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Pandemic

Omicron now dominant variant



Omicron now makes up the majority of infections amongst covid-19 positive residents of Luxembourg.  Photo: Shutterstock

Omicron now makes up the majority of infections amongst covid-19 positive residents of Luxembourg.  Photo: Shutterstock

Out of the 458 samples of positive coronavirus tests for Luxembourg residents, 74,9% were identified as being omicron infections. This makes omicron the dominant variant in Luxembourg, the national health laboratory (LNS) said on 14 January.

The number of specimens collected was not sufficient to follow the ECDC recommendations on the detection of emerging variants. For this, 542 samples would have been required. However, including PCR screening tests, 1,228 national specimens (28,1%) were analysed.

While the number of influenza-like illnesses remained far below the usual amount for the winter season--with only one identified case in 211 consultations--coronavirus cases have grown exponentially over the past weeks. Over the past seven days, the grand duchy witnessed an increase of 89% in positive tests.

Omicron, in week 51 of 2021, had accounted for a third of infections, while Delta covered the rest. In week 52, the newer highly virulent strain made up three out of four cases, with the remainder attributed to the delta variant.

The LNS notes in its weekly report that “statistically significant differences in the variant distribution by vaccinal status” were noted. Delano has reached out to the LNS for more details on this statement. The severity of the omicron variant on those infected could not be determined yet.

Though some studies suggest milder symptoms in the upper respiratory system, this has still to be confirmed. In the first week of 2022,  more than 7 million cases of the omicron variant had been reported in Europe, says news site Reuters. The variant could affect about 50% of the European population in the next 6-8 weeks, according to a forecast by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research centre at the University of Washington.

In an effort to increase immunity and take the load off hospitals, the grand duchy’s government has shortened the booster jab waiting time to three months and invited more people to get the shot.