The coronavirus, which causes COVID-19 disease, has become an issue for our entire society this week, and activities to slow down the spread of infection have increased, both in Sweden and at Uppsala University. Naturally, many people are worried about what may happen. Having said that, it is important to remember that the vast majority of those infected experience relatively mild symptoms.

The national strategy is changing. The assessment is that we are now seeing community transmission in Sweden. The virus will spread widely and measures are now aimed at delaying the course of events. A more gradual process will reduce the strain on health services and increase the probability that those who become seriously ill and groups that are at particular risk can receive help. As someone put it: the burden of the disease will be borne by older people and people with underlying conditions, while the burden of the measures will be borne by those who are younger and healthier. Efforts to limit the spread of infection are primarily a matter of solidarity.

Our crisis management organisation was activated several weeks ago. We are closely monitoring the statements made by infection control doctors and the Public Health Agency of Sweden. We are working actively to take stock of the situation and prepare the University to conduct its activities as normally as possible even at a time when many people are away from their studies or work, and when we are limiting unnecessary close contact between people in various ways.

The single most important message right now is to stay home if you are sick or feel early symptoms of a respiratory infection. You will find continuously updated internal communications and recommendations in the Staff Portal. Keep up to date!

We would like to address sincere thanks to everyone involved in preventive measures, communications and in finding solutions to all the challenges that are now arising in our everyday activities. You are all doing a fantastic job! The situation varies from department to department, and from division to division, and the adaptations required will therefore vary. There are many good local initiatives and creative ideas – do share them with one another!We are getting in touch with our exchange students around the world and with those who are here and are worried about not being able to return home. We are also contacting students who were planning to come here in the autumn and keeping them up to date. Many people are helping to answer the many questions coming up at departments and among our students. The students’ unions and student nations are providing great help in spreading recommendations to students. The IT Division is also hard at work taking stock of and ensuring our capacity for virtual meetings and teaching via Zoom.

We would also like to thank all the researchers who are now giving so generously of their time in the media. It is vital to contribute fact-based knowledge in a situation where many people are worried. You are more important than ever! The information we ourselves are publishing online follows the recommendations of the Swedish authorities and ultimately of the WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Those of us in the university management team are monitoring developments closely. The situation is changing from week to week and day to day, and new assessments may lead to new decisions. Outbreaks of infectious diseases cause concern and here too we must all help to remind one another to see things clearly and not lose a sense of proportion. Show consideration and be kind to one another. Act if anyone is accused or is treated badly. Give a little extra thought to our international students and colleagues, who are far from home and are bound to feel extra concern for that reason.

Eva Åkesson, Vice-Chancellor
Anders Malmberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor
Caroline Sjöberg, University Director
Stellan Sandler, Vice-Rector, Medicine and Pharmacy
Torsten Svensson, Vice-Rector, Humanities and Social Sciences
Johan Tysk, Vice-Rector, Science and Technology

Information page for employees in the Staff Portal in Swedish and English, regularly updated.

Information page for students in English, regularly updated.

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