The Public Health Agency of Sweden
Updated 21 September 2021

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.

Vaccination

For questions and answers about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination, please visit krisinformation.se.

Testing

  • Listen

    You do not usually need to get tested again if you know that you have had COVID-19 in the previous six months. However, you should stay at home until you feel well. You might have received a positive COVID-19 test result through a PCR test, an antigen test or an antibody test. In some cases, a doctor might still advise you to get tested.

    If you are ill and have received a negative PCR test, you do not have to get re-tested while you are ill.

    If you are ill and have received a negative antigen test, you might have to be re-tested. You will receive information about what to do when you get your test result. If you do not get this information, you should ask the responsible doctor about this.

    If you have previously tested negative for COVID-19 and fall ill again, with symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested again.

    Read more: COVID-19 testing

    Updated: 9/17/2021 3:16:58 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    There are tests that can show if you have a current infection and tests that show if you have already had a COVID-19 infection and have developed antibodies.

    PCR-tests and rapid antigen tests show if you have an active COVID-19 infection. The PCR test is used today on a large scale. It detects the virus’s genetic material. An antigen test shows if there are viral proteins in the sample.

    An antibody test shows if a person has previously been infected with COVID-19 and has developed antibodies in response to the virus. An antibody test is taken 2–3 weeks after falling ill. We recommend that antibody tests be taken by health care providers.

    Read more about when to get tested at COVID-19 and testing.

    Updated: 9/21/2021 1:15:07 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    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 test in order to find out if they have a current COVID-19 infection.

    We also recommend testing to take place in cases of contact tracing. The test can then 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, the regions can decide on temporary adjustments to the regulations for testing.

    Read more: Recommendations for people entering Sweden from abroad

    Updated: 9/17/2021 3:17:33 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    A positive PCR test result shows that you have a current COVID-19 infection, or that you recently have had an infection. The same applies to a positive antigen test result. People who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection that has been confirmed with a PCR test or an antigen test are considered to run a very low risk of being re-infected for at least six months.

    If you have received a positive PCR or antigen test result, it is important to stay at home and follow the rules of conduct that you will get from your doctor, so that you don’t infect others.

    Antigen tests are also available as self-tests. This means that you take the test yourself and read the result. If the self-test shows that you have COVID-19, you need to self-isolate and contact health care without delay. This can be done by booking a follow-up PCR test. You can see what procedures apply in your region by visiting 1177.se.

    Updated: 9/21/2021 1:16:02 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    Even if you have received a positive test result, you have to continue to follow the general guidelines to reduce the spread of infection in the community.

    Based on the knowledge we have today, we assess that virtually everyone who has developed IgG antibodies has a protection against reinfection with serious symptoms and that the protection lasts at least six months from the time of infection.

    Updated: 9/17/2021 3:18:12 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    Not everyone who has had COVID-19 develops antibodies. The protection you get from having had COVID-19 may vary from person to person. This depends on factors such as the extent of the infection and the person’s immune response. Some people have developed such high levels of antibodies to the disease so they can be measured in a blood test. Even if some people who have had COVID-19 do not develop measurable levels of antibodies in the blood, they have, in most cases, developed some kind of immune response to the virus.

    Updated: 9/21/2021 1:16:27 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    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: 9/17/2021 3:18:37 PM

    Direct link to the question

The virus and the illness

  • Listen

    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:

    • Cough
    • Fever
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Runny nose
    • Blocked nose
    • Sore throat
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Muscle and joint pain
    • Loss of smell and taste
    • Diarrhoea

    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.

    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: 9/17/2021 3:19:21 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    COVID-19 is mainly transmitted between people via respiratory droplets or secretions from the respiratory tract. Transmission via droplets happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or breathes out and the droplets reach mucous tissue in someone's eyes, nose, or mouth.

    There might be places and situations where the risk of transmission is higher, even if we keep a distance from each other, e.g. in cramped areas with bad ventilation.

    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 low.

    Updated: 9/17/2021 3:19:52 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    The incubation period, i.e. the time between getting infected and developing symptoms, seems to be between 2 and 14 days.

    Most people develop symptoms after around 5 days, but individual cases may deviate from this pattern.

    Updated: 5/18/2020 1:32:40 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    If you have had COVID-19, you have some protection against reinfection. This means that you are less likely to become infected and seriously ill, and less likely to infect others if you are exposed to the virus again. Over time, the protection that you get after an infection wanes and there is an increased risk of getting infected again. At present, we estimate that the protection after having had COVID-19 lasts at least six months from the time of infection.

    Updated: 9/17/2021 3:20:36 PM

    Direct link to the question

Spread of infection

How to reduce the spread of COVID-19

  • Listen

    Updated: 9/17/2021 3:24:58 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    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: 9/17/2021 3:25:49 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    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 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    Updated: 9/25/2020 11:48:41 AM

    Direct link to the question

COVID-19 and children

  • Listen

    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 rare.

    Read more: COVID-19 in children and young people – a knowledge compilation (in Swedish).

    Updated: 9/17/2021 3:44:34 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    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. 

    Updated: 9/17/2021 3:45:48 PM

    Direct link to the question
  • Listen

    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: 9/17/2021 3:46:02 PM

    Direct link to the question

Concern and mental health

  • Listen

    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: 9/17/2021 3:46:46 PM

    Direct link to the question