FAQ about COVID-19
Please note: These FAQ:s may not be completely updated due to the rapid change in the pandemic situation, the increasing knowledge about COVID-19 and hence the continuous review of preventive measures recommended in Sweden.
The virus and the illness
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
In most people, COVID-19 manifests as a respiratory tract infection, and many different symptoms may be present. It is not possible to distinguish COVID-19 from other infections from only the symptoms – a laboratory test is required.
Among the reported symptoms are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Runny nose
- Blocked nose
- Sore throat
- Muscle and joint pain
A person falling ill with COVID-19 may experience one or more of these symptoms. It is fairly common to lose one’s sense of smell and taste for some time during an infection in the upper respiratory tract. Diarrhoea has also been reported as a symptom.
Most people get mild symptoms and can recover at home without professional medical care. The symptoms often appear gradually. Some people get a severe form of the illness, with breathing difficulties and pneumonia.
The list of symptoms may be adjusted over time, since we update our information as new knowledge becomes available, e.g. in scientific studies or from the WHO.
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.
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).
Updated: 4/24/2020 1:55:51 PMOpen in new tab
How is COVID-19 transmitted?
The coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) causing COVID-19 is mainly transmitted between people via respiratory droplets or secretions from the respiratory tract. Transmission via droplets happens when an infected person e.g. coughs or sneezes and the droplets reach mucous tissue in someone's eyes, nose, or mouth. The droplets fall to the ground within approximately one meter (3 ft) from the source.
The virus can be transmitted via contaminated surfaces, so-called indirect contact transmission, but the risk of getting infected via contaminated surfaces is considered to be very low.
It is currently not clear how long the virus can survive on surfaces and items. The material itself and conditions in the surrounding such as humidity, temperature, and sunlight will determine how long the virus is viable. Further studies will clarify the importance of transmission via surfaces and items for the overall spread of COVID-19.
You can decrease the risk of transmission by keeping a distance from other people in public spaces, washing your hands often with soap and warm water, avoiding touching your face (eyes, nose and mouth), and by staying at home if you are ill.
Updated: 10/20/2020 2:27:24 PMOpen in new tab
- How long is the incubation period of the coronavirus, i.e. the period between infection by the virus and appearance of the first symptoms?
For how long will I be ill with COVID-19?
Most people with mild symptoms of infection (fever and a cough) get well after about two weeks but it can take significantly longer, weeks or months, to fully recover after having been severely ill.
Patients with severe illness, who have been in hospital care, often need a longer period of time to recover. Some patients feel fatigued for quite some time after recovery.
Symptoms like dry cough and the loss of smell and taste may remain for some time even after having recovered from COVID-19.
The risk of transmitting COVID-19 is probably highest at the beginning of the disease. Stay at home if you are ill. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 you should stay at home for at least seven days after falling ill including two days with no fever. If you have developed more severe symptoms stay at home for at least 14 days after falling ill, and if you belong to the group who have been in hospital care, an individual assessment by your treating physician needs to be done.
The currently 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)".
Updated: 7/15/2020 4:03:00 PMOpen in new tab
What is the fatality rate of COVID-19?
Globally, it is estimated that 0.5–1 percent of those who are infected with COVID-19 die. There is a clear relationship between increased fatality risk and older age: the older you are, the higher the risk.
There are only a few peer-reviewed studies of the infection fatality rate of COVID-19, i.e. the share of infected who die, which means that this might change as new knowledge becomes available.
A study by The Public Health Agency of Sweden estimates the fatality rate in the Stockholm region to 0.6 percent, for all ages. The fatality rate among those 70 years or older is 4.3 percent, whereas it is 0.1 percent among those younger than 70 years.
Updated: 5/13/2020 11:26:54 AMOpen in new tab
Are there any specific at-risk groups?
Some groups of people may get more severe symptoms if they are infected by COVID-19. For example, they may get pneumonia or shortness of breath. The older people are, the greater the risk of serious illness and death. If people also have other health conditions, the risk is even greater. Men are approximately twice as likely as women to become seriously ill and die.
The risk of becoming seriously ill increases gradually with age:
- People aged 60-70 are twice as likely to become seriously ill as people aged 50-60
- People aged 70-80 are five times more likely to become seriously ill than people aged 50-60
- People over 80 are at greatest risk. They are twelve times more likely to become seriously ill than people aged 50-60
70 or over
The list below is of health conditions that, added to increasing age, can further increase risk. The higher up they appear in the list, the greater the increased risk.
- Organ transplants
- Blood cancers – existing or previous
- Neurological conditions that affect respiratory function
- Obesity (risk increases with increased levels of obesity)
- Diabetes (less risk if it is well controlled)
- Ongoing cancer treatment
- Chronic pulmonary diseases (including asthma, but risk very marginal if well controlled)
- Other immunosuppressive conditions or treatment
- Liver disease
- Impaired kidney function
- Cardiovascular disease
High blood pressure on its own does not appear to increase the risk at all and therefore no longer appears on the list.
People under 70 may also be at increased risk of serious illness if they have:
- one or more of the health conditions listed above
- a health condition that increases the risk of serious illness if they get a respiratory infection
Children are very unlikely to become seriously ill, even if they have one of the conditions or illnesses that increase the risk for adults and older people.
New information is being added continuously, and the Public Health Agency of Sweden is monitoring developments and updating its information in line with the most recent knowledge.
Updated: 10/20/2020 2:28:12 PMOpen in new tab
What are the recommendations for pregnant women?
