Evening Update Thursday 19 November 2020

The French Minister of Health, Olivier Veran, has given a press conference in Paris this evening. He began by talking about the psychological impact of the pandemic. He said that during the first confinement one in three young people had been affected by some form of psychological distress and that the mental health of people had deteriorated significantly between the end of September and the beginning of this month. He issued a reminder that a helpline exists by calling 0800 130 000. The helpline is currently receiving almost 20,000 calls per day and had received 2 million calls since April. He said that the virus has circulated less quickly since curfew and confinement measures were introduced. The health burden in hospitals has started to gradually reduce. He added that "we must not relax our efforts".

The Minister of Health Jerome Salamon was also present and said that the incidence rate of the virus over seven cumulutive days has been falling but remains well above the target set by the President. The "R" rate of the virus has been below 1 for several days and has been between 0.65 and 0.89, meaning the circulation of the virus has been slowing. He added that today there are 32,345 people in hospital with the virus in France. One person is entering intensive care with Covid-19 every four minutes.

The Minister for Autonomy Brigitte Bourguignon said at the press conference that there are an average of 163 deaths per day in nursing homes. She said that the situation "remains worrying".  

The French Finance Ministry has said that retailers, distributors and online sellers have welcomed the possibility of postponing the "Black Friday" sales event. It said that discussions will be held tomorrow with the view to finalizing an agreement. French media are reporting that the government may offer to reopen shops on 28 November if retailers agree to a postponement of Black Friday. The Minister for Industry, Agnes Pannier-Runacher said in an interview today that the government aims to open shops as soon as possible but also reiterated that "every day counts" in health matters.

26 patients and staff have tested positive for Covid-19 in an area of Antibes Hospital. The hospital said that 20 patients out of the 50 patients in the M1 Pavilion and at least 6 personnel had received positive tests. Entries to the pavilion have been frozen and a crisis unit established. The Antibes Juan-les-Pins Hospital Center said that it wishes to remind people that continuity of care must remain paramount and they have taken measures to contain the outbreak. They said that it's important to remember that the pavilion is distinct from the main building.

The French minister of Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, has said that electricity cuts this winter can't be ruled out. However, she said that any such cuts would be "very short" and made if there was a "big cold wave". She said that power outages were the most extreme scenario and the government would first work with French industry in order to limit demand. Speaking on BFMTV this morning the Minister said that the possible cuts are the result of normal maintainance work on nuclear power stations earlier this year being disrupted because of containment. Meanwhile, electricity network operator RTE has said today that it expects a calm month for supplies in December but "a difficult month" in February. However, it said that it had many options at its disposal including the purchase of electricity from other countries.

The Principality of Monaco is celebrating its National Day today. The 19th of November celebrations are held to honour the Prince and his family as well as the people of the Principality. The National Day is also a celebration of the Principality’s independence and this year the national holiday is also honouring those who have worked on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19. A thanksgiving mass was celebrated at the cathederal in Monaco Ville this morning followed by ceremonies at the palace which included the presentation of  medals, distinctions and decorations.

Almost 1.5 million euros has now been collected to help the victims of Storm Alex, according to Alpes Maritimes Deputy Eric Ciotti. Donations can still be made via the department's website https://www.departement06.fr/

A virtual conference on Artificial Intelligence is taking place this week on the Riviera. The "Sophi.a Week" brings together the world's leading specialists in AI for 3 days. Normally the event is held at venues in Sophia Antipolis but the 3rd edition of the event is being held online because of the pandemic.



New figures released by the US Labor department today show that a higher than expected number of jobless claims were filed last week. 742,000 new claims were filed compared to 711,000 the previous week. An additional 320,000 people also filed claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.

The Chinese president has said that the country will open up its economy to import more high-quality goods and services. Speaking at the Asi