Information for staff and students regarding COVID-19

[Updated 2020-11-17] This information is addressed to staff and students at Karolinska Institutet. The page will be updated when new recommendations and important information are added regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff and students are urged to keep themselves informed daily in order to find out about and act upon the latest recommendations.

News

  • On 16 November the government announced that as of 24 November a ban is proposed on all public gatherings and public events of more than eight people. Although academic activities do not fall under either of these categories, the stricter general recommendations from 29 October still apply.

For KI, this still means that:

  • most theoretical courses are being held remotely so that practical skills training, examinations that require physical attendance and public defences can still be carried out.
  • research and education will continue, keeping in mind the recommendations and guidelines below.
  • it is everyone’s responsibility to create and maintain a safe environment on university campuses and in society at large. Studies show that young persons as well as adults can spread the virus. Out of respect and concern for other persons and their well-being in society, it is important for everyone to be careful and follow the recommendations and guidelines.

 

Recommendations at KI

These recommendations and guidelines are based on detailed recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Sweden, Folkhälsomyndigheten (FOHM), and KI’s COVID-19 resource teams.

In some aspects, our recommendations complement those issued by FOHM, reflecting the special challenges faced by an internationally oriented medical university.

Each of the following elements must be in place in order to effectively limit the spread of COVID-19:

icon with a house and a fence
Stay at home if you feel ill.

Stay at home if you or someone in your household develops symptoms

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you must stay at home. Remain at home for as long as you feel sick and do not return to KI until seven days after the first symptoms and at least 48 hours after you have recovered. As an employee, you may either work from home on the approval of your immediate manager or apply for sick leave if you are unable to work.

If a member of your household develops symptoms of COVID-19:

  • If you are an employee you must stay at home if your work is such that it can be done remotely.
  • If you are an employee and your work cannot be done from home, you must come in to the university; your immediate manager will take necessary measures to prevent transmission of the virus.
  • If you are a student, you must stay at home for all non-obligatory activities, such as lectures, group study or private study.

If a member of your household has tested positive for COVID-19:

  • Everyone in the household, both sick and healthy (with the exception of pre-preschool children) must be contacted by the healthcare services and given rules of conduct. Once received, they must be followed: you must stay at home, avoid contact with others and act in all other respects as if you have tested positive. Further information can be found on the Public Health Agency of Sweden website.

In the event of absence from obligatory educational activities, students are to be offered alternative tasks where possible. Decisions to be taken by an examiner.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19

If you have tested positive, you must remain at home for at least 48 hours after recovery before returning to KI. Contact tracing is being handled by the health authorities (Region Stockholm) and compliance with their instructions is mandatory. 

icon fpr keeping distance
Keep a distance.

Physical distancing

To prevent virus transmission, everyone should keep a physical distance at all times, and not gather in large groups or in crowded places. COVID-19 is typically spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. Aerosol droplets from their mouth or nose are released into the air and can reach the mouths or noses of people nearby. Viruses can also spread indirectly through contaminated surfaces.

Icon of hands washing
Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.

Hygiene

Frequent washing of hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds is an effective method of removing and killing the virus. Use of a hand sanitiser is an alternative when hand washing is not possible. The university has introduced expanded cleaning and sanitising procedures on campus.

Face masks when difficult to practice physical distancing

Face masks can help block the spread of droplets and is recommended for use in laboratories and in educational situations where it is difficult to practice physical distancing, for example in clinical practical skills training, laboratory demonstrations and dissections. Disposable face masks and instructions on how to use them will be available at the relevant locations.

Important:

  • Face masks should not be used as an alternative to other precautions, such as practicing physical distancing or staying at home if you have symptoms of illness.
  • This shall not be construed as a recommendation to wear face masks on campus in general.

Download instructions for use of face masks (pdf). 

Testing for COVID-19

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you can make an appointment for testing (PCR test), which is free of charge, including those without a Swedish social security number. Individuals within Region Stockholm can also make an appointment for an antibody test via the website 1177.se. In order to do so, you must have been asymptomatic for more than 14 days.

Find more information in English and in Swedish on 1177.se.

KI encourages students and employees to get tested. See what the testing situation is like – availability varies.

