With how many people did we engage in the months spanning from March to June? And where? An online poll by Science.lu provides answers!

The poll defined a social interaction as a personal conversation between people with more than three words being spoken and without the 2m safety distance.

Between March and August 2020, Science.lu conducted an online poll to monitor the amount of physical contacts entertained by the residents of the Grand Duchy.

Participants were asked to indicate both the number and location of their interactions during and after the lockdown.

The study aimed at generating a quantified and evidence-based overview of the implications that governmental measures had on the population's social and physical interactions, as well as the further spread of the virus.

The poll was conducted by the National Research Fund, which operates Science.lu, and scientists from the National Health Laboratory (LNS). Their results have now been published in form of an academic article in the journal PLOS ONE.

Decrease in contacts during the lockdown of up to 80%

5,644 people, with an average age of 44.2 years, participated in the online study between 25 March and 1 May. A total of 18,118 contacts were indicated, with most people averaging 3.2 contacts per day.

Ardashel Latsuzbaia, researcher at LNS, elaborates: "The average amount of contacts before the pandemic was set at 17.2 for Luxembourgish residents, meaning that since the beginning of the outbreak, we have experienced an 80% decrease. Younger people engaged in more interactions than older people. Members of the Luxembourgish and Portuguese communities were slightly above the general average, while French-speaking residents indicated more interactions than German-speaking ones. When it comes to the question of location, the highest amount of contacts occurred in the workplace, the lowest frequency was registered in supermarkets."

Significant increases after the lifting of the lockdown

After the late phases of the lockdown already experienced a slight increase in interactions, this tendency only grew after the measure was officially lifted.  Latsuzbaia explains: "The number of interactions had already doubled again by June, but still remained 60% below the pre-pandemic average.  This increase is nevertheless connected to the rise in new infections during that period. Additionally, during the early days after the lockdown, not many people used masks when meeting people, which of course did not help better the situation.
The following results of the poll indicate that people started to slightly decrease their activities again after the second wave."

Study confirms three observations on Covid-19

According to Latsubaia, the online poll helped confirm three general observations on the novel coronavirus: "The study clearly indicates the the governmental measures had an affect on the amount of social and physical interactions of the Grand Duchy's population. This explains the rising and falling tendencies of new infections over the past couple of months. Our results furthermore suggest that older people did on average comply more with the regulations than younger people, which is not surprising, considering the chances of hospitalisation due to the various increase with age."

Autor:  LNS

Editor: Michèle Weber (FNR)