French and Riviera News Thursday February 25th 2021


Covid-19 - French government spokesman Gabriel Attal has said that the coronavirus situation in several regions including the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur is “preoccupying”. Speaking after a government health defence meeting in Paris, Mr Attal said that cases are rising again in several areas including the Ile de France, Grand Est and the PACA. Ten departments are particularly worrying health authorities and more details would be given at a press conference with the Prime Minister Jean Castex this evening. Mr Attal confirmed that the government is considering further local lockdowns in affected areas but said that the Prime Minister would give a more detailed explanation. Authorities have already confirmed a weekend lockdown for the Dunkirk area.

Covid outbreaks - With 591 coronavirus infections per 100,000 residents, the Alpes Maritimes is by far the worst affected area of France, way ahead of the Pas de Calais region which is the second worst affected with 349 cases per 100,000. Nice is particularly badly hit with infection rates running at 780 per 100,000 but other towns in the Alpes Maritimes are showing even higher numbers with some villages such as Puget Theniers and l’Escarene registering infection rates of more than a thousand per 100,000 people. In the west of the department, towns including Cannes, Antibes and Mandelieu are registering infection rates of between 300 and 500 per 100,000 people.

Patient transfer - 3 patients receiving mechanical ventilation for coronavirus in the Alpes Maritimes have been transferred to Brest on the north western French coast. Authorities at Pasteur Hospital in Nice have taken the decision to transfer the patients to relieve the pressure on the Intensive Care Unit. Hospital occupation rates across the Alpes Maritimes are running at 87.6 percent with ICUs feeling the brunt of the strain.

Meanwhile the regional health authority (ARS) says that there have been 1,443 deaths from coronavirus in the Alpes Maritimes since the start of the pandemic. 307 people are receiving hospital treatment with 108 requiring ventilation. Nine fresh deaths from the virus have been reported in the Var bringing the total number of deaths in the department since the start of the pandemic to 1,316. 228 patients in the Var are in hospital being treated for the virus with 64 on ventilators.

Monaco - Monaco authorities say that they won’t be introducing a weekend lockdown in the Principality but have stressed again that the coronavirus situation is “extremely serious”. Residents of the Principality are urged not to travel into the Alpes Maritimes this weekend where a local lockdown will be in force, unless it’s absolutely essential. A curfew in Monaco is still in force between 7pm and 6am and employees in the Principality have been ordered to work from home unless it’s not possible.

Vaccines - The French Industry Minister has said that the country is still on track with its vaccination programme. Agnes Pannier-Runacher says that a million people were vaccinated in January and the plan to vaccinate 15 million of the most vulnerable people by June was still on target. The Minister denied that there were any supply problems and production of vaccines is increasing. France has been criticised for lagging behind other nations, notably the UK but the government points out that people being vaccinated are receiving two doses and not just one which is the case for the majority of people in the UK.

Disco inferno - The Alpes Maritimes deputy Eric Pauget is calling for extra compensation to be paid to the operators of discos and nightclubs in the region who’ve been unable to open since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Pauget says that 1,500 disco operators are suffering severe financial hardship as a result of being forced to close. Reports say that more than a hundred establishments have already been forced to declare bankruptcy. The politician says that the government must offer further aid to the sector to prevent more businesses going bust.

Medical leak - An investigation is underway after the medical records of half a million French people were leaked on the internet. The origin of the leak which included the names, addresses, social security and phone numbers and in some cases blood groups has not yet been confirmed but reports say that 30 medical analysis laboratories in the north-west of France are at the center of the enquiry. People whose details featured in the leaked records are being contacted individually.

Radar - The speed camera on the A8 motorway west-bound near the St Isidore peage is back in action. The camera was put out of action by Gilet Jaunes protestors in 2019 but a new up to date model is now ‘flashing away’. The speed limit down the hill to the peage station is 90 km/h.

In-Seine - The son of the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has announced his intention to swim the entire length of the River Seine. 20-year-