More upheaval about VIP vaccinations
By Yannick Hansen and Zuzanna Reda-Jakima
A former minister from Prime Minister Xavier Bettel's pro-business liberals received a vaccination at a time he may not have been eligible for one, radio broadcaster 100,7 reported on Monday, adding to upheaval about accusations that several prominent figures jumped the queue.
Henri Grethen, a former government minister who also heads the Luxembourg City care home Hospices Civils, confirmed to television station RTL that he received his inoculation on 19 February.
Grethen had needed the vaccination because he had to regularly visit the institution, he told RTL, denying that he jumped the queue and saying that he took the vaccine on the recommendation of the board.
The public prosecutor's office will now look into the allegations after Sven Clement, a member of parliament for the Pirate Party, had asked it to probe the “wrongful vaccination” of individuals he “had been made aware of”.
The Hospices Civils apologised for Grethen's vaccination in a statement on Tuesday.
"At no moment does the Hospices Civils in Luxembourg City want to deprive residents or other individuals to their right to a vaccination," the home said.
It is not the first time that accusations of people getting vaccinated ahead of their turn surface in Luxembourg. Three governing board members of the Hospital group Robert Schuman, who are also well-known businessmen, have been accused of receiving the shot earlier than they should have.
And a hospital in Ettelbrück said this month it had asked the public prosecutor’s office to look into how its staff had handed out the vaccine after reporting “potential irregularities” with its vaccination programme.
The alleged irregularities are noticeable as Luxembourg is one of the countries in Europe where the roll-out of the vaccine has been the slowest. To date, it has handed out just over 7.5 injections for each 100 residents, below the EU average of 9.5 and much further behind the US and the UK.
Radio station 100,7 also reported there had been 264 cases of ineligible vaccinations during the first phase of the vaccination programme, which targeted hospital staff. The health ministry confirmed this number, saying 600 invitations had been sent out in error.
Separately, police said they had slapped a fine on 145 people for not complying with pandemic rules over the past week, authorities said on Monday, mostly because they had broken the curfew that forces people to stay indoors at night.
Authorities performed around 400 checks to make sure people respect the current sanitary rules to limit the spread of the coronavirus, which will remain in place until at least 2 April. Half of the breaches it sanctioned were from people not respecting the curfew between 23.00 and 6.00 hrs.
There had been nine cases of people disregarding rules that limit how many people can get together for private gatherings and sporting events.
People may still leave the house with a valid reason, such as a medical emergency or when they are on their way to work or getting there. Without such grounds, offenders can be fined €300 each.