The Minister of Health Paulette Lenert and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel announced that new strategies and measures to curb the spread of the virus could come into effect next week, despite numbers plateauing for several weeks now.
We covered the livestream with live ticker translation earlier today here.
The government is focused on managing the pandemic with an eye to the future and the well-being of all citizens, schools and businesses, Bettel said, adding that they were operating on a "precautionary principle" at this point.
The Prime Minister detailed that the number of cases with regards to the number of tests have been stable since October, with the positivity oscillating between 5-7%. On a European level, Luxembourg scores poorly with per capita confirmed cases, but the death rate is one of the lowest. Overall, however, the numbers remain too high. A short overview of the most significant statistics:
- 16% of positive cases in Luxembourg are aged 65 or over
- 6% of new positive cases are aged between 80 and 94
- 48 patients currently in intensive care, reaching just over 50% of hospital capacity
- The number of deaths has rapidly risen over the last three weeks, majority over 80
New measures may come into force next week: PM
If the situation has not improved in a week, Bettel said the government would be forced to introduce new measures. A bill has been introduced in government this week to allow further measures to be written into law. However the vote on the new bill would not yet take place, as another week of analysis would be required to properly ascertain the severity of the situation. Should the situation not change, the government would have no other choice but to bring in new restrictions. The Covid task force earlier today expressed their doubts over the impact of the current measures in place.
The situation has become far worse in other countries, Minister of Health Paulette Lenert continued, but the fact that it has stabilised, albeit at a high level, in Luxembourg, was testament to the population's efforts. Lenert noted that Luxembourg and its residents has proven quick at adapting to the given situation, and if it were not for this we'd be in a different situation - and the additional week of observation prior to implementing new measures would not be an option.
Lenert also noted that Luxembourg is in the fortunate position of having a very ambitious testing and tracing infrastructure, with considerable investments made in terms of both money, equipment, and people. She added that Luxembourg's testing capacity lies at 70,000 tests per week. Testing is taking place across retirement homes after high numbers of cases were detected in care homes.
The curfew could be extended until mid-December, but this is to be decided in the Chamber.
Education, sports and culture
The Ministry of Education could operate outside of the law, explained Bettel, so if needed schools could be subjected to new measures straight away rather than waiting for the Chamber to vote.
The figures over the last couple of weeks showed that the current measures were heading in the right direction, but the next week would prove crucial in determining how to proceed.
Organised sports in sports halls would also be subjected to new measures, and would likely not take place apart from professional clubs. Museums would be allowed to remain open as visitors are not static; however, theatres, concerts and other such events would likely be banned.
The government would also discuss whether measures such as the curfew should be extended up to or beyond 15 December.
New Covid consultation centre
A new Covid consultation centre is set to open in Esch-sur-Alzette, the prescription-only test service will be replaced this evening by a more general Covid centre to help ease pressure on emergency rooms in the south of the country.
People with symptoms can attend this centre for examination and testing, thus avoiding the emergency room. Children aged 6 and over will also be accommodated.
Residents of neighbouring countries visiting Luxembourg
The government has not appealed to neighbouring countries to entice their citizens to come to Luxembourg to shop or use restaurants, said Bettel, despite reports to the contrary over the weekend. He insisted that barrier gestures such as masks were obligatory for all.
No obligatory vaccinations
Bettel said the vaccine would never be mandatory, but said the population was strongly advised to make use of what is available to them as a matter of personal responsibility.