More corona easing could come in May, Lenert says
A further loosening of Covid-19 restrictions could come in mid-May as the government relies on testing takes rather than social distancing, Health Minister Paulette Lenert said over the weekend.
Luxembourg opened outdoor terraces for bars and restaurants on 7 April as a first step in a gradual return to normal, and the rules might be eased again by mid-May, Lenert said in an interview with broadcaster RTL on Saturday.
Lawmakers on Friday voted to extend the current Covid-19 measures until 15 May, and the deployment of rapid testing to detect Covid-19 quickly might allow for further reopenings and replace social distancing measures, Lenert said.
Long a laggard in the roll-out of vaccines to protect against the deadly disease, Luxembourg has been catching up with the EU average. So far, the country of above 630,000 people has administered 176,500 doses.
The share of the population that has now received at least one Covid-19 jab is 20.1%, according to Oxford research project Our World in Data, which compares to 20.3% in France, 22.6% in Germany, and an EU average of 21.1%.
Malta, which has a comparable population to Luxembourg, has far outperformed the rest of Europe, with the figure standing at 48%.
Luxembourg last week decided to offer the AstraZeneca vaccine to volunteers aged between 30 and 54, giving younger people a chance to get the jab before the regular schedule, which prioritises older people.
As of Friday, 25,000 volunteers had already signed up to receive the vaccine by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company, Lenert said.
There have been three deaths in Luxembourg so far after a vaccination and one after the AstraZeneca jab, but so far no causal link could be established between the death and the medication, Lenert said.
In answer to a parliamentary question on Friday, Lenert said that Luxembourg is planning on procuring leftover AstraZeneca doses from Norway and Denmark, which have both halted its use altogether after uncertainty over rare cases of bloodclots. Luxembourg's top infectious diseases body is working on a recommendation on how to deal with the single-jab Johnson&Johnson vaccine, given that blood clots were also reported after its use.
The EU said it is focusing its efforts on procuring more vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna and Curevac, which so far have proven very efficient and possibly safer than alternatives based on older technologies.
The Curevac vaccine, developed in Germany, is yet to by approved by the European Medicines Agency, and could be deployed in June at the earliest.
Commenting on her own health after she took a break of three weeks from work after she reported a 'malaise', Lenert, who became Health Minister just as the pandemic took off, said that her body issued a 'cry for help' and that she needed rest.