Omicron rate goes up

The omicron variant is becoming more prominent in Luxembourg. Photo: Shutterstock

The omicron variant is becoming more prominent in Luxembourg. Photo: Shutterstock

The spread of the omicron variant in Luxembourg is speeding up with cases growing ten-fold in a week, a report by Luxembourg’s national health laboratory (LNS) shows. 

The newer variant accounted for 7.1% of infections between 13 to 19 December, compared to 0.7% the week before, the LNS said on 31 December, the latest report available.  Out of 1,188 national samples analysed just before Christmas, 50 were identified as omicron, while the delta variant remained dominant in the grand duchy. 

Under a recommendation by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control at least 927 samples should have been screened to detect an emerging variant. Luxembourg reported 2,727 new infections in that week.

“A preliminary analysis shows higher transmission of omicron than previous variants, among fully vaccinated individuals,” the LNS said in its report. Scientists have recommended booster shots to improve protection from infection and severe illness from omicron.

Over the Christmas period, as omicron gained importance in terms of infections, the more infectious--but allegedly less severe virus--variant led the grand duchy’s government to introduce tighter restrictions. 

The LNS, in a more detailed report, specified that though omicron was on the rise, “potential omicron cases detected by PCR screening are prioritised for sequencing, and this prioritisation might lead to an overestimation of the actual presence of this variant.”