There are few studies of pregnant women with COVID-19, and only a limited amount of information is available.
Risk factors such as severe obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes might increase the risk of severe illness. Therefore, pregnant women who have any of those risk factors should be careful and consult with their midwife or doctor and limit close contact with people outside of the household as much as possible.
It is important to avoid getting infected before delivery because a respiratory infection towards the end of the pregnancy can be difficult and might imply risks to the pregnant woman.
We recommend that pregnant women take extra precautions from week 36 and follow our recommendations thoroughly.
Mother-to-child transmission of COVID-19 during pregnancy is unlikely. Children can be infected with COVID-19 but severe symptoms are very rare in newborn babies and in children. Therefore, healthy newborn babies do not need to be separated from their mother after delivery due to the risk of transmission.
According to available studies, breast milk is not a source of transmission of COVID-19 and there is therefore no reason to prevent mothers from breastfeeding.
Information is also available from the centre for knowledge about infections during pregnancy (in Swedish).
Updated: 10/6/2020 3:32:28 PMOpen in new tab
Can you get COVID-19 several times?
It is unclear how long immunity against COVID-19 lasts after an infection. Based on current knowledge there is reason to believe that the immunity will last up to 6 months if you have developed antibodies against the virus causing COVID-19.
Keep in mind, even if you have taken a test that shows that you have antibodies you still have to keep following the same recommendations as the rest of the population.
Updated: 10/20/2020 2:28:49 PMOpen in new tab
Does smoking cause a more severe form of COVID-19?
Yes, smoking increases the risk of severe illness with COVID-19, according to available studies.
The fact that tobacco smoking increases the risk of severe symptoms during respiratory tract infections is already well-known from e.g. seasonal influenza.
Some health benefits of giving up smoking appear quickly, for example increased oxygenation of the blood, lower blood pressure, and improved pulmonary function. For advice and support to stop smoking, contact Sluta-Röka-Linjen (information etc. is available in English and other languages).
New information and data is added continuously, and the Public Health Agency monitors the situation and updates its advice accordingly.
Updated: 7/1/2020 12:23:07 PMOpen in new tab
Spread of infection
Can COVID-19 be transmitted from a person who is infected but does not experience any symptoms?
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 in relation to the overall spread 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.
Updated: 10/20/2020 2:29:30 PMOpen in new tab
How long can the virus causing COVID-19 survive outside the body?
It is not yet clear how long the virus 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 virus particles present also determines how long a surface or an item is 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 clarify the role of indirect contact transmission for the spread of COVID-19.
It is important to maintain good hand hygiene. By washing your hands with soap and water you can decrease the risk of getting infected and infecting others. If water and soap are not available, alcohol-based hand rub can be used instead.
Updated: 5/18/2020 1:41:52 PMOpen in new tab
Does COVID-19 spread via water and food?
There is no data indicating that people have been infected from food or water. The coronavirus causing 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. It is also unlikely that COVID-19 is transmitted via water in swimming pools or other types of baths.
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).
Updated: 5/14/2020 1:19:32 PMOpen in new tab
Can the virus causing COVID-19 spread between animals and humans and can my pet get the virus?
The virus causing the disease COVID-19 was most probably transmitted from animals to humans at a market with live animals in China. The possible animal source of COVID-19 has not yet been confirmed but research is ongoing.
There are occasional reports that the infection can spread from humans to pets under certain circumstances, but the likelihood that this would occur is minute. The epidemic is driven by the spread of the virus between humans.
More information is available from the National Veterinary Institute, SVA (in Swedish).
Updated: 10/20/2020 2:30:15 PMOpen in new tab
- Do I need to clean my house or handle household waste in any particular way?
What is your advice regarding face masks?
We do not currently recommend face masks in public settings since the scientific evidence around the effectiveness of face masks in combatting the spread of infection is unclear. However, there may be situations where face masks can be useful despite the uncertain state of knowledge about the effects.
We will therefore, in dialogue with the County Medical Offices, decide on situations where recommendations to wear a face mask could be valuable at national or regional level. Examples of such situations could be a visit to the optician or when you cannot avoid using public transport even though it is crowded.
Face masks must always be seen as complementary to other recommendations: stay at home when you have symptoms, wash your hands regularly and keep at a distance from others.
Read more about face masks (in Swedish)
Updated: 10/20/2020 2:31:01 PMOpen in new tab
Why are countries acting differently over face masks?
The scientific evidence around the effectiveness of face masks in combatting the spread of infection is weak, which is why different countries have arrived at different recommendations.
Some countries have chosen to view face masks as a form of security and hope that universal use of face masks will reduce the risk of infection spreading from people who are in the incubation period, before the symptoms are apparent, or who have such mild or unspecific symptoms that they do not consider themselves ill.
The Public Health Agency of Sweden does not recommend the general use of face masks, as a face mask that itches or slips down below the nose may mean a person is regularly touching their mouth, eyes or nose with their hands, which can increase the risk of the infection spreading.
Use of a facemask may also encourage people with mild symptoms to go out into the community, which might increase the spread of infection.
The Public Health Agency of Sweden is constantly assessing the state of knowledge in this area and reviews new information from various sources.
Updated: 7/13/2020 12:46:38 PMOpen in new tab
What do I need to think about in terms of sexual relationships?
Our general guidelines state that people should maintain a physical distance from other people to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, particularly outside their immediate circles. Closeness, intimacy and sex promote well-being and a general good state of health. In a steady relationship, where people are already seeing each other and are close, sex is not precluded provided you or your partner/s are not showing any symptoms of illness. However, dating and casual sexual relationships with new partners put you at risk of being infected or of infecting others.
