Estimates of the potential effect of the more contagious UK virus variant; Credit: Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Task Force

The COVID-19 Task Force of Research Luxembourg has forecast a potential new peak in daily coronavirus cases in the Grand Duchy in May 2021.

In their latest publication on the COVID-19 situation in Luxembourg, based on data available up to 17 February 2021, the Task Force warned that developments this week indicated that the epidemic dynamics remain volatile level with a potential of rebound. 

Despite one week of distance learning in schools and the Carnival holidays, which were expected to limit social interaction and thus infections, daily COVID-19 cases in Luxembourg continue to increase. The linear trend of cumulative cases estimated by curve fitting has increased to 147 cases per day (compared to 137 per day from last week’s projection).

Nevertheless, the effective reproduction number fell slightly from 1.07 last Thursday to 1.04 as of Thursday 18 February 2021. The average number of the current week (up to Thursday) also decreased slightly to 1.0 compared to 1.07 last week.

The Task Force also pointed out that the total number of estimated active cases has gone up over one week, reaching around 2,800 cases.

The projections of the midterm model for daily cases again exhibited a more pessimistic trend compared to last week’s projection. Taking into account the more contagious nature of the UK virus variant, the Task Force's projections indicated that the increase in daily case numbers might represent the start of an epidemic rebound. These projections exhibit a potential peak in daily cases in May with an amplitude similar to that of November 2020.

The Research Luxembourg Task Force thus came to the conclusion that the current epidemic situation is rather volatile and the school holidays do not appear to have had the anticipated strong positive effect. The Task Force stressed the importance of reducing physical interactions, respecting the hygiene measures in place and participating in large-scale testing to suppress a potential peak in May, especially in light of the threat of more contagious virus variants.