The Public Health Agency of Sweden
Updated 31 March 2020

FAQ about COVID-19

Please note: These FAQ:s are not completely updated due to the rapid change in the pandemic situation and the continuous change of preventive measures recommended in Sweden.

The Swedish national information telephone number is 113 13

Questions and answers about COVID-19 in Swedish

Questions and answers about the new legislation for restaurants, bars, etc

COVID-19

  • What is a coronavirus?

    This information is available from the WHO (available in English).

  • What is COVID-19

    COVID-19 is the official name, decided by the WHO, for the disease caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 is an acronym for coronavirus disease 2019.

  • How dangerous is an infection with COVID-19, in comparison with a seasonal influenza?

    It is difficult to compare a completely new illness, such as COVID-19, with the seasonal flu. Based on the current knowledge, the two diseases show some similarities in terms of symptoms. Most people develop mild symptoms, but some get seriously ill and some people die.

    However, COVID-19 will affect many more people in a population where it spreads. The rapid spread of disease is due to the lack of immunity against the completely new virus. Therefore, more people will fall ill from it, and more people will need to be cared for in a hospital.

    Different versions of the seasonal flu appears every year, and it has been present for a long time. Therefore, some immunity has had time to build up in the population. There is also a vaccine and other medications against seasonal flu.

  • What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

    The reported symptoms are mainly fever and cough. Other commonly reported symptoms are breathing problems, runny or blocked nose, sore throat, headache, nausea, muscle and joint pain. Most of those infected get mild symptoms that can be managed at home. Some people become severely ill with breathing difficulties and pneumonia.

    The time between getting infected and developing symptoms (the incubation period) seems to be between 2 and 14 days. Most people develop symptoms after 5 days. Individual cases may deviate from this time frame.

    It is very important that you stay at home if you feel ill. If you can no longer manage the illness on your own, please call 1177 for medical advice (available in several languages).

  • How is COVID-19 transmitted?

    The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads mainly via contact with respiratory droplets or secretions from the respiratory tract. Transmission via droplets happens when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can also spread from person to person via physical contact.

    You can decrease the risk of transmission by keeping your hands clean and avoiding touching your face, and by keeping a distance from people that are ill.

  • How many people are ill from COVID-19 in Sweden?

    The current number of confirmed cases, in Sweden and globally, is displayed here (in Swedish). The figures change constantly, as more people seek healthcare and are diagnosed with the disease.

    Until March 12th 2020 all suspected cases among people travelling from affected areas to Sweden were followed up with sampling and contact tracing. From March 13th 2020 the following groups are prioritized for sampling:

    • Hospitalised patients
    • People that work in healthcare or elderly care, with suspected COVID-19.

    This means that the number of reported cases is lower from March 13th, and that the number of cases before and after the change of sampling routines are not comparable.

    Since COVID-19 causes mild symptoms in many of those infected, it is likely that the number of cases reported is lower than the actual number of cases. Specific investigations are carried out to monitor how the disease spreads across Sweden, for example by testing influenza samples for COVID-19. The aim with such data collection is to learn more about how COVID-19 is transmitted and how healthcare services are affected.

  • Who is at risk of developing severe illness?

    Since the virus is new, we have limited knowledge about which groups might run a higher risk of developing severe illness, or how much higher the risk is for them. Available data from the ongoing outbreak indicate that old age is the most prominent risk factor.

    Older age combined with pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, or diabetes is also associated with developing a severe form of COVID-19.

    People with asthma, allergies, or kidney disease are not identified as risk groups in the available studies. However, it is unclear to what extent these conditions have been studied and it can therefore not be excluded that they run a higher risk of severe illness. If you or your child have a condition that makes you vulnerable to infectious diseases, for example problems with the immune system, you should seek advice from your doctor about how to manage your condition and how to decrease the risks associated with COVID-19.

    A Chinese study shows that only a small proportion of the identified risk groups actually develop severe illness. It is currently difficult to assess whether these findings translate to Swedish conditions. Reports from Italy indicate that people over the age of 85 are most at risk.

  • What are the recommendations for pregnant women?

    There are few studies of pregnant women with COVID-19. Comparisons with other diseases caused by SARS-coronavirus and MERS-coronavirus indicate that COVID-19 causes fewer complications during pregnancy.

