Here’s our evening round-up of the latest coronavirus news from Finland:
Latest coronavirus numbers from THL
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL says there have now been 6,399 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Finland – an increase of 19 from the day before.
There have also been 301 coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals, care homes and other locations – an increase of one from the previous day.
Although most cases of coronavirus in Finland have been mild, there are currently 112 people receiving hospital treatment around the country for their symptoms and 25 patients in intensive care. Both of those numbers have fallen since the previous day, continuing a weeks-long trend.
Virus testing capacity is now running at 9,600 tests per day.
New rules for restaurants, cafes and bars re-opening
Ministers have announced a new set of rules for restaurants, cafes and bars when they open on 1st June after an extended coronavirus lockdown.
Minister of Family and Basic Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) outlined the plan that allows restaurants to open until 23:00, but they must stop serving alcohol at 22:00
Officials say the reason for this one hour difference between the end of alcohol sales and the closing of restaurants, is to try and avoid crowds of people or queues in restaurants at closing time.
From 1st June there will also be new limits on the number of customers inside a restaurant, cafe or bar at any one time – restricted to 50 percent of the normal seats. All restaurant customers must have their own seats, but they can’t yet help themselves to food or drinks for example from a buffet.
There are no restrictions on the number of people who can sit outside on a terrace, but social distancing remains here too. Read more here.
Researchers use dogs to sniff out coronavirus
Researchers at the University of Helsinki are investigating whether dogs’ sense of smell could be a faster and more accurate test for coronavirus.
Scientists from the university’s medical and veterinary science departments have joined forced to see if dogs can detect people infected with Covid-19 by the smell of their urine.
In preliminary studies, trained dogs have been able to differentiate between urine from someone infected with coronavirus, and a healthy person.
“We started with two dogs because we wanted to be sure they don’t get sick and it might be dangerous for both the handler and the dogs, and we were surprised that it was an easy scent for them” explains Anna Hielm-Björkman, Associate Professor of Animal Clinical Research at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
In the University’s preliminary tests, the researchers found the dogs are able to identify someone with coronavirus before they are showing any clinical symptoms, and even before a normal test would come back with a positive result. Read more here.
Amusement parks and zoos set to open in June
Summer might be getting off to an enforced slow start for Finland’s seasonal tourist attractions, but with lockdown restrictions easing at the beginning of June, some of the country’s most popular destinations are getting back in business.
Powerpark in Alahärmä will open again on 6th June; Helsinki’s Linnanmäki amusement park will be open from Friday 12th June; Tampere’s Särkänniemi amusement park – including the aquarium, observation tower and restaurants – and Tykkimäki amusement park in Kouvola have both not announced when exactly they'll be open for business. also not announced when it might open again for business.
Ranua Wildlife Park in Lapland will be open again from 1st June, as will Ähtäri Zoo, home to Finland’s two giant pandas. Meanwhile Helsinki's Korkeasaari Zoo will also open on 1st June with some changes on the island including no animal feeding sessions this summer because they tend to attract crowds in one spot, and walk-through paths in goat and kangaroo enclosures will also be kept closed.
All the tropical houses and indoor animal areas are closed this summer, but many of those animals also have outdoor enclosures so there’s still a chance to see them. Read more here.
Finnair expands international network after crisis shutdown
Finnair is set to increase its international flights from July, and will review the schedule on a monthly basis depending on how many tickets are sold.
The airline cut 90 percent of its services during the coronavirus crisis when travel restrictions were imposed, and maintained just a skeleton international route network serving some major cities in Europe, mostly to cater for passengers returning home.
“Our goal is to fly just over 30 percent of our normal number of flights in July, and start long-haul flights to major destinations in Asia” says Ole Orvér, Finnair’s Commercial Director.
The long-haul flights to Asia will start with Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong in July, as well as Tokyo Narita, Osaka and Nagoya, Singapore, Seoul and Bangkok. The Asia destinations are driven by cargo demand.
In Europe two dozen flights will begin in July, with twice daily services to London, Paris and Amsterdam - with five to seven weekly connections between Helsinki and Germany and Switzerland. Other European flights will be added in August. Flights to Delhi and New York will also begin in August with Tokyo Haneda added in November. Read more here.
67 patients and staff infected, 12 patients dead in virus outbreak
A coronavirus cluster at Helsinki’s Suursuo Hospital infected 67 patients and staff in four wards, and left 12 patients dead since the end of April.
The first infections were detected in a convalescent ward at the north Helsinki hospital, and measures were taken to contain the outbreak including putting a stop to new admissions; isolating infected staff and patients; and testing the other staff and patients on wards where the virus occurred.
“We do everything we can to protect patients and employees from infections” says Chief Medical Officers Laura Pikkarainen.
“Visits have been banned since March. In the case of hospice patients this has understandably been deviated from and short visits by relatives in protective equipment are allowed” she adds.
Employees at the hospital wear protective equipment too in all situations when they’re dealing with patients. They also use masks which cover their nose and mouth when interacting with each other. Read more here.