Information for staff and students regarding COVID-19

[Updated 2020-08-31] 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.

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KI are following the recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Sweden, Folkhälsomyndigheten (FOHM). In some aspects, our recommendations complement those issued by FOHM, reflecting the special challenges faced by an internationally oriented medical university:

  • If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, you must stay at home. The same applies if someone in your household feels unwell with such symptoms, provided that your work is such that it can be done from home. You may work from home subject to the approval of your immediate manager, or you can take sick leave if you are unable to work. More details concerning symptoms of COVID-19 under headline Recommendations at KI.
  • Face masks in certain educational situations where it is not possible to keep a distance, for example in clinical practical skills training, laboratory demonstrations and dissections . Find link to download instructions for use of face masks under headline Recommendations at KI.

On 29 May, the Government announced that, as from 15 June, higher education institutions may conduct to campus-based teaching, provided that all activities on campus comply with the official recommendations issued by the Public Health Agency of Sweden to help limit the transmission of the virus. In practice, this means that most theoretical education will continue remotely, in order to enable campus-based teaching for priority groups and activities.

KI’s research and education continue with regard to 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 home if you feel ill

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, you must stay at home. Stay at home for as long as you feel unwell and wait at least 48 hours after recovery before returning to KI.

Staff: You may work from home subject to the approval of your immediate manager, or you can take sick leave if you are unable to work. The same applies if someone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19, provided that your work is such that it can be done from home. If someone in your household has symptoms and your work is such that it cannot be done from home, you must turn up for work and your immediate manager is required to make special arrangements to prevent possible transmission.

Students: If someone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19 you must stay at home if you have non-compulsory teaching such as lectures, group work or self-study.

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 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.

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

Work from home if you can

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 this autumn. 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 (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)

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

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

Changes to the advisory against travel.

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

For personal travel, the civil responsibility provisions of Chapter 2 Section 2 of the Contagious Diseases Act applies (in Swedish).

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.

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

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.

Read more on student exchange this autumn on the page Student information.

Person holding a tea mug while using a laptop.
Work from home if you can. 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 this autumn.

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 is led by the University Director and has 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.