Evening Update Thursday 28 January 2021

French Minister of Health Olivier Veran has said that the coronavirus is circulating at "a high level" and we are on a "rising plateau" which is increasing at about ten per cent per week. Speaking during a press conference this afternoon in Paris, he said that on the positive side, the vaccination has started, but on the negative side there are new variants. Two thousand patients per day are currently affected by the variants, compared with five hundred per day at the beginning of January. The minister called it "an epedemic within the epidemic" which was threatening to strike "very quickly and very hard" if nothing is done.

He said that current measures, including the curfew, are useful but "probably insufficient". He stated that the effectiveness of the curfew is fading and new measures are necessary. He added that pressure on hospitals is increasing and there are currently 3,100 people in intensive care.

Meanwhile, government spokesperson Gabrial Attal is scheduled to speak at 8.30pm this evening.

The Metropole Nice Cote d'Azur is launching an initative to help people with their psychological and physical wellbeing during the pandemic. In conjunction with the Metropolitan Health Security Agency, two mobile teams will crisscross the area to offer support, listening and physical activity with workshops. Activities will include talk groups, relaxation, muscle development classes and psychological support and will be tailor-made according to the needs expressed by local people. They will involve a multidisciplinary team made up of psychologists, social workers and othe personnel. As of today, anyone in the Nice metropolitain area can contact the staff by calling 04.97.13.52.88 or by e-mail on supportmetropolitain@nicecotedazur.org

In other news, two people have died after being shot in Valence and a nearby community this morning. A man has been arrested in connection with the shootings. The first shooting occurred when a man entered a pole emploi employment office in Valence and shot a woman. Another woman was shot shortly afterwards at a business in a town to the west of Valence. Prime Minister Jean Castex said that "the tragedy in Valence leaves the whole country in mourning" and expressed his gratitude to the police officers involved.

A twenty year old man has been remanded in custody suspected of setting fire to cars in the town of Vitrolles to the north-west of Marseille. More than forty cars have been set ablaze in parking lots in the town since last March. He denies any involvement.

Meteo France have a yellow warning for high winds in the Var and the Alpes Maritimes until about 9pm this evening and from 4am to at least 4pm tomorrow. There's also still a yellow avalanche warning in force for the Alpes Maritimes.

The first eco-museum of France and the Mediterranean has begun to take shape off Cannes today. This morning six statues created by artist Jason deCaires Taylor were lowered into the water near the lle Sainte Marguerite in the presence of Cannes Mayor David Lisnard. The statues are all sculpted images of the faces of Cannes residents. They will be both an object of art and an awareness raising campaign for the protection of the Mediterranean. The works will form artificial reefs, thereby promoting biodiversity.

The Mayor of Antibes, Jean Leonetti, has opened a workshop held by the Research and the Future Association at the European Center for Innovative Companies business incubator in Sophia Antipolis. The workshop is in its 15th edition and this year is focussed on the links between innovation and biology.

Firefighters in the Alpes Maritimes have been carrying out a preventative burn of undergrowth near the village of Coursegoules today. The controlled burn is aimed at reducting the risk of future breakouts of fire.

 

BUSINESS

Officials from the Belgian medicines regulator have visited an AstraZeneca production plant near Brussels. The visit was at the request of the European Commission. The investgation is in connection with the dispute between the EU and AstraZeneca regarding vaccine shortages. The two held crisis talks last night which both described as "constructive".

UK car production declined by 29.3% in 2020, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. December output was down by 2.3% with some firms affected by border closures and component supply issues. The year was the worst since 1984 for UK car makers, with the pandemic chiefly responsible for the decline. Manufacturing operations were severely disrupted throughout 2020, with lockdowns and social distancing measures restricting factory output amid continuing Brexit uncertainty.

Easyjet has released its trading statement for its first quarter. Passenger numbers in the quarter decreased by 87% while total group revenue compared to the same period last year was down by 88%. EasyJet said its underlying cost performance for the quarter was in line with expectations.  It said group headline costs excluding fuel were reduced by 52% as material savings were achieved across many areas, including airport fees, ground handling, crew and maintenance costs.


SPORT

Cricket...Pakistan posted 378 all out on the third day of the Test against South Africa today, a lead of 158. South Africa ended the day in their second innings on 187-4, a lead of 29, having lost three wickets late in the day's play.

Formula 1... Fernando Alonso has paid tribute to  former Formula 1 driver Adrian Campos, who has died aged 60. Spanish driver Campos competed in 17 Grands Prix for Minardi in the 1980's. Alonso said he was a "great promoter of this sport".

Football... Tennis player Naomi Osaka has invested in professional women's football team North Carolina Courage. The club was formed four years ago, and competes in the National Women's Soccer League.

There's just one game in the English Premier League tonight. Spurs host Liverpool.

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