French and Riviera News Wednesday 11th March 2020

Local

The association of the victims of terror in Nice has refused to attend today’s ceremony in Paris - The association of the victims of the terror attack of July 14th 2016 in Nice the “Promenade des Anges”, has announced that it will not be participating in a ceremony taking place in Paris today in memory of the victims of terrorism.

Officials have cricitised the fact that the ceremony is co-organised by cabinet office manager to President Macron, and former cabinet manager to the prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes Francois Xavier Lauch who was, at the time of the attack placed under the status of assisted witness in the investigation of possible security breaches.

Coronavirus - A new case of the coronavirus has been diagnosed in Nice according to the Regional Health Agency. The number of people affected by the coronavirus in the Alpes Maritimes reached 23 on Tuesday evening.

With 1,784 recorded cases and 33 deaths, France is the second-worst affected European country after neighbouring Italy, which has imposed a national lockdown until 3rd April. However, in Menton, the border remains open despite Italy’s containment measure.

France’s director of Health Jérôme Salomon held a press conference on Tuesday in which he outlined the following:

Among the 33 dead in France 23 of them were over 75 years old. 5 were under 64 and 4 were aged between 65 and 74.

He also pointed out that 86 people were currently in a serious condition.

98% of people recover. Jérôme Salomon stressed that the death rate from coronavirus in France was very low. Unable to cite official figures, he nevertheless estimated the cure rate at 98%.

80-85% of benign forms. The Director of Health wished to recall that if the clinical profile of Covid-19 is not that of influenza, 80 to 85% of the forms of the coronavirus are benign.

For the director of health, it is essential to protect the elderly and the most vulnerable. Salomon insisted on the importance of changing habits and barrier gestures. Handshakes and hugs should be avoided and staying at home in case of early symptoms.

The Director of Health also welcomed, as did Emmanuel Macron earlier in the day, the commitment of the Samu which is receiving 6000 calls daily, compared to the usual 3000.

Air France - Air France has announced that it is to suspend all flights to Italy between 14th March and 3rd April, due to the Coronavirus.

A spokesman for Air France said that one flight per day would be maintained to all destinations in Italy up until 14 March to allow customers to travel if needed.

Spain on Tuesday banned all air traffic from Italy, as Madrid also imposed school closures across the country and blocked fans from football matches, following a sudden tripling of coronavirus infections in less than 48 hours.

British Airways also cancelled all flights to Italy, and Malta was another to halt air services to Italy, and also denied port to another cruise ship. 

Meanwhile The chief executive of Paris Airports, which runs the French capital's two main international airports, has tested positive for coronavirus. The news came as the government said a fifth member of parliament and Culture minister had contracted the virus, as further measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 were announced.

Paris' Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports are among the busiest air hubs in the world, with over 100 million people passing through them every year.

Cannes conferences – Conferences held in Cannes have already been severely disrupted due to the coronavirus with Mipim postponed and MipTV cancelled. The attention is now on the Cannes Film Festival. Organisers have said that they are ready to adopt all the directives in force to combat the spread of the virus with possibly closing part of the screening rooms.

Pending possible decisions, the preparation for the event is continuing with accreditation requests up by 9%.  Last year, the festival gathered 12,527 accredited people from all over the world.

Greenpeace activists in police custody - Four activists from the local group Greenpeace have been placed in police custody. The four were arrested after a new "poster campaign" in the streets of Nice "to ask the candidates of the local elections to take action against air pollution linked to road traffic". Following the arrests, the NGO denounced “methods of intimidation”.

In January, eight people were arrested and placed in police custody for "damage" to street furniture. When "#We want to breathe", "Air! "," Stop diesel ", were written, on posters, placed on the front of the permanence of the " friends of the mayor ", Christian Estrosi.

National

Sea rescue in Mont Saint-Michel -  Air-sea rescue services have discovered two bodies following the disappearance of a boat on Tuesday evening in the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel. The search continues for two other passengers thought to have been onboard the vessel. The identity of the passengers and the circumstances of the incident are still unknown.

Francois Fillon trial - The State prosecutor’s office has demanded a two year prison sentence to be imposed on Francois Fillon with his wife facing a three year suspended term and a 375,000 euros fine.

Coronavirus crime - The coronavirus has sparked a new type of crime in France, with Chinese visitors wearing protective face masks finding themselves targeted by people posing as police and health officials and forcing them to pay fines of up to 150 euros, according to the Chinese embassy. 

