POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - POLITICS

Press conference

Bettel takes stock of floods, covid-19, Afghanistan



Prime minister Xavier Bettel said on Wednesday that there are enough vaccines for those that want them and outlined plans to set up vaccination facilities in shopping centres and allow occupational physicians in big companies to administer the jab.  Photo: Romain Gamba/Maison Moderne/Archives

Prime minister Xavier Bettel said on Wednesday that there are enough vaccines for those that want them and outlined plans to set up vaccination facilities in shopping centres and allow occupational physicians in big companies to administer the jab.  Photo: Romain Gamba/Maison Moderne/Archives

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel held a press conference following a cabinet meeting and took stock of the covid-19 pandemic, Afghanistan and the aftermath of the floods.

The government initially allocated €50m in aid for people and companies affected by the floods which hit the country on 14 and 15 July. That has now been increased to €150m after almost all of the initial sum had already been disbursed.

A total of 143 people have so far submitted requests for the subsidies while €600,000 have been disbursed to 16 companies. 153 demands for financial aid in the agriculture sector have been submitted for a total of €1.67m.

The damage to public buildings has been estimated at €10m. Canalisation and roadworks damages have amounted to €8.4m and €16m respectively.

Various civil services were tasked with analysing the floods and their recommendations will be implemented in the future in order to deliver a timely warning of similar disasters. “A working group in 2020 tried to reform the warning system. In the future we will also be able to receive text messages and reach a big portion of the population without needing to install the [GouvAlert] application,” said Bettel.

Cases increase, vaccines available

A slight increase in positive cases has been registered following people’s return from vacation, Bettel said. The numbers are expected to continue to rise in the following weeks. “80% of those who have been hospitalised were not vaccinated,” said the premier. 21 patients are currently in hospital while five are in intensive care, of which all are unvaccinated. “There are enough vaccines for those who want them,” said Bettel.

For the autumn and winter period the government plans on setting up vaccination facilities in shopping centres. Occupational physicians in big companies will also be able to carry out vaccinations. At the moment general practitioners can also administer the shots.

“We will have another briefing in the following weeks to present the new text for the covid law which will be voted in mid-September,” said Bettel.

10,000 people evacuated from Afghanistan

Bettel was rather brief in his assessment of the situation in Afghanistan leaving defence minister François Bausch (déi Gréng) and foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn (LSAP) to provide more details.

The ministers explained that 15 people are currently in transit to Luxembourg. Those include a Luxembourg family with three kids, four people from their entourage as well as a judge accompanied by her family. Her life would have been in danger had she stayed in Afghanistan, according to the ministers.

Over 200 people stuck in Afghanistan have asked the Luxembourg authorities for help. “The evacuations are very complicated,” said Bausch. “It is only thanks to European collaboration that so many people were evacuated recently.”

10,000 people have been rescued in total via planes sent by Belgium, Spain and the UK, among others.

“Regarding family reunion, there needs to be a European solution. For me it is regrettable if EU member states refuse to take in refugees,” said Asselborn.