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Published: 2020-03-02 14:37 | Updated: 2020-03-04 11:46

KI’s president: Keeping a close eye on the corona virus developments

The spread of the new coronavirus has brought up many questions. For the past month, Karolinska Institutet has kept staff and students up to date with developments via the Staff Portal. One important recommendation concerns travel.

Portrait of Ole Petter Ottersen
President Ole Petter Ottersen. Photo: Erik Flyg

“The health, wellbeing and safety of our staff and students are always our top priority,” says KI president Ole Petter Ottersen.

As regards Karolinska Institutet, while the ongoing outbreak has necessitated a higher level of alertness and stricter recommendations, primarily on travel, the main principle is business as usual.

For the past month or so, the KI management has published information on the new coronavirus for the university’s staff and students.

“We quickly realised that this outbreak will be a cause of concern amongst our staff and students, so we’ve made sure to issue general facts, advice and recommendations as early as possible on both our intranet and our external website as well as in bulletins to managers and directors of education,” says President Ole Petter Ottersen.

Special Covid-19-group established

Portrait webb Anna Maria Böök
Communications director Anna Maria Böök.

The university management’s crisis management team meet regularly and are keeping a close eye on developments – including at weekends and outside office hours. The information circulated to the organisation is frequently updated as more is learnt about the virus and its spread intensifies.

“In situations like this it’s imperative to issue prompt and continual updates, but also to advertise that this information is available and where to find it,” says director of communications, Anna Maria Böök. “KI is a large university and it’s difficult to reach out to everyone, but we’re working on a broad front through all the information channels we have access to, including the President’s blog, social media and the digital screens installed around our campuses.”

It’s also important, she stresses, for staff and students to actively seek information via the links on KI’s Staff Portal and website. 

Team of experts established

Last Thursday, President Old Petter Ottersen decided to establish a team of experts – the Covid-19 group – comprising eight researchers from KI with diverse specialist knowledge of epidemics and infectious diseases.

“This is one of the great advantages of being a world-leading medical university – immediate access to expert knowledge, since it exists within our own walls,” he says. “I’ve set up the group to provide support for the university management as well as to serve as a resource for the rest of society.”

The group, which is led by Professor Jan Albert, had its first meeting last Friday

Treat each other with respect

President Ole Petter Ottersen is keen to draw attention to values, interpersonal conduct and the internal culture.

“Apart from the general recommendations for preventing the spread of infection, I’d like to stress the importance of continuing to treat each other with respect and kindness and that we’re all welcoming, trusting and helpful. At times of overload, anxiety and perhaps even fear, false rumours and hearsay easily spread. I really would like to urge all students here at KI to stand up for what KI stands for in everything we do: knowledge, respect, openness, sound ethics and an unquestioned attitude that we can and must help to handle problems and challenges as best we can and to find solutions.”