A statement from the embassy says that several “Chinese students in France reported that they were fined 150 euros for wearing face masks in public,” allegedly in violation of the “face mask law”.

Business

Extreme market volatility is continuing today with Asian shares down and US futures suggesting more falls on Wall Street later.

Markets had recovered somewhat from Monday’s brutal sell-off that was triggered by the double shock of an oil price war and the worsening coronavirus outbreak.

Gains have  looked to be short-lived this morning with US stock futures falling 2.2 percent  and Australian shares down 2 percent.

Earlier this week US President Donald Trump said that he would take “major steps” to ease the economic strains caused by the spread of the virus but so far there have been no major announcements.

Analysts say that there are still strong expectations that the US Federal Reserve and other central banks will support fiscal stimulus with monetary easing.

There are increasing reports that the Fed will cut interest rates again for the second time this month at next week’s scheduled policy meeting.

 

Thousands of flights have been cancelled worldwide as airlines struggle to cope with a slump in demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Ryanair is stopping services to and from Italy until the 8th of April and BA has scrapped its routes to the country until the 4th of April.

Easyjet has cancelled all of its flights to and from Italy until the 3rd of April.

Norweigen Air has also said that it will cut around 3,000 flights in the next three months accounting for some 15 percent of its capacity.

Meanwhile the head of the European Commission has announced that airlines will be able to keep slots even if they’re not flying routes.

Ursula Von de Leyen said that it was a temporary measure to help the industry.

 

And-Italy has announced that it’s suspending mortgage payments as part of measures to soften the economic blow of coronavirus on households.

Many experts are warning that Italy is facing a deep recession which will put enormous strain on the eurozone as a whole.

The country’s banking lobby says that lenders would be offering debt holidays to small firms and families.

Other European countries are also considering offering mortgage holidays to customers who have to self isolate or can’t work because they have to look after their children during the outbreak.

The Italian economy still hasn’t recovered properly from the 2008 financial crisis and unemployment remains stubbornly high among the under 25’s.

 

Sport

Football-The English Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal has been postponed as a precautionary measure against coronavirus.

Several of the Arsenal players met the president of the Greek side Olympiakos at a Europa League match two weeks ago and have now started self-isolating after he was confirmed as having contracted the virus.

The signs are that more matches across Europe will be postponed or played behind closed doors as the virus spreads.

Spanish and French league matches will be played behind closed doors and the organisers of Serie A say that the season may not be able to be completed.

Spurs are out of the European Champions League after losing 3-0 at Leipzig last night with the Germans taking the tie 4-0 on aggregate.

Atalanta are also through to the quarter finals after winning 4-3 at Valencia to take the tie 8-4 on aggregate.

There are two more ties tonight.Liverpool play Athletico Madrid trailing 1-0 from the first leg while the match between Paris St Germain and Borussia Dortmund will be played behind closed doors with the French side trailing 2-1 from the first leg.

Cycling-Ivan Garcia Cortina of Spain has won stage three of the Paris-Nice race.

The 24 year old claimed a shock win in a bunch sprint finish at La Chaitre with Max Schachmann retaining the overall race lead.

Racing-Epatante won the feature race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival which has been allowed to go ahead despite the spread of coronavirus.

The favourite ridden by Barry Geraghty came home to give trainer Nicky Henderson his 8th victory in the Champion Hurdle.

Crowds on opening day were 7,000 down on last year at around 60,000.

Today’s feature race is the Queen Mother Champion Chase which is off at 4.30 French time with Defi Du Seuil and Chacun pour Soi the clear favourites.

Weather

Clear skies with light variable winds.

Top temperature 16-18 degrees.

Overnight lows of 11 degrees on the coast and 7 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday-Partially cloudy  with highs of 14-16 degrees.

Finally 

A recent study has found that the Monty Python's famous 'Silly Walk' created by John Cleese is 'exactly 6.7 times' more silly than a normal walk and it's down to the way he flexes his knees

The walk was examined by biologists from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire who study the origin and evolution of bipedal walking.

The team, led by Nathaniel Dominy said it is a good example of the extreme variation in walking styles possible in two-legged species.

They found the silliness came from the knee flexing - particularly the angle which is bent through 110 degrees compared to the normal 20 degrees. 

The study of his walk was 'not particularly silly' and calculated his silliness at about 3.3 times more variable than normal walking. 

Cleese eventually had to stop performing the silly walk at live shows due to age. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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