THE FINNISH INSTITUTE for Health and Welfare (THL) has encouraged construction sites to step up their efforts to combat the new coronavirus following the detection of several infection clusters in Finland.
“Special attention should be paid to fighting the coronavirus epidemic because construction sites have workers from many countries who are often housed in small quarters and move from one site to another,” it stated in a press release on Tuesday.
Lehto Group, a construction company based in Kempele, North Ostrobothnia, on Tuesday told Ilta-Sanomat that 12 workers, including 11 from overseas, have tested positive for the new coronavirus at one of its construction sites. Meyer Turku on Sunday confirmed that foreign workers at its shipyard accounted for five of the 10 cases detected last week in Turku, South-west Finland.
The phenomenon has also been recognised globally. In Singapore, for instance, the epidemic re-emerged in the spring in the housing facilities of migrant workers.
THL on Tuesday reminded that construction sites should combat the coronavirus with the same tools as other sectors of the society: employees should not go to workplace sick, close contacts should be minimised, hand hygiene and overall cleanliness should be observed both at workplace and in housing quarters, and personal protective equipment should be used if necessary.
Workers who are instructed to observe a 14-day self-monitored quarantine due to arriving in the country from overseas or being exposed to the virus should minimise contact with others not only at the workplace but also on their free time.
“The quarantine instructions are given to everyone except for those arriving from the Baltics, Denmark, Iceland and Norway. In self-monitored quarantine, you should limit needless contacts for 14 days. Movement is only allowed between the place of employment and residence and for other necessary reasons,” underlined THL.
No Covid-19 patients in critical care in Finland
“The self-monitored quarantine also applies to activities outside the construction site, including in housing facilities and on free time.”
The detection of cases at construction sites and other similar workplaces did not necessarily come as a surprise.
The Finnish Construction Trade Union expressed its concern about the consequences of easing quarantine instructions for foreign workers in May, after the government had allowed work-related and other necessary travel on the condition that foreign workers observe a 14-day self-monitored quarantine and limit their movement primarily to that between their place of residence and employment.
The Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries (RT) subsequently instructed foreign workers to observe the quarantine only outside working hours, provoking criticism from the Construction Trade Union.
“Following the instructions would practically mean that the post-arrival quarantine is bypassed all but completely in the construction industry and that more construction industry workers become exposed to the virus,” it warned.
The majority of construction workers on secondments in the country, it highlighted, are housed in shared accommodation with several workers living in the same room.
“The ‘quarantine-like environment’ basically means that possible diseases spread to all co-inhabitants and that the viruses spread effectively also at the workplace,” said the Construction Trade Union.
CORRECTION: THL's estimate of the number of recoveries is 6,600, not 6,000 as the story originally alleged.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi