Evening Update Wednesday 3 February 2021

Meetings of the French Health Defence Council and the Council of Ministers took place this morning to take stock of the current health situation in France. Speaking after the meetings, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said that a new confinement is "not inevitable" and described it as "a last resort" but the situation "remains fragile". He said that as regards coronavirus numbers "we are on a high plateau but more or less stable". He added that 1.5 million more people are being vaccinated in February. As regards a possible extension of the school holidays he said that no additional measure is planned at this stage but "everything is still on the table in principle".

Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Veran are expected to hold a press conference on the health situation tomorrow, February 4, at 6pm.

The Minister for Industry has said that French subcontractors will begin producing two of the coronavirus vaccines over the next few months. Speaking to French media this moring Agnes Pannier-Runacher said that production of the Moderna vaccine should begin in March and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in April.

A new Covid-19 vaccination centre has opened today in Le Luc in the Var. It's the 9th such centre in the department and completes the Var's network of vaccination centres. You can find details of all the centres and how to make an appointment on the Prefecture's website http://www.var.gouv.fr

Significant disruption to public transport is expected tomorrow, 4 February, after several trades unions called for a national inter-professional strike. Lignes d'Azur say that no service will be provided on tram lines 1, 2 and 3 in Nice. Many bus lines will have no service. You can find more details at www.lignesdazur.com  Services are also expected to be disrupted on the Envibus network. As far as disruption to the trains is concerned, details are expected to be published on www.sncf.com this evening and on the regional TER service pages at www.ter.sncf.com   A demonstration is planned in Nice at 2pm tomorrow outside the railway station. Unions are protesting at the government's proposed recovery plan.

A mayor in the Hautes-Alpes is demonstrating against the closure of a school class by camping in a tent outside a village school. Mathieu Antoine pitched his tent in ice and snow outside the school in the village of Saint-Veran several days ago after the schools inspectorate told him to close one of only three classes in the village of about 200 inhabitants. A protest march has also been held by villagers.

Meteo France have issued a red weather warning for flooding in the Lot-et-Garonne department in south-west France. The rare top level alert is for major flooding of part of the Garonne river. Heavy rain and flooding has affected the south-west for the past few days. An elderly woman died in the Lot department after her house collapsed because of a landslide. Nineteen other departments, mostly in the south-west and north of France, are under an orange level warning. In Paris, the local government has closed parks, cemeteries and green spaces today due to bad weather.

Two of our local towns have taken first and second place in a survey of performance on Instagram. Cannes and Menton took the first two places in the ranking of best performing medium sized French towns on Instagram last month. The list is published by the Social Media Observatoire which produces social media analysis software for local communities.


BUSINESS

GlaxoSmithKline and CureVac have announced a new €150m collaboration to jointly develop next generation  vaccines for COVID-19. The companies aim to develop a vaccine to address emerging variants. Development is to begin immediately, targeting vaccine availability in 2022, subject to regulatory approval.

A new survey suggest that output in the Eurozone fell for the third consecutive month in January. The IHS Markit survey of purchasing managers fell to 47.8 from 49.1 in December. A figure below 50 indicates economic contraction. In the UK the survey recorded a figure of just 39.5 in January, down from December's 50.4.

Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba has reported revenues up 37% for the last quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019. Revenues for the quarter were 221bn yuan, which is about $34.2bn. However, the company's financial technology affiliate Ant Group remains under scrutiny from China's regulators who halted it's Initial Public Offering last November.


SPORT

Tennis... Between 500 and 600 Australian Open players, officials and support staff will go into isolation after a worker at one of the event's quarantine hotels tested positive for coronavirus. The Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews said that "at this stage there is no impact on the tournament" which gets underway next week but Thursday's play at the six warm-up events in Melbourne is set to be affected.

Meanwhile, in one of those warm-up events, Germany have beaten Canada 2-1 in their ATP Cup group tie.  They will now face Serbia for a place in the semi-finals which was scheduled to take place on Thursday. Italy have already made it into the semis after beating France 2-1.

Cricket... It's been the first day of the Bangladesh against West Indies Test. Bangladesh won the toss and decided to bat. They were 242 for 5 after 90 overs at the close of play with West Indies yet to bat.

Football...There are five games in the English Premier League this evening. Burnley play Manchester City, Fulham host Leicester, Leeds play Everton, Aston Villa host West Ham and Liverpool play Brighton.

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