    As in all cases of pneumonia, the risk of severe illness can be somewhat higher, especially towards the end of the pregnancy. There are only few reports of children that have contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy or birth.

    At present, there is only limited information about COVID-19 and pregnancy. We recommend that pregnant women take the same precautions as against all infectious diseases. Information is also available from the centre for knowledge about infectious during pregnancy (in Swedish).

  • Who should be tested for COVID-19?

    The healthcare services in Sweden prioritise the following groups:

    • Hospitalised patients
    • People that work in healthcare or elderly care, with suspected COVID-19.

    The aim with this priority is to protect those that are most vulnerable and most exposed for the virus.

    Anyone who is ill with symptoms of cold or flu should stay at home in order to minimize the risk of passing the illness on to others. This group will not be prioritised for testing.

    The regional communicable disease officers may adapt strategies for testing to local conditions.

  • Are there test kits available for home use?

    There are test kits for COVID-19 that are promoted for home use by the manufacturers. We currently do not recommend these tests, since they are much less reliable than the tests used in healthcare. The methods used professionally are highly sensitive and specific. Tests are combined with clinical observations, epidemiological information and patient history to support a diagnosis.

    A test with low sensitivity, or used during the wrong phase of the infection, might indicate that you do not have COVID-19 although you are infected.

    We currently have limited knowledge about the accuracy of tests for home use, and there are no published data regarding their ability to diagnose COVID-19.

  • Do face masks protect against transmission?

    Face masks are used by healthcare staff when they are in close contact with patients and need to protect themselves against respiratory droplets, which is one way that COVID-19 is transmitted. However, face masks are not needed in in the community. The best way to protect oneself and others in daily life is to maintain social distancing and good hand hygiene.

    Read more here about how to protect yourself and others from transmission.

  • Can you get COVID-19 several times?

    It is unclear how long immunity against COVID-19 lasts after an infection. Based on previous experience, there is reason to believe that immunity will last long enough to prevent people from getting infected several times during the same season.

  • How ill might I get from COVID-19?

    Most people get mild symptoms of respiratory tract illness, which clear without treatment. Some people develop a more severe form of disease, for example pneumonia. More knowledge about the virus and the disease is added over time.

  • For how long will I be ill with COVID-19?

    The currenty available knowledge about how long COVID-19 lasts comes from the WHO "Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)". It states that most of those that had mild symptoms (fever and cough) got well again after two weeks. For those that developed more severe illness, it took between three and six weeks to get well.

    Those that were severely ill had breathing difficulties (shortness of breath and low oxygenation of the blood). Some of them needed intensive care in hospital, for example with a ventilator. These types of symptoms seemed to appear around one week after falling ill.

  • Is there a vaccine or any other treatment against COVID-19?

    There is currently no vaccine and no approved medicine against COVID-19. Any treatment given in severe cases of illness serves to support the patient’s lungs and other internal organs.

    International studies of various types of medicines are under way. There is also research on a vaccine.

    The Swedish Medical Products Agency collaborates with its European and global counterparts in trying to develop treatments and vaccines.

  • What is the mortality rate from COVID-19?

    Estimates of the mortality rate from COVID-19 are still ambiguous. The WHO suggests a fatality rate of 1-2 percent of those infected. This figure is based on international studies.

    Experience shows that the reported number of cases of new diseases usually is lower than the true number of cases. There may be more cases than initially reported, which means that the mortality rate may be lower than currently estimated.

  • How many people get well after COVID-19?

    The majority of those infected get well again. A small proportion develop a severe form of the disease, of which most belong to a risk group. There is no data on remaining chronical conditions.

  • Does the pneumococcal vaccine protect against COVID-19?

    No, the pneumococcal vaccine only protects you from diseases caused by certain types of the pneumococcus bacterium. Vaccination against pneumococci does not decrease the risk of contracting COVID-19. The pneumonia that some of those infected get is caused by the coronavirus itself.

  • Survey launched to measure the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community

    The Public Health Agency is doing a survey in Stockholm to assess the level of COVID-19 in the community. A randomly selected group of 650 people that are part of the Agency’s regular survey panel will be asked if they are willing to participate by providing samples from their nose, pharynx, and saliva. Participation is voluntary. It is not possible to sign up for this survey.

