Coronavirus round-up: Friday 15th May 2020
- Latest coronavirus numbers
- Prime Minister's briefing: Virus peak is behind us
- No Nordic leisure travel, but Finland could join 'Baltic Bubble'
- New guidelines for contact with elderly relatives in care homes
- Finland's cities need more cooperation during the crisis
Latest coronavirus numbers
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL says there have now been 6,228 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Finland, an increase of 83 from the day before.
There have also been 293 coronavirus-linked deaths in Finland, an increase of 6 from the previous day.
However health officials point out that there have been at least 5,000 who have recovered from the virus - and that the number of people recovering is growing faster than the rate of new infections.
Around the country there are currently 118 people in hospital receiving treatment for coronavirus, including 32 patients in intensive care. The number of patients is declining across all hospital districts.
Prime Minister's briefing: Virus peak is behind us
The Chief Physician at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL Taaneli Puumalainen says he believes that Finland’s coronavirus peak is now behind us.
He made the comments on Friday morning at a briefing alongside Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) who said that there is no policy of ‘herd immunity’ in Finland, but rather the goal is to stop the virus - however she said the country must prepare for a new wave of infections as many restrictions are eased.
Marin explained that the government’s aim is to find a balance where people who are at particular risk from Covid-19 are protected, but at the same time identify some restrictive measures that can be safely eased.
The Prime Minister also explained why the government hadn’t set a target for the infection rate, or R0, which is the number of other people infected for every one person who has the virus. It the R0 is more than 1 the epidemic will spread, if it is less than 1 then the number of people getting infected will decline.
Some countries have set specific R0 targets to achieve but Marin said it varies in different parts of Finland where there can be cluster outbreaks of the virus, and that giving a specific number could lead to the assumption that all government actions are focused on that one goal.
“I fully understand the desire for one precise figure with which we could assess when restrictive measures will be tightened or relaxed” the PM said. “Unfortunately it’s not that simple.” Read more here.
No Nordic leisure travel, but Finland could join 'Baltic Bubble'
Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) says that Finland could consider joining the ‘Baltic Bubble’ – a zone created by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that allows their citizens to travel freely between the three countries, under certain conditions.
Earlier, Ohisalo had a discussion with her Nordic counterparts. On the agenda was a discussion about lifting the recreational travel between the Nordic countries. However, it was decided not to do that yet.
“We are continuously monitoring the epidemiological situation and, based on our observations, we are making decisions in Finland in line with our hybrid strategy. So far, we do not yet have an estimate of when we will be able to change the recommendations on avoiding recreational travel” says Ohisalo.
However, the minister said that Finland "may have opportunities to consider easing restrictions on internal borders with our immediate neighbours" including perhaps joining the three Baltic countries in forming a 'bubble' where people without symptoms can move back and forth across borders, as long as they haven’t come into contact with someone who has coronavirus. Read more here.
New guidelines for contact with elderly relatives in care homes
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has updated its guidelines for relatives who want to be in contact with elderly family members in care homes.
While visits to units that provide round-the-clock care and treatment are still banned, family members (or close friends) will be allowed to visit seriously ill people who are in a critical state or in hospices, provided that precautions are taken. Those visits will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
There are also new guidelines that allow people to meet relatives or close friends face-to-face in a safe environment.
That could mean care homes set up special rooms with safeguards in place to stop any transmission of the virus to vulnerable older people, and the ministry is drawing up examples of good practice to let homes put in place solutions that work for their circumstances.
The new guidelines come with the understanding that elderly people have been isolated from direct contact with their friends and family for many weeks, and that this negatively affects their quality of life.
Finland's cities need more cooperation & support during the crisis
Some of Finland's largest cities say there needs to be more cooperation and support from central government during the pandemic.
The C21 network includes Helsinki, Turku, Hämeenlinna, Espoo, Vaasa, Seinäjoki, Pori, Jyväskylä and Rovaniemi, and they say the public sector's financial base has weakened "in an unprecedented way as a result of the coronavirus crisis."
"It is essential that the government commits itself to covering the costs of coronavirus even after 2020 and 2021. The impact of the crisis on the whole municipal sector, but especially on large cities, will be large and long-lasting. The largest cities have the majority of cases of the disease and the economic structure, which is most affected by various restriction and exclusion measures" the group says.
The cities are calling on the government to support stimulus measures to strengthen the economy, and say that large cities in particular have the potential to rapidly launch projects with the potential to employ significant numbers of people.