Evening Update Friday 31 January 2020

The plane carrying French citizens evacuated from China has landed at a military base in the Bouches-du-Rhône. The plane, carrying about 200 passengers touched down in Istres at 12.30 this lunchtime. However, reports say that one of the passengers is suffering from symptoms of the coronavirus and has been placed in isolation at La Timone hospital in Marseille. The remaining passengers have been taken by bus to a holiday centre in Carry-le-Rouet, near Marseille, where they arrived at 3.30 this afternoon. They will be isolated there for 14 days. The Prefect of the Bouches-du-Rhône, Pierre Dartout, has said that a second plane may be used to repatriate more people. The choice of Carry-le-Rouet, which is a small seaside town about 30km from Marseille, for the isolation centre has caused concern amongst local residents. The mayor of Carry-le-Rouet has said that he fears that "a psychosis" is spreading among the local population. The town is just about to begin its annual "sea urchin" festival, which normally lasts one month and attracts large numbers of tourists. In nearby Ensuès-la-Redonne, the mayor has issued an order prohibiting access to the beach and a local path "to avoid being in the immediate vicinity of the site".

A man has died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in Luceram in the arriere pays of the Alpes Maritimes. The man in his sixties was found in his home. His wife is also believed to have been affected and is being treated in hospital.

A school in Antibes was evacuated because of a fire this morning. The blaze, which was reportedly started by a microwave, was mostly confined to one room at the Pont-Dulys school and the damaged caused was not serious. Classes were able to resume later in the morning.

A homeless man has been arrested after allegedly attempting to obtain narcotics with a forged doctor’s prescription. The man arranged a doctor’s appointment in Le Cannet and is suspected of stealing a blank prescription and the doctor’s stamp whilst at the surgery. He later tried to obtain drugs from a pharmacist who had suspicions about the authenticity of the prescription and called the police.

The legendary 19 km race between Nice and Cap-d'Ail returns this Sunday after four years of absence. Motorists should be aware that traffic and parking will be prohibited along the course including in Nice, Villefranche sur Mer, Beaulieu sur Mer, Eze and Cap d’Ail.

A large quantity of drugs has been found in the in Gironde department in the west of France. 23 kilos of cocaine was found buried on a beach in Lège-Cap-Ferret. The discovery was made by a local walker who alerted authorities. It’s the latest in a series of bundles of drugs to have been washed up on the west coast in the past few months.

 

BUSINESS

New figures from French statistics body INSEE show that the economy contracted by 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019. That’s down from 0.3% growth in the third quarter. Data from Italy showed that the Italian economy shrunk by 0.3% in the final quarter of 2019. Overall, eurozone GDP numbers indicate a sharp slowdown from the previous two years. The 19-member single currency bloc grew 1.2 percent during 2019.

Aston Martin has announced plans to raise emergency funding of £500m. Reports say that a consortium led by billionaire Lawrence Stroll will put in £182m, with the rest of the money coming from existing investors. Mr Stroll partly owns the Racing Point Formula 1 team, which will be branded Aston Martin from 2021 under the deal.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has reportedly threatened to veto a deal to sell British Steel to a Chinese company. British Steel collapsed last year and control of the holding company passed to the UK Insolvency Service, which is responsible for selling the company's assets. The dispute centres on British Steel's plant in the Moselle department in north-eastern France which supplies the French railway network and is considered a strategic national asset.

The chief executive of Laura Ashley, Kwan Cheong Ng is stepping down. The company's chief operating officer will take over from 1 May. The retailer has closed 40 stores following weak demand for home furnishings.

 

SPORT

Tennis...Dominic Thiem has beaten Alexander Zverev to reach final of the Australian Open. Thiem won 3-6  6-4  7-6  7-6  to reach his first final in Melbourne. He'll meet Novak Djokovic in the final, who is favourite to win a record-extending eighth title at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday. The women’s final is being held tomorrow and will be between Garbine Muguruza and Sofia Kenin.

Rugby Union..It’s the opening weekend of the 6 Nations Championship with everyone wanting to beat England following their run to the World Cup Final last year. England start their campaign against a new look France in Paris on Sunday at 4pm. Northampton full-back George Furbank will make his England debut in the match against France. Tomorrow ,the opening game is between Wales and Italy in Cardiff with kick off at 3.15. That’s followed by Ireland against Scotland in Dublin at 5.45.

Football... In the English Premier League this weekend on Saturday Leicester play Chelsea. Bournemouth face Aston Villa. Crystal Palace play Sheffield United. Liverpool face Southampton.Newcastle play Norwich.Watford host Everton.West Ham play Brighton  and Manchester United play Wolves. On Sunday Burnley host Arsenal and Spurs play Manchester City.

Golf... The LPGA Blue Bay golf event, which had been due to take place in China, has been cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak. The women's competition was scheduled to begin on 5 March. The start of China's domestic football season and the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Nanjing have already been postponed because of the virus outbreak.

 

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