Updated: 7/13/2020 12:49:23 PMOpen in new tab
How to reduce the spread of COVID-19
What can I do to protect myself and others?
We all have a personal responsibility to do what we can in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
This is what you can do:
- Stay at home if you are ill. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 you should stay at home for at least seven days after falling ill including two days with no fever.
- You should get tested if your symptoms do not pass within 24 hours or if your symptoms do not have some other explanation, e.g. allergy or migraine. Read more on the website 1177.se for advice on sampling in your region. It is always the region that decides who should be tested, based on the regional conditions.
- Maintain good hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If handwashing facilities are not available, alcohol-based hand rub is an alternative. The alcohol-based hand rub should contain at least 60 % alcohol.
- Avoid touching you face (eyes, nose, mouth). Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or paper tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Maintain physical distance from other people, indoors and outdoors in places where people gather such as shops, museums, libraries, civic centres, bathing places, beaches, camping sites, open-air cafés and restaurants.
- Avoid social gatherings like parties, funerals, and weddings.
- Maintain physical distance from other people at sports grounds, in swimming baths, in gyms, and other exercise facilities. Avoid using public changing rooms.
- If possible, travel by other means than public transportation, e.g. by bicycle or walk.
- If you need to travel by public transport, it is preferable to choose an alternative where it is possible to book a seat in advance, e.g. train. We advise you to avoid any travel by public transport where you cannot book a seat in advance, e.g. trams, subway and local buses. If this is not possible, ensure physical distance from other people.
- Do not travel at rush hour unless necessary.
Updated: 9/22/2020 10:25:02 AMOpen in new tab
For how long should I stay at home?
If you have a confirmed COVID-19 infection you should stay at home for at least seven days after falling ill. You should be free from fever for two days and clearly feel well before returning to work or school. A dry cough and loss of smell and taste may remain but if you feel well otherwise and seven days have passed since you fell ill you can return to work, school or preschool.
If you have been tested without symptoms and received a positive test result, you must stay home for at least seven days after the sampling. Should you develop symptoms after the sampling, you may count from the day when symptoms appear and follow the recommendations above.
The same applies if you have been ill, but not with COVID-19: stay at home for as long as you are ill. You should clearly feel better and be free from fever for two days before returning to work or school.
If you develop mild symptoms that do not disappear within 24 hours or that do not have some other explanation, e.g. allergy, migraine or similar, you should get tested. If the symptoms remain and you are not tested, the same recommendation applies as to those who have received a positive test result (i.e. those who have COVID-19): Stay at home for at least seven days from the onset of the first symptoms. You should also have been free from fever the last two of those seven days. A dry cough and loss of smell and taste may remain but if you feel well otherwise and seven days have passed since you fell ill, you can return to work, school or preschool.
This advice will be updated continuously as we learn more about COVID-19.
Updated: 9/3/2020 1:48:37 PMOpen in new tab
Should I work from home even if I do not have any symptoms?
We recommend that as many people as possible continue to work from home this autumn.
As before, working from home must be chosen in agreement with the employer so that the operations are not negatively affected. For the employer, it is important that work from home be carried out with work environment aspects in mind.
Updated: 8/21/2020 2:57:35 PMOpen in new tab
How can we care for and protect people over the age of 70?
It is particularly important to protect older people from COVID-19.
You can arrange to see a relative who is 70 years or older under the right circumstances. Plan the meetings ahead, think about the risk of transmission in advance and take measures in order to reduce the risk.
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 have mild symptoms. COVID-19 may have the same symptoms as a regular cold, thus it is very important to be alert to any signs of illness.
Updated: 6/18/2020 11:46:42 AMOpen in new tab
I am 70 years old, how should I protect myself?
To avoid getting infected the Public Health Agency urges anyone 70 or older to limit close contacts with other people.
As from 13 June you can travel if you do not have any symptoms. Preferably, use your own means of transport or public transport where you can book a seat in advance.
You should avoid travelling by public transport, e.g. train, bus, tram or subway, visit supermarkets or other venues where many people gather at the same time. Instead, ask friends, family or neighbours to do your shopping, pick up medicines from the pharmacy, or run other errands.
Many people feel worried, insecure and lonely under these circumstances. Remember that this situation will remain for a limited time. Try to ease your mind by doing something you find enjoyable and stimulating. If you take a walk, maintain physical distance from other people. Keep in touch with friends and family via telephone, email or social media.
Updated: 10/20/2020 2:32:29 PMOpen in new tab
I’m 70; can I see my grandchildren and still avoid being infected?
We recommend that people aged 70 or over avoid infection by limiting their physical contact with other people. However, it is important that people get to see their nearest and dearest for their own well-being. Older people can meet friends and family, preferably outdoors, if everyone maintains a physical distance. There is much less risk of infection when you are outdoors.
It is important to remember that, even though children and young people do not seem to be the group driving the pandemic, children can still spread infection. When we meet children and young people it is often in the company of other adults, who may also be carriers.
Remember too that any close physical contact potentially risks spreading infection. This means it is very important to maintain a physical distance even when meeting people outdoors. As a benchmark, it is suggested that we keep about an arm’s length away from each other. It is also better to meet with just a few people at a time. Plan your meeting in advance and think about what you can do to reduce the risk of spreading the infection.
You can also keep in touch with your relatives and friends via the phone, computer and social media.
