French and Riviera News Tuesday 22nd June 2021

News 

Hospital pressure continues to fall in France  - Hospital pressure continues to fall in France as figures released on Monday June 21st have shown that 1,655 people are currently in intensive care units, a figure well below the 2,000 mark which continues to fall since the end of April. 48 patients with severe forms of covid were admitted to intensive care in the last 24 hours in France. 

Forty people have died from covid in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 110,807 since the start of the epidemic in March 2020.

Alpes Maritimes incidence rate hits below 20 - In the Alpes Maritimes the incidence rate is below 20 with health services of the region recording no additional deaths from the coronavirus in the past 7 days, a first for almost 9 months. Since the start of the pandemic, covid has claimed 1,976 victims in the Alpes-Maritimes (1,528 in hospitals, 448 in nursing homes). According to Public Health France, the incidence rate (number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants) was only 16 on June 20th. It had stood at over 650 at the start of last March.

Intensive care services also continue to empty in the Alpes-Maritimes. As of June 20th, 18 people were admitted to intensive care in the department. A number that was close to 140 at the end of March.

One case of covid declared in Monaco on Monday - In Monaco one new case of covid was declared on Monday 21st June bringing the total number of residents affected to 2,549. Three non-residents are currently in hospital in the Principality and 33 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

Vaccination - On the vaccination side in France, 18.3 million people are now fully vaccinated, either with two injections or with a single dose if they have received Janssen's product, or if they had already been infected before. Since the start of the campaign, 32.1 million people have received at least one injection, or 47.8% of the total population.

Standing concerts allowed from June 30th - French Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot has announced that standing concerts will be allowed from 30 June. Numbers will be limited to 75% indoors but 100% outdoors. Different health protocols will be in place depending on whether the number of attendees is below or above 1,000 people. A sanitary pass, but no mask, will be required for concerts with over 1,000 people. The wearing of a mask is still recommended. For concerts of less than 1,000 people, a sanitary pass will not be required but a mask will be mandatory.

Nightclubs to reopen on July 9th - The French government has also said that nightclubs will be allowed to reopen on 9 July. Masks will not be mandatory, but a sanitary pass will be required. Numbers will be limited to 75% of capacity indoors, with 100% capacity being allowed outdoors.

In other news

Regional elections - Less than twenty-four hours after announcing the maintenance of his list in the second round of the regional elections in France, the left-wing candidate, Jean-Laurent Félizia who came third in the first round, has ended up giving in to calls to block the far right National Rally. Arriving third in the first round of regional elections in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur, the environmental candidate sparked controversy, on Sunday, June 20th, by refusing to step aside in favour of the right and to block the far-right National Rally.

Teaching unions - Teaching unions have complained about what they say is the "chaotic organization" of the baccalaureate oral exams which started on Monday. One of the unions said that problems had included examiners expected to be in two different places at the same time. Parents and students quoted in French media have complained of long delays before the start of exams and teachers in Lyon are reported to have begun industrial action in protest at the alleged lack of organization.

Tiger mosquitos - The Regional Health Agency is reminding everyone in the PACA region to take steps to protect themselves from tiger mosquitos. The tiger mosquito can transmit dangerous diseases. With the exception of the Hautes-Alpes where its presence remains limited, it is present and active throughout our region. The agency says that to protect yourself, you must take steps to limit the proliferation of the mosquito, by removing stagnant water such as in watering cans and plant pots and avoid getting bitten by wearing long, loose clothing and using repellents. Further details are available here.

Mona Lisa copy sells for a record amount - A ‘copy’ of the Mona Lisa has sold for a record €2.9 million at auction in Paris, much higher than its estimation of €300,000. The amount is a record for a 17th century Mona Lisa reproduction. A total of 14 bidders took part in the auction, which started last week, but the final winner is reported to be a “foreign European collector”. The painting is known as ‘Hekking’ after its previous owner, who lived in France and bought the piece for just €5 in Nice in the 1950s – and who believed his was the ‘real’ painting.

