French and Riviera News Thursday 26th March 2020

Four new cases in Monaco - The Principality's health authorities have announced 4 new cases of Covid-19. This brings the number of people affected by the coronavirus to 31,  including one who is now cured.

The Princely Government reaffirmed the need to observe the recommended precautionary measures.

Meanwhile Monaco’s Minister of State Serge Telle has announced that following the request from HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco « public service agents, totally dedicated to the current health crisis will benefit from 1,000 euros bonus. 

The Minister  is still in self isolation after testing positive for coronavirus on Monday 16th March. 

It still remains to be determined who exactly will benefit, with  nursing staff and emergency services in Monaco being the first to be compensated.

Further details are to be decided at a meeting between the National Council and the Monitoring Committee on Monday March 30th, following the establishment of the committee on Friday 27th, a committee which will be dedicated to the health crisis in Monaco.  

 

Drive-in mask collection point - The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has announced the setting up of a "drive-in" mask collection point for health professionals. The facility, which should be in place at the Palais des Expositions from Saturday morning at the latest, will enable health professionals and private providers who are exposed due to their activity, to pick up approved protective masks. Requests have to be made before collection and the service is not open to the general public. Mr. Estrosi said that between 50,000 and 60,000 masks will be available initially.

MIPIM - The organizers of the MIPIM property event, usually held in Cannes each March, have announced changes to the schedule. This year's MIPIM had been postponed until June but the organizers have announced that this year's event is being changed into a two-day gathering in Paris in September and a new online experience, MIPIM Connect, which will be available year-round. The next edition of MIPIM in Cannes is scheduled to take place from March 16-19 next year.

CHU Nice - A dozen health staff have tested positive for the coronavirus at the CHU in Nice. However, no severe cases have been recorded so far amongst health professionals at the hospital.

Fund to help students - The PACA region has released funds to help local students who are stranded abroad. The President of the PACA region, Renaud Muselier, announced that 500 euros per student was being made available to help their families to repatriate them.

The Prefect of the Var has issued an order today prohibiting the  public from going to food shops between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The order is in operation from today until the end of the month. Deliveries aren't affected by the order.

A health union has written to the Regional Health Council suggesting the creation of "drive-in" testing centre to fight the outbreak. The idea, which is already being used in some other parts of France, is that motorists would drive into a centre and have a nasal swab performed at a distance without leaving their vehicle.

Coronavirus figures in France - The Director of Health in France, Jérôme Salomon has announced the death of 231 people in 24 hours in France, bringing the number of victims of the coronavirus to 1331 dead. At least 25,233 people have tested positive since the start of the epidemic.

1,331 people have died and 25,233 cases of contamination with the coronavirus are now listed in France, announced the Director of Health on Wednesday evening. 86% of these hospital victims are over the age of 86.

Salomon went on to say that « The crisis will be long and the next few days will be difficult. We will have collective dramas, individual dramas » , calling on the French to "unite".

Worldwide, more than 441,000 cases of infection are now confirmed in 172 different countries, and Europe remains the epicenter of the pandemic according to Jérôme Salomon. 82,000 cases have been reported in China, 359,000 cases outside China. Finally, 112,000 people are now cured of the disease.

 

Military operation « Resilience » - Meanwhile the French President Emmanuel Macron has announced the launch of a military operation called "Resilience", which will mobilize the armed forces to help the population affected by the coronavirus epidemic, as the "peak that is before us" approaches.

 

The "Resilience" operation, will be entirely devoted to aid and support to populations, as well as to support public services to face the epidemic, in mainland France and overseas, "said the head of state.

 

The head of state made the announcement while visiting the military field hospital, in Mulhouse on Wednesday. The military field hospital which the army at his request installed this week, was set up to try and relieve hospitals in the region, overwhelmed by the influx of Covid-19 patients.

 

Emmanuel Macron, who was seen for the first time with a FFP2 type mask on his arrival, announced the increase of tests, to 29,000 per day, especially for caregivers and in nursing homes, compared the current 5,000 being carried out. 

 

He also announced that a phone number for caregivers and families would be put in place to provide psychological support.

 

Emmanuel Macron also promised the establishment of a "massive investment and upgrading plan for all careers" for the hospitals, once the coronavirus crisis had passed. 

 

Paying tribute to the nursing staff, the Head of State has sworn to be "at the rendezvous of what we owe, beyond this recognition and respect". "This response will be deep and lasting," he said.

 

 

Nursing homes claim higher mortality rate - Nursing homes in regions of France most affected by the coronavirus say the official figures are missing many cases and that real mortality is much higher. 

Since the coronavirus epidemic reached France, health officials have chosen to test only the most serious cases of Covid-19, which generally means those in which hospitalization is required, or at least considered.

Unlike in Italy, France does not carry out post-mortem tests, meaning if a person with symptoms resembling those of Covid-19 dies without being tested, they are not included in the official mortality figures. 

This makes nursing homes an unknown factor when it comes to Covid-19 mortality in France, and since France’s health director has announced measures to begin monitoring mortality in nursing homes. But alarming reports surfacing in recent days suggest the toll has already been considerable. 

 

Complaints filed against members of the French government - Five complaints have been filed since Monday, March 23, with the Court of Justice of the Republic. They target the Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, former Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn, and the Minister of Health Olivier Véran. 