If you, your friends or members of your family test positive for antibodies, you might be freer to socialise. See the Q & A about what a positive antibody test could mean.
Updated: 7/13/2020 12:51:54 PMOpen in new tab
How far apart should people keep from one another?
There are currently no studies to show what precise distance is safe, but in view of how the infection spreads by droplets, a guideline might be no less than an arm’s length. Another reason why the Public Health Agency of Sweden is only giving an approximate measurement is that businesses such as restaurants and shops and other public spaces need a degree of flexibility to be able to operate.
It is important to be considerate and use good sense when we meet other people, which means we should keep at a distance from others in public places, both indoors and outdoors. Beginning 13 June anyone without symptoms or newly diagnosed COVID-19 is allowed to travel within Sweden. The decision is based on the current infection trend and a forecast of the effects of increased travel. However, it is of utmost importance to continue to take great personal responsibility and follow our recommendations to keep a distance from others e.g. at bathing places, beaches, camping sites and open-air cafés and restaurants.
The coronavirus is primarily transmitted person-to-person via droplets dispersed in the air when someone e.g. coughs, sneezes or talks. Studies on infections spread by droplet transmission show that the droplets fall down through the air quickly and do not generally travel more than an arm’s length.
Updated: 6/22/2020 5:13:13 PMOpen in new tab
What if I’ve recovered from COVID-19?
If you have had a COVID-19 infection confirmed by PCR-test or have had a positive antibodies-test you have the possibility to socialise with others, even inside, even if you or the other person/persons belong to an at-risk group. Please observe that you still have to make an individual risk-assessment before you meet others and that the general public recommendations have to be followed.
It is unclear how long immunity against COVID-19 lasts after an infection. Based on current knowledge there is reason to believe that the immunity will last up to 6 months if you have developed antibodies against the virus causing COVID-19.
Updated: 10/20/2020 2:33:04 PMOpen in new tab
What do I need to do if I get COVID-19 symptoms (children and adults)?
Children and adults who feel unwell should always stay away from work, school, pre-school and other activities. They should also avoid close contact with other people.
During the pandemic, it is important for us all to take extra care to avoid transmitting the virus in the community. The Public Health Agency of Sweden has therefore produced special instructions as to when children and adults can go back to work, school, pre-school and other activities.
For both children and adults, if you get symptoms that are short-lived – for example, you feel slightly ill one day but are fine the next day – you do not need to take a COVID-19 test. However, you should stay at home for a period of 48 hours without symptoms to make sure that you are not ill. You can then go back to work, school, pre-school and other activities.
If the symptoms have a clear cause that you are familiar with, and cannot be attributed to COVID-19, you do not need to stay at home. Typical causes might be migraines or allergies.
If the symptoms are still present after 24 hours, visit 1177.se to see what the arrangements are for COVID-19 testing in your region (children of pre-school age are rarely tested). Decisions about which people are tested in the region are made depending on the health care situation, i.e. the current status of COVID-19 infection and other infections. While you are waiting for the results of your test, you should stay at home and avoid close contact with other people.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19
If you have had a test that shows that you have COVID-19, you must stay at home for at least seven days, starting from the day you developed symptoms. If for some reason you have been tested despite not having symptoms, the seven days start from the day you had the test. You must also have been feeling well and had a normal temperature for at least 48 hours. If you still have mild symptoms such as a slight cough, cold symptoms or loss of smell and taste but otherwise feel fine, you can go back to work, school, pre-school and other activities if at least seven days have passed since you became unwell.
There are special procedures for severe cases that have required hospital care.
If you need medical advice, please call 1177.
It is important that you recognise that COVID-19 is a disease that is dangerous to public health and to society under the terms of the Communicable Diseases Act, which means everyone must comply with the directions given to prevent the spread of infection. Details of the directions are available as part of regional contract tracing procedures.
If you have tested negative for COVID-19
You can go back to work, school, pre-school or other activities as soon as you feel well enough and your temperature is normal. Comply with the sickness absence procedures at your work, school or pre-school or relating to other activities.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms but have not been tested
If you have symptoms that disappear quickly, and have no other known cause (such as migraine or allergies), you should stay at home until you have had no symptoms for at least 48 hours before going back to work, school, pre-school or other activities (see also above). This is to make sure that your symptoms really were only short-lived.
If for some reason you have not been tested for COVID-19 even though you have had symptoms for a few days that have no other known cause, you can go back to work, school, pre-school or other activity seven days after your symptoms started if you have been feeling well and have had a normal temperature for at least 48 hours. This also applies if you still have minor symptoms such as a slight cough, cold symptoms or loss of smell or taste.
Updated: 9/25/2020 11:48:41 AMOpen in new tab
Communicable disease surveillance and control
Must I follow general guidelines or a recommendation issued by the Public Health Agency of Sweden?
Yes and no.
General guidelines are not binding, they are a recommendation as to what to do in order to comply with a law, an ordinance or a regulation.
You do not have to do exactly as the guidelines say. However, if you decide to do something differently, you must be able to show that you are complying with the binding legislation. The Public Health Agency of Sweden has produced general guidelines on COVID-19 and also on swimming facilities and indoor noise.
A recommendation is neither binding nor linked to binding legislation (unlike general guidelines). However, a recommendation is based on all the knowledge available on a particular subject, which means it is a good idea to follow a recommendation issued by an authority.
Updated: 5/29/2020 5:45:09 PMOpen in new tab
How does the Public Health Agency of Sweden 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 to be analysed by the Public Health Agency on a daily basis.
