Covid levels inch down in week as vaccinations rise
By Yannick Hansen and Zuzanna Reda-Jakima
New infections with the deadly coronavirus dropped by 9% last week, figures showed on wednesday, while waste wastewater analysis and a 31% rise in vaccinations equally suggested some success in the fight against Covid-19.
New infections dropped to 1,194 in the week leading up to Friday, from 1,315 a week earlier. On the downside, the number of people requiring hospital care rose to 107 from 86, while 21 people were in intensive care.
Last week, the Luxembourg Times reported that weekly vaccinations had dropped by 15% in the last week of February amid a bottleneck in supply, which Health Minister Paulette Lenert also mentioned in a Time to Talk event. But last week, 8,918 vaccinations took place, compared to 6,812 the previous week.
In another positive sign, there was a slight decrease in traces of the coronavirus in wastewater samples, the first such trend in a month, according to the Luxembourg Institute of Science & Technology (LIST).
The researchers remained cautious in their optimism, saying "it is not yet possible to say whether this is a reversal (of the trend)" and that the level still “remains high.” Still, the drop could be a first sign that the vaccination campaign is producing results, despite Luxembourg being one of the worst performing countries in the EU in terms of the number of doses administered, when adjusted by population size.
Next week's data will be crucial in determining whether it will be possible for Luxembourg to loosen restrictions in early April.
On Wednesday, Luxembourg reported 234 new Covid-19 infections and five further deaths, raising the total death toll in Luxembourg to 673. Overall, close to 49,000 people have been now vaccinated in Luxembourg.
On Friday, Prime Minister Xavier Better gave a glimmer of hope for bars and restaurants when he said they might be allowed to reopen after Easter, depending on how the pandemic develops in the Grand Duchy.
Luxembourg will dispose of enough vaccine to inoculate 75,287 by the end of the month, a Wednesday press release said.
The European Commission on Wednesday said it has reached an agreement with BioNTech-Pfizer for the supply of four million more vaccine doses in the next two weeks. These come on top of the schedule of deliveries currently agreed between the EU and the vaccine producer. Additional doses will be available for purchase by member states, determined on a pro-rata basis according to their population size, and delivered before the end of March.
Separately on Wednesday, the finance ministry said that France and Luxembourg have extended an agreement that allows cross-borders to continue working from home until 30 June 2021 without having to pay tax in their country of residency, according to a press release.
Under normal circumstances, French cross-country workers would have to start paying tax in France after working from home for more than 29 days.
Last week, a similar accord with Belgium was prolonged until 30 June, while the agreement with Germany automatically renews itself.