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Pandemic

Schools are the source of one in five virus infections



Nearly one in five (18.3%) Sars-CoV-2 infections last week were traced to the education sector Library photo: Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

Nearly one in five (18.3%) Sars-CoV-2 infections last week were traced to the education sector Library photo: Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

Schools in Luxembourg are the second-most common source of coronavirus infections, the government said in a weekly report published on Wednesday.

Overall, the number of new infections climbed 14% in the week from 4 to 10 October compared to the week before. This means that there were 675 cases diagnosed, up from 591.

The family circle was the most common source of infection (30.8%), the health ministry said, followed by education (18.3%), leisure activities (6.3%) and foreign travel (5.9%). For the remaining cases, there was no clear source.

The 0–14 age bracket had the highest infection rate last week, at 167 cases per 100,000 residents. This countrywide average was at 106 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Since the start of the school year, the ministry reported three so-called scenario four clusters in which the virus is transmitted within the school community. In the most recent one at a primary school in Reuler, near Clervaux, 32 people tested positive with 14 out of 22 classes affected by the outbreak.

Luxembourg at the start of the school year scrapped mask mandates in classrooms. At the same time, there is no vaccine available yet for children under the age of 12.

While the infection rate was highest among Luxembourg’s youth, Sars-CoV-2 cases were climbing at a much faster rate in older age brackets. In the 75+ age bracket, infections were up 71%. A campaign to administer booster shoots for this age group is currently underway.

In the 15 to 29 age bracket infections were up 37%, followed by those aged 35 to 44 (+33%).

More than four in ten infections (46.1%) occurred in people who were fully vaccinated. Just over half of cases (53.9%) were diagnosed among people who weren’t vaccinated or had not received all doses.

The share of vaccinated people catching Sars-CoV-2 has been climbing steadily over the past weeks and experts have warned that cold and flu season could leave people with a compromised immune system to fight off other illnesses, a risk as the more contagious Delta variant makes up 100% of cases diagnosed in Luxembourg.

A third of patients receiving treatment in hospital were vaccinated--a rate that has remained relatively stable despite rising infection numbers among those inoculated. Two out of five intensive care patients were fully vaccinated.

Overall, 74% of the population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated, below a rate of 80% to 85%, which Bettel last week said is needed to lift more pandemic restrictions.