French and Riviera News Wednesday 4th March 2020

Local

Coronavirus - Two new cases of coronavirus have been reported in the Alpes Maritimes. The cases reported on Tuesday evening concern two women aged 45 and 65 and living in Nice. As with all cases ,a medical investigation is underway to establish a possible link with previous cases. So far in the Alpes Maritimes 10 cases have been confirmed and 11 cases in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region.

On a national level France has closed some 120 schools in areas with the largest numbers of coronavirus infection.

Both primary and secondary schools have been shut in the Oise department, north of Paris, where the main cluster of French cases has emerged and where two people who have died of the virus lived. An additional 9,000 pupils have been told to stay home in the Morbihan department of Brittany on the Atlantic coast. Schools have also been closed in part of the eastern Haute-Savoie department, the second hotspot.

In a suburb of Paris, Montreuil, a class of some 20 students has been suspended, after a pupil tested positive for the virus.

Officials have reported that the total number of coronavirus infections in France stands at 204, four of whom have died according to the information website of France's health ministry.

Demonstration against pension reform - 200 demonstrators have gathered in front of the prefecture of the Var in Toulon to protest against the use of article 49.3 by the government to push through the pension of reform. Unions gathered on Tuesday morning. Speaking to local media the leader of the CGT in the Var Olivier Masini claimed "When you can't convince, you force". A second rally was planned Tuesday evening in front of the Draguignan sub-prefecture.

In Nice about 300 demonstrators rallied against the pension reform causing line 1 of the tramway to be disrupted. 

According to unions further demonstration are planned in the region on March 6th.

Meanwhile in Paris thousands of protesters demonstrated but the general strike announced on Monday did not take place with public transport working normally throughout the country.

Local elections - As the local elections get closer one candidate in Saint-Laurent-du-Var has published a letter from French actress Brigitte Bardot in which the actress expresses her support. Patrick Villardy head of the “Vivons Saint-Laurent” list was Bardot’s former bodyguard and supporter of her animal foundation. In the letter Bardot says

“How lucky the people of Saint Laurent are to have such a candidate”. Villardy is not the only candidate supported by Bardot. The actress and animal rights activist has also shown her support for Auguste Victoria in Aigues-Mortes, in the Gard.

Road deaths - Figures published have shown a slight increase in the number of fatal road accidents in the region last year compared to 2018. 58 people lost their lives in 2019 compared to 57 in 2018.

According to the report lane changes, non-compliance with safety distances and speeding are the main reasons for the deaths of motorcyclist in 2019, which were involved in twenty-seven of fatal accidents. Ten pedestrians lost their lives.

National

55 man killed at level crossing in La Somme - A 55-year-old man has died in la Somme after the vehicle he was driving was hit at a level crossing by a regional train. The accident occurred around 8am on Tuesday morning in the commune of Condé-Folie.  A 30-year-old passenger managed to get out of the vehicle ahead of the collision. According to the Prefecture a trailer had become stuck at the level crossing. The train, with 62 passengers on board, derailed and the driver was treated suffering from shock. No injuries were reported.

Magic potion - What if the magic potion from famous French comic Astérix and Obelix was the answer? In 2017, Asterix and Obelix (already) faced a masked enemy named "Coronavirus" and it’s become the talk of social media in France in recent days.

The Thirty-seventh volume of the adventures of Frances favorite Gaul, "Asterix and the Transitalique" was - without meaning to be a precursor to the health crisis that is currently hitting the world. 

Released in October 2017, the album tells the story of the adventures of Asterix and Obelix who find themselves, more or less by chance, in a chariot race on the road to "Transitalique". The famous duo are confronted by a masked enemy who answers to the name of ... Coronavirus!

Business

The Chairman of the US Federal Reserve has said that Tuesday’s emergency interest rate cut was introduced in a bid to shield global markets from the impact of the coronavirus.

The move ,which cut rates by a half of one percent to a target range of one to one-and-a-quarter percent took markets by surprise but after an initial rally ,Wall Street started falling heavily again with investors not convinced that the measure will be effective.

Jerome Powell said that the virus and the measures being taken to contain it will surely weigh on economic activity both in the United States and overseas for some time.

He said that the virus outbreak had caused a “material change” in the US central bank’s outlook for growth.

It’s the first time that the Fed has cut rates outside of a regular monetary policy meeting since the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

Markets though appear unconvinced that cutting rates is the way out of the problem with many analysts pointing to the fact that global growth is being hit by interrupted supply chains and falling  demand for travel as the virus spreads.

 

The World Bank has committed 12 billion dollars in aid for developing nations grappling with the spread of the coronavirus.

The emergency package includes low-cost loans ,grants and technical assistance.

The move comes as leaders around the world pledged to shield their countries from the economic impact of the outbreak.

There have been increasing warnings that the spread of the virus could tip many nations into recession.

The World Bank aid is intended to help countries improve their public health response to the crisis and to work with the private sector to reduce the economic impact.

 

And-Oil prices have risen by more than 1 percent this morning on expectations that major producers have moved closer to an agreement to make deeper cuts to output in a bid to offset the slump in demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Brent Crude was trading up 58 cents a little earlier this morning at 52 dollars 44 with West Texas Intermediate up 53 cents at 47 dollars 71.

Crude has fallen by some 27 percent since a 2020 peak reached in January on the back of falling demand.

Opec and its allies have recommended cutting production by some 1 million barrels per day with the two biggest suppliers Saudi Arabia and Russia both seemingly onboard with the measure.

The group is set to meet in Vienna on the 5th and 6th of March.

 

Sport

Football-Chelsea are through to the quarter finals of the FA Cup in England after beating Liverpool 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in the 5th round last night.

Willian opened the scoring for Chelsea on 13 minutes after a fumble by the Liverpool keeper with Ross Barkley scoring the second on 64.

Also last night Sheffield United were 2-1 winners at Reading and the Championship leaders West Brom were beaten 3-2 at home by Newcastle.

There are three more fifth  round ties are being played tonight.Leicester play Birmingham.Sheffield Wednesday host Manchester City and Spurs play Norwich.

There was one game in the Scottish Premiership last night.The Edinburgh derby ended Hibs 1 Hearts 3.

Formula 1-Bahrain is introducing special measures for personnel working at the Grand Prix later this month as a response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Gulf state has imposed a 14 day quarantine on travellers from countries where the outbreaks are most severe including Italy.

The authorities are planning an expedited process for Formula 1 personnel to limit the effect of the restrictions.

Formula 1 is working on a similar plan with authorities in Vietnam.

Rugby Union-Mako Vunipola is training with his club side Saracens after being stood down by England over coronavirus fears.

The prop will not be able to play for England on Saturday after he travelled home through Hong Kong last week.

A spokesman for the RFU says that the player is not stick but has been stood down for medical reasons.

Weather

Mainly fine with light westerly winds.

Top temperature 16 degrees.

Overnight lows of 8 degrees on the coast and 6 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday-Overcast with afternoon rain tomorrow.Fine on Friday.Highs of 13-16 degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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