Evening Update Tuesday 16 March 2021

The European Medicines Agency held a press conference this afternoon regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine after France and several other states temporarily suspended its administration following reports of blood clots. Emer Cooke, executive Director of the Agency, said that when millions of people are being vaccinated it is inevitable that there are rare incidents and side effects. A committe of the Agency has produced preliminary results regarding the cases of thrombosis and blood clots but the investigation is ongoing. She said she remained "firmly convinced" that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh any risks. The conclusions of the EMA analysis will be released on Thursday.

President Macron is expected to hold a meeting with members of the Scientific Council this evening. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jean Castex has said that France has entered what he called "a form of third wave" of the coronavirus epedemic. Speaking to the National Assembly this afternoon he said that the epedemic is charachterised by "numerous variants" and vaccination is at the forefront of the government's strategy.

The president of the Provence Alpes Cote D’Azur region, Renaud Muselier, has said that the weekend lockdown could be extended by the government. Speaking on France Bleu Azur this morning he said that he believed the government could soon extend the measures to the whole region with the region soon being in lockdown at “weekends and maybe even during the week”.

The Regional Health Agency in Brittany has said that a new coronavirus variant discovered in the area is not "worrying". At a press conference this afternoon it said that the variant is being kept "under surveillance" and there will be more intensive contact tracing. Eight cases of the variant were discovered during testing at a hospital in the Cotes d'Armor department.

The French High Authority of Health has authorised the use of nasal swab self-tests for Covid-19. The tests are self administered and give results in about 20 to 30 minutes without the need to be interpreted by a professional. The Director of Health, Jerome Salomon, has indicted that the tests will be on sale from this week in pharmacies and supermarkets.

The Prefect of the Var has extended a decree on the compulsory wearing of masks until Tuesday April 6. The decree covers markets authorized to welcome the public throughout the Var and in all public places in 117 municipalities.

The Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur Regional Health Agency has released figures for the number of vaccinations carried out last weekend, which was another special weekend of mobilisation for vaccination. The agency said that 26,534 vaccinations had been carried out.

The organisers of the Cannes Film Festival have announced that director Spike Lee will be the President of the Jury at this year's festival, which is taking place from 6 to 17 July. The offical selection and the composition of the jury are expected to be unveiled in early June.
 

BUSINESS

Telecoms company Nokia has announced plans to cut between 5,000 and 10,000 jobs in the next two years. The company currently has 90,000 employees worldwide and has cut several thousand jobs since buying telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent in 2016.

Facebook and News Corp Australia have agreed a three year deal under which the social media company will pay News Corp for content. Rupert Murdoch's company controls about 70% of newspaper circulation in Australia with titles including The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun.

UK bakery retailer Greggs has announced its first annual loss since being listed on the stockmarket in 1984. It reported a pre tax loss of 13.7 million pounds for 2020, compared with a profit of 108 million in 2019. However, the company said that, so far, this year trading has been better than expected.

A new survey has shown a rise in business confidence in Germany. The ZEW economic sentiment index rose to 76.6 in March from 71.2 in February.

 

SPORT

Rugby Union... Ireland player CJ Stander has announced his retirement at the end of this season. The 30 year old, who plays for provincial rugby club Munster, said that he plans to return home to his native South Africa. He's earned 50 caps for Ireland.

Football... Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been recalled to the Swedish national team, five years after announcing his retirement from the team. Sweden announced that the 39 year old will be part of the squad playing in the World Cup qualifying matches against Kosovo and Georgia. Ibrahimovic is still playing at club level, for AC Milan.

There are two round of 16 second leg ties in the Champions League tonight. Manchester City play Borussia Monchengladbach leading 2-0 from the first leg while Real Madrid take a 1-0 lead into their game against Atalanta.


WEATHER

A clear evening and night

Tomorrow - sunny and clear skies in the morning, sunny intervals with possible showers in the afternoon  Highs of 16

Thursday - sunny intervals   Highs of 13

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