A French doctors union has asked for schools in three regions to be closed for four weeks to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The National Union of School and University Doctors said that a school closure of two weeks during the winter holidays would not be sufficient. The union said that children are "active links" in the chain of coronavirus transmission, especially since the appearance of new variants. Meanwhile, a school in the Val-d'Oise department to the north of Paris has been closed after the discovery of two cases of the South African variant this morning. A testing campaign will get underway tomorrow for students and their families as well as the local population.
The Regional Health Agency for the Provence Alpes Cotes d'Azur region has released its weekly update of cornavirus numbers. 1,714 people are hospitalized, which is an increase of 87 on the previous week. 449 people are in intensive care, which is an increase of 22. 113 people lost their lives to the virus last week while in hospital.
The Monaco government has said that working from home is compulsory as from today "as soon as it is practicable". Teleworking can only be done with the agreement of the employee. The objective is to limit as much as possible the movement of people and the interpersonal contacts which promote the spread of the virus. The new measure is in force initially until 19 February inclusive.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran has said that 270,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine have so far arrived in France with another 300,000 expected within the next two days. Speaking after receiving his own injection of the vaccine at a hospital to the south of Paris this morning, the minister said that he hoped all caregivers, firefighters and home helpers would be vaccinated in the next fifteen days.
The Prefect of the Var has drawn the attention of teleworkers to a telephone number to call if they feel isolated or have difficulty teleworking. It's a national toll free number available throughout France. The number, which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week and is anonymous, is 0800 13 00 00.
Local elected officials have been visiting a small hamlet which is still cut off some four months after Storm Alex hit the region. The Prefect of the Alpes Maritimes, the mayor of Tende and the Prefect in charge of reconstruction in the valleys flew into Casterino by helicopter. A handful of local residents have been spending the winter in the village which is located to the north-west of Tende near the border with Italy.
Several major UK high street retailers have written to UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for a tax to be introduced on online retailers. Morrisons, Asda and Waterstones are amongst eighteen businesses who have asked for a one per cent sales tax to be levied to "level the playing field" between bricks and mortar retailers who have to bear the costs of lage amounts of real estate and online stores.
Carmaker Hyundai has said that it is no longer in talks with Apple about the possibility of building electric cars. The South Korean comany said that it is receiving various requests for cooperation in the development of autonomous electric vehicles but they were at an early stage and no talks are being held with Apple.
Motorsports..Lewis Hamilton has signed a new one-year contract with Mercedes for the 2021 season. It will be his ninth season with the team.
Tennis... Dominic Thiem is through to the next round of the Australian Open as are Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios. However, French player Gael Monfils is out of the tournament. Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka both won their matches today but Angelique Kerber lost to American Bernarda Pera.
Cricket...Pakistan have completed a 2-0 series clean sweep over South Africa with a 95-run win in the second Test in Rawalpindi. South Africa started the day aiming for 370 but were out for 274.