Coronavirus round-up: Monday 6th April 2020

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

Coronavirus graphic / Credit: iStock

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

  • 2,176 confirmed cases / 27 fatalities
  • Restaurants & cafe owners pivot to new business models
  • Researchers launch national coronavirus data project
  • Slush startup event canceled in November
  • Lapland night trains suspended
  • Stockmann Group files for restructuring
  • Orchestra embraces technology for online Sibelius celebration

Latest coronavirus numbers

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL says there have been 2,176 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Finland. That’s an increase of 249 cases from the day before, one of the largest jumps so far – but it also reflects an increase in the number of patients being tested every day.

THL says they’ve now tested almost 33,000 people since the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in Finland at the end of January. THL says that testing capacity will be increased to more than 4,000 samples per day “in the coming weeks.”

Across the country the number of people needing hospital treatment for coronavirus has risen to 228, with 81 patients in intensive care.

Restaurant and cafe owners pivot to new business models

Finland’s restaurant and cafe owners are looking for new ways to do business now that they’ve had to close for customers, to help slow the spread of coronavirus. By law all bars, cafes, nightclubs and restaurants are closed until the end of May, and it means some business owners are pivoting from dine-in to delivery instead, which is still allowed.

One Bar & Restaurant in Porvoo, which previously had to lay off nine staff when customers stopped showing up, has switched to delivering food boxes with several meals inside.

“We’ve made a concept that’s low cost, and low waste. We know what we’re going to make the next day and we go to the wholesaler and get just what we need and no extra. It’s simple and effective in that sense” says owner Petter Larsen.

There’s growing pressure too for a specific package of financial help for the hospitality industry, with players like Wolt saying they’ve been actively lobbying the government to do more. While Wolt has seen 100 new restaurants join their platform recently, including a number of fine dining restaurants, they’ve also seen 200 restaurants close down. Read more here.  as they see several hundred restaurants close from their own app in recent weeks. Read more at our original story here.

Researchers launch national coronavirus data project

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL is launching a new national project to gather more data about people who have been confirmed with coronavirus.

Researchers will look to see whether individual factors like lifestyle or hereditary health conditions play a part in how the virus progresses in different people, and what symptoms it causes.

“The results of the study can be used at a later stage in the planning of treatment and preventive measures for coronavirus. The first results are expected to be available already during this epidemic, especially if it is prolonged due to control measures” says Research Professor Markus Perola.

THL wants to sign up 3,000 people to the project who have either received a confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis, or who are suspected to have had the virus. The research is being carried out in cooperation with university hospitals, the Red Cross blood service, and private healthcare providers. Read more at our story here.

Slush startup event canceled in November

This year’s Slush startup event, set to be held in November, has been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers made the announcement on Monday afternoon and say that startups are facing “unprecedented challenges” with help needed more than ever.

“We don’t know how the global coronavirus pandemic will evolve, what will happen over the next couple of weeks, let alone in November” says CEO Miika Huttunen, who was only appointed to the role in February.

Huttunen says canceling so far in advance was the responsible thing to do, and that the Slush organisation will now refocus to helping entrepreneurs during the coming months. Read more at our story here.

Lapland night trains suspended

The sleeper train service which connects Lapland with the capital has been suspended until at least 24th May.

VR Groups says that the train, which originates in Kemijärvi and stops at Rovaniemi before heading further south to Kemi, Oulu, Tampere and Hämeenlinna, has to stop because of a significant decrease in passenger numbers.

The government has also advised people to avoid all leisure travel.

At the end of March, VR announced the Helsinki-Kolari night train route was also being suspended during the coronavirus crisis.

Stockmann Group files for restructuring

The Stockmann Group has filed paperwork with Helsinki District Court on Monday for corporate restructuring. It comes after the company says the coronavirus has caused a “significant impact on the company’s customer volumes and cash flow.”

Stockmann says it discussed the difficulties with its main bankers and creditors.

The company is in the middle of a multi-million euro cost savings drive, and although online sales have improved in recent weeks as customers switch from going to the stores, to e-commerce, the company says “the online sales growth cannot compensate for the drastic decline in customer volumes in the current exceptional situation.”

“We have been working tirelessly and passionately with all our Stockmann and Lindex employees to improve our business performance and to serve our customers in the best possible way” says CEO Jari Latvanen. Read more at our story here.

Orchestra embraces tech for Sibelius celebration

More than 60 Finnish classical musicians have joined together online – but remotely – to record a coronavirus-inspired version of the Sibelius classic Finlandia.

Sinfonia Lahti recorded the new version last week, and it’s already become a YouTube hit.

“We have made really many recordings, and Finlandia is a wonderful piece, a statement of please let us be here in our beautiful Finland with this virus, and so it’s like a prayer for the whole Finnish people that everybody could be in a safe place” explains Concert Master Maaria Leino.

Musicians, who had to record themselves at home on their mobile phones, while listening to a tick-tock sound in lieu of conductor, and a piano  backing track to ensure they were playing along at the right time. The final piece, when mixed together by sound engineers, was something rather special.

“It’s amazing! I didn’t expect anything like this!” says double bass player Eero Munter, who says that the tune Finlandia is “deep in our Finnish souls.” Read more at our story here.