Large-Scale Testing 

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In close cooperation with the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the Ministry of Health, the COVID-19 Task Force has developed a “Large Scale Testing Strategy” based on a voluntary diagnostic test accessible to the population, including cross-border commuters of the Greater Region. This will ensure that Luxembourg can better and in an informed manner accompany the lifting of restrictions from the lockdown. The more people participate, the more protection this will mean for the entire population.

The overall objective is to avoid a second wave of infected people in the context of exit measures and thus the introduction of a new lockdown. By shortening the lockdown period, psychological, economic and social problems will be kept to a minimum.

Download the infographic of the large scale testing strategy

Why is this strategy important?

Due to the size of Luxembourg and its limited number of residents, we have a great opportunity: we can test the entire population for the novel coronavirus within a short period of time. This makes us the first country in the world to have a complete overview of the number of infected citizens

Minister of Higher Education and Research Claude Meisch

From 27 May to 28 July 2020, a total of 17 “drive-through” and 2 “walk-through & bike-through” test stations will become available across the country to carry out up to 20,000 tests per day.

Citizens and cross-border workers are divided into representative groups that receive invitations by post to get tested voluntarily. It is important that as many citizens as possible accept these invitations in the coming weeks, because the majority of those infected do not know that they carry the virus. They show little or no symptoms and pass on the virus unconsciously. The COVID-19 PCR test determines whether a person is contagious. While this is a snapshot, it helps identify positive cases, which will then go into domestic isolation for about two weeks and whose contacts are traced back. This reduces the risk of infection for their fellow citizens and new infection chains can be broken. A large-scale participation in the testing increases the protection of their family, friends, colleagues and, last but not least, the risk groups – and thus helps to keep the spread of the virus under control.

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The testing strategy


For the large-scale testing, the population is divided into 3 categories depending on their risk of being exposed to the virus:

Category 1:

Specifically targets groups who are at work most exposed to the virus and who are in contact with many other people, which may increase the risk of transmission. These are professional groups like nursing staff and doctors; hairdresser and cosmetic services; police officers; staff from nurseries; staff from the HORESCA sector as soon as it is reopened; etc.. This category receives invitations to be tested every two weeks.

Category 2:

Comprises the groups that are either already working normally again, or for which the lockdown will be lifted in the coming weeks. Within these larger groups, small representative subgroups will be tested for the virus. The results from these subgroups can be seen as an early warning signal for the respective sectors, since they allow to identify any new flare-ups in virus spreading at an early stage. Groups for which the lockdown will be lifted can either be tested completely at once (and then be monitored by regularly testing smaller samples) or be split into randomly selected subgroups which are tested over the entire period.

Category 3:

Once the exit restrictions are entirely lifted, the timely detection of an increase in infections is crucial to reduce the risk of a second pandemic wave. Therefore, representative samples of the entire population of Luxembourg including cross-border workers are tested every week. This will facilitate the early detection of infection flare-ups in certain regions or sectors, break infection chains and thus help to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Based on this concept, the following sectors will be tested:

From 25 May:

From 1 June 2020

This multifaceted testing strategy covers all potential points at which the virus spread can flare up again. It should allow to test a large part of Luxembourg’s population once and thus help to continuously monitor and keep the spread of the virus under control. This enables all residents and cross-border workers to return to their social and professional life as safely as possible. Considering the dynamics of infections, flexibility is needed to be able to respond quickly to new developments (regional or sector-specific infection clusters). Accordingly, depending on the circumstances, the test capacities can be adapted on a weekly basis.

FAQ Large-scale testing


At the beginning of the pandemic, we already had a high level of infection in Luxembourg compared to the size of the population. In addition, we now know that the majority of infected people show no symptoms (an estimated 80 % of those infected). According to the CON-VINCE study, in addition to the currently confirmed cases, there are still around 1,500 people who carry the virus but are asymptomatic (status: May 7, 2020). That means they carry the virus within themselves without developing symptoms but can still infect other people. So far, all people have had little contact with others in the lockdown. However, as soon as the contacts increase again, the likelihood of infecting others increases. If the measures are relaxed, the number of infections could rise again quickly. Our health system then again risks being in a critical situation in which not everyone could be adequately treated. Testing helps to identify asymptomatic virus carriers that in consequence stay at home for 2 weeks. This prevents them from infecting others and can also inform and enables to test their contacts in order to interrupt the infection chains at an early stage.

