Here’s our evening round-up of the latest coronavirus news from Finland:
- Latest virus numbers from THL
- Sweden minister concerned over Finnish travel restrictions
- Experts: Epidemic continues to slow down
- Government plans VAT refund for businesses
- MP calls for regional variations on restrictions
Latest virus numbers from THL
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare says there have now been 6,493 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Finland – an increase of 50 from the day before.
There have also been 306 coronavius-related deaths, up by two from the previous day.
The number of people admitted to hospital for coronavirus treatment, and the number of people in intensive care have both fallen in the last 24 hours.
There are currently 110 patients getting hospital treatment in five special hospital regions, and 22 of those people are in intensive care – most of them in Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District.
There is detailed information available for 276 of the deaths which show that 48% of fatalities are men, and 52% are women. Their median age is 84-years old.
Sweden minister concerned over Finland travel restrictions
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde says she’s concerned that travelers from her country might not be allowed to travel freely to other Nordic countries as restrictions begin to ease up.
Linde gave an interview to TT Swedish News Agency where she said other countries have the “wrong picture” about the coronvirus situation in Sweden.
New data suggests that Sweden had the highest per-capita coronavirus death rate in Europe over a rolling seven day average between 12th and 19th May. Sweden currently has an overall death rate of 376 people per million population – whereas in Finland the number is 55 deaths per million population.
Linde says there are no grounds for excluding Sweden when travel restrictions between Nordic countries are opened up.
Finland’s Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) has previously expressed her worry about the virus situation in Sweden.
Experts: Epidemic continues to slow down
The team of public health experts monitoring the government’s hybrid strategy of slowly easing restrictions says the coronavirus epidemic continues to slow down compared with the previous two weeks.
The average number of cases reported to the communicable disease register each week has fallen for more than a month, while the number of new cases has decreased in Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District, and in Länsi-Pohja Hospital District, two of the worst affected areas.
The experts from the Ministry of Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL caution that while restrictions are being relaxed cautiously and gradually, coronavirus cases could increase again if instructions on good hand hygiene, cough hygiene and social distancing are not followed. Read more here.
Government plans VAT refund for businesses
The Government is proposing that value-added tax VAT already paid at the early part of 2020 could be returned to businesses as a way to ease the short term financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The money would have to be paid back at a later day through a special repayment plan.
“The temporary returning of VAT already paid is one of the Government’s measures for alleviating the situation for businesses that find themselves in financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic. I’m pleased that this is now moving forward” says Katri Kulmuni (Centre) Minister of Finance.
Ministers want to ensure the money is used to benefit the business and not just pay off any tax arrears, and they’re also proposing a reduction in the interest due on late payments from 4% to 3%.
MP calls for regional variations on restrictions
A Member of Parliament from the government coalition Centre Party is calling for different rates of easing coronavirus restrictions in different parts of the country.
Freshman MP Joonas Könttä says that parts of Finland where coronavirus is under control should have discretion to have fewer restrictions.
“The situation is very difference in different parts of Finland […] one set of rules for the whole country is not the most sensible course of action” he says.
Jyväskylä MP Könttä cites the examples of Central Finland and North Karelia where “the situation has remained moderate” he says. “The situation would allow, for example, freer opening of restaurants in these provinces.”
“It is important to increase the flexibility of conronavirus control measures” he says.