The Legionella bacteria is naturally present in water systems and causes Legionnaires’ disease. The bacteria, which is fatal in 10 percent of cases, can lead to serious illnesses in people aged over 50, smokers and those with underlying health conditions. Public Health England (PHE) has now released guidance to businesses before they consider reopening as part of the Government’s plans to further relax lockdown restrictions from June 1.
The likes of dental practices, hairdressers, gyms and hotels, as well as office buildings, are being advised to regularly flush out their water systems to limit the risk of coming into contact with dangerous bacteria.
Premises will also be subjected to a detailed review of all aspects related to their water management system before reopening.
The Legionella bacteria can multiply quickly when the temperature of the water is between 25C and 50C.
Systems that have limited or no flow into them can also increase that effect.
Businesses have been in lockdown since March 23, but the Government is attempting to ease these measures to reopen businesses and kick-start the ailing UK economy.
But hot and cold water systems in several premises will not have been running for the past two months.
This increases the chances of bacteria forming and will only get worse if immediate action isn’t taken, particularly given the warmer weather temperatures of summer approaching.
The PHE guidance says: “Regular flushing out of the premises’ water system throughout the shutdown period is required.
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The latest PHE guidance comes after the Government announced a further 545 people have died from coronavirus across all settings in England.
Speaking during the daily briefing from Downing Street, Environment Secretary George Eustice said 35,341 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK as of 5pm on Monday.
In the 24-hour period up to 9am on Tuesday, 89,784 tests were carried out or dispatched.
This is below the Government target of 100,000 a day.