The Laboratoire national de santé (LNS) is launching a national program to detect the elderly from Covid-19 in nursing homes. On behalf of the Inspection Sanitaire of the Direction de la Santé, the LNS, in collaboration with the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), is undertaking systematic screening in the country’s residential and care institutions in order to establish the precise location of the spread of the virus in this particularly vulnerable environment.
The 10,000 tests will be for both the residents of the establishments and their nursing staff. The LNS and Inspection Sanitaire, in collaboration with the LIH, have developed an effective process for this purpose, combining the skills of the partners in a complementary manner: “The staff of the Inspection Sanitaire will take samples by nasopharyngeal swabs in retirement and nursing homes,” explains Dr Françoise Berthet, Deputy Director of the Direction de la Santé, detailing the concrete procedure. “The objective of this action is to obtain information on the asymptomatic forms and prevalence of the disease, making it possible to support the strategy of prevention and control of Covid-19 in institutions for the elderly. It will also provide us with data that will help us to make decisions on the gradual and prudent lifting of containment measures at a later stage”. The program will start this week and will cover all senior facilities on a multi-week schedule.
LNS experts to work around the clock during testing
The tests carried out in the homes are taken directly to the LNS in Dudelange, where they are assessed in the specialized virology laboratory. The results are then promptly passed on to the patient and the management of the respective retirement and nursing home, as LNS Director Prof. Dr. Friedrich Mühlschlegel explains: “In the fight against Covid-19, the time factor plays a major role, especially for the elderly, who are at high risk of the severity of the disease. This is why our employees will not only work seven days a week, as is already the case, but virtually around the clock. In this way, together with the Inspection Sanitaire and the LIH, we are helping to help the elderly through screening for asymptomatic forms and early diagnosis. ”
Proven test checked again for reliability
The test being used was established and validated at the LNS. Friedrich Mühlschlegel to say “Despite all the time pressure, it is of course very important to pay attention to quality when testing. This is all the more true when tests are carried out on such a large scale. This is why the test was validated here at the LNS and checked for reliability and conformity. In doing so, we have made use of the concentrated expertise of our employees and can therefore be sure to use a test that really works. This also demonstrates our versatile role in the fight against Covid-19.”
The Covid19 Fighters – a professional team at people’s side
The LNS sees itself in this struggle as a practical institute at the people of Luxembourg and the Greater Region’s side: “Our team, like the whole country, is internationally oriented, and this also generally applies to Luxembourg health sector workers,” says Friedrich Mühlschlegel. Against this background, the LNS also unofficially renamed its staff “Covid-19 Fighters” at the end of March, and designed a logo to go with it: “With the Covid-19 Fighter initiative, we have made it so that despite having to work from home and other measures, we are continuing to fulfil our role as health professionals and as people, as a team, with the usual professionalism – as we are now doing with these tests for elderly people in residential and nursing homes.”