We have to assume that the increased contacts will lead to more infections. How many there will be depends on how well everyone adheres to the hygiene measures and how many people can be tested. The more tests we can do, the more infection chains can be interrupted and the lower the number of new infections will be that could lead to a second wave.

It is true that Luxembourg has mastered the crisis well so far. That gives reason to be optimistic. But we must not forget that without security measures, the virus spreads exponentially. I.e. a few individual cases can quickly turn into hundreds, thousands of cases. This should be avoided so that we don’t have to go back into a lockdown. The test strategy is not about creating panic; on the contrary, it is about introducing an additional measure that will allow us to regain a little more normality faster and more safely.

On the one hand, the test will of course find out what your own health status is: positive means you are currently infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, negative means you currently have no infection (the test cannot find out whether you have already been in contact with the virus if you are no longer (no longer) infected – only antibody tests can do this).
Large-scale testing is not just about the individual, but mainly about the population as a whole. With each asymptomatic virus carrier that can be identified by the test and then quarantined at home for another two weeks, the risk of infection for everyone else decreases. In this way, each individual can help to identify infection chains at an early stage and protect their family, friends, work colleagues and especially risk groups from potential infection.
For the individual, a negative test result does not mean, of course, that the person no longer has to adhere to the usual hygiene measures. The protective measures continue to apply to everyone: wash hands, keep distance, wear mask (where necessary), sneeze and cough etiquette etc.

In theory, of course, it would be better if everyone could be tested every day. But this is not possible for logistical / practical reasons. Nevertheless, the principle of “all or nothing” does not apply here, but quite simply: the more people are tested, the more new infections can be avoided because the tests identify and isolate more people who are potentially contagious. The test strategy does not mean 100% protection for all of us. But any measure that helps prevent new infections improves the situation and public health. And the test strategy clearly contributes to this – this is scientifically undisputed. This is particularly important for professional groups with a lot of personal contact (e.g. nurses, hairdressers, etc.), as they could pass on the infection to a particularly large number of people through their work. It is therefore not a question of a single person no longer being able to be infected, but of reducing the overall risk. As soon as the percentage of infected people in a representative sample rises again, one can test again on a large scale to further minimize the risk.

So far, only people with symptoms have been tested. However, recent studies show that a majority of those infected show no or hardly any symptoms – so they do not even know that they are positive and therefore contagious. This fact contributes significantly to the spreading of the virus. The nationwide test strategy is now about testing people without symptoms in order to identify and isolate these asymptomatic virus carriers.

Antibody tests indicate whether a person has already had the virus and is possibly immune. This is of personal interest. If it turns out to be certain that you are immune once you have the virus, it would be interesting for the individual to know. However, this plays only a secondary role for public health at this time because according to the CON-VINCE study, only about 2% of the population were infected with the virus. Only when a possible immunity is widespread in the population does this have a significant effect on the spread of the virus. Large-scale antibody tests would only make sense from then on.
However, PCR tests have an effect on public health. Because they allow currently infected people that might infect others to be identified and to then send them home so that they no longer infect other people. This way, one can avoid new infections. And the point in this phase of lifting the initial restrictions is to reduce the number of new infections to a minimum.

Even with testing, the virus will probably not disappear completely. Until then, however, the extensive testing allows us to relax the measures more safely and to keep the spread of the virus under control. Still, we’ll have to live with the virus until a vaccine is developed.

Such an approach, without taking any protective measures, would result in a large number of deaths in a short time. Mortality at COVID-19 is currently estimated to be around 0.7%. At the same time, the virus is very contagious, much more than, for example, influenza flu. If you simply let the virus spread its course, many people would get sick at the same time and the health system would be overloaded (capacity in hospitals, etc.). Ultimately, many people would die in a short time. Simulations assume several thousand deaths within a few weeks in Luxembourg.

