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Wednesday's papers: Child abductions, whooping cough outbreak and sote experts on summer holiday

Today's papers highlight international child abductions, a pertussis epidemic in Tampere and ask how summer vacations could further postpone the sote reform.

Päiväkotilapset leikkivät duploilla.
Image: Emilia Malin / Yle

Daily Karjalainen reports that in the past few years, about 20 children were abducted in Finland annually by one parent and taken abroad. The number has risen from 2008-2014 when 10-15 abductions took place yearly.

Karjalainen says abduction is defined as one guardian taking a child abroad without the consent of the other guardian. According to the paper, some of the children will stay abroad for a long time, with 48 abducted children currently residing abroad.

Most of the children were taken to Sweden, Spain and Estonia. In contrast, on average 14 children who were abducted abroad live in Finland each year.

National authorities have the powers to return children home if both the country of permanent residence and the destination country have signed the Hague Child Abduction Convention, Karjalainen said. If not, resolving the question of where the child will reside depends on the cooperation between the parents.

Whooping cough outbreak

Meanwhile, Aamulehti reports that whooping cough has broken out in a daycare center in Tampere. While such outbreaks are quite common in schools, they rarely take place in nurseries, says senior physician Jussi Mertsola. The infection, also known as pertussis, can be dangerous to newborn babies who have not yet received the first vaccination given at the age of three months, Mertsola adds.

Yearly, dozens of infants are treated for whooping cough in intensive care units, and in a span of 10 years, one or two babies die of the infection in Finland. According to Aamulehti, a wider outbreak of pertussis occurs approximately every five years as the protection given by the vaccination coverage weakens and people catch the disease despite having been immunised.

Between 400 and 500 cases of whooping cough are reported in Finland per year.

Sote vacation

In other news, daily Turun Sanomat reports that summer holidays may cause further delays to the government’s social and health care reform (sote).

According to the paper, it may well be that some of the experts that the Constitutional Law Committee needs to hear to decide on the reform’s legality are unwilling to appear at parliament in June and July. What is more, Parliament does not possess the technical capabilities to interview experts remotely.

While it is common that those invited to speak at the committees are keen to appear, the paper reports that Björn Wahlroos – chairman of the board at banking group Nordea and one of Finland’s wealthiest men – allegedly refused to attend a parliamentary hearing on tax havens last year.

Seppo Kääriäinen, who has been a Centre Party MP since 1987, says parliament does not have any fixed summer holidays. “It’s not unusual for MPs to work in July, if we need to,” Kääriäinen says. In the 1990s, parliament would debate through the night and vote on the issues in the morning, he adds. “But that was during the slump, so it’s different.”

EDIT: An earlier version of this story referred to a whooping cough 'epidemic' rather than 'outbreak'.

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