    More information is available here (in Swedish).

  • How do I know if my symptoms are due to hay fever or COVID-19?

    Since COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms, it can be difficult to distinguish between the disease and other types of illness, such as hay fever.

    Stay home even if you have mild symptoms like a runny or blocked nose, slight cough or a sore throat. Take your usual allergy medication. If the symptoms do not get worse, your medication relieves the symptoms, and your judgement is that the symptoms are likely to be caused by allergy, you do not need to remain home.

    If you experience new symptoms that you do not associate with your allergy, or if you get a fever, you should stay home until they have cleared and another two days.

What can we do to prevent transmission?

  • What can I do to protect myself and others?

    A general preventive measure against respiratory infection is to avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, and mouth) and to avoid close contact with sick people.

    Wash hands often with soap and warm water, before eating, before preparing food, and after toilet use. Alcohol-based hand rub can be an alternative when you do not have access to hand washing facilities.

    Cough and sneeze into your elbow or into a paper tissue to prevent infection from spreading around you, or from contaminating your hands.

    Stay at home when you are sick to avoid infecting people on the bus, at work, or in areas where you are close to others.

    Protect yourself and others from spread of infection

  • Who should stay at home?

    If you feel ill with symptoms including a runny or blocked nose, cough, or fever you should avoid contact with other people. This also applies if you only feel a little bit unwell. Do not go to work or to school. It is very important not to risk passing the illness to anyone else.

  • For how long should I stay at home?

    Stay at home as long as you feel ill. If your condition worsens and you can no longer manage it at home, call 1177 for medical advice.

    Wait at least two days after getting well before you go back to work or school.

    Elderly people run a higher risk of getting severely ill. Therefore, it is important not to visit people in hospitals or nursing homes unnecessarily. Avoid such visits if you have any symptom of illness.

    If you work in elderly care, you should stay at home if you have a cough or cold.

  • Should I work from home even if I feel well?

    There is now an ongoing transmission of COVID-19 in the community in several regions in Sweden. Our advice is therefore that you work from home, if it is possible to do so and if your employer agrees. This is to decrease the speed of transmission and the number of people needing hospital care. A rapid increase of the number of infected would put unnecessary pressure on healthcare services. By slowing the rate, we give the healthcare system a better chance of coping with the extra burden.

  • With the ongoing community transmission, how can we protect people over the age of 70?

    As COVID-19 is now spreading in the community, it is particularly important to protect elderly people from disease. Do not have close contact with people over the age of 70 unless it is absolutely necessary.

    Stay at home if you have any symptoms of illness, even if you only feel a little bit unwell. It is very important not to risk passing the illness to anyone else.

  • I am 70 years old, how should I protect myself now that COVID-19 is spreading in the community?

    The number of cases of COVID-19 continues to increase around the world, especially in Europe. Therefore, we recommend that anyone who is 70 or older limit their social contacts from now on.

    To avoid getting infected the Public Health Agency asks you to stay at home. You should avoid travelling by bus, tram or subway, shopping in supermarkets, or visiting venues where many people gather at any one time. Instead, ask friends, family or neighbours to do your shopping etc. While remaining at home, you may still go out for walks.

  • Why are universities and colleges only offering distance learning?

    We recommend colleges (gymnasium) universities, and other institutions of higher education or adult learning to provide distance education rather than classes on their premises. This recommendation was issued 18th March 2020.

    Compared to pupils in schools and preschools, the students in higher education are not dependent on their educational institution for daily care. Higher education also draws students from larger geographical areas.

    This recommendation aims to decrease the rate of transmission of COVID-19, and thereby protect vulnerable groups and decrease the pressure on healthcare services.

Modes of transmission

  • Can the virus be transmitted during the incubation period?

    Available data shows that the coronavirus spreads when patients are ill with symptoms and around the time of falling ill. From what we know now, transmission does not seem to occur during the incubation period, i.e. the time between contracting the virus and developing symptoms. Those that have been exposed to COVID-19 should pay attention to any early signs of illness.

