L-R: Health Minister Paulette Lenert; Prime Minister Xavier Bettel; Credit: SIP

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and the Minister of Health Paulette Lenert provided an update of the national COVID-19 situation at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel began by confirming that Luxembourg, like elsewhere in Europe, is currently experiencing a fourth wave of coronavirus. New COVID-19 infections have been on the rise over the past weeks, although there has not (yet) been an exponential increase. Most of those contracting the virus have not been vaccinated. The situation is similar in hospitals, where most COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. There has been a slight increase in standard hospitalisations, although the situation in intensive care units (ICUs) remains stable.

Nevertheless, the situation could change at any moment and the government is not ruling out the potential (re-)introduction of stricter measures should things worsen.

The Prime Minister recalled that Luxmebourg has not eased restrictions lately, unlike in several other European countries, and even introduced the new CovidCheck measure recently. Such measures have helped prevent an exponential increase in cases, maintained Mr Bettel. 

Regarding the vaccination rate in Luxembourg, he noted that 76.4% of residents aged 12 and over are now fully vaccinated. This rate is increasing, albeit "too slowly", according to the Prime Minister.

Several intiatives are being organised to encourage vaccination among the population. These include the opening of a walk-in vaccination centre on Grand Rue in Luxembourg-Ville, from Saturday 20 November 2021, and a "vaccination week", which is scheduled to take place during the week starting 6 December 2021. More details will be revealed in the coming days. There are also plans to enable pharmacies to offer vaccination in future.

On the subject of boosters, Luxembourg's Prime Minister recalled that the COVID-19 vaccine (like any vaccine) is not 100% effective and studies have shown that its efficiency wanes after six months. As such, the government has now decided to offer booster shots to people aged 18 and over, six months after the second dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna vaccines and one month after vaccination with Johnson & Johnson.

The first round of 40,000 invites will be sent out on Monday. There will be no time limit on these invites, although it is recommended that invitees do not wait too long to book an appointment.

Health Minister Paulette Lenert recalled the need for solidarity, emphasising the need to keep hospital beds free, not just for COVID-19 patients but for others who may need them. She also stressed the need to combat false information concerning vaccination, adding that the government will step up efforts to convince the unvaccinated of the importance of getting the vaccine. Nevertheless, there are no plans at present to introduce mandatory vaccination in Luxembourg.