With the news that coronavirus infections have hit their lowest figures since last November, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat asks what this summer might look like.
“The trend has been very positive,” Turku University virologist Ilkka Julkkunen told the paper.
The vaccine programme is key to saving the summer, Ilta-Sanomat writes. Countries like Israel and the UK, which have vaccinated a significant proportion of their residents, have seen a dramatic drop in both the incidence of the virus and deaths from it.
“By the end of the summer, we will probably already be in a pretty good situation, where there are no longer grounds for extensive restrictions and personal security measures,” Julkkunen told the tabloid.
Helsinki University virology professor Kalle Saksela agreed, telling Ilta-Sanomat that most people in Finland would be able to celebrate Midsummer under largely normal conditions.
But HUS Director of Diagnostics Lasse Lehtonen warned the paper that variants of the virus and the success of the testing regime at Finland’s borders could slow a return to normality. On Sunday Lehtonen criticised the government’s exit strategy in a blog on the Uusi Suomi news website.
Speaking to Ilta-Sanomat, Lehtonen reiterated his fears. “I was left wondering what the security mechanisms planned by the government at the borders are. There is a lot of talk, for example, about a common European vaccine passport, but we have a long border with Russia. Do we dare to relax the restrictions here if border security is not right?” he said.
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Crypto boom boosts Finnish companies
One of the stranger knock-on effects of the pandemic has been the booming cryptocurrency market, as consumers flush with cash look for a better return on their investments.
Business daily Kauppalehti takes a look at some of Finland’s biggest players in the sector, which was valued at over two trillion dollars globally last month.
“Last year was good, but the current financial year is from a completely different planet,” Henry Brade, chair of Jyväskylä-based crypto brokerage service Coinmotion.
Coinmotion saw turnover of roughly six million euros in the first quarter of 2021, Kauppalehti reports. In all of 2020, the company’s net sales amounted to a little over three million.
Interest in cryptocurrencies in western countries like Finland has largely been driven by speculators and investors, Kauppalehti writes, but in places like Venezuela, it can serve as a hedge against a weakening currency.
The best-known cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, made headlines in Finland in January, when Customs officials announced they didn’t know what to do with a major haul of the valuable coin that had been seized in a 2018 drug bust.
The 1,666 Bitcoin in Customs’ hands would be worth almost 80 million euros if sold today, having been valued at 700,000 euros when it was seized.
Forest certification ‘a scam’
Finland’s most widely-circulated daily Helsingin Sanomat devotes its front-page story to a schism in the body that certifies Finnish forest products’ sustainability.
According to HS, regional ELY Centres and the Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) quit a group currently updating the criteria for PEFC certification, saying the PEFC mark was “misleadingly marketed as a guarantee of sustainable forestry.”
The PEFC standard plays a key role in maintaining the reputation of Finland’s forestry industry, the paper writes, taking into account the economic, social and environmental impacts of products.
The association that oversees PEFC certification in Finland counts many forestry industry players among its members, including the Confederation of Agricultural and Forestry Producers (MTK).
Forest ecology lecturer Petri Keto-Tokoi told HS that the certification doesn’t live up to what it promises.
“It’s greenwashing, a marketing scam, not research-based nature conservancy,” the Tampere University lecturer said.
PEFC Finland General Secretary Auvo Kaivola rejected accusations of misleading marketing, telling Helsingin Sanomat that PEFC certification took many aspects of sustainability into account.
“Not everyone can get everything they want up to the standard,” he said.