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Morning headlines: Tuesday 5th January 2021

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Hospital districts: slow pace of vaccinations depends on availability

The slow pace of vaccinations in Finland, criticised by some opposition politicians and other public figures, is largely due to the number of doses received up to this point, according to health officials. Coronavirus vaccinations have been underway for just five days in Finland, taking into account holidays over the New Year period and the weekend, but officials say they think they’re succeeding given that the number of doses received so far via an EU bulk purchase order is much less than they were initially lead to believe: tens of thousands of vaccine doses have been received rather than hundreds of thousands. “I don’t recognize the problem that the vaccine is lying here waiting to be given and we are just twiddling our thumbs” Mikko Pietilä, Chief Medical Officer from Southwest Finland Hospital District told Ilta-sanomat. Finland is being allocated vaccines, like other EU countries, on a strict population basis and the European Medicines Agency is still in the process of approving other vaccines which will arrive and speed up the immunisation rollout. That hasn’t stopped critics leveling accusations of incompetence at Sanna Marin’s government. MP Elina Lepomäki (NCP) says there’s been a lack of leadership from the prime minister when it comes to the vaccination programme. “Procrastination costs lives” says Lepomäki, who is not a medical doctor, without addressing the low numbers of doses.

Young Lions’ golden dreams shattered in Canada

The Finnish men’s u-20 ice hockey team had dreams of another World Championship gold shattered in the early hours of the morning. The Young Lions were beaten 4-3 by the USA in the semi finals of the tournament in Edmonton. The Americans were leading 3-1 in the second period but a fightback from the Finns, and goals from Kasper Simontaival and Roni Hirvonen leveled the score at 3-3 with just a few minutes left to go in the third period. However, another American goal with just 16 seconds remaining in regulation play sent the Finns towards a Wednesday evening bronze medal match against Russia, while the USA go on to face hosts Canada in the final.

Norway deploys troops to control Finland border crossings

Soldiers from the Norwegian Defence Forces are being deployed to control four border crossings between Finland and Norway from Tuesday. Soldiers, and police, monitor traffic at the Karigasniemi, Kivilompolo, Näätämö and Polmak crossings as the Norwegian government tightens internal Schengen area border control to slow the spread of coronavirus. The Utsjoki border crossing with Norway has already been closed to normal traffic. Tourists arriving in Norway must show proof of a negative coronavirus test, and then must take another negative test within 24 hours of arriving – and there are no testing facilities at the border crossings. Norway previously sent troops to the Finnish borders during the spring, and they were also deployed on the border between Norway and Sweden. The border between Finland and Norway is more than 730km long in total.

Construction disputes growing 

The number of disputes over construction problems with new homes has continued to gro. The Finnish Competition and Consumer Agency says that errors are most often related to the quality of construction, and that problems to do with the quality of finishes in new homes can be particularly acute. The Consumer Disputes Board currently has hundreds of complaints pending.

Tuesday morning weather

The wintry weather continues across the whole country today with snow forecast in the south and southwest, eastern areas, Central Finland and in Lapland. Temperatures range this morning between -13°C and -16°C in Lapland; it’s a chilly -18°C in Oulu and -13°C in Jyväskylä as well. Expect -8°C down the eastern border, -5°C for Hämeenlinna, -7°C for Vaasa, -2°C in Åland and Turku and -3°C in the capital city region.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Tuesday morning 5th January 2020 / Credit: FMI