Virus spreads at slower pace, claims three more lives
More than 30 people remained in intensive care treatment on Tuesday for the respiratory illness Covid-19 caused by the coronavirus, as the number of new infections continued at a slower pace than previous weeks.
The total number of cases rose to 3,618, an increase of 60 cases from Monday. The death toll also climbed, with the virus claiming another three lives, bringing the total up to 78.
After spreading fast in March, when the daily increases were at more than 200 cases on several occasions, the speed of infections has dropped considerably, “flattening the curve” of the number of infections.
The lower daily increases allows the health sector managing the daily inflow of new patients. Some 185 people are being treated in hospital for Covid-19, and Health Minister Paulette Lenert last week said that many cases require several weeks of care.
Of those hospitalised, 32 are in intensive care, and another nine from France's neighbouring Grand Est region, one of the hardest-hit in France, where hospitals have been overwhelmed with new cases.
Prime minister Xavier Bettel this week visited a field hospital set up outside Luxembourg City’s Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg, but the facility's beds stood empty, pictures showed, a sign that the country's hospitals and treatment centres have so far held up.
More than 2,300 hospitals beds are available to treat patients, the health minister said at a press conference in late March, including roughly 120 ICU beds, with the option to add more if needed.
Now, the focus is on bringing the medical sector up to speed for normal procedures. All non-urgent surgeries and doctors' appointments had been cancelled as health authorities prepared for the worst. Only the Zitha Clinic in the capital remained reserved for non-coronavirus patients.
A return to normal will take place eventually, Lenert said on Friday, but she emphasised that the crisis is not over, and that the country would monitor the situation as it slowly emerges from lockdown.
The construction sector went back to work on Monday and schools are set to gradually resume over the month of May.
The virus's reproductive number – denoted as R0 – stood at roughly 1 in Luxembourg at the end of last week, meaning that one person passes on the virus only to one other person.
It has now taken more than 20 days for the number of virus infections to double – from 1,831 on 28 March to 3,618 on Tuesday. In the early stages of the outbreak, any doubling took only a matter of days.
The World Health Organization estimates the reproductive number of the virus to be between 2 and 2.5 on average globally. The rate needs to be brought to below 1 – with the help of social distancing and lockdown measures – for the pandemic to eventually peter out.
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