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Information about the Coronavirus for staff and students

[Updated 2020-04-07] This information is addressed to staff and students at Karolinska Institutet. This page will be updated as new recommendations and important information are added based on the development of the spread of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Staff and students are urged to keep themselves informed daily in order to find out about and act upon the latest recommendations.

  • NEW Link to page for international staff and students on travel, visa and permits under Official business and exchanges
  • NEW No official business or exchanges with other countries shall be made from 13 March until 15 June 2020. New date has been set under Official business and exchanges
  • Important information update under a new headline: Temporary healthcare work – staff and students

KI's research and education continue with regard to the recommendations and guidelines below.

We will make the best of the situation under these extraordinary circumstances. Keep up-to-date with all the information and take care of each other.

Message from KI's President Ole Petter Ottersen.

The university management is monitoring developments on a daily basis via the Swedish government and the Public Health Agency of Sweden. The health, wellbeing and safety of KI’s staff and students are our highest priority.

The university management has raised its preparedness level further and is working proactively. This information briefing to staff and students is updated continually as reports come in. It is vital that you keep yourselves informed, as the situation can change suddenly.

We understand that staff and students are worried about the situation and concerned about family and friends. We urge everyone to observe the following recommendations and to support each other wherever possible.

Within KI

KI's crisis management team has produced a continuity plan, on the basis of which our departments and equivalent make operational risk assessments to keep a long-term preparedness for the pandemic to protect the university's operations, especially those operations that are sensitive or vital.

KI's research and education continue with regard to the recommendations and guidelines below.

All theoretical classes and exams will take place digitally and remotely.

KI's premises will be open for staff. 

KI's premises will be open for students for individual work in airy environments with connection and access to computers.

Staff and students should avoid gathering in groups at KI's premises.

Clinical placements will continue.

Students will be able to retain student finance from CSN (in Swedish).

Resources should be chanelled to where they are most needed in accordance with the recommendations.

The recommendation from the Public Health Agency is to reduce the amount of social contact you have and to work from home if you can. You need to have the consent of your immediate manager. You will receive salary as usual if you have the approval of your manager to work from home.

Thesis defences are to be conducted with possibility to attend online.

Detailed information for students, teachers, doctoral students and supervisors is currently being updated on the basis of the recommendations on distance learning (below)

Staff of the Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine in Hong Kong are to follow the recommendations and guidelines issued by the centre director and regional authorities for minimising the infection risk.

The recommendations for KI staff also apply to external staff (e.g. cleaners and restaurant workers) working on the KI premises. This means that the responsible manager for the particular service at KI should inform the supplier about the recommendations and obtain as much assurance as possible that the company is following them. It would not be practical to make the same demands on service personnel who are only here for sort periods of time.

Find updated Lunch menus and opening hours on staff.ki.se.

Temporary healthcare work – staff and students

KI is happy for any contribution by our healthcare-trained staff and students to help doctors and nurses deal with the current crisis. Anyone interested in temporary work within healthcare can sign up with Region Stockholm.

KI recommends personnel managers to have a generous approach on granting leave of absence. Should such leave be granted, it is to be reported to the departmental HR office. 

Students who return to their previous employment, or who take on a new employment, in healthcare are allowed a suspension of their studies, after application, with a guaranteed place on their programme. Students employed on an hourly basis can work alongside their studies. More details to be found on page under Student information.

Students and staff with a healthcare training are recommended to take Karolinska Institutet’s Covid-19 training for care providers and medical staff to learn about the most important principles and challenges as regards preventing the spread of COVID-19, with a focus on hygiene principles and the use of personal protective equipment.

Student information

This information briefing to Karolinska Institutet’s students is updated continually.

Information for teachers

This information briefing to Karolinska Institutet’s staff is updated continually.

Information for doctoral students and supervisors

This information briefing to doctoral students and supervisors is updated continually.

Doctoral students are equated with

  1. staff when they work with their research project (continues with their research under the same conditions as other researchers)
  2. students when they participate in courses (doctoral courses will be performed as distance teaching and learning or cancelled)

Staff with combined appointments and students with clinical placements

Staff with combined appointments and students with clinical placements are to comply with Region Stockholm’s recommendations (in Swedish) when engaged in clinical activities.

The University Library

This page gather current information about the library services during the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Official business and exchanges

No official business or exchanges with other countries shall be made from 13 March until 15 June 2020 (according to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs' recommendation, date may be changed). For personal travel, the civil responsibility provisions of Chapter 2 Section 2 of the Contagious Diseases Act applies (in Swedish).

