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Problem solving provides hope in virus outbreak

Without a doubt, the novel virus is proving to be a difficult test for us all. At LTH we are prepared to do even more now that society is under stress and we welcome questions from, for example, Region Skåne or Skåne University Hospital, Viktor Öwall, dean of LTH, writes in a letter to all LTH employees.

– Publicerad den 2 April 2020

Ensam student i A-huset på LTH
We need to be smart and careful in our contact with each other. People who are not concerned for themselves can still care for others, Viktor Öwall writes. In a separate blog post he will soon turn to students at LTH. Photo: Håkan Röjder

This is an extremely exceptional time in the world and at LTH, a time in which a novel virus is forcing us to change our habits and work methods, rapidly and radically. Therefore, once more, I wish to thank you for your fantastic work. 

Many people are worried and, of course, our thoughts are first and foremost with those personally affected or those whose friends and family are affected. Together, we must all protect our elderly and those in risk groups, we all have these people in our lives. Stay home at the first sign of symptoms! Personally, I take my body temperature every morning, which I have not done for many years. We all need to change our habits so we can get through this together! 

I have seen many excellent
examples of rapid transition in education and assessment. Is there a negative impact on quality? In the short term, I am convinced the answer is yes. However, I believe we can turn what currently seems to be something very negative into a lesson in how we can get better at digitisation. I have already learnt a lot about how to carry out digital meetings in a constructive way. When this is over, let us all learn and develop from this. 

Public authorities, the government and Lund University are regularly issuing new directives. LTH needs to adapt accordingly. Therefore, the management works in a specific coronavirus group on monitoring the matter and ensuring that different changes can be carried out.

At the LTH, there is an evident desire to help when the society is under stress. Initiatives such as the gathering of protective equipment for Skåne University Hospital, the production of hand sanitiser in Kemihuset and the volunteer manufacturing of protective visors within the framework of X-Lab (our makerspace for students) will hopefully have others following suit.

At LTH, we are prepared to do even more and welcome questions from, for example, the regional management or Skåne University Hospital. LTH and Lund University have 40 000 students and approximately 8 000 staff. We are to be viewed as a significant community stakeholder!

If you are working on an initiative, please send an email to me and to the vice dean for collaboration and innovation at LTH, Charlotta Johnsson.

At LTH, we will continue to take responsibility and to lend a hand. Of course, we all need to demonstrate solidarity, not least with the elderly and the risk groups, by:

  • Following the advice from public authorities 
  • Registering for sick leave or working from home following an agreement with a manager when experiencing cold symptoms
  • Talking to your line manager if you belong to a risk group or have other specific needs in this situation 

You will find Lund University's information on the coronavirus here

Finally, I would like to get a bit personal. There is still a lot that is unclear about the coronavirus itself. However, without a doubt, the novel virus is proving to be a difficult test for us all and particularly for the healthcare sector and staff, who are on the frontline as many fall ill simultaneously.

Should we be concerned? Yes, we should. As I mentioned previously, especially for our elderly and those in risk groups. That is why we need to listen to the experts. We need to be smart and careful in our contact with each other. People who are not concerned for themselves can still care for others.

Personally, I am particularly worried about the long-term consequences of the pandemic; for example, how will work opportunities, welfare and the development of democracy be affected?

Franklin D Roosevelt said, in his inauguration speech in January 1933, when the depression had affected the world and the USA: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Fear (aside from the virus itself) could turn out to be our worst enemy.

Rather than being paralysed by fear, it is better to look ahead and focus on what we ourselves can contribute to protect the vulnerable and reduce both the spread of infection and the negative societal consequences. The spirit and problem-solving skills here at LTH provide light and hope! 

Viktor Öwall

Dean of LTH


I am currently writing a letter to our students about the crisis and what I hope they will think about in challenging and difficult times. Please remember that the management team would like to hear about your initiatives. Please write to: viktor.owall@lth.lu.se and charlotta.johnsson@lth.lu.se