Safety during the pandemic

We have received some enquiries from our residents regarding their living situation and the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the most common questions and answers for you.

1. What is the difference between quarantine and home isolation?

Quarantine is a precautionary measure that a doctor imposes under the Infection Act on a person exposed to a virus. A person in quarantine is not sick, but if they do get sick, in quarantine they will not infect others.

Quarantined people have been advised to avoid contact with other people, but they can, for example, walk their dog.

Home isolation may be ordered for a patient who, on the basis of a laboratory examination, is confirmed to have a COVID-19 infection but is in good enough condition to be at home. In home isolation, treatment is performed according to the instructions given by the infectious disease physician.

Instructions for your own daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found in the following places, among others:

  • For general information on COVID-19 and advice on using the Koronavilkku mobile app, you can call the telephone service on +358 (0)295 535 535.
  • Online counselling is provided by, for example, the Coronabot and Omaolo.
  • The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has a website with the latest updates on COVID-19.
  • The measures of the Finnish government can be found here.
  • Citizens receive health counselling from their own health care centre, in acute symptoms from the health care emergency in their area and in the event of a life-threatening situation, from the emergency number 112.

2. What do I do when I’m quarantined?

When you are in a voluntary or an imposed quarantine, you should avoid close contact with people outside your own household.

You can go out, as long as you keep at least 1 to 2 metres away from other people. Instead, you are not allowed to go to work, shops and grocery stores, pharmacy, hobbies or public events, for example, as it is difficult to avoid close contact in these places.

If a child or young person is quarantined, they are not allowed to go to their day-care centre or school.

You can ask friends or relatives, for example, for help with grocery shopping or pharmacy visits. It is possible to order food from online stores. You can also ask for help from your local social services.

Support in this exceptional situation is available and you can find out about the various possibilities at:

3. What do I do if a family member has been quarantined?

As long as the person quarantined is asymptomatic and has not been diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection, family members can continue to live normally. They can go to work and hobbies, for example.

Family members do not need to avoid close contact with the quarantined person. This is because the quarantined person has only been exposed to COVID-19. Not all exposed people become infected and, therefore, do not transmit the virus further.

If a quarantined person begins to show symptoms, they will be tested. In this case, family members are advised to remain in a voluntary quarantine until the test result is available.

If the test is positive, the infectious disease doctor will quarantine the family members. If the test is negative, family members can continue to live a normal life.

4. If, for example, a COVID-19 infection is found in my workplace or in a class of a colleague’s child, do I have to be quarantined?

The need for quarantine depends on whether you have been in close contact with the person infected with the virus.

When a person is diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection, contact tracing is performed by the home municipality, on the basis of which close contacts are quarantined. If a person is not considered a close contact, they can continue a normal life.

Contact tracing can take some time, especially if there are many exposed to the virus. If you do not know how to proceed, contact your health care provider to confirm the next steps.

5. How are the housing company’s operations affected if residents are quarantined or isolated?

In principle, the housing company continues to operate as before, even if some of the residents are quarantined. The quarantined person must take into account that they are not to be in close contact with other residents of the housing company or, for example, with maintenance workers.

The person in isolation should follow the isolation instructions they have received from the infectious disease physician. In isolation, it is imperative to avoid any close contact with other people.

6. Should the property management know if a resident is in quarantine or home isolation in a housing company?

The resident has no obligation to notify the lessor if there are residents quarantined or in home isolation. In general, no one is obliged to report their state of health to their lessor. The health information of others must not be disseminated to neighbours. 

Should maintenance have access to the apartment due to an urgent need for repairs (such as a water leak), these parties have the right to ask the resident whether the apartment is in isolation or quarantined so that they can protect their own health during the visit.

For more information on health data protection and professional secrecy, please contact the Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman.

7. Who handles the communication, for example, about the use of common areas, if people in the housing company are known to be living in quarantine or home isolation?

During such a pandemic, everyone must take into account the health of other people on their own initiative.

The use of common areas during isolation is not permitted. Thus, if a resident has a COVID-19 infection confirmed by laboratory tests, the use of all common areas should be avoided and the risk of infection should be taken into account particularly well. Ultimately, we can ban the use of common areas for a limited time for everyone.

