First Finns could be vaccinated against Covid-19 in January


THE VACCINATIONS of Finns against the new coronavirus may begin in January, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

The daily newspaper wrote yesterday that health care professionals, elderly people and people at risk of developing serious symptoms will be the first groups to receive one of the promising vaccines that are being fast-tracked to the market.

The first marketing authorisations could be granted some time between Christmas and New Year’s, according to Marjo-Riitta Helle, the director of the authorisation unit at Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea)

“The vaccines will arrive a couple of weeks after securing the marketing authorisation. We’re now waiting for these authorisations before proceeding to the next phase of the consideration,” Sari Ekholm, the chief physician at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, said in a press conference in Helsinki.

A final decision on the market introduction will then be made by the Finnish government.

The arrival of the vaccines also depends to some extent on the logistics chains of pharmaceutical manufacturers and their ability to deliver the vaccine to buyers. The Pfizer-Biontech vaccine, for example, must not be removed from a temperature of -70°C more than four times during the transport process.

The vaccine must be administered twice, with the second dose administered a few weeks after the first. The practical arrangements will fall on the shoulders of municipalities and hospital districts in Finland.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is already evaluating four vaccines for conditional marketing authorisations. The European Commission has an agreement to acquire about 1.3 billion doses of vaccines from six developers, including AstraZeneca, Pfizer-Biontech, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.

Finland is set to take delivery of 1.23 per cent of the vaccines, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

All of the vaccines have been developed exceptionally quickly, in less than 10 months’ time. They will continue to be evaluated and monitored based on information obtained following their roll-outs, such as reports of side effects and new scientific findings.

Hanna Nohynek, a chief physician at THL, said the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine appears to be safe in light of preliminary data.

“The efficacy is excellent in these preliminary results. It’s uncommon that we see vaccines with an efficacy as high as this,” she stated, reminding that the results should not be interpreted as official scientific results.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT



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Over 70% of Finns follow mask recommendation, finds survey by Helsingin Sanomat


MORE THAN 70 PER CENT of Finns are using face masks on public transport and in other public places where avoiding close contact with others is impossible in accordance with the recommendation of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), finds a survey commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat.

Face masks have been adopted especially by the elderly, with 89 per cent of over 70-year-olds and an almost equivalent share of 60–69-year-olds saying they wear a mask.

Women, the survey also found, are more willing to wear a mask than men, although also the majority of male respondents stated that they have complied with the recommendation.

Supporters of the Green League and Left Alliance are the most diligent groups of mask users by political leaning, with an adoption rate of over 80 per cent. Supporters of the Finns Party are contrastively more reluctant than average to put on a mask, although also they reported an adoption rate of 58 per cent.

Helsingin Sanomat on Friday highlighted that the poll is evidence of a rapid change in behaviour, as over a half of respondents were not using masks as recently as in August. The first survey was conducted around two weeks after masks were recommended as a good supplementary measure to limit the spread of the new coronavirus by THL.

THL in September issued another recommendation, instructing the public to use masks also in public indoor spaces, upper secondary education facilities and public events where avoiding close contact is impossible.

Despite the increasing use of face masks, the coronavirus has continued to spread in Finland.

THL reported yesterday that the number and incidence of infections is on the rise, with 1,534 new infections reported between 9 and 15 November. The total represents an increase of 122 from the previous week and translates to an incidence of 28 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Kantar TNS interviewed 1,044 people for the survey between 6 and 11 November.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT



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Finns spending more time on games due to coronavirus restrictions


THE CORONAVIRUS EPIDEMIC has increased the popularity of games, both analogue and digital, in Finland.

Tampere University on Monday reported that Finns have spent more than seven hours a week playing digital games this year, signalling an increase of more than two hours from the previous record dating back to 2018.

“The most obvious reason for the increase in time spent [on games] is the exceptional circumstance brought about by the coronavirus,” viewed Jani Kinnunen, a researcher at Tampere University.

The rising popularity of the pastime, however, is not necessarily evident in the proceeds of game developers. The amount of money spent on digital games per capita has actually decreased by 50 cents to 10.5 euros a month.

“People have played games they had acquired earlier and have not been more willing to pay for the increasingly popular micro-transactions of digital games,” told Kinnunen.

