Evening Update Wednesday 22 December 2021

French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal has said that "we are living at the start of the Omicron wave". He said that the figure of 100,000 Covid-19 infections will "very likely" be exceeded by the end of this month, with the Omicron variant becoming dominant between Christmas and the New Year. Speaking after a Council of Ministers meeting this morning he said that no new restrictions will be put in place before Christmas but the health situation will be reassesed on Monday.

Covid-19 vaccination has been opened in France for children aged 5 to 11. Earlier today Health Minister Olivier Veran said that dedicated vaccination slots would start opening this morning with further appointments next week. Echoing comments by Gabrial Attal, he said that the Omicron variant "will be in the majority by the end of December" in France. He said that "we are not sure what serious forms it can cause" and advised people to protect themselves against it and get vaccinated.

French Minister of Labour Elisabeth Borne has said that businesses should prepare now to strengthen teleworking from January 3. Speaking to French media this morning she indicated that companies should aim for three days teleworking for positions which allow it, or even four days if possible.

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Regional Health Agency announced today that it has decided to activate the fifth level of its hospital response plan to the crisis. It indicated that all health establishments, public and private, must postpone all of their medical and surgical activities which do not lead to a loss of opportunity for patients. Access to primary care such as oncology and urgent surgery remains guaranteed. It said that this deprogramming should allow the opening of additional beds in critical care and conventional hospitalization by redeployment of personnel. The Agency also indicated that two patients were transferred to the Normandy region this morning. The transfers follow similar ones made last week to Brittany and the Ile-de-France.

The Regional Health Agency has published it's latest weekly update on coronavirus cases in our region. As at yesterday, December 21, in the Var there were 198 conventionally hospitalized patients, which was an increase of 48 on the previous week. 51 patients were in intensive care, which is an increase of 6 and there were 35 deaths in hospitals. As far as the Alpes-Maritimes is concerned, there were 207 conventionally hospitalised patients, an increase of 50 on the previous week. 74 patients were in intensive care, an increase of 6 on the previous week, and there had been 27 deaths in hospitals.

Firefighters attended a blaze at a care home for children in La Madeleine in Nice this morning. Deputy Mayor Anthony Borre said that no injuries were reported and the teenagers were taken to safety at the nearby police station.

 

BUSINESS

The UK economy expanded by a revised 1.1% in the July to September quarter according to the Office for National Statistics. The figure is lower than the ONS's previous estimate of 1.3%. It said that gross domestic product was still 1.5% below its pre-pandemic level. The lifting of public health restrictions led to strong increases in the accommodation and food services and the arts, entertainment and recreation services industries. The ONS said that there was a slowing in the economy in October, where shortages of material, components and labour are likely to have played a role.

The Indian arm of Japanese company Sony and local rival Zee Entertainment have announced plans to merge. The new company will be India's second largest entertainment network.


SPORT

Cricket... Australian player Marnus Labuschagne has replaced Joe Root at the top of the ICC's men's Test batting rankings. He scored his maiden Ashes century during the second Test. Root moves down to second place in the rankings, followed by Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Rohit Sharma.

Tennis... Australian Open organisers have said they are still unsure if Novak Djokovic will attend the tournament, which gets underway in Melbourne on 17 January. Players and staff are required to be vaccinated or have a medical exemption. Djokovic has not spoken publicly about his vaccination status.

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