Morning headlines: Tuesday 12th January 2021

News Now Finland morning news headlines and weather first, every weekday at 09:00.

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Snow storm brings dangerous driving conditions, power outages

A snowstorm sweeping across western and southern Finland on Tuesday brings dangerous driving conditions to roads and some power outages too. At least one person was injured in crash on the Pori to Rauma road this morning when a bus went off the road. Police say the incident happened around 07:30 and the passenger was not seriously injured. Around the capital city region police say morning traffic is moving relatively smoothly despite the heavy snow. There have been a few cars that went off the road in Espoo and Vantaa, and Helsinki Police say that motorway ramps and junctions in particular are slippery, and urge drivers to reduce their speeds. An overturned truck trailer on Ring III is holding up traffic this morning. Meanwhile more than 12,000 households in 51 municipalities are without electricity this morning after the storm brought power outages. With snowfall expected to continue all day there is a chance of the daily snow record in Helsinki being broken. That record is 38cm and dates back to 1937.

Case against SDP politician heading to court

Police have completed a preliminary investigation into MP Hussein al-Taee (SDP) for alleged incitement against a group of people, and the case is heading to court. It concerns Facebook posts dating back to 2011 and 2012 where he wrote derogatory comments about Jewish people, Sunni Muslims, Kurds, gay people and women. At first al-Taee denied he had written them, but then later confessed and issued a lengthy apology. Although the National Bureau of Investigations decided not to pursue a case against al-Taee the Helsinki Police did launch a preliminary investigation which has now wrapped up. Iltalehti newspaper reports the case has been referred to the prosecutor at the Office of the Attorney General and could come to court next summer.

More cases of rapid-spreading coronavirus detected in Finland

THL says there have been 29 new cases of a fast-spreading coronavirus variant detected in Finland, for a totaly of 49 cases so far. Passengers arriving from the UK, Sweden, South Africa, Ghana, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Turkey and Estonia have brought the new variant into the country. Of all the new cases most are the covid variant first identified in the UK while a couple of the cases are from a different new strain first identified in South Africa. Lasse Lehtonen, Directory of Diagnostics at Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District tells MTV News that he believes the new strain from the UK will become the dominant strain of coronavirus in Finland by March. Danish authorities think the new strain will become the dominant one there by February. “Based on our figures, my own assessment is that we are about a month behind Denmark’s development” Lehtonen says.

Hundreds of test and trace, and vaccination volunteers wanted

Hundreds of volunteers are needed in Helsinki and Vantaa to assist with coronavirus track and trace operations, and at vaccination sites. The two cities have joined up with the Finnish Red Cross to appeal for volunteers to help professional track and trace staff, as well as with vaccine roll-out programmes. “At vaccination centres, volunteers guide those arriving for their injections and ensure that each person is wearing a mask. In addition, they support professionals in the follow-up of vaccination” explains Niina Hirvonen from the Helsinki and Uusimaa Red Cross. Volunteers are needed especially during the busiest times of the day and everyone is given training before they can start. “This is an exceptional situation where the aim is to vaccinate a large number of people as soon as possible. The Red Cross is ready to assist the authorities throughout the country if help is requested” says Aki Pihlaja, Red Cross Finland’s Head of Domestic Preparedness.

Tuesday morning weather

That snow storm is bringing heavy falls from the west to the south and west of the country. The heaviest snow is found around Turku, and across Uusimaa with strong winds as well. In the north and east cold temperatures continue, with temperatures ranging from -12°C to -19°C across Lapland for Tuesday morning, and -18°C down parts of the eastern border. Through Central Finland expect snow and temperatures around -9°C and in the south temperatures of -5°C for the capital city region. In Åland, and the far south around Hanko temperatures will be warmer – even a few degrees above zero.

 

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Tuesday morning 12th January 2020 / Credit: FMI