    Our stance is based on the following:

    1. There are robust scientific studies from the coronavirus that cause the disease SARS, which spread around the world in 2003. Evaluations of that outbreak show that the SARS-coronavirus does not transmit at all during the incubation period. Among all currently known viral diseases, transmission during the incubation period is very uncommon. Many viruses spread around the time that a patient develops symptoms. There is reason to believe that this applies also to this new coronavirus.
    2. Many cases of the ongoing outbreak have been identified, but none of them have confirmed transmission during the incubation period.

    Our knowledge about the new coronavirus increases every day and we monitor the development closely. Our assessments are based on the latest available credible data, and any changes to our current advice will be communicated widely. The Public Health Agency of Sweden collaborates with the WHO on these issues.

  • Can COVID-19 spread from a person who is infected but does not experience any symptoms?

    The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is mainly transmitted person-to-person via respiratory droplets. This means that the virus reaches the inside of your eyes, nose or mouth from droplets that are dispersed in the air when someone sneezes or coughs. The droplets fall to the ground within approximately one meter (3 ft) from the source.

    There are reports of transmission of COVID-19 from people without any symptoms of illness. However, only a few studies describe the role of this type of transmission is relation to the overall spreading of COVID-19 in the community. Based on the available knowledge about COVID-19 and similar diseases, the current understanding is that this route of transmission represents a minor part.

    To slow the rate of COVID-19 spreading in the community, it is important to limit the transmission of COVID-19 from those that have symptoms of illness. This is one of the objectives of the Public Health Agency’s ongoing efforts.

  • If one person in a family is ill, does the whole family need to stay at home?

    No, as long as siblings or other members of the family do not show symptoms of disease they can go to school, preschool or their workplace. In families where one or more people are ill, it is very important to be alert to any signs of illness.

    Please take care not to spread disease.

  • How long can the virus survive outside the body?

    The disease spreads mainly via close physical contact between people. It is not clear how long it can survive outside the body. Research on related coronaviruses shows that they can live for several days on surfaces and items, under particular conditions. Their survival depends on temperature, humidity, and sunlight. Coronaviruses are sensitive to dehydration. The amount of viruses present also determines how long a surface or item are contagious. Such studies are done under controlled conditions in laboratories, and are not directly transferable to other environments, for example in the community.

    A recent study from a healthcare setting where patients with COVID-19 had been isolated shows that small amounts of genetic material from the virus can remain in the environment. Further studies will show weather living viruses also remain, and if they can spread disease.

    It is important to maintain good hand hygiene. By washing your hands with soap and water you can decrease the risk of getting infected. If water and soap are not available, alcohol hand rub can be used instead.

    The Public Health Agency monitors the emerging evidence, for example by collaborating with the WHO and other agencies.

  • Can the virus spread to humans from objects like post and parcels?

    Similar previous outbreaks show that this type of virus spreads from infected people and not through items like parcels and post.

  • Can the virus that causes COVID-19 spread between animals and humans and can my pet get the virus?

    It seems probable that an animal source from a market with live animals in China caused some of the first reported human infections. There is no evidence that the virus can spread from humans to pets.

  • Which countries are affected by COVID-19?

    On 11th March 2002 the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. This means that the disease is, or will be, prevalent in all continents. It is likely that it will affect all countries in the world. Therefore, it is no longer relevant to list the affected countries.

    The classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic does not change how the Public Health Agency handles the disease. Strategic interventions to prevent spread in the community and protect vulnerable groups are ongoing. Nor is the disease itself deemed any more serious.

  • What does it mean that COVID-19 is spreading in the community?

    The Public Health Agency can see signs of community transmission in several regions in Sweden. This means that several cases of COVID-19 have been identified where the patient has not travelled in an affected area or been knowingly exposed to a person with the disease. On the 10th March the risk for community transmission in Sweden was raised to ‘very high’, which is the highest level.

    If you feel ill with symptoms including a runny or blocked nose, cough, or fever you should avoid contact with other people. This also applies if you only feel a little bit unwell. Do not go to work or to school. It is very important not to risk passing the illness to anyone else.

    Stay at home as long as you feel ill. If your condition worsens and you can no longer manage it at home, call 1177 for medical advice.

    Wait at least two days after getting well before you go back to work or school.

    Elderly people run a higher risk of getting severely ill. Therefore, it is important not to visit people in hospitals or nursing homes unnecessarily. Avoid such visits if you have any symptom of illness.

    If you work in elderly care, you should stay at home if you have a cough or cold.

    This risk assessment is based on the current situation in Sweden.

  • What is contact tracing?

    Contact tracing can be a question of vital importance to prevent the infection from spreading further. The treating doctor is responsible for finding out how a patient has contracted the virus and identifying anyone who may be infected or may have been exposed to the virus. The aim of contact tracing is to stop and minimize spread of the virus.

  • Do I need to clean my house or handle household waste in any particular way?

    In a household where someone is ill with COVID-19 it is enough to clean as usual, using products available in supermarkets. Household waste, including paper tissues from infected persons, can be disposed of in your normal way.

  • Does COVID-19 spread via water and food?

    The main route of transmission for COVID-19 is via contact between people or via droplets produced when coughing or sneezing. There are no indications that the disease spreads via ingested food or water.

    It is also unlikely that COVID-19 is transmitted via water in swimming pools or other baths.

    It is currently unclear how long the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive outside the human body, and whether the disease can spread via indirect contact i.e. droplets that have landed on surfaces or items.

    Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, before cooking and eating, and after using the toilet. Alcohol-based hand rub is an alternative when you do not have access to hand washing facilities.

    More information is available from the Swedish Food Agency (in Swedish).

  • Can COVID-19 spread via coins and banknotes?

    There is no indication of a risk for transmission of COVID-19 via coins or banknotes. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 mainly spreads via contact between people or via droplets produced when coughing or sneezing.

    It is currently unclear how long the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive outside the human body, and whether the disease can spread via indirect contact i.e. droplets that have landed on surfaces or items.

    Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth) and wash your hands carefully with soap and warm water to decrease the risk of getting infected. Alcohol-based hand rub is an alternative when you do not have access to handwashing facilities.

COVID-19 and children

  • Can children and youths be vaccinated as planned according to the child vaccination programme during the outbreak of COVID-19?

    Yes, children and youths can be vaccinated according to the child vaccination programme also during the outbreak of COVID-19. In case of an ongoing acute infection with fever and/or an affected general condition (COVID-19 or other illness) the vaccination should, as always, be postponed.

  • Are children affected by COVID-19?

    Children represent only a small proportion of the reported cases of COVID-19. Studies suggest that infected children develop very mild symptoms. There is currently very limited knowledge about to what extent COVID-19 spreads between children, and there are no reports about extensive transmission within groups of children.

    Even if they have mild symptoms, children can pass the infection to others (just like adults with mild symptoms). Therefore, it is important that children with fever or cold do not meet elderly people or people with immune system problems.

    New knowledge is added every day, and we monitor the situation closely to be able to give accurate advice.

    BRIS (Children´s Rights in Society, in Swedish) and the WHO have published support on how to support children in matters related to COVID-19.

Public gatherings

  • What are the rules for major events?

    The Swedish government has decided to stop all public gatherings and event with more than 50 people. The aim with this legislation is to prevent situations where large numbers of people from different parts of the country come together in the same place.

    The Swedish Public Order Act sets out what is meant by a public gathering or event. Examples are demonstrations, theatre performances, and concerts which are arranged for the public or to which the public has access.

    Schools, public transportation, private functions, and visits to supermarkets do not fall under this legislation.

    For events and gatherings to which this legislation does not apply, the Public Health Agency will issue regulations and guidance that sets out how the legislation is to be used. These documents will give examples of how people could or should apply different aspects of the Communicable Diseases Act in order to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

    From 25th March, Restaurants and bars are subject to specific regulations about adjustments that can decrease the risk of transmission of COVID-19 (in Swedish).

    An exhaustive list of which situations that are affected by the legislation can be found in the Public Order Act 2 chapter, 1-3 §§. Further information is available from the Swedish Police (in Swedish).

    We all need to look out for symptoms of illness, even mild ones, and to stay at home if we feel unwell. This applies to both our work and our private lives.

  • What is the recommendation for events with fewer than 50 people?