Other sources of data are random samples from patients 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.
Collected data provides a background for decisions about interventions made with the aim of minimising 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.
The Public Health Agency issues a weekly report showing the number of COVID-19 cases, beginning 20 March 2020.
Updated: 5/14/2020 10:44:18 AMOpen in new tab
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 is a measure taken in order to enhance preparedness in Sweden, permitting interventions including quarantine, isolation, health screenings on arrival in Sweden and lockdown of areas.
Depending on the intervention, the decision is made either by the county medical officer or by the Public Health Agency.
Updated: 5/14/2020 10:46:12 AMOpen in new tab
What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is an investigation of how an infected person might have contracted the disease (e.g. COVID-19), including the identification of other people who may be infected or have been exposed to the virus.
Contact tracing can be a question of vital importance to prevent further spread or large outbreaks of the disease.
Updated: 5/14/2020 10:46:52 AMOpen in new tab
- Is there a vaccine against COVID-19?
- When will there be a vaccine against COVID-19 in Sweden?
Will a vaccine stop the pandemic?
If and when we get a vaccine that is approved for use in Sweden, it can be one of several ways to achieve protection against COVID-19. But a vaccine will not be the only solution. Even if a vaccine becomes available to us, we will need to think about protecting each other from infection by continuing to stay at home if we have symptoms, keeping a distance, maintaining good hand hygiene and working from home whenever possible.
Updated: 10/23/2020 3:26:47 PMOpen in new tab
What is the Public Health Agency of Sweden’s responsibility when it comes to vaccination against COVID-19?
At the Public Health Agency of Sweden, we are working to develop recommendations on how a vaccination can be offered to those who will benefit from it. Our work also includes making sure that a vaccine can be delivered safely and that vaccinations are properly registered when administered, so that they can be followed up in terms of efficacy and safety. We are collaborating with many other actors and a first interim report on a national vaccination plan was submitted to the government on 31 August 2020.
Updated: 10/23/2020 3:27:27 PMOpen in new tab
Who will be offered vaccination against COVID-19?
Those most in need of help to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 will be given top priority. This also applies to staff working in the fields of care of older people, health and medical care and other care staff who are working closely with people at increased risk of serious illness.
Which groups are given priority will be determined by the state of knowledge available when the vaccine arrives, i.e. how safe and effective the vaccine is judged to be in the groups to be vaccinated.
Updated: 10/23/2020 3:28:09 PMOpen in new tab
Will everyone be offered vaccination?
It is not possible to decide until there is a ready-made vaccine approved for use in Sweden. Those most in need of help to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 will be given top priority. This also applies to staff working in the fields of care of older people, health and medical care and other care staff who are working closely with people at increased risk of serious illness.
The assessment will be based on the knowledge that exists about the disease at the time.
Updated: 10/23/2020 3:28:30 PMOpen in new tab
Who decides which COVID-19 vaccines will be offered in Sweden?
The Swedish Government has decided that Sweden will participate in the European Commission’s joint procurement of vaccines. Depending on which vaccines are approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the Government, in consultation with us at the Public Health Agency of Sweden, will decide which vaccines Sweden ultimately brings in. This will happen later, when more knowledge exists about the vaccines in question. In consultation with other authorities, we will draw up recommendations on how vaccines should be offered to different people and groups in the population.
Updated: 10/23/2020 3:28:49 PMOpen in new tab
Can I decide for myself whether to get vaccinated?
Yes. All vaccinations are voluntary in Sweden, including vaccination against COVID-19. If you are offered a vaccination against COVID-19, you will be able decide for yourself, based on the available knowledge of the disease and the vaccine. You will also be given information about the vaccine before you need to make a decision.
Updated: 10/23/2020 3:29:10 PMOpen in new tab
Testing and treatment
Who should be tested for a current COVID-19 infection?
Testing for COVID-19 is always organised in accordance with regional and local guidelines. The Public Health Agency of Sweden recommends adults and school-aged children (including children in preschool class) with symptoms of COVID-19 to take a PCR test in order to find out if they have a current COVID-19 infection.
Preschool-aged children should be tested in a situation where the number of cases is increasing locally.
We also recommend testing to take place in cases of contact tracing or screening. The test should be taken even if you don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19.
In a situation where the number of suspected cases exceeds the capacity of healthcare services for testing, a special prioritisation is recommended. For more information: Provtagningsindikation för covid-19 (in Swedish).
The Government has commissioned the Public Health Agency of Sweden to produce a national strategy for increased testing and analysis of COVID-19 (in Swedish), with more information about the recommendations regarding testing.
Updated: 9/2/2020 3:51:45 PMOpen in new tab
What different types of tests are there?
There are two different types of tests for COVID-19. One test can show if you have a current infection and the other shows if you have had a COVID-19 infection and have developed antibodies.
A PCR-test shows if you have an active coronavirus infection or have recently had an infection with COVID-19. This test detects the virus’s genetic material. The test is taken in the early stages of the infection.
An antibody test shows if a person has previously been infected with COVID-19 and has developed antibodies in response to the virus. It can show if a person entirely or partly has developed a protection against COVID-19 after an infection. We recommend that antibody tests be taken by health care providers.
There is a type of antibody self test available. It is taken and analysed by the individual at home. The Public Health Agency advises against using self tests for COVID-19.
Updated: 9/2/2020 2:51:04 PMOpen in new tab
I’ve tested positive for antibodies. What are the implications?
