A Luxembourg hospital nurse has given insights into the first week of increased coronavirus cases, saying things are still “in the calm stage”.
Maria* told Delano on 24 March that the first cases of suspected coronavirus began arriving at her hospital around 17 March, many of them fuelled by anxiety rather than real sickness.
“Maybe the fact it became more prevalent in the media with other European countries giving their stats and the seriousness of cases that people maybe started to wonder or become more anxious with anything they were feeling,” she said. Some patients with anxiety issues were also genuine medical cases.
Anxiety-related illnesses are not unusual at the hospital, according to Maria, who has been working as a nurse in Luxembourg for more than 10 years. But what has changed recently is that the source of the anxiety has shifted. She explained: “Whether it’s brought on by normal everyday stress from work or family life, their anxiety shifted from being at work to being about this virus.”
Hospitals have cancelled all annual leave but staff are also on “standby” when not essential “in case we have to start doing longer shifts”. Maria said that in future she expects to remain stationed at her hospital. As she understands it, the advanced medical centres will be staffed through the current government drive to recruit medical students, private healthcare professionals and others. Once they become fully operational, she suggested these centres could lighten the burden on hospitals.
At the time of writing some 1,099 people had tested positive for covid-19 and eight people had died in Luxembourg. The virus’ spread in Luxembourg depends largely on how stringently the public apply the basic recommendations such as social distancing, staying at home and good hygiene like regular handwashing.
“You do still realise that not enough people are taking the stay at home seriously,” Maria said, adding. “I regularly see especially teenagers and young people in groups. At that age maybe you don’t take the situation seriously because maybe you don’t quite understand. […] We also see groups of families together going for a walk. They think they are outside but no, that’s not really the point.”
While Maria said “we’re not massively overflowing in our hospital, yet”, she urged people to only visit accident and emergency services if they absolutely need to. “Because if we do start to get busy there, it is those people who are going to make life a bit busier,” she said. Anyone experiencing the key coronavirus symptoms such as breathing difficulties and fever should call the Luxembourg coronavirus hotline (8002 8080) to be told where to seek treatment or be tested.
*The nurse's real name has been changed in line with her wish to remain anonymous in this interview.