Lawmakers loosen remaining Covid rules despite warnings
Lawmakers reduced Luxembourg's already light-touch Covid-19 rules to an absolute minimum on Thursday, despite warnings that cases are likely to shoot up in the coming weeks as people spend more time indoors.
Deputies unanimously approved to cut the self-isolation of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 to four days from seven at present. People can end their isolation early if they return two negative self tests within 24 hours of each other. The measure should ensure to cause less disruption to businesses as fewer workers need to take sick leave.
Moreover, the contact tracing system - designed to inform people of potential contacts with an infected person - has been scrapped entirely under the changes to the Covid rules.
The new pandemic-fighting measures will stay in place until 31 March 2023.
The Grand Duchy's relaxed approach to the pandemic comes after Thomas Dentzer, a virologist at Luxembourg's health ministry, warned that infections are likely to tick up as people spend more time indoors. But the impact will be much smaller than in the last two years and will not put hospitals under the same sustained pressure as it did in the early days of the pandemic, he said.
Luxembourg registered 2,855 new infections between 10 and 17 October, according to the latest figures released by the Health Ministry, in addition to 1,076 people who contracted the virus for at least a second time. In that week, just three Covid-19 patients with an average age of 66 required intensive care, the data showed.
The petering out of the pandemic also means that fewer people than expected took a jab against Covid-19 this year. This led the government to throw away over 78,000 expired vaccines - worth a total of €1.4 million - since December last year, Health Minister Paulette Lenert told Pirate Party lawmaker Sven Clement in a parliamentary question on Wednesday. That compares to almost 1.3 million doses the Grand Duchy has administered since the rollout began in December 2020.
This week, the government also decided that the national health fund (CNS) will start reimbursing treatment for "long Covid" - a state when people who have been infected with the coronavirus still experience symptoms months after the initial illness.
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