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Tuesday's papers: Ending coronavirus, 'rebellion' in the north and strange winter continues

A group of international researchers says Finland needs to do more to fight coronavirus.

Rajalla Kauppakeskus Torniossa
Shopping centres in Tornio and Haparanda have been quieter than usual. Image: Juuso Stoor / Yle

Is Finland doing the right thing in opening up schools, restaurants and other services? Not everyone is convinced, and on Tuesday Helsingin Sanomat has an essay asking that very question.

The essay cites the 'end coronavirus' website, which is run by a group of international researchers and strongly advocates a suppression approach to the disease.

It divides countries into 'winners', who are on the way to suppressing the spread of the virus, those that are 'nearly there', and those that 'need to take action'.

Finland is in the 'needs to take action' group, with nearly a hundred new cases a day. The HS piece argues that, while opening the economy is justified by the recent 'Exit' report on economic grounds, as the economy would crumble if restrictions remain in place for the long term, it might not be the best way to return to economic growth.

Australia and New Zealand are cited as examples of countries that have severely dented the curve, and are now able to open up their economies to each other without risk of spreading the virus.

The 'Trans-Tasman travel bubble' could be a model for others, but only if they successfully suppress the disease.

HS also quotes evolutionary biologist Tuomas Aivelo who ponders whether Finland might be heading for a 'herd immunity' strategy, as the government has not yet given any detail on what level of new infections might trigger renewed restrictions.

Tornio turning to Sweden

Yesterday it emerged that cross-border traffic between northern Finland and Sweden had tripled despite recommendations not to travel.

Officials were concerned that the movement could risk a spike in coronavirus cases, especially as Sweden has a higher prevalence of coronavirus than Finland.

Ilatlehti reports that underlying the change is a community that tired of the divide erected between its eastern and western parts.

Tornio and Haparanda are effectively a single town divided by the Tornionjoki river, with residents crossing several times a day.

IL reports that the breakdown in restrictions came via a local Facebook group after one man asked a border guard whether he could be stopped from heading into Sweden and back.

When the border guard answered no, leaving the country is his constitutional right, the man spread the news to locals via social media.

IL says the group showed some bitterness towards official messaging of recent weeks that stressed borders were 'closed', without explaining that this was only ever really a recommendation.

Weather woes

The weather is a little odd right now, with the east of Finland basking in sunshine while the west shivers under a cold front.

Ilta-Sanomat has some good news, however: it will not rain quite so much for the rest of the week as it did on Monday.

Drier days won't be warm, however, as the high temperature of 15 degrees will only be reached on Thursday.

Then the weekend will turn wet again, says meteorologist Kristian Roine, with next week chilly and showery for much of the country.

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