Luxembourgh Times

Covid-19 infections drop by third as autumn wave recedes

Luxembourg is likely to donate thousands of jabs to other countries this winter amid poor uptake for booster jab, Health Minister says

© Photo credit: Shutterstock

Cases of new Covid-19 infections dropped by more than a third last week in Luxembourg, the latest data from the health ministry showed on Thursday, an indication that an expected autumn wave was milder than initially feared.

Just over 1,500 people tested positive for Covid between 24 and 30 October, 34% fewer than the week before, when almost 2,400 new cases were registered, data released by the health ministry on Thursday showed.

Hospital numbers remained largely unchanged, with the number of patients requiring regular care staying at 30. Just one patient was in intensive care last week, down from four the previous week. Two people with an average age of 87 died with Covid-19 that week, the health ministry said.

The number of new infections has halved since the first week of October, indicating that the country is now at the tail end of a rise in cases during the autumn.

The drop in infections is most likely to be behind the poor uptake for the Covid-19 booster jab in Luxembourg in recent weeks. Just over 2,800 doses were administered last week, a figure that has barely increased over the past three months, according to the latest data.

The lack of people coming forward for the booster vaccine means that thousands of jabs are likely to be donated, Health Minister Paulette Lenert said in response to a parliamentary question on Thursday.

An undated photo of a person getting tested for COVID-19 at a medical facility.

An undated photo of a person getting tested for COVID-19 at a medical facility. © Photo credit: Shutterstock

Luxembourg had ordered over 400,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in anticipation of a winter wave fuelled by more contagious Omicron subvariants.

"The idea was to propose a booster shot to the entire population in case of an emergency," Lenert wrote.

The government has already had to throw away more than 78,000 expired vaccines - worth a total of €1.4 million - since December last year, Lenert said two weeks ago. That compares to almost 1.3 million doses the Grand Duchy has administered since the rollout began in December 2020.

Luxembourg reduced its already light-touch Covid-19 rules to an absolute minimum two weeks ago. Those who test positive are now required to self-isolate for four days, instead of seven previously. People can end their isolation early if they return two negative self tests within 24 hours of each other.

Moreover, the contact tracing system - designed to inform people of potential contacts with an infected person - has been scrapped entirely under the new measures, which will remain in place until the end of March next year.