Evening Update Tuesday 26 January 2021

Several mayors in the Alpes-Maritimes have issued a joint open letter saying that they note the fall in the number of doses for vaccination centers and ask the State for more visibility on the issue. In the letter the mayors say that recent figures show that "the Alpes-Maritimes department is in the most worrying health situation in France". Despite reassurances earlier this month from Health Minister Olivier Veran, the mayors say they are faced with deliveries of doses whose volume and frequency are uncertain and insufficient. They are asking Olivier Veran "for significant mobilization so that priority people over 75 can be vaccinated as quickly as possible". Signatories to the letter include the mayors of Nice, Cannes, Menton and Grasse.

Olivier Veran held a press conference this afternoon on the timing of administration of the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. He said that "in the absence of scientific consensus at this stage", the period of 21 to 28 days between two injections of the Pfizer vaccine is being maintained, as in "almost all European countries". He said that he was "choosing safety", despite some calls for the doses to be spaced further apart to allow more people to receive a first injection more quickly.

The hospital in Antibes has released its latest weekly coronavirus update. In the period from January 18 to 24, there were 37 hospitalized patients including 8 in intensive care. There were 4 deaths of patients aged from 79 to 93 years old. The Antibes town hall also published the results of tests carried out at the Fort Carré testing centre during last week. Out of 2,055 tests performed on symptomatic subjects and priority contacts, 8.71% were positive.

Monaco's new coronavirus vaccination center at the Grimaldi Forum has been inaugurated in the presence of HSH Prince Albert II, the Prince's Government and the President of the National Council.  The new centre, in the Espace Ravel of the Grimaldi Forum, benefits from a larger reception capacity, where its medical teams will be able to perform up to 600 vaccinations per day. The Espace Léo Ferré, which has so far hosted the vaccination centre, will now only be used for testing for Covid-19.

The mayor of Menton, Jean-Claude Guibal, has inaugurated an event designed to help local restaurant opearators. Fifteen temporary chalets have been constructed on the Esplanade Francis-Palmero which will welcome several restaurateurs through until 28 February selling food for take away and home delivery. The "Eating on the Go" event is also a solidarity project with 10% of the profits being donated to restaurateurs in the Roya valley.

In other news, members of several French teaching unions have been taking industrial action today. Teachers are protesting at what they say is the poor health situation in schools and at their salary levels. Reports say that parents and students have also been joining some of the demonstrations.

Traffic was disrupted on the A8 motorway this lunchtime after a vehicle caught fire just after the Nice St Isadore payage on the carriageway towards Italy. Emergency and security services were in attendance and the blaze was brought under control.

The French national rugby team have arrived in Nice where they are training for their Six Nations match against Italy in Rome on 6 February. The team are in a health bubble at a local hotel and will be subject to frequent Covid-19 testing. Training is taking place at the Nice Rugby stadium on the Boulevard du Mercantour.



Unemployment in the UK has risen to its highest figure in four years. Newly released figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the unemployment rate in the three months to November 2020 was estimated at 5.0%, which is 1.2% higher than a year earlier. In the three months to November 2020, the redundancy rate reached a record high of 14.2 per thousand. Since February 2020, the number of payroll employees in the UK has fallen by 828,000.

The International Monetary Fund has upgraded its forecast for global economic growth for this year. The IMF is now predicting growth of 5.5% for 2021 and 4.2% in 2022.

Shares in aerospace manufacturer Rolls-Royce fell earlier today. The company said it expects £2bn of cash to leave the business in 2021, more than double previous forecasts. Rolls Royce is paid for the number of hours its engines are in use and it expects flying hours this year to be 55% of those in 2019, which was down from its previous estimate of 70%.

Over 50's business Saga has said that it has seen strong interest in cruises from customers. It said that customer retention remains high, the average proportion of cruise guests who have re-booked rather than take a refund stands at an average of 69% through the travel suspension period, but rose to 86% more recently, which it said shows "the pent up demand for cruises" amongst customers "who will benefit from the first round of the vaccine roll out".



Cricket...It's been the first day of the Pakistan against South Africa test Match Series at the National Stadium in Karachi. South Africa won the toss and decided to bat and were all out for 220. At the end of the day Pakistan were on 33-4 meaning that they trail by 187 runs.

Rugby Union... Sam Underhill has withdrawn from England's Six Nations squad because of injury. He's been replaced by Jack Willis.

Football... In the English Premier League tonight Crystal Palace play West Ham, Newcastle host Leeds, Southampton face Arsenal and West Brom play Manchester City.

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