There are several strategies to keep the novel corona virus under control:
• One option is to strictly limit physical contacts between people, as was the case in lockdown.
• Another option is through hygiene measures such as safety distances, wearing face masks and regular and correct washing of the hands. The solidarity and discipline of the entire population play an important role here.
• Another one is to use tests to identify and isolate those who are virus carriers and therefore infectious. The following also applies here: Having a test is above all a protection for others. I could be infectious without knowing it.
• It is also important to trace the contacts of identified people and to quarantine them as a precaution. This can be done manually (as is currently the case in Luxembourg) or with the additional help of an app.
• A good monitoring system also helps to keep the virus under control. It is therefore important to keep an eye on the relevant figures such as the number of reproductions, but also to monitor the number of freely available intensive care beds, the number of new infections, the age of the newly infected, etc. This makes it easier to predict how high the risk is in order to allow the loosening of as many restrictions as possible. At the same time, however, it can also be recognized at an early stage when a potential second wave is forming, which in the worst case would result in a lockdown – which should be avoided.
A combination of the above measures to keep the novel corona virus under control is the most effective.

Contract tracing means that you understand the contacts of an infected person and ask them to stay at home and / or have themselves tested, in order to interrupt the infection chain. This can either be done manually by employees of the health inspection department or supported by digital methods such as apps. In order to prevent another lockdown, it is necessary to keep the number of new infections so low that tracing the infection chains remains possible. In Luxembourg, contact tracing is currently carried out manually by the health authority. The tests in conjunction with contact tracing make it possible to break infection chains, and thus reduce new infections.

No. The mentioned large-scale testing project is – as far as the test itself is concerned – a project by different players from Luxembourg research, but not a research project. It is a contribution to public health in which public-law research institutions make their knowledge and expertise available to accompany political decisions.

Yes, the test is voluntary. However: the more people who can be tested, the better. This way many people with current SARS-CoV-2 infections can be identified and isolated – and thus contribute significantly to the success of a normalized life in view of the ongoing pandemic risk.

Classification of quotas

Contingents are allocated according to the government’s exit strategy. That means, they are defined by the government. First of all, people who are in contact with others because of their work are tested. Gradually, more contingents will be invited for testing. According to a detailed time schedule, contingents are tested either entirely, in subgroups or in representative samples.

Testing is of course voluntary. However, the extensive testing is carried out according to a specific time schedule. As soon as you receive an invitation by letter, you can make an appointment for the test. In sectors in which not a whole contingent is tested, but (first) a representative group within the contingent, these people are selected at random.

Whether a contingent is tested completely and how often it depends on various factors:
• High risk of coming into contact with infected people due to work (e.g. nursing staff)
• High number of work-related contacts (e.g. hairdressers)
• How high is the prevalence (percentage of infections in the tested group) in a representative sample of the contingent
• Etc.

People who are at high risk of contracting an infection or are in contact with many other people are tested every two weeks. This affects e.g. people who work in the healthcare, police, daycare, hairdressing, and cosmetic sectors.

The more than 200,000 cross-border commuters in Luxembourg make up an important part of the Luxembourg’s work environment. Therefore, they are included in the corresponding contingents and are also invited to be tested. The contigents therefore go beyond national borders.

Yes, children are included in the extensive testing and, like adults, will receive an invitation by post.

At this moment, the first steps of the large-scale test strategy focus on the working population and students. In a further step, however, random samples of the entire population are also invited to be tested.


The PCR test uses a throat swab and molecular biological techniques to determine whether a current, active SARS-CoV-2 infection is present, i.e. whether the test person is currently carrying the virus and therefore is contagious. It does not matter whether there are symptoms of COVID-19 or not. The genetic material of the virus can be detected using the PCR test. This is also present when the infected person shows no symptoms.
No blood sample is taken in the test and tested for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Such a test would also primarily identify people who have already had an infection in the past.

In general, COVID-19 PCR tests have improved a lot in the past few weeks and have increased their sensitivity significantly. The PCR test used in the large-scale testing has a sensitivity of 100 %, so that even the smallest amounts of virus can be detected. As a result, there are very few false negative results. The tests are therefore also suitable for finding asymptomatic virus carriers.

For this, a throat swab is carried out using a cotton swab.

Pooling means that 4 tests are evaluated at the same time. This is possible because overall, still relatively few positive cases are expected at this point. If the pooled analysis is positive, all 4 samples are checked again separately. With this method, the efficiency and thus the capacity of large-scale testing can be increased while maintaining the same quality.

The PCR test using throat swabs is about identifying and consistently isolating people who are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, i.e. are contagious (as well as people with whom they have been in contact).
The antibody test investigates a blood sample is tested for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. This test has a different goal: namely to identify people who have already been infected with the virus and are healthy or on the way to recovery.
If antibodies can be detected in the blood sample, this means with a high probability that the test subject has already been infected with the virus. However, whether and for how long these antibodies protect against further infection, i.e. It is not yet known whether there is any immunity. More information about the two tests can be found in this article (DE/FR).

