Evening Update Tuesday 18 May 2021

A prominent French genetecist has said that France is not paying enough attention to the India coronavirus variant. Less than 30 cases of the varaint have so far been detected in France. Speaking to France 3, Philippe Froguel said that in reality there are hundreds of cases which are not being detected because of a lack of appropriate testing. He said that the Indian variant "spreads twice as fast as the original strain" and if it "develops rapidly we will find ourselves facing a fourth wave in July".

Discussions are resuming this evening regarding the possible introduction of an EU-wide health pass. Members of the European Parliament are negotiating with EU members states. According to reports, the European Parliament wishes the passes to be free of charge but some members states are resisting the idea.

President Macron is scheduled to visit the Aube department in the Grand Est region of north-eastern France tomorrow, the first day of reopening for many businesses and leisure facilities. The departmental prefecture said that the President will be attending two sports venues and will announce the details of a "sports pass" designed to help young people and those with disabilities to practice a sporting activity.

French laboratory technicians are staging industrial action today. They are protesting at their levels of pay and are demanding more recognition. The demands are similar to those expressed by nurse-anesthetists, who were on strike yesterday.

Train services are disrupted today on the Les Arcs to Ventimiglia and Nice to Breil lines because of industrial action. Unions are protesting against the introduction of cameras to replace controllers and against the reduction in station managers at several towns along the coast. Information on the trains running is available on the SNCF Assistant app and on the TER website www.ter.sncf.com

This week is “National Road Safety at Work” week in France. The week is an opportunity for employers to take steps to prevent road accidents and to raise awareness of road safety among employees and contractors.



Cross channel rail operator Eurostar has announced a £250m finacing package. The funding consists of £50m of equity from shareholders, £150m in new loans from banks that are guaranteed by shareholders, and £50m from restructured existing bank loans. Eurostar warned last November that it was "fighting for its survival against a 95% drop in demand" and requested help from the UK government, which subsequently declined to provide any financial assistance to the company. The SNCF is the company's largest shareholder.

Unemployment in the UK has fallen for the third consecutive month in March according to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics. The ONS said there were "early signs of recovery" in the jobs market. The unemployment rate in the January to March quarter was estimated at 4.8%, which is 0.3% lower than the previous quarter but 0.8% higher than the December 2019 to February 2020 quarter.


Football... It's been announced that Roy Hodgson will leave his post as Crystal Palace manager when his contract expires at the end of this season. He's been the club's manager since September 2017. His final match will be the one against Liverpool this coming Sunday.

Former Manchester United and Leeds United player Eric Cantona has been inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame. Cantona said he was "very happy and very proud", but not surprised, adding that he would have "been surprised not to be elected". He joins Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry, who were the first players to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, as well as fellow Manchester United player Roy Keane.

Cricket... England's 15-man squad for the two Tests against New Zealand have been announced. Uncapped Gloucestershire player James Bracey and Sussex player Ollie Robinson have been included as has Somerset's Craig Overton. Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer are out because of injury. Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow have not been included, having only recently returned from playing in the Indian Premier League.

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