Morning headlines: Tuesday 7th July 2020

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

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New coronavirus tracing app aims to balance privacy concerns

A contact tracing app which is being rolled out in Finland at the beginning of September  aims to balance privacy concerns with usefulness, after a number of countries ran into tech problems with their own software efforts. Officials are keen to point out that the app is not a magic bullet against a second wave of coronavirus, but that it should be viewed as one weapon in the arsenal of public health authorities against the virus. The new app will allow local healthcare to anonymously alert other app users who may have come into proximity for a certain amount of time with a patient who tests positive for Covid-19, although it’s the responsibility of the positive patient themselves to let the app know they tested positive, before it can start to alert other people. “It’s still under research but currently you would have to be closer than two meters, for more than 15 minutes” before you would get an alert that you’ve been in close contact with someone who has a positive coronavirus diagnosis, explains Teemupekka Virtanen from the Ministry of Health. Norway launched its app during the spring and hundreds of thousands of people were actively using it, but it was withdrawn amid privacy concerns. The Finnish app won’t collect the same type of data as the Norwegian one. Read more at our original story here.

Overnight fire destroys five-apartment building 

An overnight fire in Kuusamo has completely destroyed a five-apartment building. When rescue crews got to the scene the roof of the building was already engulfed, and ten residents were evacuated from their homes by a police patrol which got to the location ahead of firefighters. There were no reported injuries among the residents who were taken to temporary accommodation by Kuusamo social services. Rescue crews ended their work at the building around 03:00 and police and fire investigators will be looking into what started the fire when it is safe to get access to the site during Tuesday morning.

New sex crimes legislation published today

A report outlining comprehensive reforms to Finland’s sexual offense legislation is due to be published today. The draft has been put together by a working group and the report will also be presented to the Minister of Justice, Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP). One of the main tasks of the group has been to look at the role of consent in rape cases, so that sexual intercourse with someone who says know would in future be classified as rape. Currently under Finnish law a rape charge is sought by prosecutors only if there is violence or the threat of violence. However in the future all intercourse without consent would be considered a crime.

IS: Constitutional Committee to consider Pekka Haavisto case in September

Ilta Sanomat newspaper reports that Parliament’s Constitutional Committee will start to consider the case of foreign minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) after the recess in September. A pre-investigation consisting of more than a thousand pages was completed by the National Bureau of Investigation this week the paper says. The investigation looks at Haavisto’s handling of the al-Hol refugee case after a senior civil servant made complaints about the minister. Opposition MP Kai Mykkänen (NCP) says he thinks the committee could move faster to look at the evidence gathered by police, considering the last time the committee had hearings into Haavisto’s conduct was back in January.

Finnair’s passenger numbers showing modest gains

New figures from national carrier Finnair show that while there is a continued clear impact on their passenger numbers due to the coronavirus epidemic, things are picking up. Finnair says that in June they had 55,200 passengers which is 96% less than in June the previous year, but 107.2% more passengers than the previous month. Passenger numbers for Asia and North America flights were down 100% in June year-on-year but there has been some modest growth in European passenger numbers and domestic flights.

Tuesday morning weather

It’s a much cooler day across the whole country on Tuesday, with a high temperature of only around +20°C on the eastern border. The morning starts with rain for the capital city region along the southwest coast into Turku. There’s sunshine behind the clouds in central areas from Tampere into Jyväskylä, up the west coast and eastern border as well with temperatures around +14°C. The cloud cover continues over northern areas where temperatures in Lapland are in single digits this morning in the northwest.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Tuesday morning 7th July 2020 / Credit: FMI