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Health Protection

Municipal health protection authorities and the coronavirus pandemic

Municipal health protection authorities are not the types of authorities responsible for control measures as referred to in the Communicable Diseases Act, but the pandemic 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. 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 instructions must be taken into consideration in outdoor areas as well.

Ventilation and coronavirus

Effective ventilation is important for the removal of possible contaminants, like coronaviruses, in indoor air. City of Helsinki has decided that for the time being demand-controlled ventilation in service buildings owned by the city will be changed to constant airflow ventilation. Ventilation should function in maximum capacity during use of the premises, City Manager decision 17.9.2020 (in Finnish).

Environmental services recommends the same course of action for other property owners. At the same time it is important to see that noise-, draught- or cold hazards doesn’t occur.

Re-opening of facilities

Before re-opening after the restrictions of the coronavirus period, public facilities such as schools, daycare centres, playgrounds, exercise facilities, swimming halls, saunas, accommodation premises, beauty salons, tattoo shops, solariums, etc. must carry out an intensified deep clean observing the coronavirus period cleaning guidelines of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. Water pipes must also be flushed before the re-opening by running enough water through them to avoid the risk of Legionella, THL instructions.

Environmental Services wishes to remind operators that they must conduct their operations and in-house control taking into account all guidelines aimed at promoting general hygiene and preventing the spread of infections issued in the current pandemic situation by experts, such as the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH). The Regional State Administrative Agencies have also compiled answers to frequently asked questions about the coronavirus, which are also worth reading (available in Finnish and Swedish). 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.

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 (THL instructions for the disinfection of hands in public facilities). It is important to cough correctly (THL instructions for hand washing and coughing in Finnish). When using disposable gloves, the gloves must be replaced frequently enough.

According to current assessments, 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. 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 or bathing 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.

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:

13.01.2023 14:05

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

Frequently asked questions on health protection

Answers to frequently asked questions about the facilities, notifications and control measures.