French and Riviera News Thursday 23rd April 2020


Coronavirus - 21,340 people have died in France from Covid 19. 544 deaths have been reported since Tuesday 21st April. Health authorities have confirmed however, that the number of cases admitted to hospital continues to progressively drop. On a national level 5,218 people are  in intensive care, 2,000 less than two weeks ago.

For the region there was a slight rise in the number of cases at midday on Wednesday. After several days, of what was described as a rather "stable" situation, along with a drop in the number of cases in the Alpes Maritimes and the Var, Wednesday saw a rise in cases return. 6 cases were reported in the Alpes Maritimes and 17 in the Var, the most significant rise since April 13th. 

In Monaco no new cases were reported on Wednesday with the number of cases remaining at 94. 

Meanwhile the President of the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur Region, Renaud Muselier, has said that a first batch of 5 million masks delivered from China will be distributed to health workers and security personnel. One million of the masks will be given to small municipalities of less than 20,000 residents in the PACA region. He said that by the end of May, he expected 25 million masks to have been delivered to the region.

End of lockdown - The Elysee has announced that President Macron will hold a video conference this morning with 15 mayors from across France. Although not confirmed by the Elysee, local reports suggest that the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, and the Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, will participate. The meeting is part of President Macron's fact finding mission in preparation for the gradual deconfinement in France from the 11 May. President Macron will also hold a separate video conference on Friday which will concentrate on plans for the tourism, leisure, hotel and restaurant sectors.

Prime Minister denies rumors of reopening of restaurants - Meanwhile the French Prime Minister denied on Wednesday, rumors suggesting that restaurants in France will be able to reopen from the 15th June.

While the end of lockdown is set for May 11th, with, the gradual reopening of schools, some places will remain closed until further notice and Matignon confirms that this is the case for restaurants, for which no date has yet been disclosed.

Meanwhile the industry’s union says that “a reopening in mid-June would be necessary in order to save the summer season”.

Travel - As the French government works to publish a detailed plan of how lockdown measure may progressively be lifted from May 11th in France, there is a possibility that some travel restrictions will remain.

While wanting to make it easier to circulate the possibility of traveling between different departments could be restricted until mid-June.
Transport would also be reintroduced gradually, for example, number of trains running and flights available to slowly increase, along with controls at airports and train stations to make sure that the reason for travel is essential.

The French government has not hidden the fact that the progressive end of confinement is a "vrai casse tête" or rather "A headache" which details of should be confirmed in the coming week.

End of confinement in the region's ports - The end of confinement for ports in the region is being mapped out by the maritime prefecture. The deconfinement  will be done in two stages, in order to allow economic recovery and to avoid excessive traffic. 

The first "preparation" stage will allow the return of nautical activity linked to tourism and the second will authorise the opening of beaches and circulation of pleasure vessels. A date for the progressive exit from lockdown is expected to be announced "very soon". 

Food baskets - Distribution of food baskets to the over 65's has officially begun in Nice. The baskets contain goods to the value of 25 euros including fresh produce and dry foods such as pasta as well as hygiene products. They will be distributed by a network of people, including volunteers. Christian Estrosi said on Wednesday that  1,500 people had expressed an interest in receiving the baskets since Saturday.

Police officers sleep in their vehicles - CRS Police officers from Lyon, who have been deployed to the region for border controls, have refused to move into accommodation provided for them in Nice's Ariane district, demanding its disinfection due to the coronavirus.

The 75 police officers decided to spend the night in their vehicles and not in the rooms which had been assigned to them. The head of the police unit said "We have come for border control. We will carry out our mission, but there is no question of sleeping in this building without guarantee of health precautions having been taken". 

Could Nicotine patches protect against Covid-19? - Researchers in France are to carry out trials with nicotine patches to verify research which has until now shown that nicotine could have a protective effect against Covid 19. According to several surveys worldwide, there is a low number of smokers amongst those hospitalised with the virus.

Professor Jean-Pierre Changaux from the Pasteur Institute in Paris suggests that the nicotine prevents or retains the virus from entering the cells and propagating. The nicotine hypothesis remains to be proven, hence importance of clinical trials.

Doctors remind people that these studies should not encourage people to smoke. Smoking damages the lungs and causes serious health problems and death. killing more than 70,000 people a year in France. Health minister Olivier Veran said "the research is an interesting track, among other tracks of clinical research currently being studied".

Meanwhile researchers in Zurich have said that after analyzing the tissue of people who died from the coronavirus, they believe it is systemic vascular inflammation and not pneumonia. For the researchers "Covid 19 is not just a viral pneumonia but much more".

According to a study by researchers from Zurich. This for them explains why it causes so many cardiovascular problems and vital organ failures.

Can a man's best friend become a test on all fours? - An association supported by British researchers is trying to train dogs to spot people carrying the new coronavirus, after several successful tests with other diseases. 

The training center in Milton Keynes, in the center of England, sees dogs trained to recognize the smell of the virus among several samples. They must then report when they find it, before being rewarded. 

According to James Logan, head of theLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) disease control department, this could "revolutionize our response" to the pandemic which has already claimed more than 17,000 lives in British hospitals.

The team set itself the goal of training the animals in six weeks, in order to be able to quickly provide the health authorities with a "tool" for "rapid and non-invasive diagnosis". Once trained, dogs can be used to identify travelers infected with the virus when they arrive in the country or be deployed in other public spaces.

Riviera Radio reported on March 31st the departure of a French plumber and his dog awarded "Dog Hero Trophy" in France who left Paris for the UK to help researchers on this project. (see French News 31st March 2020). 

Muguet - The city council of Le Cannet has organised the special dilevery of "muguet" or Lilly of the valley flowers, for May 1st.  With florists currently closed due to Covid-19, the city hall has set up a service of home delivery respecting the necessary safety measures in place.

Florists in Le Cannet have also been able to distribute the flower through other commercial outlets which have remained open, such as supermarkets and food stores. 

Muguet – a May Day Tradition Dating Back to 1561. The 1st of May in France is a holiday to celebrate labour day, and it also carries an even older tradition. If someone offers you a sprig of lily of the valley, it supposedly brings good luck. 

Offering a little muguet in spring was common in mediaeval times, but it seems that it became officialised on May 1st, 1561 when King Charles IX, having received a sprig himself, decided to return the gesture and offered the flower to every lady in his court.

Muguet or Lilly of the valley flowers also marks the start of spring and symbolises the end of winter. It has long been considered the perfect flower to celebrate the coming of the new season and the return of good weather, and also a sign of prosperity for future harvests.


France's Minister of Action and Public Accounts Gérald Darmanin declared on Wednesday that the Social Security deficit should reach 41 billion euros this year in France due to the coronavirus crisis, a level never reached.

The previous record, 28 billion euros, had been set in 2010, in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. In 2019, the deficit of Social Security  was 1.9 billion euros.

This level of deficit in the general system and the FSV is unprecedented, and its deterioration is mainly explained by a sharp drop in revenues, estimated at nearly 31 billion euros, and by an increase of around 8 billion in spending compared to the target set for this year.

Her Majesty the Queen reportedly used it on Tuesday, to communicate with other family members on her birthday and now Zoom has said it will release an improved version of its hugely popular video conferencing app this week.

It comes after issues with the company's data security and privacy measures have come under intense scrutiny.

The firm said Zoom 5.0 will include upgraded encryption features to help protect data and fend off so-called "Zoombombing".

The platform is now being used by hundreds of millions of people for work and leisure, as lockdowns are imposed around the world.


Football - The Champions League and Europa League look increasingly likely to be played exclusively in August after more talks about the remainder of the 2019-20 season on Wednesday.

Uefa told the 55 associations  there was still the possibility of the competitions being played throughout June, July and August.

But reports suggest that the latest discussions revolved almost exclusively around a plan to complete the domestic leagues by 31 July, with European competition following after that.

Wayne Rooney is at the centre of Derby County players' battle against a proposed 50 per cent wage deferral. Reports say that the Rams board want the squad to forego half of their pay, which would be paid back at a later date.

But Rooney, who is leading talks on behalf of players, informed chief executive officer Stephen Pearce that the squad are only willing to take a 25 per cent deferral.

Meanwhile Phil Neville is likely to stand down from his role as England Women head coach today.  Neville's future is set to be announced on April 23 once the dates for the delayed Women's European Championships are decided. The tournament is taking place in 2022 instead of next year and the schedule is due to be decided by UEFA today. 

Tennis - Roger Federer says "now is the time" for the men's and women's governing bodies to merge while tennis is in limbo because of the coronavirus. The 20-time Grand Slam champion floated the idea in a series of Twitter posts.


Starting off fine this morning becoming increasingly cloudy highs of 21 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes and 23 in the Var. Moderate south easterly wind. This evening going down to 13 degrees in Nice and 8 degrees in Saint Tropez with clear skies. 

The outlook for Friday and the weekend cloudy across the region with some sunny spells and highs of 23. 




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