New steps to control the spread of the coronavirus have been announced by Christian Estrosi. Speaking at a meeting of the Nice Cote d'Azur Metropole Council this morning, he said that further measures needed to be taken to control the number of people in supermarkets and also announced plans to test the waste water from planes at the airport. He said that the state of the health crisis and numbers released yesterday by the Alpes Maritimes Prefecture were "worrying and unfavorable" and he did not want to wait until "the situation is so advanced that we can no longer accommodate a patient in the hospital who needs it".
He said that the Scientific Council has decided to take the following measures: better communication of the need for barrier gestures, better preparation by identifying the presence of variants, effective public-private hospital partnerships to avoid refusing patients and limiting the number of people in large stores. He said that he is once again asking open stores to set up a counting system per person and not per family. He said that the variants risk becoming the majority in the Nice Cote d'Azur Metropolis and there is presence in wastewater of the English, South African and Brazilian variants, in particular in the Bon Voyage and Les Moulins districts of Nice. In addition to continuing to analyze the wastewater, he said that the metropolis would like to analyze the waste water discharges from aircraft landing at Nice Cote d'Azur airport "in order to know the risks we may face" and will be asking the airport to perform this analysis at least on long haul flights.
The Ministry of Solidarity and Health has said that it is implementing a range of additional measures because of the British, South African and Brazilian variants of the coronavirus. Any positive Covid-19 test must now be subject to a specific type of second-line RT-PCR test to determine whether it is a contamination by a variant, with results being returned in less than 36 hours. For the South African and Brazilian variants, the isolation period for contacts is increased to 10 days.
The Prefect of the Var is reminding local residents who wish to get a coronavirus test that there are seven temporary testing centres in operation in the department. No prescription is necessary and there is no charge, you'll just need your carte vitale, an identity document, a pen and a mask. The centres are in Hyeres, Draguignan, Valletta, Saint-Raphael and Saint-Julien as well as two centres in Toulon. Details of the temporary centres as well as other testing locations in the Var can be found on the Prefecture's website www.var.gouv.fr
In other news, several vehicles were set on fire in a parking lot on the route de Turin in Nice last night. Police have opened an inquiry and are looking for several people seen in the vicinity.
The Council of the Nice Cote d'Azur Metropole has voted to waive water bills and sanitation fees for residents of villages worst affected by Storm Alex. The decision affects 7,300 users in 10 municipalities, for a total exemption amount of €493,000. Christian Estrosi has said that more than 700 operations are being carried out to repair roads, bridges, networks and infrastructure since the storm, representing expenditure of almost 800 million Euros.
Cold weather continues to affect northern France. Over a dozen departments in the north east are under a Meteo France Orange alert for ice, snow and cold as well as the Somme department in the north. Temperatures in many areas of the north-east have remained well below freezing all day today.
Heineken has announced plans to cut 8,000 jobs after a drop in sales due to the pandemic. The job losses amount to about ten per cent of its workforce. The company's chief executive Dolf van den Brink said 2020 had been a year of "unprecedented disruption" as bars and restaurants were closed in may parts of the world. Meanwhile, sales of beer in British pubs reached their lowest level last year since the 1920's. Figures from the British Beer and Pub Association indicate that beer sales in pubs dropped by 56% last year.
Newly released figures show that French industrial output fell by 0.8% in December compared to November. Output was 3.8% lower than a year previously, which compares to a fall of just 0.9% in Germany and 1.9% in Italy.
Tennis...Novak Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios and Dominic Thiem are through to the next round of the Australian Open but Stan Wawrinka is out of the tournament. Womens world number two Simona Halep is through to the third round but Petra Kvitova and Bianca Andreescu lost their matches today. Meanwhile, in the doubles, Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares defeated Cameron Norrie and Marcos Giron. Heather Watson and Leylah Fernandez, who were unseeded, beat tenth seeds Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai.
Motorsports... it's been confirmed that Portugal will be hosting the third grand prix of the 2021 Formula 1 season on 2 May. The season is expected to start as planned in Bahrain on 26 March, before the Grand Prix at Imola on 18 April followed by Portugal.
Football... Former Wales goalkeeper Dai Davies has died at the age of 72. He made 52 appearances for Wales over a seven-year period.