    Prior to all events and gatherings planning to attract less than 50 people, the Public Health Agency recommends that the organisers do a risk assessment. A model for assessing and addressing potential risks is available here (in Swedish). Please take extra care and precaution if you plan a seminar or event that involves people working in healthcare services or other areas that are critically important for society. Each organiser is responsible for the risk assessment of their own event.

    Event organisers should make sure that no one with symptoms of disease is present. They should provide information about good hand hygiene, and access to hand washing facilities for all participants.

    Digital meetings, webinars or similar should be considered as alternatives to meeting in person.

  • Private functions such as weddings, graduation parties etc.

    The recommendations for events with fewer than 50 people also apply to private functions. Further guidance will be published.

  • What is the situation for public transport, work places and schools?

    Public transport, work places and schools are not covered by the ban against public gatherings of more than 50 people. The Public Health Agency of Sweden has decided that, for the time being, it is important that public transport continues to operate and that those who are healthy can get to work or school. Workplaces and schools can try to minimize activities when many people gather together. Further guidance will be published.

  • Can sports and exercise activities continue?

    Exercise and sports activities can continue, but precautionary measures should be taken in order to minimise the risk for transmission of COVID-19. Outdoor exercise is preferable.

    Additional advice regarding sports and exercise facilities can be found here (in Swedish).

    General advice for all sports and exercise activities are:

    • Anyone who is ill, even with only mild symptoms, should not participate in activities. They should remain at home until symptoms clear and an additional two days. If you fall inn during exercise you should go home immediately.
    • Elderly people, particularly those over the age of 70, should avoid public spaces and minimise their social contacts, and therefore not participate in indoor activities.
    • Avoid exercise forms that involves close contact.
    • Do not share water bottles, protective gear or other equipment that might transmit saliva.
    • Wipe down exercise equipment that is used by many people, such as gym machines, with a disinfectant after use.

    Provide access to hand washing facilities or alcohol-based hand rub, and encourage everybody to maintain good hand hygiene.

  • What do the new rules for restaurants and their guests mean?

    Restaurants, bars, and cafés around the country need to take special precaution regarding the risk of crowds of people in queues, around tables, and at buffets or bars. Visitors must be able to keep at a distance from each other.

    All visitors should sit at tables when they eat or drink, rather than stand at a bar or similar. Staff should serve food and drinks at the tables. Unless it creates queues or crowding, guests may order and pick up their food at a counter. Take-outs can be handled as usual, as long as it does not lead to crowding or close contact between people.

    The person in charge of the venue is responsible for maintaining routines that minimise the risk for disease transmission. This can for example include local guidelines about access to hand washing facilities (soap and running water) for staff and guests.

    FAQ about the new legislation for restaurants, bars, etc

    More information for restaurants and bars, including the legislation, is available here (in Swedish).

Information to travellers

  • What are the recommendations for travel within Sweden?

    Please consider whether your trip is necessary – we all need to help slowing the rate of COVID-19 spreading through Sweden. Anyone that is ill should not travel at all. People belonging to a risk group particularly need to consider whether they should travel or receive visitors.

    There are clear indications that COVID-19 is spreading in the community in several regions in Sweden. Therefore, the Public Health Agency urges everybody to consider whether trips to cities, skiing resorts, and other popular holiday spots are necessary at this time.

    If COVID-19 spreads to a majority of the regions in Sweden, we risk a situation where the healthcare system’s resources become increasingly difficult to redistribute in order to support all affected areas. It is also important to know that you need to be able to care for yourself, should you fall ill when away from home. If you require help, please be aware that resources might be limited. You should also arrange for either isolation or a way to travel home in a way that does not risk spreading the infection to others.

    In addition to the above, previous recommendations regarding how to protect yourself and others from disease still apply.

  • What are the recommendations for skiing trips?

    Please consider whether your trip is necessary – we all need to help slowing the rate of COVID-19 spreading through Sweden. Skiing resorts can be particularly problematic as they attract people from many different parts of the country, for example during the Easter holiday.

    The resorts themselves have already put measures in place to decrease the risk of large gatherings at queues to ski lifts etc., and there is a smaller risk for transmission in the open air than indoors. Therefore, the ski slopes can remain open while restaurants and after ski events are affected by the new rules for restaurants and bars.

