French and Riviera News Thursday 13th May 2021

News

Number of Covid patients in hospital drops below 25,000 for the first time since mid-March - The number of Covid patients hospitalized in France has dropped below 25,000 for the first time since mid-March. According to figures from Public Health France 24,254 people are currently hospitalised with health authorities reporting 965 new admission in the last 24 hours on Wednesday and 21,498 new cases of Covid have been declared in the last 24 hours.

The decline in critical care services is also continuing with 4,583 people currently in intensive care. 185 people have died from Covid in hospital in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths in France since the start of the epidemic to 107,148 (including 80,841 in hospitals).

AstraZeneca reserved for the over 55s - Meanwhile France High Health Authority has said that the AstraZeneca's vaccine must remain reserved for over 55s.

Restriction eased on restaurants with less than ten tables - The French government has said that restaurants with less than ten tables will not have to adhere to the 50% occupancy restriction when they re-open on 19th May. Instead, partitions will have to be put in place between tables.

Poverty in France increases due to health crisis - Meanwhile a report from the National Council in the Fight against Poverty and Social Exclusion, submitted to the French government on Wednesday has shown that poverty has “increased” in France since the start of the health crisis.

According to a report it’s a social "time bomb" with the number of people in a precarious situation having "multiplied". The authors of the report note that the poverty is "multidimensional", affecting both financial insecurity, access to rights and psychological state.

In 2019, France had 9.1 million “poor” people, that is to say people with less than 1,070 euros net per month. This figure for the year 2020 will not be known until the end of 2021, but associations have already warned that it will “explode”.

Report by WHO claims the covid pandemic “could have been avoided” - According to an independent report carried out by experts, appointed by the World Health Organisation the Covid pandemic “could have been avoided”. In the report released on Wednesday May 12th they cite a "combination of bad strategic choices, a lack of will to tackle inequalities and a poorly coordinated system."

The independent panel, made up of 13 leading figures and experts, has spent the past eight months studying the international response to the pandemic. They add that "while there were obvious delays in China there were also delays worldwide” with "too much time passing" between the notification of the first cases in December 2019 and the declaration, on January 30th by the WHO. This resulted in February 2020 being a "lost month" during which many countries should have acted. The report concludes that "delays, hesitations and denials" allowed the epidemic, then the pandemic, to spread.

The expert group recommends that governments and the international community adopt without delay, a set of reforms aimed at tackling preparation for a global pandemic and an alert and response system.

Fete de la Musique - Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot has confirmed that the annual Fete de la Musique will go ahead on 21 June. Speaking on French television on Wednesday she said that her department is working with the Ministry of the Interior to establish health protocols for the day and a health pass wouldn't be required.

In other news

Missing person - Police in the Var have launched a missing persons appeal following the disappearance of 20-year-old Carla who was last seen on Tuesday May 11th in Entrecasteaux. Described as having blonde hair Carla was last seen wearing black jeans, a white zip-up sweatshirt with red lettering on it, and of a pair of white trainers. Anyone with any information is asked to contact the police on 04.94.04.50.07.

Directors of an animal shelter found guilty for cruelty to animals and fraud - The directors of an animal shelter in the Alpes Maritimes have been handed a prison sentence, found guilty of fraud and acts of cruelty to animals. The president and her partner of the Artémis Handicap Animal association, which managed the refuge at Revest-Les Roches in the Alpes-Maritimes, was found guilty this week of repeated fraud. Volunteers and former employees testified through multiple photos, videos and statements, of the dramatic situation and the mistreatment of animals on the premises.

One in five French drivers admit to not being the same person when behind the wheel – Motorists in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region have been ranked third for road rage. According to the survey, carried out by Vinci autoroutes, one in five French people admit to “not being the same person when behind the wheel”.  

The study was published on Wednesday ahead of today’s long bank holiday weekend, as many will be taking to the roads for the four-day break. Motorist in the Hauts de France came top of the ranking for bad behavior while driving, followed by those in the Ile de France region.

A range of bad behaviour behind the wheel was looked at including insulting other drivers, for which the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur came first, as well as using a mobile phone while driving which saw the Ile de France come first and Brittany came first for driving under the influence of alcohol . Results showed that the behaviour of drivers changed from region to region.

Business

US inflation surged in April as the economic recovery picked up.

Consumer prices jumped by 4.2% in the 12 months to April, up from 2.6% in March and marking the biggest increase since September 2008.

The report from the US Labor Department comes amid fears that the rise in consumer prices could push up interest rates.

Inflation was pushed up by higher prices for cars and food in April.

Global stock market losses extended on Wednesday amid investor concerns that the high inflation could lead the US central bank to raise interest rates more quickly than had been expected.

Bitcoin has taken a big hit after Tesla said that it would be suspending vehicle purchases using the crypto currency due to climate change concerns.

Bitcoin fell by more than 10% after a tweet from Tesla CEO Elon Musk who said that he was concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal  which has the worst emissions of any fuel.

Mr Musk added that crypto currency is a good idea but  cannot come at great cost to the environment.

He also said that the electric car maker would not sell any of its bitcoin and intends to use it for transactions as soon as mining switches  to using more sustainable energy.

Analysts say the move is an attempt by Tesla to calm the concerns of investors who are focused on climate change and sustainability.

And – The operator of the biggest fuel pipeline in the United States has announced that it resumed operations last night following a five day closure.

A ransomware  cyber attack forced Colonial Pipeline to shut the main part of its  network on Friday.

The 5,500 mile pipeline usually carries 2.5 million barrels a day along the east coast of America.

The closure saw supplies tighten  across the United States with prices rising and a number of states declaring an emergency.

Colonial Pipeline has warned that it could take several days for the deliv