Government meets to decide about restrictions expiring next week
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel's government is scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss if current restrictions designed to limit the spread of Covid-19 should be extended or adapted beyond 25 April.
The weekly meeting of government ministers scheduled for Friday morning "will discuss the current measures and the (possible) extension or changes,” Health Ministry spokeswoman Monique Putz said in an email.
Current rules enforce an overnight curfew between 23.00 and 6.00 and limit operations of the hospitality sector. Restrictions were loosened after Easter and bars and restaurants are now allowed to welcome guests between 6.00 and 18.00, but only on outdoor terraces.
Health Minister Paulette Lenert was expected back at work to “assume her full duties" on Monday, ministry spokeswoman Monique Putz said on Thursday. That could change, Putz added, if Lenert's medical leave was extended beyond the current end date on Sunday.
Lenert had been absent since late March after she fell ill and was hospitalised briefly. Agriculture and Social Security Minister Romain Schneider has been filling in since then.
Tests for every pupil
When students return to classrooms after a two-week spring break next week, they will begin using self-administered rapid tests to stop coronavirus infections from spreading unchecked, Education Minister Claude Meisch said on Thursday. Each of Luxembourg’s 120,000 students and school staff will receive one such test per week.
In a pilot project involving 7,000 rapid tests, just five came back positive, the education minister said. About nine out of ten positive cases in schools between Christmas and Easter involved single cases of just one student or teacher, according to education ministry data.
Nevertheless, the ministry has drafted plans to implement rotating classes in primary schools if the pandemic worsens, Meisch added.
Prison under partial lockdown
Authorities imposed a partial lockdown at the Luxembourg Penitentiary Centre after confirming 15 positive Covid-19 cases among detainees from different detention sections, prison officials said on Thursday. All those infected are asymptomatic or have only very mild symptoms, prison officials said.
The lockdown means that while family visits can continue, “some interventions offered by external staff are being temporarily suspended,” prison spokeswoman Martine Wagner said in an email.
160 new cases per minute
Europe's total confirmed Covid-19 deaths surpassed 1 million last week, the World Health Organisations said earlier on Thursday. The situation in Europe remains serious, with 1.6 million new cases reported every week, WHO Regional Director Hans Henri P. Kluge said in a statement. “That’s 9,500 every hour (or) 160 people every minute,” he said.
Very few of the 200 million people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine have suffered rare blood clotting disorders that may be tied to the drug, Kluge said.
“For now, the risk of suffering blood clots is much higher for someone with Covid-19 than for someone who has taken the AstraZeneca vaccine,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Yannick Hansen)