French and Riviera News Thursday 11th February 2021

News

Fatal road accident - A 35-year-old motorcyclist has been killed in a road accident on the Route de Nice in Villeneuve-Loubet. The accident occurred on Wednesday evening shortly after 8pm when a car collided with the motorcyclist. Police have opened an investigation to determine the exact circumstances of the collision.

Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur has the highest incidence rate for Covid in France - The Provence-Alpes-Côté-d'Azur region has the highest incidence rate in the country, with 359 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants compared to 207 cases per 100,000 inhabitants on a national level. According to the Regional Health Agency the occupancy rate of intensive care beds by Covid patients has reached 91% in the region, compared to 66% nationally.

Speaking to French media, Professor Michel Carles describes a "situation of tension" at the Nice hospital, "with a very high occupancy rate of intensive care beds, with few places". He adds that "The strains of the South African and British variants are already present in the wastewater of the city of Nice”.

Mayor of Nice announces new steps to control the spread of Covid - New steps to control the spread of the coronavirus have been announced by Christian Estrosi. Speaking at a meeting of the Nice Cote d'Azur Metropole Council on Wednesday, Estrosi said that further measures needed to be taken to control the number of people in supermarkets and also announced plans to test the wastewater from planes at the airport. He said that the state of the health crisis and numbers released by the Alpes Maritimes Prefecture were "worrying and unfavorable" and he did not want to wait until "the situation is so advanced that we can no longer accommodate a patient in the hospital who needs it".

He said that the Scientific Council has decided to take the following measures: better communication of the need for barrier gestures, better preparation by identifying the presence of variants, effective public-private hospital partnerships to avoid refusing patients and limiting the number of people in large stores. He said that he is once again asking open stores to set up a counting system per person and not per family. He said that the variants risk becoming the majority in the Nice Cote d'Azur Metropolis and there is presence in wastewater of the English, South African and Brazilian variants, in particular in the Bon Voyage and Les Moulins districts of Nice.

Testing centres in the Var - The Prefect of the Var is reminding local residents who wish to get a coronavirus test that there are seven temporary testing centres in operation in the department. No prescription is necessary and there is no charge, you'll just need your carte vitale, an identity document, a pen and a mask. The centres are in Hyeres, Draguignan, Valletta, Saint-Raphael and Saint-Julien as well as two centres in Toulon. Details of the temporary centres as well as other testing locations in the Var can be found on the Prefecture's website.

Covid figures show a slight downturn – Meanwhile on a national level and according to the latest Covid figures from the French government there has been a slight downturn in numbers with the number of hospitalizations and those admitted to intensive care over the last 24 hours, decreasing compared to the day before. On Wednesday 10th February the number of patients hospitalized with Covid stood at 27,417 compared to 27,634 on Tuesday 9th February. 1,525 patients were admitted to hospital on Wednesday 10th February compared to 1 931 on Tuesday 9th February.

Delays in payments from Solidarity Fund for small businesses and independents in France - Over a third of small business and freelance workers in France have not received their aid from the French government’s solidarity fund set up in the face of the health crisis. Speaking to French media on Wednesday Finance minister Bruno Le Maire said that the “delay was due to controls being carried out to crack down on fraudulent claims” adding that an additional 250 employees will be mobilized to clear the backlog. Many small businesses and freelancers claim not to have received aid since December last year.

Meanwhile Le Maire also announced that the 1,500 euros monthly aid available to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees which have recorded a loss of activity of at least 50% due to the health crisis will be extended by two months. In addition the fixed costs of larger companies can be covered by up to 70%, within a limit which was raised from 3 to 10 million euros following an EU agreement.

Marine Le Penn appears in court - French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has appeared in court on charges claiming that she broke hate speech laws by tweeting pictures of Islamic State group atrocities. The trial comes as opinion polls show that the leader of the National Rally is likely to come face to face against Emmanuel Macron in next year's presidential elections. Le Penn slams the case as a politically motivated attempt to silence her. A verdict is expected on May 4th.

NRGI warns that the world’s state oil companies risk wrecking the goals of the Paris climate agreement - A report published by the Natural Resource Governance Institute the NRGI has warned that the world’s state oil companies risk wrecking the Paris climate goals by continuing to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into fossil fuel exploration projects. The NRGI think tank says this means that governments are betting on a slower green energy transition. It’s a gamble that may see state oil companies, many in developing countries, squander some $400 billion in oil and gas projects.

Musical instrument more than 17,000 years old - French archaeologists have managed to get near-perfect notes out of a musical instrument that's more than 17,000 years old. The conch shell was found in a hunter-gatherer cave in southern France. The artefact is the oldest known wind instrument of its type. To date, only bone flutes can claim a deeper heritage.