    More information is available here:

    New rules for restaurants and bars (news article from the Public Health Agency, March 24th, in Swedish).

    Ski resorts put measures in place for increased safety (Swedish ski areas industry association, March 24th, in Swedish).

  • What is the advice for travelling with train, bus or taxi?

    When you travel by train, bus or taxi, follow our advice on how to protect yourself and others. Stay at home if you feel ill, keep your hands clean, cough and sneeze into your elbow, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

    You can also aim to keep at a distance from other people. Please refer to local advice and routines issued by the transportation providers.

    It is still unclear whether indirect contact, i.e. contact with respiratory droplets or secretions on surfaces and items, contributes to the spread of COVID-19.

    Make sure to wash your hands after travelling. Alcohol-based hand rub is an alternative when washing facilities are not available.

    Protect yourself and others from spread of infection

  • Would health checks for people arriving by air prevent COVID-19 from spreading in Sweden?

    Our recommendations are based on information from agencies like the WHO and ECDC. Experience from the SARS epidemic shows that health checks had little or no effect. Health checks are require a lot of resources, but have limited possibilities to identify infected people since they only detect those that have developed symptoms. According to international health regulations, the flight captain is required to inform the arrival destination of any symptoms of illness in passengers.

  • What is the advice regarding international travel?

    The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs issues advice regarding travel to other countries (in Swedish).

    Due to the ongoing pandemic and a changeable situation, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs currently advise against non-essential travel to all countries. This is valid from 14th March through to 14th April, when a new assessment will be done.

    For updated information, please visit the Ministry’s web page about the coronavirus and about the current situation in other countries. If you are a Swedish citizen and need further assistance, you can email the consular services at ud-kc-resefragor@gov.se or call 08-405 5005.

    A formal advice against travelling to certain countries or regions can be issued on the basis of political unrest, violence, threats, or a risk for disease. The Public Health Agency are in close contact with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs regarding the possible consequences of disease transmission between countries.

    The Ministry for Foreign Affairs can advise against non-essential travel (e.g. tourist visits), or from all travel which includes business travel and all other visits. There are also situations where Swedish citizens are advised to leave certain countries.

    The Public Health Agency does not issue recommendations for individuals or groups of people. However, we may pass on recommendations based on our international collaborations with the WHO and others to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

    Each person must assess their own situation, based on the need to travel and the available information about the disease from sources such as the WHO and ECDC, who present the official data reported by different countries.

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) offers information about travel to different countries. For advice regarding planned journeys, please contact your travel agency or insurance company if you have questions about cancellations.

  • What are the rules for placing people in quarantine in Sweden?

    Mandatory quarantine is a powerful intervention that is strictly regulated in the Communicable Diseases Act. Since COVID-19 is classed as a disease that is dangerous to society, the regional communicable diseases officers can decide to place healthy individuals in quarantine. This may mean restricting people’s movements to particular buildings such as their home, a part of another building, or a geographical area.

    If a less intrusive intervention, e.g. issuing rules of conduct, can give the same effect it should be used instead.

  • Do I need to take extra precaution after travelling, even though I feel well?

    No, but you should follow the current recommendations in Sweden. Stay at home if you feel unwell. The symptoms reported are manly fever and cough. Breathing problems, runny or blocked nose, sore throat, headache, nausea, or muscle and joint pain are common symptoms. Most people have mild symptoms that clear without treatment. Some develop a severe form om COVID-19 with breathing difficulties and pneumonia.

    The time between getting infected and developing symptoms (the incubation period) seems to be between 2 and 14 days. Most people develop symptoms after 5 days. Individual cases may deviate from this time frame.

    It is very important that you stay at home if you feel ill. If you can no longer manage the illness on your own, please call 1177 for medical advice (available in English). Please do not visit a hospital or healthcare centre unless instructed to do so.

Quarantine and lockdown

  • What does quarantine mean?

