POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Covid-19: Lux ranks top in per capita testing



A testing station at the P+R Bouillon in Luxembourg-Hollerich Romain Gamba/archives

A testing station at the P+R Bouillon in Luxembourg-Hollerich Romain Gamba/archives

Luxembourg recorded the highest testing rate per capita in Europe for the week starting 20 July, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

With 10,659 tests per 100,000 inhabitants during week 30 of the pandemic, the grand duchy’s wide-scale testing programme recorded a rate 5.7 times higher than the country that came in second place, the ECDC wrote in a report issued on 10 August.

“Large-scale testing is key to controlling transmissions within a population, to ensure comprehensive contact tracing and as a basis for effective surveillance. Test results help guide decisions to implement public health measures. Testing on a large scale is crucial to rapidly identify local outbreaks and thus avoid risk mitigation measures applicable to the entire population,” the report explained.

In May, Luxembourg introduced a large-scale, free and voluntary testing programme for detecting covid-19 in residents and cross-border workers regardless of symptoms. It, along with contact tracing, uncovered clusters of asymptomatic carriers, resulting in a higher test positivity rate of 1.2%, compared to below 1% elsewhere. By 2 August, the report reads, “Luxembourg’s 14-day case notification rate was the highest ever reported at 209.5 per 100,000.”

As a result, Switzerland and the UK introduced a quarantine on people travelling from Luxembourg. Other countries, such as Germany require a negative covid-19 test in order to travel there. The ECDC urged all countries to “maximise testing efforts” to include testing of people with no symptoms.

Making progress

The ECDC report shows that the grand duchy has made significant progress since the release of the 2019 Global Health Security Index. Ranking 195 countries for health security, it placed Luxembourg in 108th place for emergency response preparedness and response planning, 139th for response and 102 for prevention. Overall, the country was ranked 67th out of 195 with a score of 43.8 out of 100, behind France (at 11 with 68.2), Germany (at 14 with 66 out of 100) and Belgium (at 19 with 61 out of 100). The average score of the index was 40.2 out of 100. The US and UK, which have been severely struck by the pandemic, occupied first and second place in the ranking.