For anyone who has no symptoms, the presence of IgG antibodies means they are less at risk of being infected and thus, there is less of a risk that they will pass on the infection to other people.
If you have no symptoms, a positive test result allows you greater opportunities to socialise with other people, even if you are in an at-risk group or are aged 70 or over. In the first place, this could mean socialising with people you are close to, such as friends and family, both indoors and outside.
We must each always make our own individual assessment of the situation and continue to follow the general recommendations for reducing the spread of infection in the community:
- Stay at home if you are feeling unwell.
- Wash your hands regularly. The virus can be transferred to your hands when you touch things. Therefore, you should wash your hands often. That will get rid of the virus. This reduces the risk of the infection being spread.
- Maintain a physical distance from people outside your social circle.
- At work: Follow guidelines and recommendations in relation to personal protective equipment and hygiene procedures in health and medical care and social care.
To produce reliable results, antibody tests need to be extremely effective. When undergoing an antibody test, it is important to consider its intended use. The person carrying out the test must provide you with information about the implications of your test result.
Updated: 7/13/2020 12:50:53 PMOpen in new tab
Is it possible to have had COVID-19 but not have antibodies?
Not everyone who has had COVID-19 develops antibodies. There will be some who develop antibodies, while others do not develop antibodies but instead an immune response through the T cells. Those who have developed antibodies are most probably protected for six months after having received the test result. It is not yet clear what a T cell response to the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) means in terms of protection against reinfection, and research is ongoing.
Analysing T cell responses to COVID-19 is more complicated than analysing antibodies. For the time being, therefore, this is not being done routinely for individuals but only for research purposes.
Updated: 9/2/2020 3:50:32 PMOpen in new tab
Can I be around others if I have had COVID-19?
You can be around other people if you have had a COVID-19 infection that has been confirmed by a PCR-test, or if you have a positive test result from an antibody test. This applies regardless of whether you, or the people around you, belong to a risk group. You always have to do your own risk assessment before seeing others. You should continue to follow the general guidelines and take precautionary measures in the community and in the workplace.
Health care staff must continue to follow hygiene routines and routines regarding protective equipment in health care settings.
Updated: 10/1/2020 4:39:45 PMOpen in new tab
How many people are ill from COVID-19 in Sweden?
The current number of confirmed cases, in Sweden (in Swedish) and globally, is displayed on our website. The figures change constantly, as more people seek healthcare and are diagnosed with the disease. However, there is a number of unrecorded cases of infected individuals who have not sought healthcare and therefore have not been tested. How large the number of unrecorded cases is depends on the strategy and test capacity of each country. In Sweden the testing has increased substantially during April, May and June, in accordance with the National Strategy. Most of the regions offer and encourage everyone with symptoms to get tested. The more extensive the testing is, the lower the number of unrecorded cases.
Read more in the weekly report about COVID-19 (in Swedish).
Updated: 7/15/2020 12:52:17 PMOpen in new tab
- How many people have died from COVID-19 in Sweden?
What are the rules for major events?
As of 29 March, the Swedish Government has decided to ban all public gatherings and events 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.
Examples of public gatherings and events are demonstrations, seminars, religious gatherings, theatre performances and concerts. Sports events, dances and fairs are other examples.
An exhaustive list of situations 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).
Updated: 6/22/2020 11:55:08 AMOpen in new tab
What is the recommendation for private events such as weddings, parties and funerals?
On 1 April, the Public Health Agency issued regulations and general guidelines regarding our shared responsibility to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Everyone has a personal responsibility to prevent transmission. You should avoid any large social gathering such as parties, weddings, funerals and other events attracting many people at the same time.
Funerals should not be cancelled since it is an important part of the grieving process. Plan for a smaller farewell ceremony instead. The Swedish church have more information on how to proceed with funerals and farewell ceremonies.
You can find information on funerals and farewell ceremonies within other traditions than the Swedish church at The Swedish Agency for Support to Faith Communities.
It is also of utmost importance to keep a distance from others at e.g. sports grounds, gyms, shopping centers, public transportation etc. People older than 70 should limit all close contacts with others.
Prior to all events and public gatherings, 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).
Updated: 10/20/2020 2:40:30 PMOpen in new tab
What rules apply to operators of public transport?
According to the general guidelines published by the Public Health Agency, public transport operators should:
- provide enough services to avoid crowding,
- limit the number of passengers per vehicle, and
- inform their passengers about how to minimise the risk of disease transmission.
Updated: 6/22/2020 1:33:17 PMOpen in new tab
Can sports and exercise activities continue?
As from 14 June activities such as sports games, matches and tournaments without spectators will be permitted for all ages. The decision applies to all professional sports, at all levels, for both men and women. However, there are certain conditions to take into account. Tournaments should
- primarily be held outdoors
- comply with the legislation in the Public Order Act chapter 2, section 1-3 §§ regarding public gatherings which are limited to 50 people. Further information is available from the Swedish Police (in Swedish).
- limit the number of spectators and avoid crowding
- only permit close contact considered unavoidable in order to be able to practise the respective sport.
It is important that both participants and spectators are free of any symptoms.
For all other exercise and sports activities the same rules as before are applicable, i.e. these activities can continue, but the one responsible for the activity must take action to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
You are allowed to travel within Sweden in connection with sports games, tournaments and other sports activities. However, it is of utmost importance to keep a distance from others and to follow the general guidelines concerning travel within Sweden.
