Morning headlines: Friday 18th December 2020

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Police: Five Helsingin Sanomat staff suspected of national security crimes

The National Bureau of Investigation says it suspects five Helsingin Sanomat stuff of being involved in national security crimes. The case goes back to a story that Hesari published in December 2017 about Finland’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, based on decade-old documents. “The police have had reason to suspect that the editorial staff of Helsingin Sanomat has processed information that has been ordered to be kept secret due to Finland’s external security” says NBI’s Kai Käkelä. “Some of the confidential information was published in the first part of the planned possible series of cases, other prepared articles were not published by Helsingin Sanomat after the start of the preliminary investigation” he adds. During the investigation phase police raided the home of a Helsingin Sanomat journalist and confiscated computers and other electronic equipment like hard drives and phones, which the reporter claimed contained information about her sources in this story. In August 2019, after a protracted legal battle, the Supreme Court ruled the police raid was carried out lawfully.

THL: Covid-19 antibodies remain for six months 

A clinical study by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL finds that a large proportion of people who got infected with coronavirus in spring still had measurable levels of antibodies six months later. A previous study had found most of those infected had retained antibodies for four months, and this latest follow-up study began in October. So far 1,164 patients from five different hospital districts have taken part in the research. “The fact that antibodies persist for so long in such a large proportion of those infected is a promising finding, and the discovery of neutralizing antibodies in particular can mean longer-lasting protection from a new infection” says THL research manager Merit Melin.

Survey: Finns not heeding warnings about Christmas gatherings

A new survey for Rural Future newspaper finds that most Finns aren’t that bothered about the risks of meeting people over the Christmas season. Some 81% of people who answered the poll said they intend to meet more than one relative or friend from outside their household during the holiday period, starting next week. Those under 30 were most likely to say they’ll meet other people with 87% planning to do so. Public health officials are due to release more detailed guidance today about how people should be acting at Christmas amid the ongoing pandemic.

UNESCO adds Finnish sauna to heritage list

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO has added Finnish sauna culture to its list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage” for 2020. The drive to add sauna culture to the list was lead by Ritva Ohmeroluoma from the Finnish sauna society and comes after Finland set up a heritage agency to curate a list of heritage traditions – which currently includes Finnish tango and knitting rag rugs as well as sauna bathing. UNESCO, which is headquartered in Paris, cites sauna’s “integral part of the lives of the majority of the Finnish population” noting that it is not only a place for getting clean but also a place where people cleanse their minds “and embrace a sense of inner peace.” Also added to this year’s UNESCO list alongside sauna are the art of brass horn playing in Luxembourg; making traditional glass Christmas tree ornaments in Czechia; and crafting and playing a traditional stringed instrument in Malawi.

Friday morning weather

It’s another mixed weather day depending what part of the country you’re in, with rain and mild temperatures in the south and southwest, but very cold temperatures down to -19°C in Lapland and parts of the eastern border. There’s snow in the forecast for Lapland as well, and through areas of central and eastern Finland – and further south where Tampere will see some snow flurries.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Friday morning 18th December 2020 / Credit: FMI