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Health Protection

Municipal health protection authorities and the coronavirus epidemic

Municipal health protection authorities are not the types of authorities responsible for control measures as referred to in the Communicable Diseases Act, but the epidemic is still being taken into account in their control operations. The City of Helsinki’s Environmental Services provide instructions and advice and monitor hygienic practices. During the ongoing state of emergency, the Environmental Health Unit is only carrying out essential and urgent inspections. Whether an inspection is essential is always assessed on a case-by-case basis. Until further notice, we are only providing services via e-mail and phone and are not receiving any visiting customers.

Preventing the spread of the coronavirus requires compliance with current national coronavirus guidelines. The Finnish Government has implemented a policy of limiting public gatherings to ten people. The Government also recommends avoiding unnecessary loitering in public places. In addition to this, the Government recommends maintaining a safe distance of at least one metre from other people. These instructions must be taken into consideration in outdoor areas as well.

Controlling the risk of Legionella in water systems

Controlling the risk of Legionella during the corona pandemic in closed water systems (THL)

Coronavirus and water safety (THL)

Maintaining sufficient hygiene is essential for preventing the spread of coronavirus infections

Particular attention must be paid to hand hygiene. This applies to both the personnel and users of public facilities. Hand washing stations must be adequately equipped (soap, disposable hand towels), in addition to which hand sanitiser can be used (Hand hygiene can be further improved). It is important to cough correctly. The National Institute for Health and Welfare’s instructions for hand washing and coughing (in Finnish). When using disposable gloves, the gloves must be replaced frequently enough.

According to current estimates, ordinary cleaning and disinfecting agents, such as chlorine, are effective against the coronavirus. The coronavirus is vulnerable to high temperatures, high and low pH and sunlight. Cleaning should be intensified, cleaning instructions. Attention should also be paid to toilet hygiene, as it seems that those infected with the coronavirus also secrete the virus in their faeces, particularly in the latter stages of the illness. Toilet seats must be closed when flushing to decrease the risk of droplet transmission. As a precaution, attention should also be paid to the functionality of water seals.

As far as is currently known, the risk of the coronavirus being transmitted via drinking water is very small. The likelihood of raw water becoming contaminated with the virus as a result of contact with waste water or directly via faeces or sputum is very low. Even if coronavirus particles were to end up in raw water, water treatment, particularly disinfection using chloride, UV light and/or ozone, is believed to be effective in destroying the virus.

Current and additional information on the coronavirus is available on the National Institute for Health and Welfare’s website. There is also a FAQ – Frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus section (in Finnish) on the Regional State Administrative Agencies’ website. The Finnish Government’s website includes information on the national Information on the coronavirus telephone service (number 0295 535 535), which is supplemented by a chat service (primarily in Finnish and, where possible, also in Swedish and English). You can also check coronavirus updates on the City of Helsinki’s website.

Health Protection

The objective of health protection is to prevent, mitigate and remove health hazards in the living environment.

Health protection is carried out at locations such as plants supplying household water; pool premises; beaches, apartments; day-care centres; schools; care institutions; child welfare units; accommodation premises; spa, tattoo and solarium facilities; sports facilities and public saunas.

Health protection measures are performed by inspecting locations, analysing samples (household, beach and pool waters) and processing the contact requests of residents and customers.

Planned monitoring of health protection (e.g. inspections) is usually subject to a charge (link to the pricelist). Taking water samples is also subject to a charge for the operator. In such cases, the laboratory taking and analysing the samples usually charges the customer directly.

You can contact Environmental Services if you need advice or would like to report a hygiene or health hazard:

25.05.2020 14:03

Rat sightings

Extermination of rats and other pests is the responsibility of the building owner. Any rat sightings in the park and street areas can be reported directly to the Urban Environment Division’s customer service.

Read more about rats