Here's our evening round-up of the latest coronavirus news from Finland – Wednesday

President Sauli Niinistö's annual Kultaranta policy forum is moving online this year due to the pandemic, and participants will be discussing Finland - and the world - after coronavirus.
President Sauli Niinistö's annual Kultaranta policy forum is moving online this year due to the pandemic, and participants will be discussing Finland - and the world - after coronavirus. Kuva: Ossi Ahola

Latest numbers on confirmed cases and deaths

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare says there have now been 6,054 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Finland, an increase of 51 since yesterday.

There have also been 284 coronavirus-related deaths in Finland, an increase of 9 from the day before.

Across the country there are currently 157 people in hospital receiving treatment for Covid-19 complications, and 35 in intensive care. Those numbers have been declining over the last few weeks and the majority of patients are in the capital city region - only nine ICU patients are being treated outside the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has ordered all staff who come into contact with people in elderly homes or home care services to wear masks. Employees should cover their nose and mouth with either a surgical mask, a washable or disposable mask, or a visor to cover the whole face.

New national guidelines for coronavirus symptoms

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL is now advising anyone with coronavirus symptoms to get a test.

This is a change of direction from earlier official advice at the start of the pandemic, which said anyone with mild symptoms should just stay at home and self-medicate, and let the virus run its course.

Now THL says the sooner that Covid-19 is confirmed, the sooner the infected person can be isolated and other potentially exposed people can be traced. The policy change comes as testing capacity increases, and laboratories are able to handle more tests every day.

“Rapid detection of coronavirus infection helps each patient protect their loved ones from possible further infection" THL Chief Physician Taneli Puumalainen.

Finland now has the capacity to do more than 8,000 tests each day.

Ferry crossings set for major changes on board

Ferry passengers crossing the Baltic Sea between Finland and Estonia will see major changes to their journey when routes re-open this week. The government is easing border restrictions with Finland’s Schengen neighbours on Thursday to allow cross-border travel for work or other essential reasons.

There has been such strong demand for tickets on Tallink services that the company has scheduled extra crossings – even though boats will only be half full.

“We reduced passenger capacity by 50% on the ships and so we are only selling tickets up to that capacity” says Katri Link from Tallink Group.

Tallink has removed as many seats as possible to try and guarantee social distancing for passengers on board, and not all services will be available initially. There are tighter standards in restaurants and for food service; extra security on board to manage embarkation and disembarkation crowds; and a medical team on the ship at all times who can isolate any people who become sick during the crossing.

Government meets to discuss restaurant re-openings & business support

Government ministers are meeting in Helsinki on Wednesday evening, to discuss further measures to ease the impact of coronavirus on Finnish businesses.

The aid could come as direct support to cover loss of income during the pandemic, and estimates of how much the government is ready to make available range from hundreds of millions up to a billion euros.

The aid would be available to businesses across a range of sectors.

Also on the agenda today is how restaurants, cafes and bars – which have been closed since early April – can start to re-open after the end of May, and whether there should be some restrictions on opening hours, or special arrangements to ensure distancing between customers.

Dozens of staff and patients infected at Laakso Hospital

Dozens of staff at one of the main Helsinki hospitals treating coronavirus patients have themselves tested positive for the virus.

Since mid-March 65 employees at the capital’s Laakso Hospital have been confirmed with Covid-19, with half of the infections detected in three specialist coronavirus wards.

All 800 staff at the hospital are being tested for the virus, even if they’re not showing any symptoms. So far 500 have been tested.

In addition to the staff, 14 patients in other wards at the hospital have also been infected with coronavirus.

They have all been isolated, and everyone exposed to the virus has been quarantined.

President's Kultaranta talks get coronavirus agenda

President Sauli Niinistö's annual Kultaranta policy forum is moving online this year due to the pandemic, and participants will be discussing Finland - and the world - after coronavirus.

The talks take place on Sunday 24th May and feature guests from politics, media, and academia as well as from the Finnish business world. On the agenda are topics such as whether we will see closer cooperation or more competition after the crisis; how Finland's economy will cope; and the impact of the outbreak on our society.

Finally, President Niinistö will hold a discussion with Speaker of Parliament Matti Vanhanen (Centre) and Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP).

Members of the public can participate by sending questions and comments which Niinistö and other participants will answer during the live broadcast.

The full stories and more can be read here:

Daily news about the coronavirus crisis – koronauutiset englanniksi

Luotettavan tiedon tarve on kasvanut koronakriisin jatkuessa. Kaikkia maakuntamme asukkaita ei suomen- tai ruotsinkielinen media tavoita. Siksi julkaisemme koronakriisin aikana joka ilta englanninkielisen uutiskoosteen päivän tapahtumista. Uusi kooste ilmestyy luettavaksi maanantaista perjantaihin kello 19.30.

Englanninkielinen kooste koronauutisista kertoo nimenomaan päivän tiedoista ja tapahtumista Suomessa. Aineiston tuottaa Lännen Median lehtien käyttöön englanninkielinen uutispalvelu News Now Finland.

As the coronavirus crisis continues our readers have an increased need for reliable information. Not all residents of our region are reached by Finnish or Swedish-language media. That's why we've started to publish an English-language news summary of the day's coronavirus news. The new round-up will be available online Monday through Friday at 7:30pm.

The English-language compilation of coronavirus news has the latest information related to Finland. The material is produced for Lännen Media publications by the English-language news service News Now Finland.