In close cooperation with the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the Ministry of Health, the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Task Force has developed a “Large Scale Testing Strategy” based on a voluntary diagnostic test accessible to the population, including cross-border commuters of the Greater Region. The goal: increase testing to cover the entire Luxembourg population.
The strategy will ensure that Luxembourg can better and in an informed manner accompany the lifting of restrictions from the lockdown. The more people participate, the more protection this will mean for the entire population.
“Due to the size of Luxembourg and its limited number of residents, we have a great opportunity: we can test the entire population for the novel coronavirus within a short period of time. This makes us the first country in the world to have a complete overview of the number of infected citizens,” said Minister of Higher Education and Research Claude Meisch. By shortening the lockdown period, psychological, economic and social problems will be kept to a minimum.
The overall objective is to avoid a second wave of infected people in the context of exit measures and thus the introduction of a new lockdown.
8,500 tests for students and teachers this week, 20,000 tests per day in a later phase
The testing starts already this week: about 6,000 high school graduates and 2,500 teachers have the opportunity to get tested before they go back to school from 4 May 4, 2020. They will be informed by letter. The tests are voluntary: everyone can get tested, no one has to.
The testing strategy consists of expanding the capacity to 20,000 tests per day. The objective is to be able to test the entire population, progressively and in contingents, in some cases several times.
Breaking the infection chain
“The high number of tests carried out will help to assess the extent of the spread of the virus and to detect for the first time asymptomatic cases, which are currently estimated to account for up to 80% of cases. This means that we can detect many more infected people than before, put them in isolation and track their contacts, thus breaking the infection chain”, says Minister of Health Paulette Lenert. “As the protection is greater the more people are tested, we want to encourage all residents of the country to participate in this unique public health measure,” she added.
In the next few days and weeks, up to 17 test stations will be set up in the country, where the inhabitants of Luxembourg, but also cross-border commuters, can be tested.
“We are pleased that the government has confidence in Research Luxembourg to support it at this historic stage. The aim is to effectively accompany the spread of the virus and to keep it under control at all times,” says Ulf Nehrbass, spokesman of the COVID-19 Task Force and CEO of the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH).