Luxembourgh Times
News roundup

Five stories you may have missed

In case you missed them, read our round-up of the week's top news stories

Source: LT staff
Photo: Pierre Matgé

Photo: Pierre Matgé

Labs offer tests for all, immunity still a question mark

Laboratories in Luxembourg are now offering blood tests that show who has overcome the coronavirus, even if scientists have yet to prove that getting the disease once means enjoying some immunity. The labs began offering the blood tests this week without people needing a prescription but said it's too early to know whether the tests - which detect the antibody proteins that humans develop to fight off the disease – determine whether a person has immunity against Covid-19 in the future.

Luxembourg is also planning to test the entire population for the virus to help isolate cases that are not showing symptoms. The government will first define different groups for testing, related to the work they do. They will start with builders and teachers, who are already back at work.

EU agency set to leave Luxembourg for Brussels

A European institution employing around 80 people in Luxembourg is set to move its office to Brussels after the Commission gave its green light – just half a year after the Grand Duchy said it wanted to become more attractive to EU workers. Chafea, the European Commission's Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency, is based in the Cloche d'Or area of Luxembourg. Its staff will have to move to Brussels at the beginning of next year to make up a new organisation - the European Innovation Agency.

Foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn said he will fight to keep the agency in Luxembourg in upcoming discussions with the EU.

Pandemic postpones plans for Google data centre decision

It's been in the pipeline for some time, but the town of Bissen will likely postpone its decision on whether to approve plans to build a huge new Google data centre until late summer or autumn because of the lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The project is part of the country's goal to become less dependent on the financial industry and encourage artificial intelligence and other data-driven businesses.

The town council had expected its vote on whether to approve the urban plans for the site would take place in April, but that timetable was scrapped after the country was forced into lockdown.

MEPs demand answers from EIB after compliance failings

Members of the European Parliament this week demanded answers from the president of the European Investment Bank following revelations made by the Luxembourg Times into anti-money laundering failures. Twelve Greens and European Free Alliance MEPs sent a letter to Werner Hoyer, requesting that he discloses compliance shortfalls identified in an internal audit report mentioned in the article.

Finance ministers also said they will be keeping a close eye on the EU bank. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said his country will "continue to pay close attention to make sure the bank will respect best standards on compliance", while Austria's Gernot Blümel said he would be "monitoring the situation closely" following the "sensitive findings".

Lift lockdown fully and watch 8,000 more die, scientists say

What could happen if Luxembourg were to lift the lockdown completely and fully return to normal this week? Another 8,000 people would die from Covid-19, scientists have warned. Scientists from Research Luxembourg – a consortium of public research institutions – expect a second wave of infections as lockdown is slowly lifted, but hope it will be manageable and not overburden hospitals. More than 150 patients of the respiratory disease would need intensive care, if restaurants reopened in addition and people would be allowed to organise parties again, the group found.

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