Coronavirus latest: Confirmed cases surpass 1,100, Uusimaa borders closed, 7 deaths reported
This article includes the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak in Finland.
- The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Finland rose to 1,163 on Saturday (28.3)
- The THL reported seven fatalities as of Friday afternoon (27.3)
- Police are patrolling Uusimaa’s borders after parliament approved restriction
- Employment ministry warns of 70,000 more job losses this year
27.3 7:25 Uusimaa frontiers close
It’s official: Uusimaa is now closed to outsiders. The new restrictions came into force at midnight and anyone wanting to go in or out of Finland’s largest region will now need a very good reason to convince police on the border to let them through. Our story is here.
27.3 18:55 HUS reports fourth death, will no longer announce each fatality
Early Friday evening, Helsinki-Uusimaa hospital district announced the fourth death of a patient from complications of Covid-19, a week after the country’s first fatality.
On Friday afternoon the national health institute THL said there had been seven deaths, so the latest announcement apparently brings the national total to eight.
HUS said that it would no longer announce individual deaths, but that they will be included in the THL’s daily tallies.
The first death in Finland linked to the virus was in the HUS district on Friday 20 March. HUS reported its second and third fatalities on Wednesday and Thursday, making Friday the third day in a row. HUS says all four patients were elderly.
27.3 18:34 Finland buys “large number” of masks from China
The National Emergency Supply Agency (NESA) said on Friday that it has signed large contracts for delivery of respirator masks needed for healthcare providers.
NESA’s Basic Supply Director, Jyrki Hakola, confirmed the deals but declined to provide any further details such as the cost or size of the orders.
“Naturally they are large. It’s not worthwhile to fly empty airplanes,” he told Yle. “China is the biggest producer country, so it’s a natural place to procure them. As a state purchaser, we’ve been able to negotiate reasonable prices – but clearly the price is higher than normally.”
Last weekend Yle reported that masks were already running out at some Finnish hospitals, with a particular shortage of FFP3-class respirator masks. They are used in intensive care units, where there is the greatest risk of healthcare providers becoming infected.
27.3 18:00 Military conscripts may be confined to bases
With the borders of the Uusimaa region expected to close soon, garrisons are rearranging leave procedures.
As of early Friday evening, MPs were still weighing the constitutional issues involved in the Uusimaa closure, and asked the cabinet to re-word its bill.
If Uusimaa is cordoned off as expected, conscripts serving at bases in Uusimaa who live elsewhere will not be allowed to go home. Correspondingly conscripts from Uusimaa will not be allowed to go home if they are serving elsewhere in the country. However they must return to service as usual if they are now on leave.
At the Nyland Brigade in western Uusimaa, an R&R programme will be arranged for conscripts who are not allowed to return for leave, and they will be kept separate from other soldiers on base.
27.3 15:59 THL reports 1025 confirmed cases, seven deaths
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) released its daily update on the coronavirus situation in the country on Friday afternoon.
It says that as of 9:30am, 1025 cases of Covid-19 disease had been confirmed by labs in Finland. The THL says that seven people have died from coronavirus complications.
The institute says that 108 patients are in hospital, with 32 of those in intensive care. Fifty-three percent of the patients with confirmed cases have been men.
27.3 13:55 Finland mulls hotel quarantine for Spain returnees
The CEO of the Helsinki-Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), Juha Tuominen, has proposed placing travellers returning from Spain into “organised and monitored quarantine”, suggesting it could be done at a hotel near the airport.
However Jussi Sane, a senior expert at the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), told Yle on Friday that he was not certain a quarantine for all of the returnees was called for. Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson said that the government is looking into the issue.
27.3 13:40 Ministry says joblessness likely to soar
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment warns that Finland may see 70,000 more jobless people this year. The epidemic has already triggered hundreds of companies to lay off thousands of workers. Furloughs set in motion by the virus have already touched nearly a quarter of a million residents.
Employment offices, known as TE centres, reported a sharp increase of nearly 2,000 jobseekers on 16 March, the day Finland declared a state of emergency over coronavirus.