Covid-19 confirmed cases in Finland and other countries

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Source: Our world in data

Screenshot of video depicting the arrest of David Gill

Returning home from a basketball tournament in Tampere last August, David Gill and his fifteen-year-old son Max boarded a train. Although they did not realise it, they didn’t have valid tickets, and this innocent mistake turned into a nightmare. 

As soon as they boarded the train, they were accosted by railway inspectors, manhandled, kicked off the train and arrested.

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David Kirp is a professor of public policy at the University of California-Berkeley and a regular contributor to the Helsinki Times.


Imagine the popular reaction if Sanaa Marin delivered this speech.


What is the current situation regarding coronavirus? What does the future look like?  And what is the government’s strategy?

You deserve clear answers to these questions. And you deserve to understand why the recent spread of COVID demands that we take action.

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Nightclub Fontana in Vaasa is now closed until further notice and all gatherings of over 50 people are prohibited in the city.

 Vaasa, which bills itself as the “happiest city in the world,”  becomes a coronavirus epicenter.

The lively city of Vaasa, pop. 66,960, boasts on its website that it is the happiest city in the happiest country in the world. To claim bragging rights, it has recruited a happiness researcher who is distributing happiness tips and organizing happiness lectures. 

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Supporters of US President Donald Trump hold a rally in the New York City borough of Staten Island, on October 3, 2020. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

Finnish politics is boring. 

A right-of-center coalition takes office, safety net programs are slimmed, the belt tightened for schools and universities, taxes raised and the deficit wiped out. A left-of-center coalition wins the next election, budget cuts are undone, new initiatives introduced and a modest deficit results. 

Whether center-left or center-right, the winning coalition adopts an agenda that ever so gently rocks the boat.

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“It’s too much,” my friend Beth told me, when we talked not long ago. “First corona and now the fires. Many of us were barely holding on before. We don’t know how to deal with this as well.”

Beth lives in Northern California, where I have spent much of my adult life. Niko, my Finnish husband, and I, the trailing spouse, have been in Helsinki since early April. This separation from America is working a profound change in how I understand my native country, on how I see life in California.

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 I was meandering along the rocky outcropping above the Temppeliaukio Church when I came across a woman walking her cat on a leash. Felines are notoriously unruly creatures, and when I asked about her training regimen, she figured out that I was a fellow cat lover, and launched into a long explanation. 

A barista at Story, a Market Hall restaurant that I frequent (it has the best breakfast deal in the city), has an arm’s-worth of intricate tattoos. I inquired about what they represented, and she responded with a richly detailed description.

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Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) employees giving away free masks to passengers at the Central Station on 26. August. 2020

Last weekend, I went to Forum to buy headphones. The mall was crowded—the very situation in which officialdom has tepidly suggested that people wear masks—and I counted the number of people who were wearing them. Out of fifty shoppers, there were precisely three.

I have started to keep a tally on my tram trips as well. When I’m in a car with twenty passengers, perhaps five will be wearing a mask.

Although these numbers are better than a couple of weeks ago, they’re not nearly big enough. For masks to be effective, everyone must wear them, but as things stand, mask-wearers are protecting others, while most people aren’t reciprocating. 

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Audiences in the football national league match PK-35 Helsinki vs HJK at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki on August 19, 2020. Face-masks were hard to find. Lehtikuva

 Memo to government: all hands on deck in the campaign to stop coronavirus in its tracks.

Most Finns returned from their summer holidays at the beginning of the month. So did the politicians and bureaucrats, many of whom enjoyed a long vacation. 

But coronavirus doesn’t take a vacation.

In bone-dry prose, THL (the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare) reports the sobering news: 137 new cases were diagnosed between August 5th and 11th. That’s twice as many as the last week of July. 

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People enjoy meals and drinks on a large open-air food court in the centrally-located Senate Square in Helsinki, Finland, late on July 17, 2020, the first Friday after lifting the COVID-related restrictions.

With the first wave of coronavirus having receded into history, Finns are partying like there’s no tomorrow. But there is a tomorrow—it’s called autumn—and once again it’s time to pay attention to the pandemic that isn’t going away.

July 1st was an ordinary summer day. In midafternoon, I walked a couple of kilometers to meet a friend at a wine bar in Kamppi. When it started to drizzle, everyone who had been sitting on the terrace fled to the bar’s intimate interior. It was still raining when we finished our wine, and I decided to take a tram home.

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Skepticism about the value of wearing a mask to reduce the spread of coronavirus drives the current government policy. Widespread use of face masks has little, if any, effect on reducing the spread of upper respiratory infections, a working group led by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health concluded. The government’s unwillingness to recommend their use, except in shoulder-to-shoulder places like trams, is predicated on that finding.

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