Temporary ban on non-essential trips to Sweden from countries outside the EEA and Switzerland

The government has decided to impose a temporary ban on all non-essential travel to Sweden from countries outside the EEA  and Switzerland. The ban applies from 19 March and will initially last for 30 days. Not all travel to Sweden is stopped, and Swedish citizens and other persons resident in Sweden currently outside the country will still be able to return home. There are also possible exemptions for people with particularly urgent needs or who perform a necessary function in Sweden, such as healthcare professionals, people working with the transport of for example food and medicines, and people who need to enter the country for pressing family reasons.

The temporary entry ban will affect the ability of staff and students to travel to Sweden if, for example, they have been granted a residence permit but are yet to enter the country to start their period of employment or studies. KI recommends managers, supervisors, HR officers, etc. to discuss the options available to those persons given their individual circumstances.

Cancel of flight

Most airlines and hotels have introduced a policy that you can rebook your trip without cost. If you don’t know when you might have to travel again, some companies issue a voucher that you can use to make a new booking at a later date. If, however, the airline cancels a flight on account of the coronavirus, you will be refunded in full.

Always get in touch with the KI travel agency BCD to find out about individual cases and for details of the rules in effect. Please observe that the lead-time for ticket refunds and response time for phone calls and emails can be much longer than normal.

Exchange studies

KI has decided to cancel exchange studies and traineeships/internship abroad for outgoing students who have not yet begun their exchange period, as well as for incoming students who have not yet come to Sweden. This decision is valid from 13 March until 30 June unless another decision is taken in the meantime.

Incoming students who are already at KI, and outgoing students who are already at their exchange university abroad, can continue their studies according to what has been planned but must take into consideration the current situation at the various universities. The situation may change, if so, this information will be updated.

KI courses that take place abroad should not be arranged.

Symptoms

If you fall ill, you are to take sick leave as normal. If you are fit for work but have symptoms of respiratory tract infection, even mild ones, the current recommendations from the Public Health Agency say that you must avoid any social contact. Employees wanting to work from home must obtain the consent of their immediate manager.  

1177 Vårdguiden provides information about when a doctor must be contacted (in Swedish).

Hygiene

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, hand sanitizers are also effective
  • Cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm
  • Stay home when being sick

Public toilets on the KI premises are now cleaned twice a day, instead of once.

Support for staff and students

Extra support for employees, scholarship-funded doctoral students and post-doctoral students is available from KI's staff support service, Previa. Previa is not, however, offering tests or taking any other medical action related to COVID-19.

Extra support for students is available from the Student Health Centre. The Student Health Centre, however, is not offering tests or taking any other medical action related to COVID-19.

Conferences, events and meetings

Please pay attention to any canceled meetings and to any canceled events and conferences at KI via the KI calendar.

IT tools and tools for distance teaching

If you work from home or on other premises, you need some IT tools to access KI's resources:

The handling of SARS-CoV-2 at KI

On this page about Biosafety, under Documents, you can find Guidelines at Karolinska Institutet for handling of SARS-CoV-2 as well as blood and other human samples with suspected/confirmed infection with SARS-CoV-2.

Work on SARS-CoV-2 or the handling of material containing SARS-CoV-2 must, like all other work with pathogenic agents, comply with the rules governing infection risk, which state that a risk assessment must be done before work starts. Human blood and other such specimens not deemed infected with SARS-CoV-2 are to be handed as before in laboratories equipped to bio-safety level 2 or higher, depending on the risk assessment.

Contact the departments’ bio-safety representative to discuss the handling of SARS-CoV-2 or if you have any questions on the handling of human material or pathogens on KI premises. You can also contact KI’s Bio-Safety Coordinator at biosakerhet@ki.se.

Further information

For further information and advice about the virus outbreak, we refer you to the following sources: 

If you have any questions, please contact your immediate manager or student counsellor/advisor.

Managers and counsellors/advisors with general questions about staff and students are to contact the head of the Human Resources Office (Mats Engelbrektson) or the Head of the Education Support Office (Åsa Nandorf).

What is the new coronavirus?

SARS-CoV-2 is a strain of the coronavirus family that has never before been identified in humans. There are four common members of this family (229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1), which usually cause infection of the upper, sometimes lower respiratory tract, especially in children. Typical symptoms for these four viruses include a blocked and runny nose, sore throat, coughing and fever, but just like in COVID-19 they can sometime cause pneumonia, most commonly in people with cardiovascular disease or compromised immune systems, infants and the elderly.