Uptick in cases as economy reopens, Delta spreads
Luxembourg is experiencing an uptick in new Covid-19 cases as the economy has reopened and the more transmissible Delta variant is spreading, but hospitalisations remain flat and no new deaths have been recorded for a month.
On Tuesday, the latest day for which data is available, the country reported 92 cases out of just 4,400 tests. On Monday, there were 53 positive cases, which already marked an uptick compared to the previous week, where daily cases varied between 14 and a peak of 29 on Saturday.
Luxembourg lifted most of its restrictions, including a curfew at midnight, on 12 June, as Covid started receding and the vaccination campaign picked up pace.
The number of active cases currently stands at 263, compared to 186 on 24 June, roughly a week ago, marking an increase of more than a third. This means that the 92 new cases on Tuesday alone represents more than 30% of the current active cases.
However, during the week of 21 June, 287 people were in isolation with Covid-19, a drop of 38%, and 370 in quarantine due to contact with an infected person, a drop of 28% compared to the previous week, the government said on Wednesday.
The more transmissible Delta variant accounted for more than a third of all new cases at the end of last week, at 36%, genomic sequencing data published by the Luxembourg national health lab shows. The week before, it was 31%, showing an increase in the overall share.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, is causing a huge surge in the UK and Portugal, but it has not translated into significantly higher hospitalisations or deaths. On Wednesday, the UK recorded more cases than the entire European Union, according to Our World in Data and the Financial Times.
Luxembourg has extended restrictions for people travelling from the UK until 15 July in light of the Delta variant. Anyone over six years old who has stayed in the UK in the 14 days prior to arriving in Luxembourg must undergo a Covid-19 test and quarantine for a week and take a second test after six days. They must also inform Luxembourg's health authorities.
Preliminary studies indicate that while vaccines seem to partly offer less protection against the variant, they still protect people against severe illness and death.
Six people are currently hospitalised in Luxembourg with Covid-19, with one person in intensive care. There have been no deaths for a whole month, with the overall death toll standing at 818, meaning more than one person in every thousand has died because of the virus in the Grand Duchy since the start of the pandemic.
Covid-19 is currently spreading mainly among the unvaccinated, Luc Feller, who chairs the national security body said in an interview with broadcaster RTL on Thursday. So far, 66% of all adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The uptake among those under 30 years of age is slighter, but it is too early to draw anything definitive from the numbers, Feller added.
The Grand Duchy has so far administered close to 543,000 doses, with 232,000 persons now fully vaccinated.
This week, Luxembourg, following the example of countries such as France, has started vaccinating minors above the age of 12. Education Minister Claude Meisch has said he believes this might help re-open secondary schools in September without mask mandates. At least 11 students from the European School in Luxembourg have tested positive for Covid-19 following a trip to Mallorca, a Spanish island where health authorities have reported a major infection cluster.
The European Union is hoping to restore tourism and freedom of movement in the bloc through a Covid certificate coming into force on Thursday, which shows vaccination status and previous infections.