Laboratories across Luxembourg are noticing that more and more people need or want to be tested.
The demand for Covid-19 tests, mainly PCR tests, has risen sharply in recent weeks. The trend is likely linked to the broader and stricter application of the CovidCheck system since 1 November, as well as the surge in daily new infections over the last three weeks.
Last week, 24,000 tests were carried out, an increase of 4,500 compared to the previous week. The demand is expected to increase further just before the holidays. BioneXt, one of two lab operators in Luxembourg, has hired 20 new staff members to take samples. "The shortage of staff does not make it easy to expand services," Jean-Luc Dourson, a manager at BioneXt, says.
Dourson explains that from a purely technical point of view, 3,000 to 3,500 tests can be analysed every day. However, since it has become "very, very difficult" to find nurses to take samples, this capacity is often not fully taken advantage of.
Currently, the BioneXt lab in Leudelange carries out 2,000 to 2,500 tests per day.
The impatience and hostility of certain patients also takes a toll on the already overworked nurses, who are "sometimes even left in tears", Dourson points out. However, the BioneXt managers acknowledges that these are generally isolated incidents.
About 70% of the tests carried out are ordered by the Health Inspectorate or as part of contact tracing. These results have to be provided as a priority, which can create some delays for the results of voluntary tests by other patients.
Laboratoires Réunis, the other major lab operator in the Grand Duchy, stressed that samples are mainly taken by appointment. High demand can also cause some delays, and in some cases there is a one or two day wait, according to Bernard Weber from Laboratoires Réunis.
Weber explained that Laboratoires Réunis makes use of two systems: a drive-in testing centre and other centres specialised in providing Covid-19 tests. However, people who need to go to hospital, such as for surgery, can also go to one of the operator's regular testing centres, without needing to make an appointment first, Weber stated.
Both BioneXt and Laboratoires Réunis specify that despite this increase, other procedures are not affected and that everything will be done in the future to ensure that this does not change.
Watch the full report in Luxembourgish below: