Minister of Health Paulette Lenert, Minister for Mobility François Bausch, and Minister for Family Affairs Corinne Cahen held a press briefing about the coronavirus situation this Friday evening around 6 pm.
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The press conference focused on the question of how Luxembourg is shielding its elderly citizens and other vulnerable members of society from the virus. Cahen thanked medical staff and administration for their tireless efforts. The protection of elderly citizens remains a collective effort, Cahen stressed. She reiterated that the government decided on Thursday to ban visits to care homes and hospitals.
Management boards of care homes can nevertheless take the decision to allow individual visits under special circumstances.
Cahen appealed to the sense of solidarity and responsibility of the public. She argued that it was important to significantly reduce contact with elderly citizens to protect them against the virus threat. Senior citizens associations were asked to cancel all events. At the same time, this does not mean that elderly citizens should be completely isolated. Families should keep in touch with their seniors and support them whenever possible.
Paulette Lenert also announced with heartfelt sadness that Luxembourg has recorded its first coronavirus death. The patient was a 94-year-old man. 38 people are infected with the virus in the Grand Duchy as of Friday. The state coronavirus hotline is still over-saturated. Officials are working on resolving the issue and upping staff numbers to keep up with the high demand.
Minister for Mobility Francois Bausch stressed that officials were trying to keep public transport functioning. Bausch added that it was crucial to keep bus drivers and other staff safe. The bus, train, and tram timetables will be slightly reduced next week as fewer people are currently using public transport. There will be fewer trains outside of peak times. This won't be the case at peak times. The same applies for buses and trams. The frequency of public transportation is likely to be revised depending on demand and the overall situation. Administrative information points will remain open. The public transport sector has a high number of cross-border employees. In case bus drivers fall ill, other bus companies will jump in to cover, Bausch explained. The Adapto service for people with reduced mobility will remain operational.
When questioned about coronavirus testing in Luxembourg, Lenert explained that around 400 people had been tested as of Thursday night. She estimated that a total of around 500 people have been tested for coronavirus as of this Friday. Exact numbers will be communicated at a later stage. People who might be particularly at risk are prioritised when it comes to testing. Lenert reiterated that the virus is relatively harmless for the vast majority of people. She also stressed that the number of actual infections is likely to be significantly higher than the number of confirmed cases as many people only display minor flu-like symptoms.
The ministers stressed that Luxembourg's supermarkets are well-stocked. Officials therefore urgently recommend against panic-buying. Bausch urged the public to behave courteously and refrain from descending into grocery-hoarding frenzy as this would only make it unnecessarily difficult for supermarkets to keep the shelves full.
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