Post #39 - Dispatch From Finland
Marjaana Mykkänen reports from Helsinki:
The first verified Covid-19 patient in Finland was registered on February 27, 2020. Now the county of Uusimaa, the most populated one in the country is isolated, as it has most the infections in the country, but also the most ICU facilities. It is hoped that isolation will prevent the uninhibited spreading of the disease to the rest of the country, where the facilities are less capable of handling the burden.
As of April 6, the number of confirmed cases in Finland was 2176, patients hospitalized 228, of which 81 were in ICUs. There were 27 reported deaths in a population of 5.5 million.
The actions taken by the government are strict. Schools are open only for children whose parents work in key professions. Universities, theatres, restaurants and cafeterias are all closed. Public transportation works with reduced capacity. Gatherings of more than ten people, including weddings and funerals, are forbidden.
The government’s approval rate is very high, despite the fact that all the party leaders are women, most of then in their thirties, including Prime Minister Sanna Marin, 34. They are serious, calm, clear and decisive, and even the elder grey men from the conservative and populist opposition respect their rule.
Everyone who can and who still has a job, works from home, but a lot of people have lost their jobs either temporarily or permanently, and many businesses are falling. The state is aiding both businesses and private citizens with support and loan packages, and health care is universal for citizens and residents, but hard times are ahead, with a likely worldwide depression.
As for me, I am safe, but one of my mother's two remaining contemporaries and friends died of Covid-19. A dear friend has been hospitalized for three weeks. He has been on a ventilator for seven days. He is 68 but he seems to be coming back, and his wife is just out of quarantine, which was really terrifying, all alone, with an inconsolable fear of losing a lifelong partner. But now their outlook is much brighter.
I am distant-producing tours in empty museums and galleries for the public broadcasting station. These are short form, one take, steady-cam video, hosted by knowledgeable presenters. We are trying to overcome even a little bit the disappointment of the great exhibitions that took so much skill and effort to build are not seen by anyone. The epidemic adds challenge to an already demanding task of doing justice to the artwork in a light-weight production, along with having to maintain distance in varying spaces and keeping the equipment sanitized. The effort makes sense, yet, nobody knows what to do and how to keep the world turning.