On 12 March 2020, the Prime Minister, Minister of State, Xavier Bettel, convened an extraordinary Government Council dedicated to measures to tackle the spread of the Coronavirus.
In the light of the evolution of the virus COVID-19 in Luxembourg, which has resulted in a significant increase in cases in the last 24 hours and the first cases of local transmission, the government has taken a series of new measures and issued recommendations with a view to protecting public health.
The control strategy needs to be adapted. From now on, it will have to focus more on dealing with serious cases and protecting vulnerable people. Luxembourg is following the measures taken by many other countries, in particular Switzerland and Belgium.
The following measures have been taken:
1. Vulnerable persons and risk groups
Individuals are considered vulnerable if they are over 65 years of age or if they are already suffering from one of the conditions mentioned hereafter. Those conditions are:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Chronic diseases of the respiratory tract
- An immune deficiency due to a condition or therapy
For these individuals, the following recommendations apply:
- Go shopping outside of peak hours, if possible;
- Delay non-necessary travels;
- Avoid large events and gathering spaces, confined spaces, large crowds (at cinemas, concert halls, sports venues) and places where you are not able to keep a security distance of at least 1 to 2 metres;
- Avoid public transportation as much as possible.
2. State-approved care homes and accommodation facilities for the elderly
Given that very vulnerable and often multi-morbid people are staying in these facilities, the following recommendations are issued until further notice:
- Prohibition of visits and recommendation to avoid outings, except for staff and external providers on condition that they do not present symptoms (cough, fever, breathing difficulties).
- Directors of structures may allow, in exceptional cases, exceptions from the prohibition of access and exit for relatives and family members, provided that they do not show symptoms.
- Staff with symptoms must remain at home.
- All persons entering the premises must disinfect their hands and respect the general rules of hygiene.
Activities of the senior clubs are suspended. Activities in daycare centres can be maintained. The same is true for care and assistance networks. Meals-on-wheels will be maintained.
3. Hospital structures
- Visits of hospital patients are prohibited. If a visit has to take place, all of the necessary protective measures must be taken in order to protect the patients. Access can only be decided on the basis of a special authorisation issued by the management of the hospital establishment.
- Scheduled activities should be cancelled, if possible.
- If possible, the leaves of hospital staff should be cancelled if such action becomes necessary in the light of changing circumstances.
4. Teaching structures
- All activities in basic, secondary and higher education structures will be suspended for a period of two weeks from Monday 16 March 2020, until further notice. All activities of education and care services will be suspended. This measure applies to:
- Fundamental education,
- Secondary education,
- Vocational training (for the school part);
- Skills centres for special-needs students;
- Music education;
- Boarding schools;
- Residential schools;
- Socio-therapeutic centres;
- Reception facilities (Crèches, Drop-in centres (Maisons relais), parental assistants; Youth Centres; the University of Luxembourg; the National Institute for Languages and Adult Learning).
- A system of distance supervision is put in place to ensure continuity of learning during the suspension period.
- This suspension also applies to private schools, Drop-in centres (Maisons relais) and public and private crèches.
- The schools will remain open on Friday 13 March 2020, with a view to explaining these measures to teachers and pupils. Field trips are cancelled with immediate effect.
- Parents will be able to exercise their leave for family reasons.
- It is recommended that sports, cultural and leisure associations suspend their activities for children during the same period.
- It is understood that children are not quarantined. The measures are intended to reduce the circulation of children, who can be a vector for transmitting the virus.
From 13 March and until 31 March until further notice:
- Events in confined spaces with more than 100 people are prohibited
- Events in non-confined spaces with more than 500 people are prohibited
6. Public transport
- The frequency of public transport is being adapted following the suspension of school transport.
In order to avoid prolonged close contact with the driver, the first two rows in the buses have to remain free of passengers.
7. Diagnostic tests, auto-isolation and auto-quarantine measures
- The systematic diagnostic test for any suspected infection is no longer recommended. The test will be reserved for serious or complicated cases. In this context, the concept of a risk zone is no longer relevant to define an indication for testing.
- Auto-isolation: Any patient with symptoms compatible with an acute respiratory infection (possible CoV-2-SARS infection) should self-isolate at home for the duration of symptoms, followed by a period of 24 hours after the symptoms have disappeared Testing is no longer necessary if symptoms remain mild.
- Auto-quarantine: Any person who has been in direct or close contact (<2m, more than 15 minutes) with a confirmed case of infection shall self-quarantine at home for 7 days, followed by a 7-day period of self-surveillance (resumption of normal activities, but monitoring body temperature twice a day, or coughing, difficulty breathing).
8. Businesses and public administrations
- Businesses and public administrations are encouraged to continue their activities as far as possible, on the basis of their business continuity plan, particularly with regard to essential services.
- Home office should be promoted as far as possible and preferably among the vulnerable population.