Here’s our evening round-up of the latest coronavirus news from Finland – Thursday

Latest virus figures from THL

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL says there have now been 6,743 confirmed cases of coronavirus, an increase of 51 from the day before. However there were no new coronavirus-related deaths reported in Finland today.

Across the country the coronavirus epidemic has continued to slow but the situation varies from region to region. The majority of cases have been diagnosed in Uusimaa, while in eight regions no new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the last week.

The number of cases overall "has dropped significantly for more than a month" says THL.

Currently there are 83 people in hospital receiving treatment for their symptoms, including 11 in intensive care. Those numbers have been decreasing in all areas over the past several weeks.

Conflicting messages on domestic summer travel

Should you go to summer cottage this weekend, or stay at home? Are you allowed to plan a domestic travel ’staycation’ this summer or should you be limiting yourself to life within a short distance from the place you live?

Depending on which Finnish politicians and officials you ask, you’re going to get a different answer.

The official guidelines say that all unnecessary travel, such a leisure travel, should continue to be avoided at home - and the government already tells Finns not to travel abroad for the time being.

The message was reinforced on Thursday by Kirsi Varhila a senior civil servant at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, but earlier this week Mika Lintilä (Centre) the Minister for Economic Affairs said he wanted to encourage domestic tourism and set Finland in motion.

So what’s the definitive answer? Should you stay at home, or should you go to summer cottage and enjoy some domestic holiday travel this summer?

The Director General of Government Communications that a final decision hasn’t been reached yet. "At the moment the previous recommendation [to avoid domestic travel] is still valid. A new recommendation is being prepared. There are many things to consider" says Päivi Anttikoski.

Mixed reaction to EU’s coronavirus bailout proposal

The Government has given a guarded response to the new EU coronavirus economic recovery plan, while Finland’s main opposition parties have been more critical.

On Wednesday the European Commission outlined it’s €750 billion fund to help Member States recover from the coronavirus economic crisis. The majority of the funds come as grants while €250 billion would be given as loans.

Finland, along with countries like Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Austria, have traditionally been against the idea of taking on collective debt to give out cash to poorer countries, especially those which had debt problems and weak economies even before the coronavirus crisis.

Minister for European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen (SDP) signaled that the amount of grant money "exceeded our expectations" but that she’s waiting for more details on how the funds will be allocated, and how loan repayments will be made in the future.

Meanwhile Finnish opposition politicians have been more critical of the EU’s plan, with Finns Party MP Ville Tavio writing that the EU doesn’t even want to stick to its own rules about Member States not being liable for each other’s debts.

Poll: Government party perceptions enhanced during coronavirus

A new poll in Iltalehti newspaper finds that 69% of voters think that Sanna Marin (SDP)’s coalition government has been handling it’s responsibilities well, while 23% disagree.

It’s the highest approval rating of any Finnish government since this type of polling began in 1991.

While political polls usually measure voting intentions, the new survey asks people about their perceptions of the different parties.

Within government the Social Democrats have a 54% positive rating, the Greens have a 44% positive rating. Among opposition parties the National Coalition Party has a 42% positive perception and the Finns Party 32% positive rating.

Finns embrace art challenge during quarantine

Art lovers have been enthusiastically taking part in an online challenge to recreate famous works of art by Finnish artists.

The gauntlet was thrown down by the Museum Card Museokortti using the hashtag #karanteenitaidetta and 4,000 people got involved on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as well as emailing their recreations.

Some of the works of art staged well-known pieces by Helene Schjerfbeck, Eero Järnfelt and Akseli Gallen-Kallela submitted by people across the country including police officers, army conscripts and even a government minister.

"The challenge has garnered a huge amount of positive feedback. Our followers have said that the challenge has brought the desired joy and laughter to everyday life during the coronavirus period" says Susanna Seppälä from Museokortti.

Hanken offering free online courses during coronavirus crisis

The Swedish-language business school Hanken, with campuses in Helsinki and Vasa, is offering the opportunity to study economics for free even for non-degree students during the coronavirus crisis.

The school says that due to the financial impact of the crisis it wants to make some tuition available to everyone, even if they might not otherwise be able to afford to study.

There are classes available in both Swedish and English for the summer term and also during the autumn.

Anyone can take part, and there are no formal requirements to be able to enroll for the courses. The classes will be taught by Hanken staff.

The full stories and more can be read here:

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