Evening Update Wednesday 14 April 2021

A French government spokesperson has said that "the signals are encouraging" regarding the epedemic but it is still to early to see the effectiveness of measures at a national level. Speaking after a Council of Ministers meeting this morning, Gabriel Attal added that there had been confirmation in recent days that the measures are working but "the third wave is not behind us" and the virus is still actively circulating. He said that more than one in five people in France had now received a first injection. He also said that the government continues to have confidence in the AstraZeneca vacine. He added that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be administered to people over 55 years of age and that the 200,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine received by France on Monday are in the process of being distributed to doctors and pharmacies. The company yesterday announced that it was delaying deliveries to Europe after reports of blood clots in a small number of vaccinated people.

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Layen has said this afternoon that delivery of 50 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine to the EU will be accelerated to the second quarter of this year, starting in April. She said that this is a 25% increase, bringing the number of doses delivered by PfizerBioNTech to the EU in the second quarter to 250 million. She said that the EU is starting negotiations with the companies for a third contract which will foresee the delivery of 1.8 billion additional vaccine doses in 2021-2023. Production of vaccines & all essential components will be based in the EU.

Clement Beaune, French Secretary of State for European Affairs, has said that solutions are currently being looked at in order to repatriate French nationals from Brazil following the suspension of flights due to the health situation. He said that the government is trying to organize the return of French nationals with France’s embassies and consulates.

Meanwhile, the Iranian government has today supspended flights to and from France. According to Iran's civil air regulator, the move is being made because of the health situation in France.

As of today, it's possible to get a Covid19 vaccination without an appointment at the Théâtre de Verdure in Nice if you have a comorbidity proved by a medical certificate or if you are over 70 years old. The centre is open Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi today renewed his call for everyone to get vaccinated and reminded people that registration is open on the website https://vaccincovid19.nice.fr/VC19

More than 32,000 vaccinations have been carried out at the Antibes Juan Les Pins vaccination centre and the hospital in Antibes, according to the Mayor of Antibes Jean Leonetti. He estimated that a third of the local population has been vaccinated, which he said explains the significant drop in pressure on the hospital and the continued decline in the incidence rate of Covid-19. He added that the recent fall in the incidence rate "gives hope for the rapid resumption of a social, commercial and cultural life with adapted health rules".

In other news, two arrests have been made by the municipal police in Nice for suspected drugs offences. The arrests for trafficking and possession of narcotics were made yesterday afternoon during a patrol in the Henri Sappia area. 24g of cocaine and 409g of cannabis were seized.

The European Union is opening a new information centre in Nice on 9 May. Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said that he was delighted by the decision to open the centre which he said will affirm the status of a great European metropolis for the Nice Cote d'Azur Metropolis. There are already 49 EU information centers in France, including in Marseille, which provide a wide range of infomation on the EU's activities to local residents.

 

BUSINESS

Tesco has announced a 7.7% rise in sales for its 2020/21 year. However, it recorded a fall in profits. The company incurred £892m in UK COVID-19 releated costs. UK online sales were up 77% in the year and capacity more than doubled to 1.5m slots per week.

EasyJet has issued a trading update for the six months to the end of March. It said that it expects a first half headline loss before tax in the range of £690 to £730 million, which it said is slightly better than expectations.  Passenger numbers for the six months to the end of March decreased by 89% to 4.1 million. The airline said that it is "encouraged by the strong vaccination rollout in the UK and expects the European rollout to pick up pace in the coming weeks" and is looking forward to taking customers on "a long-awaited holiday this summer".


SPORT

Tennis.... Norvak Djokovic is through to the next round of the Monte Carlo Masters after defeating Jannik Sinner 6-4 6-2. Andrey Rublev defeated Salvatore Caruso 6-3 6-2. David Goffin and Grigor Dimitrov are also through to the next round after winning their matches today. Number 3 seed Rafael Nadal beat Federico Delbonis 6-1 6-2 this afternoon, Roberto Bautista Agut beat American Tommy Paul and Britain's Dan Evans beat Hubert Hurkacz.

Cricket... Former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak has been banned from all cricket for eight years for corruption. The ICC said that Streak passed on information on matches and contacts details of players in return for payment and gifts. It said that Streak had expressed his remorse and contrition and had entered into the sanction decision to avoid the need for a full disciplinary process.

Rugby Union... Two Pacific Island teams have been granted conditional licences to join a proposed Super Rugby tournament in 2022. Plans for the competition currently include sides from New Zealand and Australia. Moana Pasifika, which is a team made up of New Zealand-based players who identify with Pacific island nations, only played their first match last December . The other team, Fijian Drua were established in 2017 and won the Australian National Rugby Championship title in 2018.

Football... Tonight’s Champions League quarter finals see Borussia Dortmund playing Manchester City and Liverpool playing Real Madrid.

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