Business

Federal Reserve officials are starting a debate over when and how the US central-bank could begin to reduce some of its massive stimulus. The conversation over the future of the Fed’s $120 billion in monthly bond purchases is just starting but is expected to be a central topic when Jerome Powell appears today before the US House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. On Monday, Mr Powell said that the US economy continues to show sustained improvements and forecast job market gains and a decline in inflation from current elevated levels. Earlier on Monday, two Fed officials outlined the major topics for debate as they plot a path through inflation and labor market recovery. The Fed will need to bring inflation gently down to its 2% target and officials are keen to discuss the bond buying programme and are also becoming concerned with the current frothy housing market. Although there is growing support for tapering, some Fed officials still believe that it is too early for a change in monetary policy.

Bitcoin has stabilised in Asian trading today following a statement from the Chinese central bank reaffirming the ongoing crackdown on cryptocurrencies. The announcement on Monday sent Bitcoin to a two week low but it has recovered some ground today and was trading up 3.17% a little earlier at $32,600. Monday’s sell off was sparked by an announcement from the People’s Bank of China saying it had summoned the country’s largest banks and payment firms and urged them to crack down harder on crypto currency trading. Beijing has sharply increased its campaign against cryptocurrencies in the past few weeks since China’s State Council said last month it would tighten restrictions on bitcoin trading and mining.

The British government is to start formal negotiations today to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. The CPTPP is made up from 11 nations including Australia, Canada and Japan. Membership would reduce tariffs on exports such as cars and whiskey. The trade area covers a market of around 500 million people. The UK is the first non-founding country to apply to join the CPTPP and would be its second largest economy after Japan if negotiations succeed. Meanwhile, some economic reports have suggested that UK trade with the EU may have been hit by several billion pounds as a result of new trading arrangements since Brexit with fresh food particularly hard-hit.

Sport

Euro 2020 – Belgium, Denmark and Austria are the latest countries to make it through to the last 16 of Euro 2020. Belgium topped group B following a 2–0 win over Finland who will now have to wait to see if they qualify as one of the third best placed teams. Denmark beat Russia 4–1 to finish second and they will now play Wales in Amsterdam on Saturday. In group C the Netherlands beat North Macedonia 3–0 and Austria beat Ukraine 1–0. The Netherlands top the group but don’t yet know who their opponents in the last 16 will be while Austria will play Italy at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

The final group D games are being played today. Scotland play Croatia and will need a win to stand a chance of finishing second in the group while England play the Czech Republic. Scotland will be without talented midfielder Billy Gilmour who is isolating after contracting coronavirus. The England pair of Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount are also isolating after coming into close contact with Gilmour. Both games kickoff at 9 pm.

Cricket – It was a frustrating day for India and New Zealand as day four of the ICC World Test Championship final was washed out by rain. Only 141.1 overs have been possible in the match so far with New Zealand still stuck on 101–2 in reply to India’s 217. A reserve sixth day is scheduled so two days remain in the match but a draw is now the most likely outcome.

Tennis – Rain has also washed out the first day of the tournament at Eastbourne as well as Wimbledon qualifying matches. Play at both events was abandoned shortly after 3 pm but the weather looks better today.

Athletics – The six time Olympic champion Allyson Felix has qualified for her fifth games with a second place finish in the 400 m at the US trials. The 35-year-old has nine Olympic medals in total and returned to the track two years ago following life-threatening complications arising from the birth of her daughter.

Cycling – Mark Cavendish will return to the Tour de France for the first time in three years when the race begins in Brest on Saturday. The 36-year-old has been named in the Quick Step squad of eight. He has 30 Tour stage wins, just four behind the Belgian great Eddie Merckx. Cavendish has struggled for form in recent seasons and was diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus in 2017.

Weather

Partially cloudy in coastal areas with some showers inland later. Moderate south westerly winds. Top temperatures 26-28 degrees. Overnight lows of 20-22 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

Wednesday and Thursday - Mainly fine with highs of 26-29 degrees.

And Finally 

Recent research has suggested that if you are in a dissatisfying marriage you should get marriage therapy or risk being put in an early grave. Exploring extensive health data going back more than 30 years, a team from Tel Aviv University found that being unhappy with your marriage, or even perceiving your marriage as bad, made men as likely to die from conditions, such as stroke, or blocked arteries at the same rate as smoking and a lack of physical activity. Researchers found that those men who felt their marriage was unhappy were 69.2 per cent more likely to die from stroke than those who were happy in their marriage. When considering all cases of premature death among the men, the rate of death was 19 per cent higher in men who said their marriage was unsatisfactory. Authors of the study say health authorities should promote marriage therapy as a way to improve men’s health and help them live longer.   

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