Part of the activities of the Academy of Finland-funded Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies, the survey also found that games are at least a small part of the lives of virtually all Finns. Over 98 per cent of the 914 10–75-year-old people surveyed reported that they play games, be it analogue or digital, at least sometimes.

Almost four-fifths (79%) of respondents stated that they play digital games at least sometimes, representing an increase of 2.5 percentage points from the previous iteration of the survey. The proportion of respondents who play digital games at least once a month has similarly increased by roughly three percentage points to almost 64 per cent since 2018.

The popularity of digital games was assessed to have increased especially in the 10–19-year-old age group and among respondents in their 30s and 40s.

The lack of free-time activities outside the home has apparently also translated to an increase in parents and children playing analogue games together: the time spent on board, card and social games has risen markedly from 2018.

Mobile games have continued to grown in popularity, to the extent that they are currently more popular than console or computer games in Finland. Nearly 59 per cent of respondents told that they play mobile games at least occasionally and nearly 43 per cent that they play them actively.

The responses were gathered between May and June 2020.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT



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Finns should use common sense when planning Christmas, says THL’s Salminen


MIKA SALMINEN, the director of health security at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), has encouraged Finns to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with a smaller group of friends and relatives than in years past.

Salminen on Tuesday stressed to Helsingin Sanomat that THL’s stance on the issue should not be interpreted as a recommendation, but rather as a suggestion.

The suggestion is three-fold, according to him. Finns should preferably spend the holidays in the company of their immediate family, meet their grandparents remotely if possible, and consider skipping visits to other relatives and replacing them with video calls.

“If we can hang in there like this and try a different kind of way [to celebrate] for one Christmas, I’m sure it wouldn’t be the end of the world,” he stated to the newspaper.

He reminded that the best way for the public to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading during the holidays is to spend them with people they come into contact on a daily basis outside the holidays.  People, he added, should at least consider whether it is necessary to bring together a high number of friends and relatives from different parts of Finland.

“Maybe it sounds a bit boring, but this isn’t a permanent situation. I’m sure we’ll get back to the normal situation for future Christmases,” he said.

Salminen reiterated that his suggestion should not be understood as a prohibition, but simply as a call for the public to use common sense. “This is a free society where citizens are free to decide for themselves how they act.”

He also viewed that the “time for caution” will continue at least for six months. The teleworking recommendation, for example, is expected to stay in place at least a couple of months beyond New Year’s.

“Of course that doesn’t sound nice, but there’s really pretty much nothing we can do about the existence of this virus.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT



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Finns find coronavirus restrictions easier to cope with than other Europeans


FINNS have tolerated the various restrictions on movement and social life adopted to fight the coronavirus outbreak better than people in other parts of Europe, indicates a Eurobarometer released in October.

As many as 73 per cent of Finns estimated that coping with the restrictions has been fairly easy or very easy – even to the extent that the restrictions have improved their quality of life.

Only four per cent of respondents in the country contrastively viewed that the restrictions have been fairly difficult and one per cent that the restrictions have been very difficult to cope with, the survey found.

YLE on Tuesday highlighted that the result strikes a stark contrast especially to Portugal. Almost two-thirds (62%) of the Portuguese surveyed viewed that living with the restrictions has been fairly or very difficult, a sentiment that was echoed by roughly half of the people surveyed in Italy.

Portugal not only shuttered its border with Spain in mid-March, but has also enforced a face mask mandate in public spaces and on public transport, and conducted mandatory temperature checks at airports. The country tightened its measures to limit the spread of the virus further earlier this month, imposing a five-people limit on private and public gatherings and limiting attendance at weddings and baptisms to 50.

Italy, in turn, was one of the first countries on the continent to adopt strict restrictions on movement, prohibiting the public from leaving their homes for other than necessary reasons in late March. The restrictions were not lifted until early June.

The data for the survey was collected between July and August.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT



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Finns spent more time talking on the phone during the first half of the year than in years


The 4G mobile network’s 100 Mbps service coverage extended to 18% of Finland’s land area by the end of June 2020. As such, coverage had increased by two percentage points in the last six months. In ideal conditions, download speeds of 100 Mbps were available to slightly over 93% of all households. In contrast, no significant changes occurred in 30 Mbps and 300 Mbps service coverage during the first six months of the year.* 

100 Mbps mobile service coverage extended to 57% of Finnish main roads and highways, with the total coverage of all road classes being 41%. Rail network coverage was 58%. 

