The decision was taken primarily on legal grounds, since the conditions for imposing them in the first place no longer exist. At the time the travel restrictions were introduced there was a much higher number of coronavirus infections in the southern region, and authorities wanted to slow its spread to other parts of the country.
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Uusimaa lockdown ends early
The government is ending the restrictions on travel in and out of Uusimaa region earlier than planned. The partial lockdown was due to expire on Sunday 19th April but on Wednesday morning ministers announced that roadblocks would end almost immediately.
However the decision has also likely been taken on resource grounds – maintaining dozens of checkpoints on roads around the region of roughly 1.7 million people has put a strain on police resources, even with conscripts brought in to help.
However, the government is still urging people who live in Uusimaa not to make a dash for the exit but to stick to the lockdown conditions anyway. Read more.
Finnish healthcare workers vital in northern Sweden
Every day dozens of Finnish healthcare workers cross over the northern border into Sweden, and at the end of their shifts return home again to self-isolation.
They’re part of a small number of international travelers who don’t need to go into mandatory quarantine when they arrive in Finland, as their roles are vital to keep the Norrbotten hospital system functioning during the coronavirus pandemic.
"If the Finns can’t come into our region then we must close healthcare facilities" says Anna-Stina Nordmark Nilsson, the Regional Director of Healthcare in Norrbotten.
Tornio-based cardiologist Kjell Melander says that when healthcare staff go home to Finland after their shifts they have to sign paperwork at the border promising not to be in places where they might spread coronavirus, and basically go into self-isolation during their time off. Read more.
Finland pledges €5.5 extra to cover Trump WHO budget cut
The Finnish government has pledged to increase its funding for the World Health Organisation by €5.5 million, to help cover a shortfall after US President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday evening that he was suddenly stopping America’s contributions over a disagreement with China.
In addition, Finland already gave a one-off million euro grant to the WHO for it’s Covid-19 response plan.
Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) says that if Europe gets control of the pandemic, other parts of the world like Africa and Latin America will need the WHO's help and expertise to tackle the virus.
Meanwhile Finland will also be increasing its humanitarian aid to help agencies who are working with some of the world's most vulnerable communities in crisis zones such as refugee camps in the Middle East and Africa. Read more.
Turku University grant to help coronavirus anxiety in children
Researchers at the University of Turku have been awarded a €50,000 grant to help families and especially children who develop anxiety during the coronavirus crisis.
The money was given by the Juho Vainio Foundation to a research team lead by Andre Sourander, a professor of child psychiatry.
"The impact of large-scale crisis on children's mental well-being is significantly influenced by their parents' ability to control their own feelings and support the children's good mental health" says Professor Sourander, who has developed some tools to help parents deal with their own anxiety and their children's as well.
Professor Sourander and his team have years of experience in designing and researching digital, mental health-promoting programmes.
Foreign Ministry staff help Kela handle claims
Fifty civil servants from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will begin a three month temporary work assignment for Kela, helping them process a backlog of benefits claims.
The Foreign Ministry staff all have a background in handling visa applications.
“Visa officers already have skills that are also useful in resolving benefit applications. This is a unique example of cross-administrative cooperation” says Pasi Lankinen from Kela.
The visa staff will receive training before starting to handle Kela benefit paperwork.