Business

The Chair of the US Federal Reserve has said that there should be a “war-like” effort on national jobs and that special efforts should be made to help minorities and workers ousted from low-paid employment. Jerome Powell cited America’s push after the Second World War to find jobs for returning soldiers as he called for a “broad national effort” to get people back to work. Mr Powell said that creating employment would require more than supportive monetary policy and will need a society wide commitment with contributions from across government and the private sector. The Fed has already promised that borrowing costs for firms and households will be kept as low as possible as the economy recovers and his latest remarks would seem to dovetail with the ambitious spending plans being discussed by President Biden and the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Mr Biden is urging Congress to pass a 1.9 trillion dollar stimulus bill and is also planning a longer-term infrastructure programme that could involve several more trillions of dollars.

The electric carmaker Tesla’s move into Bitcoin has been criticised as it was revealed that mining the cryptocurrency uses more electricity annually than the whole of Argentina. Research by Cambridge University says that Bitcoin mining is power-hungry and involves heavy computer calculations to verify transactions. Critics say that Tesla’s decision to invest heavily in the cryptocurrency undermines its environmental image. The price of Bitcoin hit 48,000 dollars earlier this week following Tesla’s announcement that it had bought 1.5 billion dollars worth and planned to accept it as payment in the future. The rising price is giving even more incentive to Bitcoin miners to run more and more machines extending the negative impact on the environment.

Shares in cannabis firms have lit up following strong interest from small retail investors in a sign that the recent frenzy over GameStop may be spreading to other stocks. Shares in firms such as Tilray and Canopy Growth jumped on Wednesday with some up by as much as 50 percent. The moves came after posts promoting cannabis stocks spread through the popular Wallstreetbets forum on Reddit. There have been suggestions that US President Joe Biden may move to decriminalize or even legalise cannabis at a federal level during his first term in office.

Sport

Football - There were four 5th round FA Cup ties in England last night with Everton beating Spurs 5-4 in a 9 goal thriller at Goodison Park to reach the last 8. In the other results Manchester City reached the quarter finals thanks to a 3-1 win at Swansea. Leicester beat Brighton 1-0 and Sheffield United beat Bristol City 1-0. The final two 5th round ties are being played tonight. Barnsley play Chelsea and Wolves host Southampton.

In the English Championship, Brentford have gone top of the table following a 3-1 win at Reading.

And in the Scottish Premiership Motherwell were 1-0 winners at Kilmarnock and Celtic were 4-0 winners at St Mirren.

Tennis - The defending champion Sofia Kenin has been knocked out in the second round of the Australian Open. The 22-year-old American 4th seed was beaten 6-3 6-2 by Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. The world number one Ashleigh Barty is through to round 3 after beating Daria Gavrilova 6-1 7-6 and there were also second round wins for Karolina Pliskova and Elise Mertens.

In the men’s event Nick Kyrgios saved match points on his way to a 5 set victory over Ugo Humbert of France while Dominic Thiem also made it through. Stan Wawrinka is out after losing in a 5th set tie-break to Marton Fucsovics.

Formula 1 - The third race of the season will be able to go ahead in Portugal following talks with organisers. Formula 1 personnel attending the event will not return to the UK within the 10 day restriction period for countries on a British red list for heightened risk of coronavirus. All teams will go straight on to Spain following the Portugal race and some will travel straight to Monaco where the Grand Prix is still scheduled for May 21st.

Cricket - It’s day 1 of the 2nd Test between Bangladesh and West Indies in Dhaka. West Indies won the toss and decided to bat. They’d reached 83-1 after 27 overs.

Rugby Union - George North will miss this weekend’s 6 Nations match against Scotland after picking up an injury in the victory over Ireland. Wales are facing an injury crisis in the centre with Johnny Williams and Jonathan Davis both out. Nick Tompkins and Owen Watkin are set to form the midfield.

A French neurologist has apologised to Johnny Sexton after speculating on the Ireland captain’s history of concussion. Dr Jean-Francois Chermann ordered Sexton to be stood down for 12 weeks in 2014 while he was playing for Racing 92. He told RMC Sport that the fly-half had sustained as many as 30 concussions during his career. He’s since withdrawn the remarks after Sexton described them as “inaccurate and highly inappropriate”. Sexton is going through return-to-play protocols after being taken off following a clash of heads during last weekend’s 6 Nations defeat against Wales. He may not be passed fit for the match against France this weekend.

Weather

Clear skies with moderate westerly winds across the Var. Top temperature 17 degrees. Overnight lows of 9 degrees on the coast and 6 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Clouding over tomorrow with afternoon rain, partially cloudy on Saturday and cooler with highs of 9-11 degrees.

And Finally

If you want to to make your love last don’t play Call of Duty! A recent survey has found that the hugely popular game causes arguments amongst couples with some men having considered ending a relationship because of it. The survey found that arguments erupt among couples once or twice a week due to  their partner being glued to the screen, and about 12 percent said gaming-related fights happened 150 to 200 times a year. The most common sources of strife were Call of Duty and the popular FIFA game which were both responsible for over a third of fights. 

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