French and Riviera News Tuesday 23rd March 2021

News 

Intensive care - More than 4,500 Covid patients are hospitalised in intensive care in France with Public Health France reporting 15,792 new cases of Covid on Monday 22nd March. 4,548 patients are being treated in intensive care including 471 new patients admitted in the last 24 hours. The number has been rising steadily since the lowest recorded on January 7th with 2,573 patients. In total, hospitals counted 26,488 patients with Covid-19, including 1,902 admitted in the last 24 hours. 344 people have died from Covid in hospitals in France in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 92,648 since the start of the pandemic.

In the Ile-de-France region the incidence rate is rising standing at 537 compared to just over 400 a week ago. This is more than twice the alert threshold of 250 set by the government. Speaking on Monday France’s Health Minister announced that the army and firefighters will be deployed in at least 35 large vaccination centres across the country in order to be able to use all the doses that will be delivered to France from April.

Alpes Maritimes - Meanwhile twenty additional deaths from Covid were reported in the Alpes Maritimes by the Regional Health Agency on Monday 22nd March. Since the start of the pandemic, the coronavirus has killed 1,696 people in the department (1,253 in hospitals, 443 in nursing homes). The number of patients being hospitalised increased on Monday with 683 patients being admitted to hospital. 117 have been admitted to intensive care units with the occupancy rate in intensive care still close to saturation at 80.5%. According to Covidtracker, the incidence rate - which corresponds to the number of people tested positive over seven days and reported to 100,000 inhabitants - is 407 and continues to decline.

Monaco - In Monaco there were nine new cases of Covid identified on Monday bringing the total number of residents affected to 2,182. Thirty-one people are being treated in hospital and 56 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

Police checks - Following the changes to a complex and misleading “attestation” for the 16 departments of France under lockdown which led to few police checks being carried out at the weekend, France’s Interior Minister announced on Monday that he had given instructions to the police to check travel certificates and to enforce the new health measures.

The Minister called for "a particular firmness” on respecting the curfew, private gatherings and the closing of the establishments receiving members of the public".  Checks will be stepped up in train stations and airports. The minister added that police must "systematically fine" those who do not have "a legitimate reason to travel”. Failure to comply with the new measures put in place by the government will result in a fine of 135 euros and in the event of non-payment, it may be increased to 375 euros. After 3 offenses within 30 days, the fine could amount to 3,750 euros and a sentence of 6 months imprisonment.

Covid campaign "Dedans avec les miens, dehors en citoyen" - France’s Prime Minister has launched a new communication campaign in the fight against Covid using the slogan "Dedans avec les miens, dehors en citoyen". The campaign hopes to clarify new recommendations given by the French government. Literally translated at "Inside with mine, outside as a citizen" the campaign aims to remind the French of the basic rules to fight against the Covid-19 epidemic.

"Inside with mine":

- I do not invite people into my home.

- I don't go to other people's homes.

- I regularly air my home.

- I no longer go out after 7pm, except for work or an emergency, with a certificate.

"Outside as a citizen":

- I can go out until 7pm for an authorised reason: to work, to go for a walk, to go shopping, to accompany my children to school, to take my pet out or to go to the doctor.

- Beyond 10 kilometres, I must have a certificate justifying the reason for my trip.

- I wear a mask and I respect self-distancing.

- I can meet my friends outside but restricted to a maximum of six and respecting barrier gestures.

- I avoid eating or drinking if I am not alone or if I am not with people in my household.

- I do not leave the region or my department except for compelling or professional reasons, justified by a certificate.

Sputnik V vaccine - Russian President Vladimir Putin has called comments made by a European Union official as “strange”. The official had announced that the EU had "absolutely no need" for Russia's Sputnik V vaccine. Putin said "we're not imposing anything on anyone," and the remarks by EU's Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton "raises a question of whose interests are these people defending and representing? The interests of some pharmaceutical companies or those of the citizens of European countries?" The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which has backed the development of Sputnik V, accused Breton of being "clearly biased" against the vaccine because it was Russian. Putin said he would be getting the jab himself today.

In other news

9-year-old arrested at the wheel while drunk father was in the passenger seat - A 9-year-old has been arrested at the wheel of a car near Rouen, he was at the time driving his father who was under the influence of alcohol. The father had 1.4 grams of alcohol in his blood and another 21-year-old was in the back of the vehicle. The police spotted the vehicle which was zigzagging across the road. The father has been placed in police custody. Police have opened an investigation.

Ikea France - The French subsidiary of Swedish home furnishing giant Ikea and several of its former executives have gone on trial in France on charges that they operated an elaborate system of illegally spying on customers, staff members and job applicants. Four former Ikea France executives, former store managers, four police officers and the head of a French private investigation firm were among the 15 people in a courtroom in Versailles, south of Paris, on Monday.

