French and Riviera News Thursday 2nd April 2020

President of the PACA region accuses US of diverting cargo at the last minute -  The president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region Renaud Muselier has reportedly announced that part of a cargo of surgical masks destined for France has been diverted to the United States at the last minute. The Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region has ordered 4 million masks from China. The delivery of these masks should have been completed this Thursday, April 2, but has now been delayed and will arrive in France next week according to Mr Muselier. 

The President of the PACA region has reportedly accused the Americans of intervening by paying cash for a cargo of medical masks in China which had been reserved for the region and was on its way. 

Monaco - The director of public security in Monaco has announced that since the confinement in the Principality, introduced to stem the spread of the virus, 11,000 checks have been carried out and only one individual has been fined,  adding that "Overall, the confinement is being respected".

As of this week public security agents and police officers are fully equipped, with a kit including gloves, hydroalcoholic gel and masks. 

Meanwhile the Larvotto construction site has been reopened as the government declared on Wednesday that the project is “essential for the development of the Principality”. The site had previously been closed following the closure of all public construction sites however, on Wednesday April 1st the government announced that around 40 to 60 workers will be allowed to resume their jobs at the Larvotto site adding that additional hygiene measures will be in place to respect the current measures of precuation. 

What price will we pay with the negative effects of confinement? - If you're already climbing the walls due to the confinement, researchers are looking into the effects this isolation can have on our mental health. Over 3 billion people around the world are living in an unprecedented situation in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Boredom, lack of loved ones, loss of freedom ...a difficult moment to bear, which can have negative effects on morale. The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that confinement is one of the "very important consequences" of the Covid-19 epidemic because it affects "what we love to do, where we want to be, and with whom." we want to be. "

This forced isolation can cause post-traumatic stress as well as feelings of frustration, confusion and anger, according to research. The duration of confinement, the housing conditions, the loss of income, the lack of information, or even boredom increase these feelings generated by a new situation, both by its form and by its magnitude. 

In Monaco on Wednesday 1st April TEDx Monte Carlo hosted the first of three virtual events with the objective to discuss wellbeing during this period of lockdown. For information on the uncoming virtual events go to https://tedxmontecarlo.com/

Monaco has also set up a call centre which can be contacted on Monaco 92.05.55.00 and as always the British Association of Monaco can be contacted on 06.60.21.63.99.

In France the following number has been made available  0800.13.00.00 during the lockdown period. 

The region's health agency calls for hospital staff and carers to mobilise in the regions the worst hit by the virus - The regions health agency has called on hospital staff in the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur region  to go and help hospital staff in the regions of the Grand-Est and Ile-de-France, where the situation is critical.

With hundreds of lives at stake it's a call to "mobilise and be united in fighting the virus". The Regional Health Agency asks the carers (students included) who can make themselves available, to join for a week "two regions in distress".

The situation of the coronavirus in the worst hit areas is seeing thousands of people currently in intensive care, a "situation which is in no way comparable to what we know in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur". Additional beds have been released, but human resources are now lacking.

"Despite an exceptional mobilization of establishments in these two regions, the unlimited dedication of their teams, it is no longer possible today to meet the needs," warns the ARS Paca. The stay, travel and support on site will be fully covered, says the Regional Health Agency which asks "urgently" to those interested to call 04.13.55.90.27 to organize the quickest departure possible. The Regional Health Agency would like to bring together a hundred volunteers.

Latest coronavirus figures - 10,935 people, considered to have been cured from coronavirus in France have been able to leave hospital since March 1st with 1,491 in the last 24 hours.  

24,639 people tested positive for Covid-19 are now hospitalized in France, including 6,017 in intensive care.The Director of Health said that out of 32,000 tests carried out on Wednesday 9,630 were positive". To date 4,032 people have died from the virus with 83% of deaths were aged over 70.  

132 people hospitalized in the Alpes Maritimes have been able to return to their homes since the start of the epidemic. While the number of deaths from the virus in the Alpes-Maritimes increased from 23 to 29 on Wednesday, according to the agency Public Health France.

149 people are currently hospitalized (17 more than the day before), including 41 in the intensive care unit.

And three new cases were reported in Monaco on Wednesday evening bringing the total number of cases to 55. 

Parliamentary committee - Meanwhile a special parliamentary committee has started work on Wednesday to find out where surgical masks which are in desperate shortage in France have gone? Ten years ago France had stocks of one and a half billion masks. At the outbreak of the Coronavirus epidemic it was left with just 150 million.

The Committee begins work as polls suggest growing public criticism of the government’s preparation for and response to the crisis amid shortages of facemasks, tests and respiratory ventilators.

At Wednesday's first session, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Health Minister Olivier Véran were questioned via videolink by some of the 39 parliamentarians on the committee.

The President of the National Assembly, stressed that the interrogations were “not trials” but an attempt to find out why and how decisions were made leading to “the shortages and problems which are now evident”.

A government minister, who agreed that such scrutiny was legitimate, nonetheless hoped it would not “obstruct the government’s management of the crisis.”

French politicians like those elsewhere must strike a difficult balance between holding the government and presidency to account while also trying not to create or stoke division at a time when there is a need for a degree of national unity.

Testing - Several testing facilities for Covid-19 have been set up in the region including Nice. However, patients who qualify for a test must show symptons and/or be a priority, such as hospital staff and carers. All those ahead of being tested must have a prescription, and make an appointment for both tests in laboritories and the "drive in" service, which is currently set up in some towns.  Members of the public can not just turn up and expect to be tested.

Meanhwile the French government is planning a vast campaign of blood tests, to screen the French who have been in contact with Covid-19. The scientific debate relates to the number of people to be tested to consider the phase of ending confinement.

For the time being, the government has only one certainty: the French will have to go through a vast campaign of blood tests before considering ending confinement. When? How? 'Or' What? Which category of people to test? So many questions that remain unanswered for the moment, while initiatives are taken as in Nancy where all the residents and staff of a nursing home will be screened with a blood test. "A world first".

Unlike PCR tests - nasal swab tests, blood tests can determine the presence of traces of antibodies produced by the immune system in response to the coronavirus. In the presence of these antibodies, this means the the person has been infected. Clearly, it is possible to determine who carried Covid-19, even with mild symptons. And therefore know the number of people immunized.

Health Minister Olivier Véran said that "We hope that research will allow us to be ready to provide this type of fundamental examination for the French people at a time when we are preparing for the end of confinement in France," 

Tinder - Tinder has broken the record for the number of people using the app during the confinement. Worldwide, more than three billion "swipes" were recorded on Sunday March 29. In France, Tinder users appently talk more during confinement.

According to data from Tinder, the app recorded a historic "swipe" record on March 29, with more than three billion interactions.

As a reminder, a "swipe" is the action of touching the screen of your mobile to the right or left, to "like" a profile or on the contrary reject it. If two profiles like each other, it is a "match", and a chat window is activated.

Note that this record concerns all "swipes" combined, whether positive or negative. Still according to data from the American firm, French users however spend more time chatting during confinement. There were indeed 23% more conversations in France, for an average duration also up by 23%.

 

Business.

 

Asian shares have followed Wall Street down this morning after a dire warning about the spread of coronavirus in the United States sent investors scurrying for the safety of the US dollar and bonds.

More bad news is expected tomorrow when the latest US jobless figures are published.

On Wednesday ,President Trump warned that “dark days are ahead for the nation” adding that he expected the next couple of weeks to be “pretty horrific”.

White House medical experts say that they now expect between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from the virus despite a series of unprecedented stay at home orders.

The World Health Organisation has warned that the global infection total will exceed a million people and the number of deaths will rise to more than 50,000 in the coming days.

Analysts say that the shift in tone from the White House is hurting some of the more bullish traders and optimism about stimulus is starting to fade.

 

A report by Reuters says that some major US banks are threatening not to take part in the government’s small business rescue plan over concerns about taking on too much financial and legal risk.

Last week ,Congress passed a 2 trillion  dollar stimulus package that includes 349 billion dollars aimed to help small firms whose operations have been either shut down or severely limited because of the virus pandemic.

Borrowers can apply for loans through participating banks from tomorrow and up until the 30th of June.

However ,Reuters says that some lenders have expressed serious reservations about participating in the scheme in its current form.

The main concern is the fact that the US Treasury has said that it expects banks to verify the eligibility of borrowers and take steps to prevent fraud ,money laundering and to protect customer information under the Bank Secrecy Act.

Banks are said to be concerned that they could face regulatory penalties or legal costs in the future if things go wrong in the haste to get the money out of the door or if they get blamed for not acting quickly enough after having carried out due diligence.

 

And-British Airways is expected to announce that it’s to suspend around 36,000 staff.

The airline ,which has grounded much of its fleet due to the coronavirus crisis has been negotiating with the Unite union for more than a week.

The two sides are said to have reached a broad deal but details are yet to be hammered out.

The agreement would mean that 80 percent of cabin crew ,ground staff ,engineers and staff working at head office would have their jobs suspended although no redundancies are expected.

The decision will affect all Gatwick and London City Airport staff after British Airways suspended all its operations at both locations because of the crisis.

 

Sport.

 

 

Tennis-The Wimbledon Championships have been cancelled for the first time since the Second World War because of the coronavirus crisis.

The All England Club said that it had been left with no choice but the cancel the showpiece of the grass court season because of fears over public health and the wellbeing of staff ,players and volunteers.

The decision means that there will be no top flight tennis of any sort until at least the 13th of July.

 

Rugby Union-The England coach Eddie Jones is set to agree a new deal that will keep him in charge until the end of the World Cup in 2023.

The 60 year old Australian’s current contract expires in August 2021 but he has been in extension talks since England’s World Cup final defeat at the hands of South Africa last year.

Jones has recently agreed to a 25 percent pay cut as the English Rugby Football Union struggles along all other sport with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Football-There are increasing calls for English Premier League players to take pay cuts as businesses struggle with the coronavirus crisis.

Many non-playing staff have already agreed to cuts in their wages and players overseas at clubs including Barcelona and Juventus have also taken big cuts to their wages.

The chairman of the UK Parliament’s Digital ,Culture ,Media and Sport Committee Julian Knight says that Premier League clubs are living in a “moral vacuum” and has condemned decisions to furlough non playing staff or making them take pay cuts while players remain unaffected.

The Professional Footballers’ Association has written to all of its members urging them not to agree to pay cuts until they’ve spoken to the union.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said that top flight players should “carry the burden” and that those who are the least well off in society deserve the biggest help.

 

Formula 1-McLaren’s drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz are both to take pay cuts while other staff are being furloughed during the coronavirus crisis.

McLaren are the first Formula 1 team to ask some of their workforce to take an enforced absence.Others who remain will have their salary reduced.

The drivers have volunteered to take the same pay cut as the rest of the staff with McLaren saying that its plan was to protect jobs and ensure that employees return when the economy recovers.

 

Weather.

 

Partially cloudy with light south easterly winds.

Top temperature 14 degrees.

Overnight lows of 7 degrees on the coast and 3 degrees inland with clear skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend-Clear skies with highs of 15-18 degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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