In English: Hygiene and safety instructions for volunteers

The purpose of this recommendation is to promote safe volunteer activities during the coronavirus pandemic. The recommendation aims to ensure the safety of both volunteers and the people they meet in volunteer activities. Our goal is to secure communication with people who need help even during the epidemic.

Updated 9 October 2020

The coronavirus epidemic is accelerating in several hospital districts in Finland and the risk of contracting the virus is high. The coronavirus situation is being followed closely. The Red Cross’ health security and practical recommendations for volunteer activities will be updated as necessary.

In these guidelines, ‘health security’ refers to measures combating the spreading of the coronavirus.

How does the coronavirus spread?

  • You can contract the coronavirus if an affected person speaks, sneezes or coughs close to you.
  • An affected person can transmit the virus if they e.g. cough into their hand and then touch another person with said hand.
  • You can also contract the virus through physical contact.
  • The virus may also be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as door handles.
  • According to present knowledge, the risk of contracting the coronavirus increases significantly if you are close to an affected person indoors for longer than 15 minutes.  But you might contract the virus in other situations as well.
  • It is important to remember that an asymptomatic affected person can also transmit the virus.

For the aforementioned reasons, the best ways to stop the coronavirus from spreading is to keep a safe distance between yourself, other volunteers and people requiring aid and avoid long contact with others. Good hand hygiene and cough etiquette as well as the proper use of protective equipment can also reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

How to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus

  • Participating in volunteer activities when ill is strictly prohibited.
  • If you have a confirmed coronavirus infection, follow the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL) instructions and self-isolate for at least 10 days. If your symptoms do not disappear in 10 days, stay at home until you have been symptom-free for at least two days.
  • Avoid any unnecessary contact with people who are not from your household or social bubble.
  • Avoid especially close contact with other volunteers and people requiring aid. Remember the safety distance of two metres. Do not stay in close contact for longer than 15 minutes and use a mask that covers your mouth and nose.
  • Maintain good hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Wash your hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use disposable paper towels to dry your hands. Do not use shared hand towels – even at home. If you are unable to wash your hands, use hand sanitiser containing alcohol (hand disinfectant). Cough or sneeze into a tissue, dispose of it and wash your hands. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve if you do not have a tissue.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands.

> See the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s instructions on how to protect senior citizens or other at-risk groups from the infection.

Protective equipment in various relief operations

As a rule, ‘protective equipment’ means this equipment:

  • A surgical mask (i.e. disposable face mask). Surgical masks come in different qualities and their period of use must be verified with the manufacturer.
  • A cloth mask (multi-use, washable)
  • A visor that covers the entire face (multi-use, cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions)

A visor covering the entire face and a surgical mask must be worn together for tasks with an increased risk of droplets/spatter and if it is assumed that the person you are in contact with has been exposed to or contracted the coronavirus.

  • Disposable protective glovesare optional.

Remote contact

Telephone relief, chat, etc.

No protective equipment, good hand hygiene.

Contact outdoors

Safety distance (at least two metres)

No protective equipment, good hand hygiene.

Contact outdoors

No safety distance

A surgical mask/visor, good hand hygiene.

Contact indoors


A surgical mask/visor, good hand hygiene.

Ensure good ventilation indoors by e.g. opening a window.

Protective equipment is only effective if worn correctly. The mask has to be put on and taken off using a correct technique, it has to be replaced often and disposed of safely. Therefore, the best way to protect yourself is to ensure good hand hygiene and keep a safe distance between yourself and others.

> See the instructions on the use of protective equipment for more detailed instructions (in Finnish)

Read the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s recommendation on the use of face masks:

How your branch takes safety into account in their volunteer activities

  • In all situations, make sure that a volunteer will not expose themselves, other volunteers or the people being assisted to the coronavirus.
  • Think of ways to organise volunteer activities outdoors.
  • Avoid tasks that require any contact, especially close contact, while taking the local epidemic situation into account.
  • Try to find new ways of providing relief that do not include face-to-face encounters and do not endanger the health security of volunteers or those receiving help. Ensure that a telephone connection or other form of communication is maintained, especially with people at risk.
  • Pay attention to the instructions above on ‘How to protect yourself and others’.
  • Follow the regional instructions and recommendations issued by authorities.

More information