As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, businesses and building owners are reminded to check the maintenance of their water systems before re-opening. This is because there is an increased risk of Legionella bacteria being present as a result of water systems not being used during the lockdown period.

All water systems need to be considered. This includes water systems at shops, hairdressers, offices, hotels, gyms, sports clubs, golf clubs, pubs, clubs, restaurants, voluntary-run premises and anywhere that has a water supply and is currently shut.

Legionnaires’ disease can be contracted by breathing in small droplets of water suspended in the air which contain Legionella bacteria. Symptoms include fever, a non-productive cough and pneumonia.

The disease can be more serious in men aged over 50, smokers and people with chronic lung disease and weak immune systems. It does not spread from person to person.

People who manage or own buildings are being asked to follow the latest advice from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to help minimise the risk from legionella as they prepare to reopen following the lockdown period.

It includes flushing through cold water systems with fresh mains water as well as increasing the temperature of hot water systems to above 60°C if possible to achieve thermal disinfection of the hot water system. This should be undertaken as part of a thorough risk assessment and may require other works to be done.

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