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Here's our evening round-up of the latest coronavirus news from Finland – Friday & Vappu

Latest Covid-19 cases and fatalities

Latest Covid-19 cases and fatalities

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare says there have now been 5,051 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Finland – an increase of 56 from the day before.

There have also now been 218 coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals, and other places like elderly care homes. That’s an increase of seven from the day before.

Around the country there are currently 185 people in hospital, with 49 patients receiving treatment in intensive care units – both of those numbers have been falling over the last two weeks.

THL says that 65% of patients who needed to go into ICU had some form of long-term illness. Healthcare officials stress again that the number of coronavirus infections in Finland is likely to be higher than reported, because not everyone with mild symptoms has been tested so far, and no information is available about the number of people who were infected but didn’t show any symptoms at all.

Police praise “historically peaceful” May Day festivities

The National Police Board has praised Finns for sticking to guidelines and not celebrating Vappu the traditional way with gatherings of friends and family.

Calling May Day “historically peaceful throughout the country” the National Police Board says there were exceptionally few people out in public places, there were no large gatherings, and restaurants complied with restrictions as well.

There have been individual incidents of course, but police say the number of alarm calls has been really low compared to last year. “The alarms have been focused on homes, and have mainly been noise and disturbance tasks” says Inspector Ari Järvenpää.

“This May Day even came as a surprise with its serenity” he says.

Lack of equipment forces change for health staff in Malmi

Healthcare workers at a hospital in Malmi have been told they have to treat coronavirus patients without wearing protective gloves, headgear or other protective clothing due to a lack of equipment.

Malmi Hospital is part of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District, the largest in Finland, and the new guidance sent to staff lists instances when they are, and are not, required to wear protective gear. For example, staff have been advised that gloves are not needed when feeding a patient who has coronavirus.

The story was first reported by Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, which quotes nurses saying the new guidelines are confusing, while hospital administrators say that for brief contacts with patients, not all protective clothing is required.

Politicians take May Day messages online

Finnish party leaders and other politicians traditionally use May Day as a time to give speeches to their constituents, outlining party policies or highlighting some of their own work.

This year however, with public gatherings not allowed during the coronavirus restrictions, politicians too to the internet to share their speeches with supporters.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) used her speech to encourage people to look to the future, even during a time of crisis. “Our goal of building a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable society has not changed” says Marin.

Left Alliance’s Li Andersson, proposed giving €100 to everyone in Finland to help boost the economy; while the Green’s Maria Ohisalo called for welfare reforms.

From the opposition, the Finns Party’s Jussi Halla-aho used his speech to talk about the impact of globalisation on Finland, and criticised the use of foreign workers in Finnish agriculture.

Flags thank frontline workers during Covid-19 crisis

Finnish flags have been flying for May Day, with a special dedication this year to all the workers on the front line against coronavirus.

“On Labour Day, we celebrate Finnish work and spring. During the coronavirus epidemic, it is important to thank all those who keep the vital functions of society up and running despite the emergency conditions” says Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green).

“Many of them do not have the opportunity to telework and many have had to reorganise their work completely and very quickly” she adds.

Among the people being highlighted for their invaluable work during the crisis are healthcare staff and those looking after elderly people; police officers; border guards; teachers; public transport workers; cleaners and cashiers.

Flags were raised at 08:00 on Friday morning, and lowered again at 21:00 on Friday night.

The full stories and more can be read here: www.newsnowfinland.fi