly common in schools to help students relax and concentrate. But now there’s a new therapeutic pet vying for attention in the school library--a chicken.

Ilta-Sanomat says Finland’s first school chicken, Anneli, enjoys sitting on pupils’ shoulders and napping inside hoods at Aitoo school in Pälkäne, a town south of Tampere.

At night Anneli boards with a bunny in the school barn.

No classroom allergies have so far been attributed to Anneli, according to the school.

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