8. Who can decide to restrict or prohibit the use of common areas of a housing company, such as a sauna and a laundry room, and on what grounds?

The authorities have not issued any bans on the common areas of housing companies, such as the sauna or laundry room.

In Jyrkkälä, people with COVID-19 are not allowed to use common areas. Instead, we cannot prevent those in quarantine, i.e. those exposed to COVID-19, from using common areas, but we hope that they will avoid their use when others are present at the facilities. We hope our residents use a face mask in the laundry room, for example.

9. How to maintain good neighbourliness when suddenly all the residents of the housing company are at home around the clock and there’s more noise coming from the apartments than usual?

In housing companies, the same rules apply to silence as before, e.g. the time period when silence must be observed in the building. Normal life includes taking a shower, listening to or playing music and children playing. If you are working remotely at home and cannot concentrate because the neighbour’s children are playing outside, you can try playing background music or white noise, using headphones or even earplugs.

Continuous or deliberate disturbance of the peace is never permitted, and recurring nightly parties should not be held. As at any other time, it is worth discussing disturbances in a matter-of-fact manner. Since face-to-face contacts should be avoided in terms of the spread of the virus, it is possible to write a matter-of-fact note to a neighbour, and put it in their letter box.

Understandably, an exceptional situation can be stressful, but as the irritation increases, it’s worth stopping and remembering that everyone now has to cope with the same situation.

10. Can the virus spread through the air conditioning of a housing company?

Not everything is known about the ways in which COVID-19 spreads. It is known that the virus spreads especially as a droplet infection, i.e. when coughing or sneezing, for example. In addition, the virus can be transmitted through contact. According to current knowledge, the role of surfaces in the spread of the virus is not significant. It is a key factor mainly in hospitals with a large number of sick and symptomatic patients.

It is not yet known exactly how COVID-19 spreads in the air. The Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning associations Rehva has published COVID-19 general guidelines to help to combat the spread of viruses that accompany airflows. Thus, the guidelines are also suitable for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Professor emeritus Olli Seppänen, a specialist in HVAC technologies, has translated the key points in Finnish.

According to Rehva, adequate 24/7 ventilation reduces exposure. The association recommends, for example, as much outdoor air as possible for ventilation and also window ventilation to increase the circulation of air. Recirculated air should not be used.

According to the association, the replacement of air filters is irrelevant because the virus is too small for the filters to catch it.

You can read Olli Seppänen’s article on the Finvac blog.

11. Does the COVID-19 pandemic affect the use of the housing company’s common yard or playground?

Everyone should pay attention to other residents when moving in the yard and remember the safe distances. Especially in various yard games and gatherings on the playground, safe distances should be taken into account so as not to expose other residents to viral infections. It is also worth noting that the surfaces of the playground cannot be kept as clean as the interior.

Quarantined residents may move in the yard, but residents who are isolated due to COVID-19 or other viral symptoms are advised to stay indoors and follow the instructions given by the authorities.

12. Can balcony smoking be allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if it is otherwise prohibited in the building?

We hope that balcony smoking will be avoided and that, for example, there will be no smoking in the immediate vicinity of the front door of the building. In this way, we can maintain safe distances and prevent bad odours in the apartments.

13. What do I do if I suspect my neighbour is violating quarantine regulations?

Quarantine control is the responsibility of the infectious disease authority and not, for example, the lessor, as we do not have the right to process health data. If you suspect a breach of quarantine and want to intervene, you can report it to the Turku police.

14. Has cleaning been enhanced in Jyrkkälä?

The houses A to F have had a new cleaning service provider since autumn 2019. The service provider was selected via a tender. With new and wider contract content, we sought better cleaning quality. Unfortunately, the quality of the cleaning has fluctuated regularly with the new service provider over the past year and we have been dissatisfied with the level of cleaning. The issue about the quality of cleaning in houses A-F was raised in the resident meeting on 6 October 2020. We terminated the current cleaning contract. It is valid until the end of the year and we plan to transfer the cleaning to our own staff. We already have two cleaners at our service, and the orientation of a third one will start in November. We have ordered additional cleaning from another cleaning service provider to clean the staircases so that the level of cleanliness of the houses A-F can be raised quickly.