For further information: New general guidelines regarding travel in Sweden this summer. Nya allmänna råd inför sommarens resor (in Swedish)
General guidelines for all sports and exercise activities are:
- If you are ill, even with only mild symptoms, you should not participate in any activities. You should remain at home until symptoms disappear and an additional two days thereafter.
- If you fall ill during exercise you should go home immediately.
- Do not share water bottles, protective gear or other equipment that might transmit saliva.
- Wipe any exercise equipment used by many people, such as gym machines, with a disinfectant, after use.
- Maintain good hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If handwashing facilities are not available, alcohol-based hand rub is an alternative. The alcohol-based hand rub should contain at least 60 % alcohol.
- Keep a physical distance from other people at sports grounds, baths, gyms and other sports facilities. Avoid changing clothes in public changing rooms.
Important links for the organiser of sport events:
- General advice on avoiding transmission of COVID-19 during exercise: Information till idrottsföreningar och träningsanläggningar om covid-19 (in Swedish)
- Sports clubs should do a risk assessment before arranging an activity and take precautionary actions.
See risk assessment tool (in Swedish)
Download risk assessment tool (PDF, 157 kB) (in Swedish)
- You are welcome to print our poster with general guidelines in order to avoid transmission and put it in a suitable place. See affisch med våra allmänna råd för att undvika smittspridning (in Swedish)
Updated: 6/29/2020 4:52:56 PMOpen in new tab
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 crowding 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, they are not allowed to 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 minimising the risk of disease transmission. This can for example include local guidelines about access to hand washing facilities (soap and running water) for staff and guests.
Updated: 5/18/2020 1:50:08 PMOpen in new tab
What should employers, organisations and businesses think about?
Businesses and organisations in Sweden must take note of the recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Sweden or County Medical Officers and do what they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This means that:
- Shops and shopping centres must do what they can to limit the number of people on their premises at any one time. They should come up with alternative arrangements for checkout queues and advise customers how far apart they need to stand.
- Employers can also ease the situation for their employees by:
– supporting employees who are on sick leave. Anyone confirmed positive with COVID-19 should stay at home for at least seven days after falling ill. Before returning to work one should have completely recovered and have had at least two days with no fever.
– adapting the workplace so that staff are not at risk of infection
– arranging for the staff to be able to keep a physical distance from each other
– making it possible for staff to regularly wash their hands with water and soap or use alcohol-based hand rub
– making it possible for staff to work at home where possible
– adjusting working hours so that staff can avoid travelling in the rush hour
- Associations and clubs should postpone annual meetings and other similar meetings if possible, or hold meetings digitally.
Updated: 10/20/2020 2:42:22 PMOpen in new tab
Can we run camps for children as usual?
Physical activity is good for public health and it is important that children are able to continue with their normal activities as much as possible.
Camps and similar activities for children and young people (born 2002 or later) can take place in the immediate locality. Organisers of camps must ensure they reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. They must also carry out a risk assessment of their various activities and put the necessary precautionary measures in place.
Please bear the following in mind:
- Training and other activities should take place outdoors if possible
- Where possible, divide participants into small groups
- Increase the distance between beds and between seats in dining rooms and other spaces if possible
- Minimise the number of activities involving a lot of people, e.g. camp leaving events or performances for parents and visitors
- Make sure there are facilities allowing people to wash their hands frequently
- Anyone who is unwell must stay at home, even if their symptoms are mild.
- Make sure that there are arrangements in place so that anyone who becomes ill can get home
For further information please see:
FAQ regarding sports and other exercise activities
Updated: 10/20/2020 2:43:30 PMOpen in new tab
Information to travellers
What are the recommendations for travel within Sweden?
Anyone without symptoms or newly diagnosed COVID-19 is allowed to travel within Sweden.
- If possible, travel by other means than public transportation, e.g. by bicycle or walk. If you need to travel by public transport, it is preferable to choose an alternative where it is possible to book a seat in advance, e.g. train.
- We advise you to avoid any travel by public transport where you cannot book a seat in advance, e.g. trams, subway and local buses. If this is not possible, ensure physical distance from other people.
- If you are ill you should not travel at all. People belonging to a risk group particularly need to consider whether they should travel or receive visitors. Those belonging to risk groups are primarily people who are 70 or over, and people with an underlying disease such as cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, or diabetes.
- 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.
More information about travelling in Sweden (krisinformation.se)
Updated: 9/8/2020 6:46:17 PMOpen in new tab
- What are the recommendations when using public transport or planning to travel?
What is the advice regarding international travel?
The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs issues general advice regarding travel to other countries (in Swedish).
For updated information, please visit the Ministry’s web page about the coronavirus and about the current situation in other countries. For questions please contact the consular department at +46 8 405 92 00, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Public Health Agency does not issue travel 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 on 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 on travel to different countries. For advice regarding planned journeys, please contact your travel agency or insurance company if you have questions about cancellations.
Updated: 8/31/2020 9:20:01 AMOpen in new tab
What do hotels, youth hostels and campsites need to do?
All organisations in Sweden must take note of the recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Sweden or County Medical Officers and put measures in place to reduce the risk of infection. This may mean limiting the number of guests who can be on the premises at any one time. Hotels, youth hostels and campsites should also make arrangements to avoid queues, such as at check-in, and advise how far apart customers should stand. They should also ensure that staff and visitors are able to wash their hands with soap and water and provide hand sanitiser. Arrangements at different sites may vary due to differences between them, for example in terms of size or location.
If there is a restaurant, bar, café or similar facility at a particular venue, it will be covered by the new rules for restaurants and bars. Where that is the case, the County Medical Officer may consult with the municipality and take a decision to close those parts of the venue if they do not meet the requirements.