    Anyone that has been, or is suspected to have been, exposed to a disease classified as dangerous to society can be kept in quarantine as decided by the Communicable Diseases Officer (under the Swedish Communicable Diseases Act; 2004:168). A person can be put in quarantine in their own home. Quarantine means that you are not allowed to leave the building or receive visitors, apart from health and social care staff. Quarantine is a form of isolation of people that are suspected to carry a disease that is dangerous to society, but are not yet ill. For people that are ill with such a disease, isolation may be imposed. Decisions about quarantine are always individual, and patients may appeal against them.

  • Can a whole town or city be placed in quarantine?

    No. According to the Swedish Communicable Diseases Act (2004:168), individuals can be put in quarantine but not town or cities. It is possible, however, to impose a lockdown on a particular geographical area (see question below).

  • What is a lockdown?

    Under the Swedish Communicable Diseases Act (2004:168), an area corresponding to a few blocks may be put in lockdown. This means, among other things, that it becomes prohibited to access or leave the area. A lockdown can be used when one or more people have fallen ill with a life-threatening disease within a particular geographical area. The lockdown then serves to make it possible to find the source, and to identify any more cases of disease or transmission.

    The aim with this intervention is to create a zone where an investigation can take place without risk of people entering or leaving and risking further transmission of disease. When the investigation is finished and anyone exposed has received the appropriate care or waited through the incubation period, the lockdown should be lifted.

  • For how long can a lockdown remain in place?

    A lockdown is a temporary intervention in order to investigate cases of disease or disease transmission. Hence, it cannot be used in order to prevent people from travelling in or out of an area for a longer period of time.

  • What are the rules for quarantine in Sweden?

    Putting someone in quarantine is a forceful intervention that is strictly regulated in the Communicable Diseases Act. Since the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is classified as dangerous to society, the regional Communicable Diseases Officers can decide that healthy people should be placed in quarantine. This can mean people are ordered to stay within a particular building, e.g. their home, in a specific part of a building, or in a geographical area.

    If a less intrusive intervention, for example restrictions regarding behaviour and social contacts, can achieve the same effect it should be used instead.

Other questions

  • What does it mean that COVID-19 is classified as a disease that is dangerous to public health and to society under the terms of the Communicable Diseases Act?

    Classifying the disease as dangerous to public health and to society are steps toward enhanced preparedness in Sweden. The Public Health Agency believes that the legislation needs to be in place should there be transmission in the community. The risk of this happening is currently considered to be very high.

    The virus being classified under the Communicable Diseases Act enables the necessary preventive measures to be taken to handle the spread of the virus in the community. For diseases dangerous to public health and to society, there are a number of possible interventions including quarantine, isolation, health screenings on arrival in the country, and areas being closed off. Depending on the intervention, the decision is made either by the regional officers for communicable disease control or the Public Health Agency of Sweden.

  • How can a negative test result, which indicates that you are well, at a later test be positive, indicating that you are infected with the virus?

    This can happen if the patient is tested before the infection develops, i.e. during the incubation period and before any symptoms have appeared. Since the incubation period for coronavirus is 2–14 days it might take some time between transmission of the virus and the onset of symptoms. Negative test results during the incubation period do not rule out that you could be infected, and if you suspect COVID-19 you should get tested again if you develop symptoms of disease.

  • How do you monitor the spread of COVID-19?

    The Public Health Agency uses several different surveillance systems to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in Sweden. Since COVID-19 is subject to mandatory reporting under the Communicable Diseases Act, physicians and laboratories continuously supply data that is analysed by the Public Health Agency every day. Other sources of data are random samples from patients that present to their healthcare provider with symptoms of influenza, or from other groups of people. Statistics from the medical advice service 1177 (web searches and telephone calls) is also used to monitor the situation. The Public Health Agency issues a weekly report showing the number of COVID-19 cases, starting from March 20th 2020.

    Collected data provides a background for decisions about interventions that serve to minimise mortality, the number of people affected by the disease, and the negative effects for society. Data from surveillance also makes it possible to monitor and evaluate the effects of interventions so far, and to follow and somewhat predict the further development of the pandemic.

    Weekly reports and other information about surveillance can be found here (in Swedish).

Read more

Question and Answers on ECDC website (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control)

Question and answers on WHO website (World Health Organization)

Updated information about COVID-19 on WHO website

Updated information about COVID-19 on ECDC website

Information material about COVID-19 in different language

Protect yourself and others from spread of infection in different language