Here's our evening round-up of the latest coronavirus news from Finland – welcome to the new daily service for our readers

A banner at the Three Smiths Statue reads 'Stay Strong' in Helsinki, Finland, 31 March 2020. According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, Finland has registered at least 1,615 COVID-19 cases, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
A banner at the Three Smiths Statue reads 'Stay Strong' in Helsinki, Finland, 31 March 2020. According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, Finland has registered at least 1,615 COVID-19 cases, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Kuva: epa08334291

Luotettavan tiedon tarve on kasvanut koronakriisin jatkuessa. Kaikkia maakuntamme asukkaita ei suomen tai ruotsinkielinen media tavoita. Siksi ryhdymme julkaisemaan 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're starting 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.

Latest: 1,615 coronavirus cases, 20 deaths - information letters sent out

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL says that 1,615 people have been confirmed with coronavirus so far – that's up 97 from the day before. So far 20 patients have died from the virus, with the youngest casualty aged 56 and the oldest 101 years old.

THL says that most of the Covid-19 cases in Finland have so far been mild, but there are currently 180 patients in hospital for treatment, with 72 in intensive care.

The new figures come as an information pack from the government about coronavirus starts to be delivered. The letter aims to ensure that residents receive information about coronavirus and being prepared for it, and comes in Finnish and Swedish, but there are links to online resources in other languages too.

"Every letter arriving home is one of the ways to share reliable information about the coronavirus and how to prevent it from spreading. It also reaches those living in Finland who do not search for information online or follow news broadcasts" explains Riikka Nurmi from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Every home should have received their information letter by 9th April.

Rescued: Behind the scenes as 100 stranded Finns are flown home to India

Hundreds of stranded Nordic and Baltic travelers have been flown home from India in an operation lead by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with Finnair and diplomats in Delhi.

When the A350 took off from Goa on Wednesday, and another left Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Thursday morning, more than 650 passengers from across the region were heading home.

But the flights were just the final part of a journey that involved a specially-coordinated convoys of buses and embassy escorts, to break through the local lockdown rules and coronavirus travel restrictions that sealed the borders of India’s 29 states.

"The Indian Government has been very cooperative. The rules for movement, however, are strict and the practices vary a bit from state to state" explains Nelli Mikkola, a diplomat at the Finnish Embassy in Delhi.

Kela re-opens helplines in Arabic, Somali and Russian

The Social Insurance Institution Kela is re-opening its minority language helplines in Arabic, Somali and Russian to help cope with an influx of calls during the coronavirus crisis.

Kela had previously closed those services after Christmas saying they had challenges organising the day-to-day work of the helplines, which at that time assisted around 2,000 people every month. However, about a quarter of the calls were going unanswered.

Now, the services will be started again three days per week Monday, Wednesday and Friday 09:00–12:00. The numbers are:

Arabic 020 6344 902

Somali 020 6344 905

Russian 020 6344 901

Kela already offers phone help in Finnish, Swedish and English; and the full website is available in those languages plus three Sámi languages and easy Finnish. There is also information available online in Russian; Estonian; Kurdish; Arabic, Farsi, Somali; and Finnish and Swedish sign language via videos.

Government's new €150 million for medium-sized businesses

Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Centre) says the coronavirus crisis “is the worst moment of Finland’s economic history” as he set out new help for entrepreneurs and medium-sized businesses.

At a Friday morning press conference Lintilä unveiled a new financing programme for businesses worth €150 million, through state-owned private equity company Tesi.

Companies with more than 50 employees and a turnover of at least €10 million are eligible to apply for assistance – and must show the prospect of future profitability as well.

It’s the latest plank in the government’s platform of economic assistance to help Finnish businesses cope with the financial crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Google data shows Finns' changing habits during coronavirus crisis

New data released by tech giant Google shows how peoples’ movement has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The COVID-19 Communities Mobility Report for Finland looks at anonymous data from mobile phones using Google location services, and shows that over a six week period from Sunday 16th February until Sunday 29th March, Finns moved away from crowded shared spaces, and moved instead to more open places.

Overall, the new statistics show:

52% decrease in retail and recreation locations

21% decrease in grocery and pharmacy locations

59% decrease at public transport hubs

29% decrease at workplaces

9% increase in residential homes

48% increase in parks, beaches, dog parks and public gardens

Google also breaks down their data region-by-region in Finland which shows some big differences in peoples’ habits as the severity of the coronavirus pandemic became clear.

VR waives rent for railway restaurants

State railways operator VR Group says it is waiving the rents of cafes and restaurants on its station properties across the country for two months, because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tennants won’t have to pay their rents for May and June, based on Parliament’s vote to close all cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs from 4th April until 30th May in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

The company is also negotiating with individual operators on flexible terms to pay their rents if there’s been a drop in business, to help alleviate the financial hardship.

The full stories and more can be read here: