French and Riviera News Monday 15th February 2021

News

Pressure in France’s hospitals eases slightly - The pressure in France’s hospitals has eased slightly with the latest figures published by the government showing less than 10,000 new hospitalizations for Covid over the last seven days. 16,646 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 were recorded in France on Sunday 14th February.

On Sunday over the last 24 hours, the health agency identified 651 new admissions compared to 1,085 the day before. Intensive care units admitted 113 new patients, compared to 191 the day before. There were 167 additional deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 81,814 deaths since the start of the pandemic (including 57,815 in hospital).

Vaccination campaign - Concerning the vaccination campaign in France, on Saturday it was confirmed that 2,249,685  people have received at least one injection. 647,173 people have already received both doses. From today Monday 15th February, the AstraZeneca vaccine will be delivered to French pharmacies to then be distributed to GPs within the next ten days, in order to vaccinate the next category of people, the over 50s with an underlying health condition.

French President calls for international collective action against Covid – Meanwhile French President Emmanuel Macron has called for the launch of an international initiative to better fight against the variants of Covid-19. In an interview published in Sunday’s Journal du Dimanche the Head of State said "We are now engaged in a fight against variants, which is a real race against time and without a rapid, effective and united international collective action, we run the risk that the virus will escape us." Adding that “access to the vaccine is uneven on a worldwide level”. Emmanuel Macron welcomed the release of four billion dollars as part of the Act-A project introduced by the new American administration saying that "It was one of his first topics of discussion with President Biden”.

Education ministry modifies health protocol in schools - France’s Education ministry has updated its Covid health protocol in schools, modifying the circumstances which require classes be closed in the event of contamination by the British variant. British variants of Covid will be considered as the same as a general case of Covid with three cases (of either) leading to the closure of a class and staff are no longer systematically considered as contact cases.  

In early February the ministry had declared that "In case of the identification of a British variant in staff or a student, the class concerned would be closed". A measure which "was partly responsible for the increase in class closures”. The new measures from the ministry are considered to be more flexible. To date in total 1,599 classes and 103 schools are closed due to cases of Covid-19. The new rule is valid for classes from nursery to high school with no automatic closure of a class due to the British variant.

However, concerning cases of students infected with the variants initially observed in Brazil and South Africa, immediate closure remains in force.

Italy delays reopening of ski resorts due to British variant of Covid – And Italy has announced that due to the British variant of Covid ski stations which were due to open today in the Lombardy region will now, not reopen until March 5th.

Monaco - From today, Monday 15th February a negative PCR Covid test of less than 72 hours will be required for anyone from France. Frontier workers, schoolchildren and students, as well as residents of the Alpes-Maritimes coming to the Principality for less than 24 hours are exempt from these measures. Anyone coming to a hotel in the Principality, whatever their origin and the length of stay, must present a negative PCR test of less than 72 hours, "the Principality said in a statement on Saturday".

The Monegasque government explains that these measures are taken "in strict reciprocity with French measures" and that reinforced controls will take place at its borders. These measures already applied to foreign nationals since early February, but France benefited from an "exemption" that Monaco has chosen to lift, according to a government spokesperson.

On Saturday the prefect of the Alpes Maritimes granted more flexibility to Monégasque residents wishing to go to France however the measure was considered insufficient by the Monaco government. Limited since February 1st to a radius of 30 km around Monaco, they are now exempt from presenting a negative PCR test "for trips of less than 24 hours within the limits of the Alpes-Maritimes department". Monaco considers this 24-hour period too short and considers that this decision is in "contradiction" with the Franco-Monegasque convention which guarantees the free movement of nationals of the two countries on both sides of the border. The principality also notes that this decision "penalizes the 9,000 French nationals residing in the Principality who have only limited access to their country of origin".

In other news 

Avalanche Isola 2000 - Two people have been injured following an avalanche in the resort of Isola 2000. Emergency services intervened on Sunday morning both were taken to hospital in Nice. The mayor specified that "the avalanche occurred outside of the ski area, 10 km from the resort.

Road diversions - Due to road works the RD6098 at the Siesta roundabout between Villeneuve-Loubet and Antibes will be closed from today until Friday 19th February 5pm. Traffic in both directions is affected with motorists advised to take an alternative route to the coast road.

Support unit - In the Var, the territorial isolation support unit has set up a telephone service to support people who are isolating because of testing positive for COVID 19 or because they are contact cases. The telephone service has been operational since January 29th and is accessible to everyone, via a toll-free number: 0 805 0 11 515. It's open 7 days a week from 8am to 7pm. It is also possible to reach the support unit by email: ctai.dt83@croix-rouge.fr

Monaco Run - A new world record has been set for the 5km Monaco Run. In collaboration with the Government of the Principality, the Monegasque Athletics Federation was keen to maintain a race for professional athletes despite the health crisis. The event on Sunday saw the world steeplechase champion Beatrice Chepkoech smash the women’s 5 kilometer road world record.  The Kenyan finished in a time of 14 minutes 53 seconds to take more than a second off the previous record.

Business

Asian shares have hit record highs again this morning as successful vaccine rollouts raised hopes of a global economic recovery. Focus this week will be on the minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s January meeting while inflation data is due from the UK, Canada and Japan. On Friday, major economies including the United States will release preliminary purchasing managers’ indices for February. Oil prices have risen this morning on hopes of US stimulus and rising Middle East tensions. The dollar is slightly higher against the Japanese Yen and the pound has risen against the dollar. Bitcoin has been steady this morning at around 47,000 dollars after posting gains of some 20 percent last week on the back of endorsement by major firms including the electric carmaker Tesla.

The Japanese economy surged in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough to prevent the country seeing negative growth for the year. The economy beat expectations to grow by 3 percent between October and December last year but there was a 4.8 percent contraction over the full year, the first since 2009. The world’s 3rd largest economy suffered its worst post-war quarterly contraction between April and June as the global coronavirus pandemic hit domestic consumption and exports. Stronger economic growth in the third and fourth quarters also helped Japanese businesses to sell more of their products overseas.

The chief executive of the Australian casino group Crown Resorts has resigned amid a money laundering scandal within the firm’s casinos. Ken Barton is the latest member of the firm’s board of directors to step down. Last week, an enquiry found that Crown was not fit to hold a gaming license in New South Wales meaning that it will not be able to operate its newly built casino in Sydney. Crown, which is owned by the Australian billionaire James Packer has been dogged by allegations of illegal activity for several years at its casinos in Melbourne and Perth. Its overseas operations have drawn particular scrutiny following allegations that paid-for trips for Chinese high-roller gamblers were linked to organised crime groups.

Sport

Cricket - England are under the cosh on day 3 of the 2nd Test against India in Chennai. The tourists were bowled out for just 134 in their first innings on day 2 and India had reached 106-6 in their second innings after 36 overs before lunch on day three leading by 301 on a pitch that’s becoming practicably unplayable. England lead the four match series 1-0.

Rugby Union - France are top of the 6 Nations table after the second round of games thanks to a tight 15-13 win over Ireland in Dublin. Wales are in second place and still in with the chance of a Grand Slam after they squeaked past Scotland 25-24 at Murrayfield on Saturday while England beat Italy 41-18 without looking particularly convincing during parts of the match. There are no games next weekend with the next fixtures Italy against Ireland and Wales against England on Saturday 27th of February and France against Scotland on Sunday 28th.

Football - There were 4 games in the English Premier League on Sunday with Manchester United failing to close the gap on leaders Manchester City following a disappointing 1-1 draw at struggling West Brom. In the other results Southampton lost 2-1 at home to Wolves. Arsenal beat Leeds 4-2 and Everton slipped up at home losing 2-0 to Fulham. There are 2 games tonight. West Ham play Sheffield United and Chelsea host Newcastle.

In the English Championship on Sunday Brentford missed out on returning to the top of the table after they lost 2-0 at home to Barnsley.

And in the Scottish Premiership Celtic were 2-1 winners at St Johnstone.

Tennis - Daniil Medvedev is through to the last 8 of the Australian Open following a straight sets win over Mackenzie McDonald of the United States. He’ll now play the winner of the 4th round match between Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud. Novak Djokovic and Grigor Dimitrov who beat 3rd seed Dominic Thiem are also through to the quarter finals.

In the women’s event Jessica Pegula of the United States has produced a shock result by beating the 5th seed Elina Svitolina to reach the last 8. Pegula, the world number 61 came through 6-3 3-6 6-3 to set up an all American quarter final clash against Jennifer Brady who beat Donna Vekic 6-1 7-5.

Golf - Daniel Berger eagled the last to win the Pebble Beach Pro-am to finish on 18 under par. The American ended with a 65 to claim his 4th PGA title. Fellow American Maverick McNealy finished 2 shots back on 16 under with Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth on 15 under.

Athletics - The world steeplechase champion Beatrice Chepkoech has smashed the women’s 5 kilometer road world record in Monaco. The Kenyan finished in a time of 14 minutes 53 seconds to take more than a second off the previous record. The race took place on Sunday in windy and cold conditions. The 5k was first recognised as a world record event in 2017.

Weather

Partially cloudy with light to moderate south westerly winds. Top temperature 10 degrees. Overnight lows of 6 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

Tuesday and Wednesday - Partially cloudy with highs of 13-14 degrees.

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