Evening Update Thursday 9 April 2020

French president Emmanuel Macron made an unnanounced visit to Marseille today. He visited the IHU Méditerranée hospital. It follows a visit earlier today to a teaching hospital in the southern suburbs of Paris where met teams involved in clinical research into the coronavirus. The visits by the President have been part of a fact finding and consultation excercise announced by the Elysee yesterday. M. Macron is due to address the nation this Monday evening, the 13th of April, shortly after 8pm to present decisions made concerning the fight against the epidemic for the next few weeks. The President has not yet specified a new duration of the confinement, but is expected to do so in his televised address.

The town hall in Cannes has annnounced that an extensive disinfection of an area of La Bocca will take place tomorrow (Friday) morning. Place Roubaud and surrounding areas will be disinfected by a pick-up type of vehicle propelling a disinfectant soution over a range of 15 meters,  a drone which will also spray the same disinfectant solution and two pedestrian agents equipped with backpack thermal sprayers. The disinfection will begin at 8am tomorrow. The Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, said that a "major disinfection" will be carried out at the end of confinement throughout the entire municipal territory of Cannes.

The Prefect of the Var, Jean-Luc Videlaine, has announced a tightening of the confinement measures. The opening of shops and commecial delivery and take away services will be prohibited from 9pm to 6am. The new rules are in operation until at least midnight on the 15th of April throughout the Var department. Service stations are not included in the new measures.

A union representing GPs across France has estimated that about 1.6 million people in France could have already contracted Covid-19. The estimate comes from extrapolating data gathered in a survey of over 2,000 GPs across the country. The survey results showed that just over 56,000 patients with the symptoms of Covid-19 were identified by GPs between March 17 and April 3. The union said that the estimate of 1.6 million infected people was consistent with what was known about the contagiousness of the virus.

French Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner has requested that Covid-19 be declared an occupational disease for Ministry of the Interior employees. He said that 1,400 civil servants had been proved to have been affected by the virus. The move comes after a police union requested earlier this week that Covid-19 be classified as an occupational disease. M. Castaner also said today that the Ministry had ordered 40 million masks for police and gendarmes.

A French government spokesperson has said that decisions on wearing masks in public will be made on a national level "when there is a scientific consensus". In an interview this morning Sibeth Ndiaye said that scientific knowledge is progressing "as the epidemic develops". She said there is "no scientific consensus today on the matter."

In other news, a fire broke out in undergrowth at Fos-sur-Mer in the Bouches-du-Rhone in the early hours of this morning. Reports say that about 70-100 hectares of undergrowth have been consumed by the blaze. The fire was still in progress this afteroon but firefighters said that it doesn't pose a threat.

The body of a man has been discovered in a car in the Var. The discovery was made in the early hours of this morning in Hyeres. It appears that the car left the road and caught fire. According to reports, initial investigations suggest the victim may have been a local man in his thirties.

Police in Toulon have made a drugs seizure whilst carrying out confinement controls. About 2.1kg of cannabis resin was discovered in the hallway of a building. No arrests have so far been made.

 

BUSINESS

New data released by the US government this afternoon shows that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits has surged for a third week in a row. More than 6.6 million people filed jobless claims in the week ending 4 April, according to the Department of Labor. The filings in the previous two weeks totalled more than 10 million.

In a controversial move, the UK government has announced plans to borrow billions of pounds from its emergency Bank of England overdraft facility to finance the fight against Covid-19.  It's unusual for the central bank to hand cash directly to the government but both the Bank and Treasury insist the overdraft is temporary. The facility was last used in December 2008, during the financial crisis.

Airbnb is to temporarily restrict UK bookings to key workers and “essential stays”. It said that the measure would last until at least 18 April. Key workers, such as NHS and social care staff, and transport and food retail employees, can still book on the platform through a programme called Frontline Stays.

Disney's new video streaming service, Disney Plus, has reached the 50 million subscriber level, just five months since its launch. It was rolled out in Europe last month. Despite launching in India just last week, it has already gained 8 million subscribers in India as people are confined to their homes because of the virus outbreak.

 

SPORT

Motorsports... Formula 1 managing director of motorsports and technical director Ross Brawn has said that a world championship could still be held this year even if the season can't start until October. He said that "every permutation is being discussed" and closed-door races were being looked at. F1 has to run eight races for a season to be classed as a world championship.

Football... A letter sent to all 72 English Football League clubs by chairman Rick Parry has said that no training should resume until at least 16 May. The EFL said it was hopeful the season could finish in the summer, but there is still no indication of when it might begin again. The EFL said the season can be completed in 56 days when it is safe to resume, but it's assumed that matches will be played behind closed doors.

Southampton have become the first Premier League club to announce that players are to defer part of their salaries. The club's board of directors, the manager and his staff will do the same. Southampton have also said they will not be using the government's temporary layoff scheme during April, May and June and all staff not deferring their salaries will continue to receive 100% of their pay.

Rugby.... Australia's National Rugby League competition will restart on 28 May - if coronavirus restrictions are eased. Australian Rugby League said they wanted to give everyone involved in the sport some "certainty" but commissioner Wayne Pearce said that they haven't finalised the details of the competition.

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