What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause symptoms ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). A new coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not yet been identified in humans.
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the latest discovered coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
COVID-19 infection remains mild in 80% of cases. In order to avoid spreading among the general population and to protect vulnerable and fragile populations, it is important to take a certain number of precautions.
Where did the new coronavirus appear?
SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain of coronavirus that had not be seen in humans before. The epidemic began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, capital of the Hubei province. At first, the epidemic seemed to be linked to the South China Seafood City market. This market welcomes traders in seafood, poultry, bats, marmots and other wild animals, which indicates a probable animal origin of this virus. Later, spread between humans has also been identified. Cases have since been discovered in other regions of China and in other countries, often linked to a history of travel to Wuhan. The health authorities of the various affected countries are currently investigating the coronavirus and the sources of the contamination.
Which areas are currently declared at risk?
Risk exposure areas are defined as areas or regions for which diffuse community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has been described and where the virus circulates among the population. Current regions are:
|Asia||China (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao), Singapore, Japan, South Corea|
|Europe||Italy: Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia Romagna and Piemont|
This list is subject to change at any time depending on the availability of information.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary from moderate to severe respiratory disease, accompanied by fever, cough and difficulty of breathing. Seniors and people with pre-existing chronic illnesses seem more vulnerable and susceptible to complications.
The incubation period, time between contamination and the appearance of the first symptoms of COVID-19 infection is maximum 14 days.
How is COVID-19 coronavirus spread?
The COVID-19 infection is transmitted by people carrying the virus. The disease can be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets expelled from the nose or mouth when a person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can persist for a few hours on objects or surfaces around the person in question. An infection with COVID-19 can occur if you touch these objects or surfaces and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. COVID-19 can also be contracted by inhaling droplets from a sick person who has just coughed or sneezed. This is why it is important to keep a distance of more than two meters from a sick person and to respect basic hygiene measures.
Consumption of undercooked animal products may present a risk of infection. The virus is destroyed when the product is cooked.
What should I do to protect myself and to avoid being contaminated?
The same precautions should be taken as for any other respiratory infection.
- Most importantly: wash your hands regularly and properly. The best way to wash your hands is illustrated online at www.sante.lu
- Do you cough or sneeze? Do it in a tissue or in the crease of the elbow. Throw the tissue in a bin with a lid.
- Avoid shaking hands or kissing.
- Avoid close contact with sick people (keep a distance of at least 2 meters).
- Stay home if you are sick. Don't go to work!
- Avoid touching your face with your hands as much as possible.
I am a vulnerable person, what should I do?
Like the flu, the coronavirus is especially dangerous for the elderly and people with other (serious) health conditions. Protect yourself from coronavirus like you do for the flu. Follow the 6 instructions listed above and avoid poorly ventilated areas with many people.
At this point, it appears that children are generally less severely affected.
Is there a risk that the new coronavirus will arrive in Luxembourg?
Currently, cases have appeared in different places in Europe. These patients are isolated and their contacts are quarantined to limit the spread of the disease. As the number of patients increases in Europe, the likelihood of people becoming infected with the coronavirus also increases in Luxembourg. Therefore, a case in Luxembourg is a likely scenario but authorities and health services are ready to take in charge, care for and isolate these patients.
How is Luxembourg preparing?
The new coronavirus can appear in Luxembourg at any time. It is therefore important to quickly detect the virus in order to prevent or contain the spread.
Health authorities have developed procedures to take in charge suspected cases of infection and to follow up with their contacts. These procedures have been communicated to all physicians on several occasions.
The National Health Laboratory (LNS) is approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the diagnosis of the virus. The national service for infectious diseases at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL) is prepared to receive possible cases of suspected or confirmed illness.
The procedures for quarantine and self-monitoring of contacts have been defined by the Health Directorate and can be implemented quickly by the Health Inspectorate (Inspection sanitaire).
Luxembourg has a stock of special masks (FFP2) and surgical masks. These masks are intended for caregivers in close contact with a sick person or a person in quarantine. Further, Luxembourg is participating in a joint acquisition with other EU member states aiming to strengthen the existing stock.
An inter-ministerial coordination group continuously plans and prepares the measures to be taken in the event of a COVID-19 infection.
What is the role of the Health Inspectorate (Inspection sanitaire)?
The Health Inspectorate is a division of the Health Directorate. The mission is:
- to ensure the protection of public health, both in terms of environmental health and the surveillance and control of communicable diseases,
- to organize medical checkups for third-country nationals,
- to process documents from foreigners seeking treatment in Luxembourg and whose care is not provided by social security organizations,
- to decide on the medical fitness for deportation measures.
Can I travel to a risk zone?
Avoid as far as possible a trip to a risk zone, namely a destination where the epidemic is raging.
If, however, you are traveling to a risk area, observe both the local instructions and the following recommendations:
Il est possible que vos projets de déplacement soient contrariés dans la mesure où certains endroits risquent d'être fermés au public ou mis sous quarantaine.
I have been in a risk area in the past 14 days and have the following symptoms: fever, cough, breathing problems. What should I do?
