Luxembourgh Times

Jump in first vaccines as tougher measures near

Parliament is due to vote on a new Covid law clamping down on the unvaccinated

Luxembourg's vaccination bus is one of the measures the country uses to encourage people to get jabbed

Luxembourg's vaccination bus is one of the measures the country uses to encourage people to get jabbed © Photo credit: Guy Jallay

Deputy editor-in-chief  

Nearly 6,000 people went to have their first Covid-19 jab last week, the highest number of first doses in almost half a year, a sign that government pressure on vaccine hold-outs is starting to have effect despite raucous protests.

Luxembourg's parliament is due to vote on a new Covid law on Thursday, which will clamp down on people who have not taken the vaccine, forcing them to take a daily Covid test to enter the workplace from mid-January.

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel - who has been at the receiving end of a flurry of hate speech - this week took to social media to say that “5,840 people had their first jab last week. That is as many first vaccines as since mid-July”.

Bettel has been the target of anti-vaccine protests over recent weekends, when protestors demonstrated outside his home. A total of 19 people were arrested during protests in the capital last weekend, with five facing charges for a range of offences, including the possession of illegal weapons.

The number of people in Luxembourg fully vaccinated against the corona virus stands at 68%, the same as the EU average and only just below 69% in Germany. But in neighbouring France and Belgium, the full vaccination rates stand at 71% and 75% respectively, according to data published on the Our World in Data website, run in part by Oxford University.

Last weekend, five people died of Covid in Luxembourg and there are currently 87 people in hospital, 25 of whom are in intensive care, figures from the Health Ministry showed. Those numbers are still well below the peaks in November 2020, indicating the vaccine is doing its job protecting against the disease.

The country has also started rolling out booster shots, which 124,000 people have now received, Bettel said in a separate Tweet, and a further 30,000 lined up for the coming days. And on Tuesday, Luxembourg started giving out the vaccine to children up from the age of five years old.

Measures to help staff and businesses keep afloat as a result of the resurging pandemic stayed in place on Monday after the government and trade unions decided to prolong a government-funded furlough scheme to keep unemployment in check and state aid to help cover business costs.