Covid infections jump almost 10%, despite huge drop in tests
The number of Covid-19 infections rose almost 10% in Luxembourg last week compared to the previous seven days, indicating that the virus is not receding, despite a huge drop in tests after the government scrapped the Large Scale Testing programme.
590 people tested positive for the virus between September 20 and 26, a rise of 9% from the previous week, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Ministry of Health. A total of 132 people tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday alone, the ministry also said on Wednesday.
The jump in cases comes despite a huge reduction in the number of tests carried out, explained by the scrapping of the Large Scale Testing programme in mid-September.
There were just over 13,000 PCR tests carried out last week, compared to almost 29,000 the previous week. The PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) test, which takes a sample from the nose or mouth, is widely accepted as being the most reliable indicator of whether someone has Covid-19.
Luxembourg can “no longer justify that the general public pays for PCR [tests] for people who do not want to get vaccinated", Bettel said when announcing the end of the scheme. The move is designed to encourage uptake of vaccinations, although the government has ruled out making jabs compulsory.
A petition against mandatory vaccines gained enough signatures in just two days earlier this month to put the issue on the agenda of parliament.
High infection rates amongst children
Children and young people up until the age of 14 – the vast majority of whom are not yet eligible for a vaccine – represent the bulk of infections.
Of the 590 new infections last week, two-thirds had not been vaccinated, while almost 85% of patients in intensive care had not been fully vaccinated, the ministry added.
Almost 5,000 vaccine doses were administered last week, bringing the total number to more than 785,000.
There are 25 people currently in hospital, nine of whom are in intensive care. A total of 835 people have now died as a result of the virus, with the last death registered a week ago.
Clarification of vaccine figures
Health Minister Paulette Lenert has confirmed that vaccination rates among young people are higher than initially reported, after she acknowledged she gave incorrect information in response to a parliamentary question.
A total of 57% of those aged between 20 and 24 have now been vaccinated, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Tuesday, clarifying that a lower figure of 44% given by Lenert a day earlier was incorrect.
The figures were also updated to include all vaccines, including Johnson&Johnson, after data published on Monday only showed those who had received two-dose vaccines.
In response to a separate parliamentary question on Tuesday, Lenert said that Luxembourg is planning to share 350,000 vaccine doses to other countries through the COVAX programme, which oversees the global donations of doses to poorer nations.
56,000 doses from Luxembourg – which were donated outside the COVAX scheme - have been shared with the island of Cape Verde, a country which shares close ties with the Grand Duchy, home to a considerable number of Cape Verdean ex-pats.
Luxembourg has already contributed €1.5 million to the COVAX scheme, with a further €500,000 to be distributed next year, Lenert added.