French and Riviera News Wednesday 15th April 2020

 

Coronavirus - In the Alpes Maritimes, 131 people have died from the coronavirus according to the latest figures published on Tuesday evening. 282 patients are in hospital in the region with an additional 79 in intensive care.

In the Var, the virus has claimed 123 lives. 329 patients are in hospital, marking a sharp increase in the number of those admitted to hospital this week which according to officials is due to military officers, from the aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle, which were  admitted to the Sainte Anne military hospital in Toulon. 

All deaths in both the Alpes Maritimes and the Var, include those in both hospitals and care homes.

In Monaco for a second consecutive day on Tuesday no new cases of Covid-19 were reported. 

On a national level In France, 103,573 cases were confirmed on Tuesday evening, 5,497 more than on Monday. 71,903 people have been hospitalized since the start of the epidemic.

6,730 patients are in intensive care, including 95 young patients under the age of 30. 

28,805 people have left hospital after having been cured since the start of the epidemic in France. 15,729 people have died from the virus in France. The average age of the deceased is 81.

French researchers say massive Covid-19 testing is the only way - French researchers say that the current confinement restrictions can only be eased gradually, recommending large scale testing and to isolate anyone who has the covid-19 virus in order to reduce the fallout of a possible second wave of contamination.

The report was published by France's national health and medical research agency and recommends that the lifting of restrictions should not come into effect before May or June at the earliest and warns that a return to 'normal' will take several weeks.

It also suggests that in the early stages of lifting confinement measures, schools should remain closed and elderly people should remain confined.

French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the issue of the lockdown in his televised speech on Monday evening, announcing an extension of the confinement period until 11th May, and a gradual re-opening of schools from then on.

However, in order to avoid a second wave of covid-19, researchers warn that social distancing will have to continue for the coming months because as yet, most people have not developed immunity to the virus.

According to the study, the population infected by covid-19 as of 5 April was estimated between 1 and 6 percent.

This is similar to an estimation made by Imperial College in London which showed a level of infection of its population between 2,88 and 6,12 percent.

Over the course of confinement, the level of contamination has dropped, going from 3 people infected for every confirmed case to less than one person (0,68 percent).

This is good news for hospital emergency services, which have been overwhelmed with patients, but the study says until the 'group immunity level' is reached (at least 60 percent of the population immunised), the virus will continue to spread and hospitals will again face a strain on their services.

Researchers add that the fastest way to come out of confinement is to identify people who have contracted the virus through systematic testing, in order to quickly isolate any cases from the rest of the population.

If tracing, testing and isolation are done efficiently, and on a grand scale, social distancing measures will be gradually become less strict over time.

This will, according to the study, probably require the use of digital tools, as is the case currently in Asia.

The study did not take into account the use of protective face masks nor the way the virus would react to a change in season, two aspects which have not benefited from enough scientific research.

Back to school – Meanwhile, French teachers are raising concerns about President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement that schools and daycare centres could reopen gradually as of 11th May as part of the lifting of coronavirus confinement measures. Asking “why are told that public spaces like cinemas and theatres will remain closed, but not schools, despite the fact that they are known to be a place of high transmission and contamination?”.  

Macron said that "Too many children, notably in poorer areas, in the countryside, are deprived of school, without access to digital tools,”. Since schools closed on 16th March, teachers have been teaching online and French public television has started broadcasting school lessons. However, many students have fallen behind because they lack access to computers or proper support at home. 

For Macron, this is why “children must be able to get back to school”. He said the government would have to find ways to protect teachers and students with the right materials.

Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said that the government will spend the next two weeks putting in place a system to reopen schools that guarantees the health security of students and teachers.

There will likely not be full classes, and students might only attend schools for limited hours before going home to continue classes online.

Blanquer also confirmed that the baccalaureate exam at the end of high school would be suspended, and the marks would be determined based on grades throughout the school year.

Chinese Ambassador summoned by French Foreign Minister - The Chinese Ambassador to Paris has been summoned by France's French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian for "Certain remarks" related to Covid-19.

Le Drian expressed his "disapproval" on Tuesday concerning "certain comments" related to the coronavirus. He said that  "Some recent public statements by representatives of the Chinese embassy in France do not conform to the quality of the bilateral relationship between the two countries", with reference to a campaign waged by the embassy to boast the Chinese government's "success" in the battle against the coronavirus and criticize Western responses to the epidemic.

Start-ups "Tech For Good" - During the Covid-19 epidemic, many companies in France are committed to helping professionals on the front line facing the coronavirus. Some examples of initiatives from French Riviera start-ups include the Nice start-up Volumic 3D, which builds 3D printers, creating medical and protective equipment for caregivers. 

There is also a collaboration of two French start-ups, including Wever, based in Sophia Antipolis, which has given birth to a system enabling healthcare staff to find accommodation near their place of work and to facilitate their travel. The device called Sahmia "simplifies the connection between the landlords providing temporary accommodation for the benefit of the nursing staff and optimizes their travel time by providing them with a set of adapted mobility solutions. 

At the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, the Secretary of State for Digital in France, launched an appeal to start-ups to encourage them to offer their innovative solutions for free, or at reduced prices, in order to help businesses or individuals to get through this crisis.

In the fight against Covid-19, some French Riviera start-ups are determined to apply the expression "Tech For Good".

Cannes Film Festival - The organisers of this year's Cannes Film Festival have announced the cancellation of the Festival in its “original form” due to the coronavirus, before adding that this year's edition could take on a new format, adding that several option currently being considered.

