Evening Update Wednesday 24 November 2021

French authorities have said that at least 20 people have died after a boat carrying migrants sank in the English channel today. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin is on his  way to the scene. Prime Minister Jean Castex said that the sinking "is a tragedy" and that his thoughts are with the missing and injured who he said were "victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and misery". The Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea said that "numerous resources" had been deployed to the boat in distress including two helicopters, one from the French Navy and another  from the maritime rescue coordination centre in Dover.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran is set to hold a press conference tomorrow at midday at which he is expected to announce new measures in relation to the worsening health situation. Speaking after a health defence council meeting this morning, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said that the epidemic situation "is deteriorating" and that the aim of new measures will be to save the end of year holidays and "to get through the winter as best as possible". He said that the Council of Ministers meeting had adopted guidelines around three areas - the reinforcement of barrier measures including the wearing of masks which he said was "central", the "strengthening" of the health pass "to place more constraints on the unvaccinated than on the vaccinated", and the acceleration of the vaccination booster campaign. These measures will be discussed in the French Parliament this afternoon and the government will discuss them with local elected officials tomorrow. Gabriel Attal added that hospital admissions because of Covid-19 have increased by 40% in the past week but that the situation is still "contained".

There's been a sharp increase in the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 in our region. In it's weekly update the Provence Alpes-Cotes d'Azur Regional Health Agency said that for the week ending 23 November, 424 people were hospitalized, which is an increase of 91 on the previous week. 157 people were in intensive care which is an increase of 20 on the prior week and 16 people had died because of Covid-19. It also said that the positivity rate for Covid-19 had increased to 5.1% against 3.7% in the previous week.

Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi has said that he wants additional restrictions for those who refuse to be vaccinated. Speaking n French television this morning he added that "there is no reason for the vaccinated to pay for the unvaccinated".

In other news, Christian Estrosi has expressed his support for the mayor of Briançon whose car was set on fire outside his home last night. It's believed that the act of arson was in retaliation for recent actions against suspected drug dealers by the local municipality. Christian Estrosi said that this act "is absolutely intolerable in our Republic".

The Alpes-Maritimes is under a yellow Meteo France warning for heavy rain and flooding  from midnight tonight until 9am tomorrow, Thursday, and also for snow and icy conditions from midnight tonight until midday tomorrow. The Var is under a yellow warning for heavy rain and flooding from 8pm this evening until at least 6am tomorrow and for storms from 9pm this evening until at least 6am tomorrow. Parts of the Gapeau river are also on a yellow flood warning. You can find full details of the warnings on www.meteofrance.com



Business confidence has improved in France once again in November, according to government statistics office INSEE. It's business sentiment indicator, which is complied from a survey of the heads of companies , rose by two points. The indicator is well above its value before the health crisis and also well above its long-term average.

Meanwhile, business confidence in Germany has worsened. The Ifo business climate index fell for the fifth month in a row in November, reaching its lowest level since February, amid worries about supply chain bottlenecks and rising coronavirus cases.

Discount retailer Lidl has announced plans to create 4,000 new jobs in the UK with a target of 1,100 stores by the end of 2025. Lidl said that it remains on track to reach 1,000 stores by the end of 2023. The additional 100 new stores will be across England, Scotland and Wales and will feature solar panels and electric vehicle charging points. The company said that it remains committed to its "bricks and mortar strategy".



Cricket... Troy Cooley has joined the back room team helping England to prepare for the Ashes. The Australian, who was England's bowling coach when they won the Ashes in 2005, will work as a consultant pace bowling coach.

Meanwhile, the second day of England's tour match in Brisbane against the Lions was abandoned because of rain. The three-day match is England's first practice game before the Test series.

Rugby Union... World Rugby has approved a change to international eligibili