Family minister Corinne Cahen during a March press conference on care home deaths. Photo: SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen
Luxembourg’s health department is looking at getting more care home staff vaccinated as well introducing mandatory testing for visitors.
Parliament on 1 April said the government should commission an independent review into coronavirus outbreaks at the country’s nursing homes. There have been 53 clusters in retirement homes since the start of the pandemic, the family ministry said earlier this month, with 328 deaths recorded by 21 March, the latest official data available.
Around 90% of care home residents have been vaccinated but only around two thirds of health care staff, including those in nursing homes, are estimated to have received the jab.
Care home federation Copas and the health ministry are looking at promoting the vaccine among staff, representatives told broadcaster RTL on Monday. Access to the vaccine will also be widened to subcontractors whose staff regularly access the site. They were previously not given priority status in the country’s vaccination strategy.
Luxembourg virologist Claude Muller in March said it was “unprofessional” that care and nursing homes didn’t track which of their staff have been vaccinated, calling the vaccination rate “catastrophic”.
While a government strategy on the use of rapid antigen tests is still outstanding, family minister Corinne Cahen said that tests will become mandatory for care home visitors. In addition, care homes will receive kits to allow all staff to get tested twice a week. “We want to know where the virus is,” Cahen said, adding that the aim was to prevent people from outside becoming carriers of Sars-CoV-2.
The Pescatore facility in Luxembourg City saw an outbreak of around 40 cases at the end of March despite residents receiving the second coronavirus vaccine shot at the beginning of that month. But patients experienced mostly mild symptoms, if any, according to Copas.