The speed-category-specific coverages of the mobile network represent availability in ideal conditions. They do not account for network congestion or structural and geographical obstacles.



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Physician at HUS urges Finns to show restraint on private events


EEVA RUOTSALAINEN, a deputy chief physician at the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS), has estimated that the easing of restrictions is beginning to have a visible impact on the coronavirus situation in Finland.

“Something new that we’ve seen in the past three weeks, along with the infections, is a massive increase in the number of exposures,” she stated on YLE’s A-studio on Tuesday.

“We’ve in the past three weeks had a total of 4,000 exposures in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa.”

Ruotsalainen reminded that people become exposed to the new coronavirus in their everyday lives: in kindergartens, schools, workplaces, leisure activities and – especially – private events. “People have organised a lot of parties, both small ones and big ones, in the autumn,” she highlighted, urging everyone to use their discretion.

“I appeal to the conscience of every citizen: please consider seriously the size of private events. I’d personally recommend that private events have less than 10, or at least less than 20 people.”

Pekka Nuorti, a professor of epidemiology at Tampere University, told Uusi Suomi on Tuesday similarly that the number of exposures is expected to increase in the autumn due to the lifting of restrictions. More and more people are additionally returning to their daily lives after the summer holidays and remote-work periods.

Nuorti is in charge of an online course launched to train health care professionals to track down the contacts of coronavirus carriers. The course has already been completed by as many as 1,300 people.

“We now have a bit of a trained reserve,” he stated.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi



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Some weird games Finns like to play


Finland is known for its long, cold winters, its beautiful landscape and its extensive welfare system. Furthermore, low corruption, high-levels of trust and an exemplary education system has led to what many now refer to as the roots of Finnish contentment

It will come as no surprise that Finland has once again topped the UN’s 2020 World Happiness Report. At this point, the shock will arrive once it does not feature at the top of the list. The UN World Happiness Report is based on a variety of factors, including autonomy, equality, life expectancy and mental health.

So despite the fact that the city of Las Vegas, and in particular, the Double Down Saloon, is known the world over as the happiest place on earth, the Finnish have more than a right to challenge that claim. And while no one can deny the thrills and frills of a night at the casino or at a magic show, the Finns have a trick or two up their own sleeve on the road to happiness!

It is clear that autonomy, equality and life expectancy are necessary for a society to function as happily as Finland’s, but with so much time not wasted on worrying about the little things, what exactly do the Finnish people do for fun? They make up wired games and competitions. From Wife Carrying to Boot and Mobile Phone Throwing to Air Guitar competition, Finland is so proud of these wierdness, that the Finnish Post Office even published a stamp collection on this topic.

Well, let’s take a look at a couple of examples of unique games that the Finnish play and find out!

Mölkky

Mölkky is the much loved Finnish lawn throwing game that was invented in 1996. It is the perfect game for families and/or friends to play together on a warm day during the Nordic summer. All you need to play is a throwing pin and twelve skittles, or target pins, numbered 1 through 12. In order to begin proceedings, the twelve skittles are arranged in a particular pattern, much like in pool or snooker, before players take turns throwing the wooden throwing pin, or Mölkky, in an underhand motion in an attempt to knock down the skittles. 

The number of points scored correlates to the number, or combined number, written on the skittle, or skittles knocked. After each throw, the knocked pins are placed in an upright position in the exact location they were knocked over. A player is eliminated from the game if they fail to knock over any of the skittles three times in a row.

 

Swamp Football

While the majority of the footballing world are doing their utmost to ensure that their players have the best possible pitch to play on, Finland has taken a slightly different approach!

The Finnish people have developed a unique way of playing the beautiful game. Just as the name suggests, Swamp Football, or Suopotikupalle in Finnish, is played on a swamp-like pitch. Naturally, the high levels of mud make this game extremely difficult and very tiring, resulting in low scores, as well as guaranteeing one or two moments of comedy gold! The game first arrived on the scene back in 1998 and its conception is said to have derived from a military training exercise. 

In order to offset the extremely challenging conditions, the rules have been slightly altered in comparison to regulation football. The five-a-side game is played over two halves of ten minutes in leg swallowing mud. There are no restrictions to the number of substitutions each team can make, there is no offside rule, and all free kicks, penalty kicks, corner kicks and throw-ins must be kicked from the hands of the player.

 HT



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