Luxembourg health director Jean-Claude Schmit, pictured, says the risk of an epidemic in Luxembourg is moderate Matic Zorman

Luxembourg health director Jean-Claude Schmit, pictured, says the risk of an epidemic in Luxembourg is moderate Matic Zorman

After Luxembourg’s two international schools requested families who travelled to affected areas to home quarantine for 14 days, in a last-minute press conference on Monday Jean-Claude Schmit recalled that the risk of an epidemic in Luxembourg was moderate and stressed that the country was well prepared.

29 countries

The coronavirus, or COVID-19, whose spread has been traced back to a live animal market in Wuhan, China, in December 2020, has now been detected in 29 countries according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) situation report on 24 February. Within China, there were 77,262 confirmed cases and 2,595 deaths. Outside of China, there were 2,069 confirmed cases and 23 deaths.

Coronavirus manifests itself in pneumonia and has a 2% mortality rate. Schmit added on Monday that the mortality rate was very low among young people and almost zero among children. “The rate rises to 15% for people over 70”, Paperjam quoted him as saying.

Cases surged in Italy this week where 12 towns were on lockdown to stop the spread of the virus. According to The Guardian, in Italy there have been 220 confirmed cases and seven deaths.

Schmit echoed the WHO’s advice, adding that people travelling from high risk areas should speak out and, if they start to get symptoms, they can be tested. “We prefer to test too much rather than too little,” he said.

Quarantine or self-isolate

Anyone showing coronavirus symptoms should stay at home and call 247 – 85 650 during business hours or 112 outside of office hours. If the risk is low, Schmit said, the patient will be monitored. If coming from a high-risk area, they will be placed in quarantine.

The international dynamic of Luxembourg’s resident and working population and its tendency to travel prompted European schools and the International School Luxembourg to introduce precautionary measures this week.

Schmit said this was for the school to decide. However, “based on medical and scientific data, it is not justified.”

Moderate risk

No specific measures have been decided for Italy for the time being. Border controls, in particular at the airport, would be ineffective, since although the vast majority of cases of fever are not due to the coronavirus, those who do have it are likely to be symptom-free, with an incubation period of up to 14 days.

As to the probability of detecting a first case of coronavirus in Luxembourg in the near future, Schmit said the risk was “moderate, even if it is not excluded. I am not worried. And even if it happens, we are well prepared.”

Postponement of non-essential travel

In a press statement published on Tuesday, the foreign affairs ministry said that there were currently no specific recommendations for travelers to and from the Italian regions concerned by the coronavirus (municipalities of Codogno, Casalpusterlengo, Castiglione d'Adda, Maleo, Fombio, Bertonico, Castelgerundo, Somaglia, San Fiorano, Terranova dei Passerini, Vo Euganeo, Crema, Bergamo).

“A postponement of non-essential travel to these regions should, however, be considered,” the statement read.

“All citizens, except those in areas subject to movement restrictions, may leave Italy at any time. At this stage, therefore, there is no need to envisage special and extraordinary repatriation measures. The Luxembourg authorities are in regular contact with the Italian authorities and will take appropriate measures in the light of developments in the situation and in accordance with the precautionary principle.”

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