Sanna Marin holds first talks with new Estonian prime minister
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has held her first video call with the new Estonian PM Kaja Kallas who took office on Tuesday. The pair spoke on Tuesday evening after Marin sent a letter of congratulations following the inauguration. On the agenda was “bilateral relations, EU affairs and health security measures needed to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic in Finland Estonia” according to a statement from the PM’s office. Finland’s tightening border restrictions to slow the spread of a new coronavirus variant mean new restrictions on workers coming from Estonia to Finland. Kaja Kallas was invited to form the new Estonian government by President Kersti Kaljulaid after the previous government, which featured the far-right EKRE party – collapsed amid a corruption scandal.
Number of human trafficking victims increases
New figures released by the Finnish Immigration Service Migri show a record number of people sought help as victims of human trafficking in Finland during 2020. Migri helped 123 people last year including 78 who were subjected to forced labour in the cleaning, restaurant and construction sectors, in seasonal agricultural work and as domestic staff in private homes. There were 15 people who sought help as victims of sexual exploitation especially in forced or coerced prostitution, while 15 people were in forced marriages. A number of people came forward for help who reported they were trafficked as children. “It may sometimes take years before the victim dares tell anyone about their experiences, or identifies themselves as a victim of human trafficking or exploitation in general” says Terhi Tafari, Migri Senior Adviser. “Many of those who were exploited as minors may only talk about the issue once they are of age.”
Lännen Media: Vaccine issues could continue into mid-February
Supplied of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine in Finland will continue to be less than anticipated well into the middle of February. That’s according to a new story by Lännen Media on Wednesday morning, quoting a THL official who says the company’s vaccine deliveries may increase only after six weeks. Mia Kontio is quoted as saying Finland will receive about 45,000 doses of the vaccine every week until mid-February, but had been due to receive 50,000 doses every week. The vaccine was bought by the EU as part of a bulk purchasing deal, which Finland being assigned its allocation of vaccines based on population. However Pfizer-Biontech has reported manufacturing issues which means slower production and THL says this will be reflected in the lower amount of the vaccine being received. Mia Kontio estimates that the vaccine rollout programme for over-70s will inevitably fall behind schedule.
New travel restrictions come into force today
New travel restrictions come into force at Finland’s borders today, intended to slow the spread of new strains of coronavirus. It means that all passengers arriving in Finland will be told they should self-isolate for 14 days – which can be shortened with negative tests. Travel to Finland without quarantine is only allowed for a limited range of reasons including for freight transport workers ensuring security of supply for essential items like food, fuel and medicines for example. If someone needs to commute regularly for work between Finland and Sweden or Norway is allowed without quarantine if the person has a negative test taken within the last seven days – but regular unrestricted travel for people living in border communities will no longer be permitted for the time being. “Certain special groups are permitted to enter the country. Such special groups cover those involved in culture, sports and business life, for example. In business life, these include people carrying out tasks necessary to secure the recovery, new growth, regional economy, or long-term operating conditions of a certain sector” the government says in a statement.
Wednesday morning weather
Snow is spreading again on Wednesday morning, moving from western areas through Northern Ostrobothnia and into Kainuu. There’s also snow in the south for Turku, Tampere and Lappeenranta, and in Central Finland and Lapland too. Temperatures range from -6°C to -16°C in Lapland to -3°C in Vaasa and Jyväskylä, and hovering just around zero in the southwest, Uusimaa and in the southeast.