In a press release on Tuesday organisers said "Everyone knows that there are still many uncertainties regarding the international health situation and that they hope to be able to communicate very soon a new way in which the festival could take place". 

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday evening that major festivals and events with large audiences will not be able to be held "at least until mid-July".

Support plan of 9million euros for independent music producers affected by the Covid-19 - The civil society of phonographic producers the “SCPP” in France has announced that is has adopted a support plan in the amount of 9 million euros for independent music producers affected by the Covid-19 . 

The SCPP is a society for the collection and distribution of remuneration received on behalf of its members. It brings together the majority of independent French producers and international companies such as Sony, Universal and Warner.

Man goes for a swim despite confinement measures - A 30-year-old man visibly under the influence of alcohol, has been stopped by the police for swimming in the sea off the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. Municipal police spotted the man shortly after 3.30pm on Tuesday afternoon evidently not respecting the rules of the current confinement. The maritime police were alerted, and the individual was handed over to the police following their intervention. 

During confinement, water sports are prohibited: no swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving, kayaking, paddle boarding or jet skiing.

The maritime police reminds people that the surveillance of the coastline is permanent.

Survey – A recent survey has shown that 84% of French people approve the extension of the confinement. 

Emmanuel Macron established an absolute audience record last night during his televised speech, yet he only convinced half of the French, as revealed by a survey for Le Figaro and France Info. 

53% of those polled indicate that they were not convinced by the words of the head of state.

Among the measures announced, the extension of the confinement until May 11th which was approved by 84% of respondents. However, other announcements such as the gradual reopening of schools May 11th was disapproved of by 54% of respondents and the decision to reserve tests for people with symptoms was frowned upon by 62% of respondents. 

Finally, 56% of those questioned believe that Emmanuel Macron and the government are not doing enough to fight the epidemic, a figure up 3 points compared to a previous survey carried out on April 1.

Business

The International Monetary Fund has said that the global economy will contract by 3% this year as countries around the world shrink at the fastest pace in decades, describing the global decline as the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

It said the pandemic had plunged the world into a "crisis like no other". The Fund added that a prolonged outbreak would test the ability of governments and central banks to control the crisis.

While longer lockdowns will constrain economic activity, the IMF said quarantines and social distancing measures were vital.

The IMF set out four priorities for dealing with the pandemic. It called for more money for health care systems, financial support for workers and businesses, continued central bank support and a clear exit plan for the recovery. It urged the world to work together to find and distribute treatments and a vaccine.

The Fund added that many developing nations would need debt relief in the coming months and years.

GSK and Sanofi, two of the world's biggest pharmaceutical giants, are joining forces to try and create a vaccine to stop the spread of Covid-19. The bad news is that the vaccine - even if it is successful - will not be ready till the second half of next year.

There are more than 20 vaccines currently in development. Among those under way at the moment are: The first human trial for a vaccine was announced last month by scientists at a lab in the US city of Seattle. They have taken the unusual step of skipping any animal research to test the vaccine's safety or effectiveness and Australian scientists have begun injecting ferrets with two potential vaccines. It is the first comprehensive pre-clinical trial to move to the animal testing stage, and the researchers say they hope to move to the human testing stage by the end of April.

 

Sport

Cycling - The Tour de France, initially scheduled from June 27 to July 19, will start from Nice on Saturday August 29 to finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on Sunday September 20, according to reports. 

The postponement of the Tour de France was made inevitable following the intervention of President Emmanuel Macron last night, prohibiting any public gathering at best until mid-July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the newspaper, the Tour would scrupulously follow the course initially planned during the three weeks of racing.

Football - Arsenal stars have rejected a 12.5 per cent pay cut across the next year in a vote which was held on Monday afternoon.

Players were asked to consider reducing their wages over the next 12 months after football was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis.

Incentives on new contracts were offered as terms, with any deducted wages being added on top of a fresh salary agreement.

Arsenal also offered to hand back the deducted money to any player who left for a transfer fee. 

But the terms were unanimously rejected by players, with doubts over the summer transfer window and the long-term financial effects of the pandemic.

Arsenal are now left footing an enormous wage bill that runs to £230million each year.

A Newcastle United takeover has taken a step closer after new documents show that owner Mike Ashley has entered into a charge agreement with potential buyer Amanda Staveley.

Financier Staveley is leading a bid which involves Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and the Reuben Brothers.

It is understood to be worth £300m.

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish daughter says that her father is "starting to get moany so we know he's getting better". 

Dalglish, 69, tested positive for coronavirus after going to hospital to be treated for an infection last week, but he was discharged on Sunday. "

She added: "He's good. He's not quite up and 100% yet but he's not too bad at all."

Formula One - The seven UK-based Formula 1 teams have contributed to the supply of more than 20,000 orders from the NHS for devices to treat coronavirus patients.

A consortium involving all the teams and several other manufacturers has had more than 10,000 ventilator orders.

This is as well as 10,000 breathing-aid devices being produced to a new design invented by the Mercedes team and University College London Hospital. 

Weather

Clear skies with highs of 18 degrees in Menton, Nice and Antibes. 19 in Saint Tropez and the Var and reaching 21-22 degrees inland with a moderate to strong south easterly wind. This evening going down to 11 degrees along the coast and 6 degrees inland with clear skies. 

The outlook for Thursday and Friday is mainly cloudy with some sunny spells temperatures remaining much the same. Rain is forecast in the Var on Saturday.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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