While Luxembourg's testing strategy hasn't changed, the results concerning non-residents are no longer being communicated.
The government has decided to no longer communicate the number of non-residents testing covid-19 positive in its daily assessment, in order to prevent statistics from being distorted.
On Thursday evening, the health ministry published its daily covid-19 report, including the number of deaths, number of hospitalisations, the virus reproduction rate. Most noticeable was the fact that, for the first time, the number of tests carried out and positive cases relating to non-residents were no longer communicated.
Contacted by Paperjam, the Ministry of Health explained “that this is a government decision following the failure of discussions at the international level on the part of prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP), minister of foreign affairs Jean Asselborn (LSAP) and minister of health Paulette Lenert (LSAP).” At the European level, the number of daily positive cases in relation to the population determines whether a country or a region is at risk, whether it’s advisable to go there. The various countries therefore transmit results concerning their residents to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), an EU agency.
In turn, the ECDC feeds various institutes, including the Robert Koch Institute in Germany, which are authoritative.
A problem that ECDC officials noticed is that if Luxembourg sent them the official figure of positive tests for its residents, it published the figure for its non-residents on the covid19.lu website. And they systematically added non-residents to the Luxembourg total. This distorts the European comparison, especially as Luxembourg tests a lot. And it also gives a poor representation of the real situation in the country.
Despite the many requests, nothing has changed the ECDC method. The only solution for Luxembourg was, therefore, to decide to no longer publish the figures for non-residents.
“It doesn't change the country's testing strategy or the fact that non-residents can and should be tested. Nothing changes, except the communication on the results," concludes the health department.
This article was originally published in French on Paperjam.lu and has been translated and edited for Delano.