If you have these symptoms and you have been in a risk zone, or if someone close to you is sick and has gone to one of these zones, call the Health Inspectorate (+352 247 -85650) during the day or the emergency number 112 between 19:00 and 8:00 and mention your travel history and your symptoms.
Do not go to a physician's office or to the emergency room. To avoid contamination of other people, it is recommended to stay away from these people. Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when you sneeze or cough. Throw the tissues in a bin with a lid and wash your hands frequently and properly.
I have symptoms (cough, fever, breathing problems), but I have not been in a risk zone in the past 14 days. What should I do?
If you have not been in close contact with a sick person who has recently been in a risk area, you should not worry. You may have a seasonal flu. In this case, consult your general practitioner.
If you return from a risk zone without showing symptoms, but you have been potentially in casual contact with infected people, do the following for the next 14 days upon your return:
- Monitor symptoms daily (cough, breathing problems)
- Measure your temperature twice a day
- Wash your hands frequently and properly
- Avoid contact with vulnerable and fragile people
- Continue your usual activity
I was in close contact with infected people, even without showing symptoms. What should I do in the 14 days following the contact?
- Stay at home and avoid contact with other people
- Call the Health Inspectorate (+352) 2478 5650 who may decide to quarantine you
- Stay within reach for the Health Inspectorate
You are considered to have been in close contact:
- If you shared the same living area as the sick patient when the latter presented symptoms
- If you have had direct, face-to-face contact, within two meters of the patient while coughing, sneezing, or talking
- With your flirts and intimate people
- With your class or office neighbors
- If you are a neighbor of the sick patient on an airplane or train, or if you have stayed in a confined space with him (e.g. private car)
What does quarantine mean?
Quarantine is a measure of confinement of a person in good health but having had proven close contact with a sick and contagious person. This measure to protect public health is a decision of the Health Inspectorate and its duration depends on the maximum incubation period of the disease (coronavirus: 14 days). Quarantine is accomplished either at home or in a quarantine center. A person cannot move freely during quarantine.
The person in question benefits from an absence of work certificate, equivalent to a sickness certificate, issued up by the Health Inspectorate and recognized by the health insurance. Certificates issued by health authorities of other European countries for quarantine measure are also recognized in Luxembourg.
What does isolation mean?
Isolation is a measure of confinement of a sick and contagious person, based on a decision of the physician in charge of the patient's care. If necessary, isolation may be imposed by the Health Inspectorate if, for example, the patient refuses isolation or its therapeutic treatment. The duration of isolation depends on the duration of contagiousness of the disease.
Isolation is usually done in a hospital, but can also be realized at home. For the duration of the illness, the patient benefits from a sick leave equivalent to a sickness certificate issued by the attending physician.
Why is there no screening at Luxembourg Airport?
The World Health Organization (WHO) does not advocate additional measures for airports. In aviation, very strict procedures still apply. If the crew notices a passenger on board who is showing symptoms, this is reported to the airport before the plane even lands, and a medical team is ready at the airport to take care of the passenger in question. Other passengers will be taken care of according to the degree of exposure upon arrival of the Health Inspectorate.
Can I be contaminated by a package from a risk zone?
Coronaviruses spread through secretions from humans and animals. It is not excluded that they survive for a few hours outside the body on surfaces, such as parcels. For this reason, it is essential to comply with the hygienic measures that prevent contamination.
When to wear a mask?
Wearing a mask in a preventive manner is not recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a means to avoid contamination with the COVID-19 virus.
The use of special masks (FFP2) to prevent infection with coronavirus only makes sense in hospitals where patients infected with coronavirus are treated and in laboratories for the analysis of the body material of these patients.
Can children and teenagers, returning from a risk zone go to school or day care?
In line with international recommendations, children and young people who return from a risk zone, without having had proven close contact with a sick and contagious person and without presenting typical symptoms (cough, fever, respiratory problems) can directly return to school or day care.
If a child or teenager shows symptoms within 14 days after his return, or has been proven to be in close contact with a sick and contagious person, his parents must keep him at home, contact the Health Inspectorate, mention the symptoms and travel history. The physician of the Health Inspectorate will assess the situation and take the necessary precautions. Do not go to your physician or the emergency room.
Can adults returning from a risk zone resume their professional activity?
If these people have not been proven to be in close contact with a sick and contagious person and do not have typical symptoms (cough, fever, breathing problems), they can resume their professional activity.
Can my employer force me to stay at home after my return from a risk zone and in the absence of symptoms?
An employer can certainly ask an employee to stay at home.
In this case, the resulting absence is qualified as a work exemption and cannot be counted against recreational leave. It is recommended that you request the employer to communicate the absence of leave in writing.
Are our hospitals and health services prepared to accommodate many patients?
Yes, our hospitals are prepared. A referral service, namely the National Service of Infectious Diseases at CHL, is in charge of the reception of patients infected with the coronavirus.
For all other questions related to COVID-2019, please consult the websites of the Ministry of Health www.sante.lu/coronavirus, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) www.ecdc.eu or the World Health Organization (WHO) www.who.int.