British nationals - The Prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes and the Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin have both issued a reminder to British nationals who moved to France before 1st January 2021, that they can apply for a "withdrawal agreement" residence permit via the French government's online service. The online portal has been in operation since last October.

Storm Alex - The European Commission has offered financial support of nearly €60 million from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to help the population hit by storm Alex. 59.3 million euros will be sent to France, following the serious damage caused by storm Alex in the Alpes-Maritimes.

Business

The billionaire investor Leon Black is stepping down from his investment firm saying that relentless public attention and media scrutiny of his ties with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein have taken a toll on his health. Mr Black had earlier announced plans to leave in July. The move follows an enquiry by Mr Black’s firm Apollo global management into his relationship with Mr Epstein. It found financial ties but no evidence of involvement with any criminal activity. Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in 2019 for sex trafficking underage girls and later committed suicide in prison. Mr Black whose fortune is estimated by Forbes at $8.4 billion paid him more than $150 million for financial advice from 2012 to 2017 according to the investigation by a law firm which was made public in January. Apollo commissioned the probe last year after the New York Times reported links between the two men.

The US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is to paint an optimistic picture for the economy as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic and will tell lawmakers today that she sees both growth and possibly full employment next year due to Joe Biden’s coronavirus stimulus package. In written testimony prepared for delivery to the US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, Miss Yellen said that with the passage of the $1.9 trillion American rescue plan act, she was confident that people will reach the other side of this pandemic with the foundations of their lives intact. She added that she believed that they will be met there by a growing economy adding that she saw a return to full employment next year. The Treasury is also to reduce some documentation requirements for struggling Americans to receive funds to help them make housing rental and mortgage payments in an effort to speed up the implementation of a $30 billion housing aid plan.

Microsoft is in talks to buy the messaging platform Discord for more than $10 billion according to a report from Bloomberg News. Discord has been reaching out to potential buyers and the report says that Microsoft is an interested party. Microsoft declined to comment while Discord has not yet responded. Discord which is valued at around $7 billion is a platform on which users coordinate group activities such as games, discussions and even virtual parties. Microsoft has been seeking to strengthen its videogame offerings with the $7.5 billion acquisition of a ZeniMax Media last year, its biggest gaming acquisition ever. The coronavirus pandemic has boosted the prospects of gaming companies as people stay at home and turn to video games for entertainment during lockdowns.

Sport

Rugby Union – Sean Maitland has been left out of Scotland’s squad for the final Six Nations match against France on Friday. Scotland were limited to selecting five English-based players because of an agreement of the Premiership. Stuart Hogg and Sam Skinner along with Alex Craig and Chris Harris were chosen ahead of the Saracens wing. Finn Russell and Adam Hastings both return but lock Jonny Gray is out through injury. France can win the Championship depending on how many tries they score and bonus points.

Formula One - The former Formula One driver Johnny Dumfries has died at the age of 62. The Scotsman raced under a pseudonym to hide his aristocratic background after being born John Crichton-Stuart, Seventh Marquess of Bute. Dumfries spent a year in Formula One in 1986 with Lotus where he was team-mate to Ayrton Senna. His best result came in Hungary where he finished fifth. He later moved into endurance racing and won the Le Mans 24 hours for Jaguar in 1988.

Cricket – West Indies are in a strong position heading into day three of the 1st test against Sri Lanka in Antigua. At stumps on day two, the home side had reached 268–8 in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 169. West Indies lead by 99 runs.

Golf – Brooks Koepka could miss next month’s Masters after undergoing surgery on his right knee. The world number 12 has not competed since finishing joint second at the WGC Workday Championship last month. He injured his knee last month while on holiday with his family in Florida and told media that he had suffered a dislocation of his kneecap and ligament damage. The Masters at Augusta starts on April 8th.

Weather

Mainly fine with light to moderate easterly winds. Top temperature 15-16 degrees. Overnight lows of 5-8 degrees with clear skies.

Wednesday and Thursday - Mainly fine with highs of 14-16 degrees.

And Finally

A new study has shown that Kangaroos are trying to communicate with us. Australian researchers at the University of Roehampton and the University of Sydney have found that it isn’t just dogs and cats that are interested in our affection and companionship, but maybe kangaroos too.

They studied young marsupials that haven’t been domesticated at three different places in the country. They found that when they find food in a closed box, they look at humans for help the same way a cat or dog would. Instead of ignoring us and simply attempting to open the box, they look to humans first. Scientists say that this is a type of behavior that is usually only seen in domesticated animals.

The new research shows that kangaroos might be more similar to dogs and cats than previously known, however it should be noted that this research definitely doesn’t apply to wild, adult kangaroos who are more likely to want to punch you in the face.

 

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