Sedgemoor District Council is warning owners of all public buildings and volunteer-run premises that they will need to make sure that their hot/cold water and air con systems are properly serviced and maintained before re-opening to customers, shoppers, staff and the public. This is because of the heightened risk of Legionnaires’ disease, which is a type of pneumonia.
Buildings like shops, offices, hairdressers, beauty salons, hotels, pubs, clubs, restaurants, sports centres/clubs, gyms, residential buildings as well as campsites – anywhere that has a water supply and is currently shut down – will need to check their systems.
Whilst water systems in businesses may not seem to be high on the priority list during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important ensure all water systems are managed safely at this time. Water systems that are not being used and maintained effectively are very likely to have increased levels of bacteria present. Experts say that it is far better to maintain a water system than to try and treat a water system which has gone out of control.
Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection you can catch by inhaling droplets of water from things like air conditioning or hot tubs. It’s uncommon but can be very serious and the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can be very similar to COVID-19 and include high temperature, feverishness and chills; cough; muscle pains; headache; and pneumonia: https://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/symptoms.htm
The European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious disease (ESGLI) has issued specific guidance on managing Legionella in buildings and offices that have shut down due to the pandemic. The following key summarised information is taken from their guidance (produced on 27 March 2020) and the full document can be downloaded via https://www.escmid.org/fileadmin/src/media/PDFs/3Research_Projects/ESGLI/COVId_buidling_water_system_guidance
Alternatively, there is plenty of help and advice on Sedgemoor District Council’s website at or phone the Environmental Health Team on 0300 303 7806who will be happy to give further information.