The large-scale test strategy is primarily about identifying and isolating asymptomatic people with a current SARS-CoV-2 infection. This can currently be most reliably determined using a throat swab and PCR.
With an antibody test, on the other hand, you can only determine whether a person has already had an infection, but not necessarily whether it is still current and, above all, whether the test person is still contagious.

The CON-VINCE study, in which a representative group of the population was tested for antibodies, showed that currently only about 2% of the population has developed antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus (this is also called ‘seropositive’). This means that we are still far away from herd immunity, which would only have been reached at around 60 %. If we now ran large-scale antibody tests, we would only get a very, very large number of negative results and thus waste a large amount of resources. Large-scale antibody tests only make sense if approx. 30 % of the population has already been in contact with the virus.

Please contact your family doctor or a Center de Soins Avancés. For people with COVID-19 symptoms, the instructions from the health inspection department continue to apply. More information can be found here.

The majority of those infected show little or no symptoms. So, they don’t know that they can carry the virus and pass it on. The COVID-19 PCR test tells you if you are contagious to others. If you let yourself be tested and follow the instructions of the health department, you will help to protect your family, friends, colleagues and last but not least the risk groups – and thus keep the spread of the virus under control.

Yes. The PCR test can only identify current infections within a certain time window. You may have been infected without knowing since the last test result. Please get tested as soon as you receive an invitation by post.


There are 17 drive-in and 2 walk-in / bike-in stations across the country. View the full list of locations with addresses on via this link.

The extensive testing started on May 18, 2020. By June 1, 2020, the capacities will then be continuously increased to up to 20,000 tests per day. This means that almost 1 million tests can be carried out during the next 2 months.

You will receive an invitation by mail from the government in collaboration with the Luxembourg Institute of Health to be tested. With the voucher code in this invitation, you can book an appointment at one of our test stations on the website before you go to the test site. When you receive a letter depends on the time schedule developed for the large-scale testing and the contingent to which you are assigned to.

With the voucher code in the invitation, you can book an appointment within the next two weeks.

No. You will receive an invitation by post to be tested. With the voucher code in this invitation, you can book an appointment at one of our test stations on the website before you go to the test.

You don’t have to do anything right now. Because not all people in a sector or contingent are always tested at the same time, but sometimes representative samples are selected, not all people receive their invitation for testing at the same time, but by post over a period of several weeks. Please be patient and get tested as soon as you receive an invitation.

Please show your letter of invitation, your identity card or passport and your insurance card. You will also be asked to provide a mobile phone number during the appointment reservation, on which you will receive an SMS as soon as your test results are available.

Nothing. The test is voluntary. If you are asked to be tested and still decide against it, it does not mean that you have to stay at home. However, there is a concept behind the test strategy (see above) that offers the greatest possible protection for everyone if as many people as possible take part (see question: Is the test voluntary or not?)

The personnel who perform the tests are trained and wear protective clothing and a mask. In addition, the drive-through concept at most test stations prevents you from coming into contact with other people, since the swab is carried out while you are sitting in the car. The risk of getting infected during the test is extremely small.


As soon as your test results are available, you will receive an SMS on the mobile phone number that you specified when registering. The SMS contains a code with which you can download your results on a website. You will receive an SMS with both a positive and a negative test result. This takes place within two days. If the result is positive, you will also be contacted by the health inspection department and asked to stay at home for two weeks so as not to infect your fellow citizens.

When registering for the test, personal data is recorded, e.g. your name, national identification number, address and telephone number. After analyzing the swab, a diagnostic test result is generated: positive or negative for SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The data are obtained from accredited diagnostic laboratories using diagnostic kits and examined in the laboratory. The data obtained is also forwarded from the test laboratory to the health inspection department in order to notify test subjects who may have tested positive. According to the law, medical laboratories are obliged to report contagious diseases to the health authority (Direction de la sante). SARS-CoV-2 infections are among these notifiable diseases (Loi du 1er août 2018 sur la declaration obligatoire de certaines maladies). The laboratories therefore send secure electronic information via the agency e-Sante every day about the people tested (e.g. name, national identification number, address, telephone number and test result). Among other things, this allows to contact the positive cases by phone, isolate them and track their contacts (contact tracing). In a statement by the National Data Protection Commission (CNPD) on the coronavirus crisis of March 13, 2020 (see, it explicitly confirmed that the health authority may collect and process this personal data. On the part of the health authority, only employees of the health inspection (inspection sanitaire), which is a department of the health authority, have access to the confidential data.
The government is providing anonymized, aggregated data sets to public-law research institutions in order to statistically monitor the progress of the pandemic and to evaluate it for research purposes. The researchers have at no point access to the personal data of the people tested.

