Student parties linked to coronavirus outbreaks in Swedish cities

Student parties linked to coronavirus outbreaks in Swedish cities
File photo of a party not linked to any of the incidents in the article. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB Scanpix/TT
More than 60 students at Mälardalen University, central Sweden, have been confirmed infected with the coronavirus, in an outbreak linked by university officials to a start-of-term party.

At Mälardalen University, 64 students have tested positive for coronavirus as of Tuesday morning.

The spread of the virus began among economics students after unofficial parties for first-years were held at the start of the semester, Swedish media report. Many of them live in the city of Västerås.

“The whole thing is deeply unfortunate,” Malin Gunnarsson, head of administration at Mälardalen University, told local radio station P4 Västmanland.

The infected students will now be taught remotely for two weeks. The region's infectious disease unit is urging everyone who attended the party, or have come into contact with people who attended the party, to stay at home.

In the city of Linköping, regional newspaper Corren reports that at least ten students at Linköping University who attended another party have tested positive for coronavirus.

According to the region's infectious disease unit, the party organisers had taken steps to prevent crowding, but the contagious virus still managed to spread at the party. Doctors are now urging the university to step up their work to avoid similar incidents.

“The university can't decide what students do in their spare time, but university management can come out with information and remind them of the Public Health Agency's recommendations,” infectious disease doctor Britt Åkerlind told Corren.

(article continues below)

See also on The Local:

These incidents are similar to the kind of cluster outbreaks that Swedish health authorities have warned of this autumn, as more people return to university, school and their workplace – although the recommendations for workplaces are still that people should work from home if the nature of their work allows.

Swedish universities moved to distance teaching during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in spring, but many are now back to on-campus teaching, or a mix of campus-based and online classes.

A large survey of 16,694 coronavirus tests taken by 9,907 staff and students at Umeå University in northern Sweden at the start of the semester showed that only six of the participants were coronavirus-positive.

Sweden failed to contain the pandemic as much as its Nordic neighbours did in spring, and after a sharp drop in new cases reported over the summer, the latest figures show they are on the rise again.

Health and safety guidelines still state that anyone with symptoms should stay at home, and that everyone should observe social distancing, wash their hands and work from home if possible.

Unlike many countries, Sweden has not issued official recommendations to wear face masks in crowded spaces, but medical university Karolinska Institutet at the start of the autumn term recommended its staff and students to wear face masks in certain situations on campus.

Swedish vocabulary

outbreak – (ett) utbrott

party – (en) fest

spread of infection – (en) smittspridning

crowding – trängsel

semester – (en) termin


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.