Guide for KI staff on the testing and analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in relation to research.

Work from home if you can

In response to the Public Health Agency’s tightened general recommendations, KI urges everyone who can work from home to do so. 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.

Find more detailed information on KI as a workplace during the autumn of 2020.

Student information

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

For teachers

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

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
  2. students when they participate in courses

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, international students and exchanges

Official travel will be allowed for very exceptional reasons only.

Changes to the advisory against travel.

Find more information on Sweden abroad and on krisinformation.se.

On 17 March, the Government decided to temporarily ban non-essential travel to Sweden from all countries except EU Member States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The entry ban was introduced  to mitigate the effects of the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and reduce the outbreak of COVID-19 and has been extended several times. On 2 July the Government decided to extend the entry ban until 31 August 2020. At the same time, the Government decided to ease the restrictions for more travelers. Certain nationals and people with essential need or function in Sweden will be exempted from the entry restriction. This includes for example researchers in the field of health care and people who travel for the purpose of studying.

It is the responsibility of the enforcing authorities (primarily the Swedish Police Authority) to determine in each individual case how the exemptions are to be interpreted and which decisions are to be made. Please visit the Government website for detailed information.

The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked the Swedish universities to inform our foreign students that some Swedish foreign missions/Embassies may be closed due to the pandemic. They intend to open as soon as the situation permits, and will do their best to allow the students to get their residence permit in time for the start of the semester, but unfortunately cannot guarantee that this will always be possible.

For information on international student exchange autumn term 2020, please visit student information regarding Corona.

Updated information for international staff and students on travel, visa and permits.

Cancel of flight

Most airlines and hotels have introduced a policy that you can rebook your trip without cost.

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

The President has decided to cancel exchange studies for incoming exchange students on clinical courses and clinical rotations, and that courses partially abroad will not be conducted this spring semester 2021. The background is the strained situation in the dental and health care sector due to COVID-19 with a debt of care, as well as the deferred clinical training elements (VFU) from the spring semester 2020 for regular program students. KI students nominated for exchange studies during the spring semester 2021 are advised not to carry out exchanges this spring.

KI has gathered information for regarding exchange studies and studies abroad, related to the coronavirus.

Person holding a tea mug while using a laptop.
KI urges everyone who can work from home to do so. Photo: Pexels

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:

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.

Preparedness at KI

Karolinska Institutet’s top priority is for students and staff to feel that the environment is safe and that necessary precautions have been taken regarding COVID-19. In order to be able to continue our important work within higher education and medical research, university management has drawn up these recommendations and guidelines to follow to ensure a safe campus environment.

The university management daily monitors developments in society with regard to the spread of the coronavirus. Nobody can foresee how the pandemic will develop and it is important for everyone to regularly read updates on the FOHM website and on this page.

KI is prepared for further outbreaks and is in contact with Smittskydd Stockholm on how best to handle this eventuality.

Study and work environments on campus are cleaned twice as often as normal and hand sanitisers are available. Functionality and operation of the HVAC-systems (ventilation) is monitored at all times to ensure good ventilation.

The university has developed plans to ensure the practicing of physical distancing on our campuses.

KI’s crisis management

The KI crisis management team, led by the University Director, have created a continuity plan on the basis of which our departments and equivalent make operational risk assessments to maintain a long-term pandemic preparedness to protect the university's activities, especially those that are sensitive or vital.

KI’s resource teams

University management has set up a number of resource teams within different areas of expertise to support the university and society at large, especially with respect to rapid-response actions.

External staff

The recommendations for KI staff also apply to external staff (e.g. cleaners and restaurant workers) working on the KI premises. Responsible manager for the particular service 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.

The handling of SARS-CoV-2 at KI

On biosafety on the Staff portalyou 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.

Information and support contacts

Anxiety is a normal response to a crisis like the one at hand.

Extra support and advice for employees, doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers/fellows and guest researchers is available from the occupational health service Avonova. Please note that Avonova is not offering tests or taking any other medical action related to COVID-19.

Extra support and advice for students is available from the Student Health Centre. Please note that the Student Health Centre is not offering tests or taking any other medical action related to COVID-19.

Internet-delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

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.