Please stay at home for two weeks and follow the instructions given by the health authority to protect others. More information for people with COVID-19 can be found here.

It is important for everyone – also for people with a negative test result – to keep to the usual protective gestures (distance of 2 m, protective mask, wash hands etc.). They help to further reduce the risk of infection significantly.


No, the tests are free for the participants. The budget for carrying out the large-scale testing was provided by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.

The economic impact of the lockdown is noticeable per month in relation to the gross domestic product with an average loss of approximately 3,200 EUR per inhabitant of Luxembourg. The test costs per person are therefore relatively low in order to achieve an early and safe loosening of the lockdown.


The project is led the Luxembourg Institute of Health. The tests are carried out by its contractual partner Laboratoire Reunis, who is logistically supported by Ecolog. The large-scale testing is based on the proactive mitigation strategy developed by the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Task Force.

So far, 500,000 tests have been purchased from Fast Track Diagnostics at a total price of 4.7 million euros. Thanks to the pooling method, over 1.7 million tests can be carried out with these tests.


The high number of tests carried out will help to assess the extent of the spread of the virus and to detect for the first time asymptomatic cases, which are currently estimated to account for up to 80% of cases. This means that we can detect many more infected people than before, put them in isolation and track their contacts, thus breaking the infection chain.

As the protection is greater the more people are tested, we want to encourage all residents of the country to participate in this unique public health measure.

Minister of Health Paulette Lenert


The testing strategy consists of expanding the capacity to 20,000 tests per day. The objective is to be able to test the entire population, progressively and in contingents, in some cases several times. Testing and segmentation of the population into contingents.


For people tested negative, the restrictions of the lockdown are lifted. Positive tested people must enter isolation. Their contacts are traced, tested and quarantined to break the chain of infection.


What we do here in Luxembourg is unique. Luxembourg can test more extensively than any other country to date. This enables us to take the difficult path out of the COVID-19 crisis towards normality in the most controlled way possible. On the one hand, this minimises risks and on the other hand, provides a solid basis for the government to make decisions

Ulf Nehrbass, spokesman of the COVID-19 Task Force and CEO of the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH)

The COVID-19 Task Force is well organised for this. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, researchers, statisticians and doctors work together on a daily basis to produce projections for Luxembourg that are as accurate as possible, based on which the decision-makers can then decide on the measures to be taken.

This project, which primarily serves a public health objective, will also enable research to gain a better understanding of the virus in the medium term – which is important in order to learn how we can better live with the virus in the future. In addition, the experience gained now will in the long term also serve to be better prepared as a country in the event of another pandemic.


What we do here in Luxembourg is unique. Luxembourg can test more extensively than any other country to date. This enables us to take the difficult path out of the COVID-19 crisis towards normality in the most controlled way possible. On the one hand, this minimises risks and on the other hand, provides a solid basis for the government to make decisions

Ulf Nehrbass, spokesman of the COVID-19 Task Force and CEO of the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH)

What is the COVID-19 Task Force?

Efficient measures in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic require close cooperation between research, hospitals and the Government in Luxembourg. For this reason, Research Luxembourg (LIH, LISER, LIST, LNS, Luxinnovation, University of Luxembourg and FNR, under the coordination of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research) has set up the COVID-19 Task Force in order to better implement relevant initiatives.

Based on a list of priorities elaborated by ministries and other partners, a number of work packages have been defined, which the COVID-19 Task Force will work on in the coming weeks and months.

In cooperation with the government, the COVID-19 Task Force sees its role in providing scientific input to enable the government to work on a fact-based EXIT strategy. To this end, the COVID-19 Task Force is continuously working on updates on the development of the pandemic in Luxembourg and submits concepts and recommendations from a scientific perspective so that they can be incorporated into the political decision-making process.