 

The complaints were filed by two associations and three individuals for acts of endangering the life of others, or of failure to assist a person in danger, and manslaughter.

 

In addition, a sixth complaint for "obstructing assistance measures" against Agnès Buzyn and Edouard Philippe is on its way to the Court of Justice of the Republic. It was filed by a 46-year-old Ile-de-France resident diagnosed with covid-19 in mid-March, according to his lawyer Nabil Boudi.

 

Speaking to Franceinfo the lawyer explained that "If there have been shortcomings on the part of a certain number of people who are in the French government, these shortcomings must be punished. Faced with a crisis of such magnitude, we cannot have ministers who procrastinate" , "we are not looking for sanctions, we are not looking for convictions, that is not the subject of the complaint".

 

In addition to these complaints, the previous week, a group of caregivers had already filed a complaint against the Prime Minister and the former Minister of Health accusing them of having "refrained" from taking measures in time to stem the coronavirus epidemic.

 

Tax returns - According to the France’s Finance Ministry « possibilities are being studied to make everything as practical as possible both for online and paper declarations ». The comments come following requests  for « possible flexibility » over tax return deadlines. The ministry concluded that the procedure will soon be clarified taking into account the current health crisis. 

 

Education - France’s education minister Jean Michel Blanquer has confirmed that the 2020 baccalaureate will take place despite the special conditions linked to the coronavirus epidemic. It’s date and terms should be announced within the next ten days.

 

Business.

 

The emergency economic relief package agreed by Donald Trump and the US Senate is worth more than 1.8 trillion dollars and includes money to bail out industries that have been affected by the coronavirus crisis.

The Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said that it was a “wartime level of investment” in the economy although investors remain nervous.

US markets had rocketed up on Tuesday in anticipation of the deal but the rally started to fizzle out shortly before the close on Wednesday with stocks closing below their peak for the day.

The emergency bill will also include measures to help people pay bills if they’re laid off because of the virus while unemployment assistance will be expanded by 250 billion dollars and small firms will be granted some 350 billion dollars in emergency loans.

The Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said that it was “the largest rescue package in American history” adding that “help is on its way-big help”.

The final package is thought to amount to some 10 percent of US output with analysts saying that it would help to mitigate the depth and duration of the economic shock.

 

The fast food giant McDonald’s says that it will be removing some items from its US menu as it focuses on simplifying operations in the face of the fast spreading coronavirus outbreak.

Restaurants in the United States have been forced to close their doors or limit services to delivery and takeaway which is putting pressure on businesses that are struggling with staffing levels and plunging trade.

McDonald’s said that it had instructed franchisees and local restaurants to focus on the most popular choices on the menu over the next few weeks.

The firm also said that it was considering deferring rent and service fees for its franchisees who operate the majority of McDonald’s restaurants in America.

 

 

And-Airbnb has held a video conference with its bankers to discuss extending a 1 billion dollar debt facility as the firm struggles with a slowdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The development echoes the concerns of many businesses that have been rushing to borrow more money to boost their cash reserves as the virus continues to take hold.

Airbnb’s current debt facility was agreed in 2016 and while the firm has never used the credit ,it wants to secure an extension to be prudent.

The firm’s revenue exceeded 4.8 billion dollars in 2019-up 35 percent year-on-year and it is reported to have a cash reserve of some 3 billion dollars.

 

Sport.

 

 

Tennis-A decision on whether the Wimbledon Championships can go ahead is to be made next week.

The All England Club says that postponement or cancellation of the tournament which is due to be held between the 29th of June and the 12th of July is possible because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Playing behind closed doors has been formally ruled out.

The ATP and WTA tours have already been suspended until the 7th of June.

 

Formula 1 -The organisers of the Canadian Grand Prix say that they’re “optimistic but realistic” about the chances of the race going ahead on the 14th of June.

All the races so far this season have been cancelled and the Canadian Grand Prix organisers say that they’ll make a decision over the Easter weekend at the latest.

 

 

Cricket-The England all rounder Ben Stokes says that he’s still preparing for a return to competitive cricket in case the Indian Premier League goes ahead next month.

India was put on a three week lockdown on Tuesday because of the spread of the coronavirus and the start of the IPL has been delayed until at least the 15th of April.

Stokes said that he had to “get it into the back of his head that he’ll be playing” even though he knows that he probably will not.

Stokes is one of 13 English players due to feature in the tournament which was due to start on the 29th of March.

 

Rugby Union-The English RFU has said that it expects the coronavirus outbreak to cost it as much as 50 million pounds in lost revenue over the next 18 months.

Reports say that the England coach Eddie Jones has been asked to take a large pay cut as the RFU looks to minimise spending .

Executives on the board have already agreed to a 25 percent pay cut.

 

Boxing-Tyson Fury could face Deontay Wilder for a third time in October according to promotor Frank Warren.

Fury scored a 7th round technical knockout when the pair met in Las Vegas last month to take the WBC world heavyweight title.

Wilder has triggered a clause in his contract for a rematch and Warren said that although no-one can say what will happen at the moment ,October was looking like the most likely date.

 

Weather.

 

Partially cloudy with light to moderate westerly winds.

Top temperature 12 degrees.

Overnight lows of 9 degrees on the coast and 6 degrees inland with scattered showers.

Friday and the start of the weekend-Partially cloudy with highs of 14 degrees tomorrow and 16-18 degrees on Saturday.

 

 

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