French and Riviera News Friday 29th January 2021

News 

Individual hit by train in the Var - Traffic has been disrupted on the region's rail network between Les-Arcs Draguignan and Saint-Raphaël in the Var, after a person was hit by a train at Roquebrune-sur-Argens on Thursday afternoon. Traffic was halted in both directions while emergency services intervened. The individual was declared dead at the scene and the driver was taken to hospital suffering from shock. Three hundred passengers were evacuated from the train and traffic slowly resumed by early evening. An investigation has been opened to determine the exact circumstances.

Weather warning - The Var department and Corsica have been placed on an orange weather alert today with strong winds expected. Meteo France had placed 13 departments in France on an orange weather alert on Thursday as heavy rain and strong winds hit the west of the country. In addition, the Hautes-Alpes, Isère, Savoie and Haute-Savoie are on orange alert for the risk of avalanches. Meanwhile mild temperatures are forecast for the Mediterranean with highs of between 16 and 21 degrees.

Bed bugs in Marseille - A city council service to eradicate bedbugs in Marseille has been labelled as “unrealistic both materially and financially” by the city hall. Bed bugs are particularly present in Marseille and for more than five years, the Eco-flair company has, in partnership with the city council, provided a service in the detection of bedbugs for public buildings. Meanwhile however individual households must call on often expensive professionals to eradicate what has become a “real problem” in the second largest city in France.

Covid patients transferred to Brittany - Two Covid-19 patients hospitalized in intensive care in Nice have been transferred on Thursday to a hospital in Vannes with further transfers of patients between the south and Brittany possibly taking place in the coming days. To avoid the saturation of intensive care units in the Alpes-Maritimes, a department particularly affected by the coronavirus epidemic, patient transfers have already taken place in recent days to hospitals in Marseille, Antibes and Grasse. According to the latest report from the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Regional Health Agency published on Thursday, 84 people were hospitalized in intensive care in hospitals in the Alpes-Maritimes.

Monaco - Monaco has announced the death of a 79-year-old resident from Covid on Thursday.  The patient was being treated at the Princess Grace Hospital where latest figures show that 56 patients are being treated for Covid and 9 are in intensive care. Eleven people have died from Covid in the Principality since the start of the pandemic. 17 new cases were reported on Thursday bringing the total number of residents affected to 1,430 and 142 people are being followed by the Home Monitoring Center. The good news is that 18 people were declared to have recovered from the virus bringing the total number of people who have made a recovery from Covid since the begining of the pandemic in Monaco, stands at 1,198.

Covid - Meanwhile the government spokesperson Gabriel Attal kept French media and audiences waiting nearly 30 minutes on Thursday evening eventually speaking in front of Matignon at 9pm rather than the scheduled time of 8.30pm. Attal confirmed that the health situation outlined by health minister Oliver Veran earlier in the day was a cause for concern and "additional measures are needed in the coming days" to curb the spread of the virus.

He also confirmed that a new lockdown decided by the Head of State would be subject to a debate and a vote. According to reports, a scientific council meeting is to be held on Saturday 30th January and Emmanuel Macron is expected to make an announcement on Sunday evening. Reports say that the President is in favour of a "hybrid" lockdown which would be less restrictive for the younger generation, a generation which the Head of State is "preoccupied with by the impact of lockdown."

Flexible lockdown - However, an epidemiologist at Public Health France has warned that “a semi lockdown will not do the job”. Speaking to French media on Thursday, Professor Daniel Levy-Bruhl said that a flexible lockdown would have “too little impact on the pandemic” pleading for a “tougher lockdown”. The latest figures show that the Alpes Maritimes has the highest number of Covid cases in France and that over 90% of intensive care beds are occupied in the Alpes Maritimes.

French in favour of lockdown but not with all the measures - A recent survey has shown that while a majority of French people are in favour of a lockdown, many do not agree with most of the restrictions that this would imply. Rather paradoxically the study showed that while the French would be for a lockdown as soon as possible, they would not want to be restricted from mixing with family members or have to justify leaving their homes. It would appear that they are for a lockdown more “a la carte” adapted to everyone's needs.

Wellbeing - The Metropole Nice Cote d'Azur is launching an initative to help people with their psychological and physical wellbeing during the pandemic. In conjunction with the Metropolitan Health Security Agency, two mobile teams will crisscross the area to offer support, listening and physical activity with workshops. Activities will include talk groups, relaxation, muscle development classes and psychological support and will be tailor-made according to the needs expressed by local people. They will involve a multidisciplinary team made up of psychologists, social workers and othe personnel. As of today, anyone in the Nice metropolitan area can contact the staff by calling 04 97 13 52 88 or by e-mail on supportmetropolitain@nicecotedazur.org.

Underwater museum - The first eco-museum of France and the Mediterranean has begun to take shape off Cannes. On Thursday six statues created by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor were lowered into the water near the lle Sainte Marguerite in the presence of Cannes Mayor David Lisnard. The statues will be both an object of art and an awareness raising campaign for the protection of the Mediterranean. The works will form artificial reefs, thereby promoting biodiversity.

Business

The army of small retail investors that has been causing trouble for professional traders in recent days has been dealt a blow after online brokerages restricted purchases of GameStop and other stocks that have been soaring this week. There has been widespread criticism about the move with small investors accusing trading platforms of seeking to protect Wall Street interests at their expense. Until yesterday, small retail investors were riding high after coordinating on online forums such as Reddit’s Wallstreetbets to force hedge funds to unwind short positions that had bet on the decline of shares in companies such as GameStop and American Airlines. The activity resulted in a squeeze that sent shares soaring. However, a decision by online brokerages to limit purchases has resulted in anger and accusations of a Wall Street fix. Shares in GameStop and other hot firms rebounded somewhat in after hours trading after some online brokerages including Robinhood Markets and Interactive Brokers said that they’d lift trading restrictions today. The situation remains extremely volatile with warnings that small retail investors could get seriously burned if they stay in the market too long.

Ford is to start manufacturing an electric Mustang in China. The US car giant says that its Mustang Mach-E will start rolling off production lines in China later this year as it looks to tap into the country’s electric vehicle market. Earlier this month, Tesla started delivering its Model Y to Chinese customers from its Shanghai plant. Western brands are aggressively targeting the Chinese market where EV sales are forecast to grow strongly. Recently, Volkswagen said that it would soon start to deliver vehicles produced at two newly-built Chinese factories dedicated to electric cars. China is the world’s largest car market with more than 20 million vehicles sold annually.

The European Union has opened a price-fixing investigation into the owner of Cadbury-Mondalez. European anti-trust regulators are concerned that Mondalez restricted trade across borders between EU states, pushing up prices for its products. Mondalez is one of the largest producers of chocolate, coffee and biscuits in the EU. It owns brands including Cadbury, Milka and Toblerone and said that it would work “constructively” with the Commission. The investigation will look at whether Mondalez limited where traders could buy and sell products to particular sales territories. The Commission will also seek to find out whether the firm raised prices or limited volumes for companies that trade across the EU.

Sport

Football - Liverpool have reignited their title challenge with a 3-1 win at rivals Spurs. Firmino, Alexander-Arnold and Mane scored the goals that gave Liverpool the points, putting them up to fourth place in the table, four points behind the leaders Manchester City. Worryingly for Spurs, Harry Kane limped off at half-time with an ankle injury and could be out for several weeks.

In the English Premier League this weekend, on Saturday Everton play Newcastle. Crystal Palace host Wolves. Manchester City play Sheffield United. West Brom host Fulham. Arsenal play Manchester United and Southampton host Aston Villa. On Sunday Chelsea play Burnley. Leicester play Leeds. West Ham host Liverpool and Brighton play Spurs.

Cricket - It’s day 4 of the first Test between Pakistan and South Africa in Karachi. The tourists are batting in their second innings and had reached 188-5 after 78 overs, a slender lead of 30 runs.

Golf - Patrick Reed and Alex Noren share the lead after the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Both players carded 8 under par 64s with the US pair of Peter Malnati and Ryan Palmer two shots back on 66. Rory McIlroy carded a first round 68 to put himself in contention.

Weather

Partially cloudy with moderate to strong westerly winds. Top temperature 19 degrees. Overnight lows of 12 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

The weekend - Rain developing tomorrow morning, clearing during the afternoon. Partially cloudy on Sunday. Highs of 12-14 degrees.

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