Beginning 13 June anyone without symptoms or newly diagnosed COVID-19 is allowed to travel within Sweden. The decision is based on the current infection trend and a forecast of the effects of increased travel. However, it is of utmost importance to continue to take great personal responsibility and follow our recommendations to keep a distance from others e.g. at bathing places, beaches, camping sites and open-air cafés and restaurants.
Read more here:
Updated: 6/29/2020 4:54:18 PMOpen in new tab
What applies regarding travel to Sweden from abroad?
At present, people travelling to Sweden will receive information on what applies in Sweden at the border crossing. Swedish laws and recommendations apply to everyone who is staying in Sweden:
There is no quarantine obligation for travellers to Sweden.
For more information on how the ordinance on a temporary entry ban to Sweden is to be interpreted and which exemptions apply, please see Questions and answers – temporary entry ban to the European Union via Sweden.
Updated: 8/26/2020 11:00:28 AMOpen in new tab
Where can I get a travel certificate?
Some countries require you to provide a certificate proving that you do not have COVID-19 before they will let you enter. Other countries require a certificate before they will let their citizens return home without a period of quarantine.
See information about the companies offering testing that includes a travel certificate; the list is updated continuously. You must pay the costs of any certificate yourself.
The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs has put together advice and instructions on travelling to and from other countries.
Sweden’s embassies will give country-specific information about travel aimed at Swedish travellers.
Updated: 8/12/2020 9:45:36 AMOpen in new tab
COVID-19 and children
How are children affected by COVID-19?
Children represent only a small proportion of the reported cases of COVID-19 in Sweden. Symptoms are generally milder in children compared with adults and children are less likely to become seriously ill. Available knowledge shows that transmission between children is limited and transmission in schools is very rare.
Read more: COVID-19 in children and young people – a knowledge compilation (in Swedish).
Updated: 8/17/2020 1:36:26 PMOpen in new tab
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 or an affected general condition (COVID-19 or other illness) the vaccination should, as always, be postponed.
Updated: 5/14/2020 11:14:57 AMOpen in new tab
Why are schools and pre-schools not closed in Sweden?
The Public Health Agency does not currently consider it necessary to close all schools in Sweden. There are no scientific evidence indicating that such an intervention would have any significant impact on the pandemic, nor has any major transmission of COVID-19 in schools been reported.
Closing schools and pre-schools would have a negative impact on society. For example, essential workers to the public (e.g. healthcare staff) would need to stay at home with their children. It could also put vulnerable groups, such as grandparents, at risk if they help out with childcare.
School is also a place of safety and stability for many children. Before closing a school, there must be plans made for alternative places where the children should go instead. However, it is of utmost importance that staff and children who have any symptoms of illness stay at home.
The Swedish Parliament has passed a bill (2020:148) allowing temporary closure of schools and pre-schools due to extraordinary events, making it possible for the Government or the head of a school to close schools under particular circumstances. There is also a regulation (2020:115) regarding the provision of education for pupils during a school closure.
Updated: 5/18/2020 1:54:46 PMOpen in new tab
Talking to children about the new coronavirus
In times of insecurity and unrest, children can be affected in different ways. They may worry about their own or their family members’ health, death, parents losing their jobs, financial problems for their family, or that they will not be allowed to go to school. As an adult, is it important to listen and provide support if children want to talk about what is happening in society.
The WHO provides guidance on how to support children in matters related to COVID-19. Information in Swedish is available from Krisinformation.se, BRIS (Children's Rights in Society), and Rädda barnen (Save the children).
Updated: 5/14/2020 11:20:34 AMOpen in new tab
When can pre-school children with minor symptoms that could be a sign of COVID-19 be at school and when should they be at home?
If a child attending pre-school or being looked after by a childminder becomes unwell, they must stay at home for at least 48 hours after they have gotten better. Sometimes children of this age (1 to 6 years) have mild problems that last only a short time and are not a sign of illness. When this happens, there is no need for them to stay away from school or their childminder. For example, they may cough once or twice or have a runny nose after they have been outdoors, i.e. minor problems that quickly pass. Staff should wait for a bit and see if it looks as though there is a continuing problem before sending the child home.
Children who have been away from pre-school for seven days due to an infection and have subsequently recovered and feel well can return to pre-school even if they still have mild symptoms such as slight cold symptoms or a cough. It is not uncommon for someone who has had a cold to have a sniffle or a cough for a while afterwards, sometimes for several weeks. However, this does not prevent them from going to pre-school.
All the above applies if no COVID-19 test has been taken. Children of pre-school age (1 to 6 years) do not need to be tested for COVID-19 when they are ill unless a doctor or nurse think it necessary.
Updated: 9/25/2020 11:47:16 AMOpen in new tab
Concern and mental health
I am worried about the new coronavirus, how can I handle my feelings?
We all react differently during difficult times. Feelings of stress, anxiety, or fear are natural responses to a crisis. If you feel very worried or have sleeping problems, there are some things you can try do which might help you cope with your feelings:
- Talk to friends or family about your feelings and don’t hesitate to ask them for support.
- Use reliable sources of information about COVID-19.
- Limit the time you spend reading news and social media.
- Keep your daily routines as much as possible, and do things you find enjoyable and relaxing.
- Try to get fresh air, and stay physically active.
The WHO also provide advice on how to cope with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Updated: 5/18/2020 1:34:27 PMOpen in new tab