Here's our evening round-up of the latest coronavirus news from Finland
- Latest Covid-19 cases and fatalities
- Government talks to ease education restrictions
- Finns urged to stay at home for virtual Vappu
- Finnair profits plunge during virus shutdown
- Ministry plans Covid-19 tracking app for smartphones
Latest Covid-19 cases and fatalities
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL says there have now been 4,906 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Finland, an increase of 166 from the day before.
There have also been 206 deaths linked to coronavirus symptoms, an increase of seven from the previous day.
Around the country there has been a slight increase in the number of people admitted to hospital for treatment, but a decrease in the number patients in intensive care. There are currently 208 people in hospital, and 51 of them in ICU.
Government talks to ease education restrictions
Government ministers are meeting on Wednesday to discuss their options to ease restrictions on schools, so that classrooms can open up again. Education Minister Li Andersson (Left) has previously said they will be guided by expert advice on the issue, although it's looking increasingly likely that schools will start to open again from the middle of May.
The government is also facing a number of other pressure points to ease wider restrictions, including from the business community, from political opponents and from Finns who see lockdowns being unpicked in other countries and wonder when the same will happen at home.
“International comparisons are difficult because Finland is quite different from densely populated countries, but then again we have cities that are quite densely populated and there could be valid comparisons” notes Member of Parliament Iiris Suomela (Green). Read more here.
Finns urged to stay at home for virtual Vappu
The national government, police and local authorities are urging Finns to stay at home, and resist the temptation to get together in groups to celebrate Vappu this year. Festivities traditionally start on Vappu Eve in the afternoon and continue through 1st May with parties involving school friends and families, and often lots of food and drinks.
Weather permitting it’s common practice to congregate outside, with Helsinki’s Havis Amanda statue the focal point for thousands of people on Vappu Eve, and the capital’s Kaivupuisto park a popular place for picnics and all-day revelry on May Day.
However this year the message is clear: don’t hold any gatherings, enjoy the celebrations online, at home. “Everyone must take responsibility for this, and parents should remind young people that they also must not meet in large groups in public places” says Helsinki Police Commissioner Seppo Kujala. Read more here.
Finnair profits plunge during virus shutdown
Finnair has revealed its first quarter earnings results today, which show the airline’s financial situation at the start of 2020, and highlight how much the coronavirus has impacted the industry.
So far this year Finnair’s revenue has decreased by 16% compared with the year before, down to €561.2 million. Financial net expenses increased significantly, with a €55 million increase related to jet fuel prices and foreign exchange rates. The number of passengers also fell from 3.1 million during the first quarter last year, to 2.7 million this year.
“The first quarter of 2020 will be remembered for the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic. We started our year strongly, with January developing noticeably better than expected. However, from February onwards, the coronavirus situation caused a dramatic change in revenues – a change that compares to nothing in the entire 100-year history of commercial aviation” says Finnair CEO Topi Manner.
The airline has canceled 90% of its flight schedule but hopes to start opening routes up again from June. Read more here.
Ministry plans Covid-19 tracking app for smartphones
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is planning to introduce a mobile phone app to help trace the spread of coronavirus in Finland.
Other EU countries have already announced they would plan to roll out a similar schemes, which aim to enable faster identification of people exposed to the virus; be able to target testing resources more accurately; and to break chains of transmission.
Use of the app would be voluntary and people would have to opt-in to the service which uses the Bluetooth technology on mobile phones.
The app would collect data about recent encounters with other people also using the app on their phones, and then figure out who might have been infected in the days before someone tests positive for Covid-19.