Artikeln publiceras i samarbete med News Now Finland.

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

  • Latest Covid-19 cases and fatalities
  • Government concedes errors in EU protective equipment order
  • Researchers looking at anti-rejection medicines for coronavirus treatment
  • Nostalgic pastime boosts mental health
  • Distance learning increases stress for high school students
  • Lapland Police investigated over sneaky snus run

Latest Covid-19 cases and fatalities
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL reports that there are now 4,695 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Finland, that's an increase of 119 from the previous day.

There have also been 193 reported deaths (an increase of three since Sunday) of coronavirus patients in hospital; also included in this total are deaths in other places, such as elderly care homes, where the cause of death is believed to be linked to coronavirus complications.

THL says more than 90% of victims for whom detailed healthcare information is available had one or more long-term health conditions, with the most common of these being heart disease and diabetes.

Although most cases of coronavirus in Finland have so far been mild, there are currently 187 people in hospital around the country, the majority in the Helsinki and Uusima Healthcare District, and 56 people in intensive care - in both situations that's a fall from before the weekend.

Government concedes errors in EU protective equipment order
The government concedes that delays in joining an EU-wide order for protective equipment needed during the coronavirus crisis were due to ‘ambiguity of responsibility among officials.’
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health released a report on the snafu on Sunday but declined to place the blame on any individual official.

Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen (Left) had previously said Finland joined the EU order in good time, but it turns out the country was the very last to sign up to the scheme on 27th March.

According to the report the internal mechanics for getting on board with the EU-wide procurement scheme falls between the responsibilities of Pekonen and Krista Kiuru (SDP) who is the Minister of Family and Basic Services.

However the person who would normally have coordinated this issue internally transferred to another department and ultimately left the ministry completely – with the various departments presuming other departments would handle the EU procurement order. Read more here. 

Researchers looking at anti-rejection medicines for coronavirus treatment

Researchers at the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District and the University of Helsinki are collaborating on a project to see whether anti-rejection drugs, used in transplant patients, could protect against Covid-19, or prevent the development of a severe form of the virus.

The team is also looking at whether a drug used to treat hepatitis C can treat coronavirus.
Now doctors are looking for blood samples from transplant patients for their study.

"HUS has 800 kidney transplant patients under follow-up, of whom about 150 visit the kidney outpatient clinic every month. Permission for the examination and blood samples will be requested from them" says Fernanda Ortiz, Chief Physician of the Neprology Unit at HUS Abdominal Centre.

In the study T cells donated from healthy transplant patients are exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virual infection as well as the different medicine combinations. Early results from the study are expected in the summer.

Nostalgic pastime boosts mental health
During the weeks and months of uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic, Finns have turned to an old fashioned pastime to help calm frayed nerves, bring loved ones together and improve mental health: the humble jigsaw puzzle.

Sales of jigsaw puzzles have doubled in Kesko stores and tripled in S-Group stores in recent weeks.
"Focusing on something like puzzles, calms people down. By making for example jigsaw puzzles you don’t let your mind wander and think about the current time and its worries. The same goes for people who’ve taken up baking and crafts” says psychologist and psychotherapist Minna Martin.

Finnish puzzle manufacturers on the west coast are also seeing business booming at the moment, with demand for puzzles almost outstripping supply.

“Earlier years we’ve sold roughly 100,000 jigsaw puzzles per year but this year we’ve already made and sold more than 100,000 puzzles" says Olli Kivelä from Tactic Games in Pori. Read more here.

Distance learning increases stress for high school students

Finnish high school students, faced with working remotely with schools closed during the coronavirus crisis, are experiencing higher levels of stress with their studies.

A new survey carried out by the The Union of Upper Secondary School Students in Finland SSL mapped how the transition to distance learning has affected high school students’ study and coping mechanisms, and finds that 60% say distance learning is mentally difficult – higher than regular studies, which just 40% of students say is stressful.

“We are very concerned about the workload of high school students. In particular, the responses we received reflected high school students’ concerns about their well-being and loneliness” says SSL President Adina Nivukoski.

The 1,500 high school students who replied to the survey also reported increased independent assignments and class assignments, with not enough time to do all the required work. They also cite pressures and distractions of working from home.

Lapland Police investigated over sneaky snus run
The Lapland Police Department has turned itself in to the Prosecutor General's office for investigation, after a widely-circulated photograph on social media appeared to show one of their police patrol cars parked outside a snus shop in Haparanda, Sweden.

The northern border between Finland and Sweden is closed for all but essential journeys such as medical personnel or truck drivers bringing goods back and forth.

Although it's not illegal to have or to use the snus tobacco product in Finland, it is not possible to buy it here under EU laws Many Finns get their supplies from Sweden, one way or another.

The local snus market in Finland has reportedly dried up during the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, with few cross-border journeys permitted.