France approves antigenic Covid tests for under 15s - France’s High Health Authority has authorised antigenic tests and self-tests for children. Until now, these tests were reserved for those over 15 years old, but the authority believes that they may be relevant to break the chain of Covid contamination in schools. The authorization, given on Monday April 26th, will significantly increase the capacity of Covid-19 screening, particularly in schools. Their main advantages: a result in 15 to 30 minutes and they are less invasive than nasal swabs. The High Health Authority has recommended that these tests be "carried out at least once a week”.
Intensive care Covid patients exceeds 6,000 - Meanwhile the number of Covid patients in intensive care in France has exceeded 6,000 for the first time in more than a year. In the last 24 hours 470 patients were admitted to intensive care compared to 218 the day before. According to Public Health France a total of 6,001 people are to date, in critical care services.
Computer bugs for back to school – Middle and high school students in France said on Monday morning that they were unable to connect to the Cned "My class at home" internet platform. The Ministry of Education claimed that this was due to "a certain number of users making a mistake by going to the Cned commercial site”. While nursery and elementary schools reopened on Monday, older students have another week of distance learning before returning to the classroom on Monday 3rd May.
EU attacks AstraZeneca - The European Commission has announced that it has taken legal action against AstraZeneca, which it accuses of not having respected its commitments in terms of deliveries of doses of its vaccine against Covid. The pharmaceutical group has promised to "firmly defend itself" against an action it considers "unfounded".
In other news
France pays tribute to police employee - France has paid tribute to a police employee who was stabbed to death last week at a police station in Rambouillet southwest of Paris. Anti-terror prosecutors said the perpetrator, a Tunisian national, had been radicalized.
Accident in Nice interrupts tram services - A man in his twenties has been taken to hospital in a critical condition following a collision with a tram on Monday afternoon in Nice. The accident occurred shortly after 3pm on Avenue Francois-Mitterrand. The victim was at the time riding a scooter. Tram services were interrupted between Pasteur and Garibaldi as emergency services intervened.
Fishing industry - French minister Annick Girardin, has announced a funding of 100 million euros for French fishermen. Fishermen of Boulogne-sur-Mer (Pas-de-Calais) have recently denounced significant delays in the implementation of the post-Brexit fishing agreement concluded with the United Kingdom. The release of 100 million euros, approved by Brussels, is part of a plan to support the post-Brexit fishing industry. Girardin also went on to assure industry representatives on Monday that 21 new licenses, to allow French boats to fish in British waters, would soon be issued.
Emmanuel Macron calls for more experienced senior officials - Following the end of the National School of Administration the (ENA) in early April, French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that he plans to “end administrative institutions which welcome the elite” adding that he wants “more experienced senior officials”. In early April the ENA was replaced by the Institute of Public Service. According to the Head of State the new reform intends to tackle "determinism" and "corporatism" which as described by Macron are the “two illnesses” of the public service. For some, ahead of the 2022 presidential election Emmanuel Macron wishes to demonstrate a programme which can offer the improvement of “social mobility and equal opportunities”.
SNCF to increase the number of trains from May - The SNCF has announced plans to run more trains in May. Eight out of ten TGVs will be running on May 7th and practically all trains will run during the May bank holidays. The rail network announced that reservations are already open for this period as well as the summer holidays in July and August.
Monaco Formula One Grand Prix - Several scenarios are being considered ahead of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix which takes place in the Principality on May 23rd with the possibility of welcoming a limited number of spectators. Speaking to Italian media the CEO of Formula One Stefano Domenicali, said that the situation is “changing hour by hour and being monitored on a daily basis”. Monaco announced ten days ago an easing of health restrictions in the Principality, but without taking a decision on public attendance at the Formula 1 Grand Prix however also indicating that "several scenarios" were being "considered by the authorities”.
Nice hospital installs mosquito traps - As temperatures rise and the region sees the return of mosquitoes Nice University Hospital has installed a system developed by a laboratory in Grasse. The traps, linked together forming a natural barrier against mosquitoes, have been set up in the gardens of the hospital. The device also works with the increasingly common tiger mosquitoes.
Asian markets have fallen this morning and US stock futures are steady ahead of the meeting of the US Federal Reserve. Analysts say that some investors may be taking profits on equities but sentiment remains positive due to a rise in coronavirus vaccination rates in many countries. Experts say that the global economy is likely to continue to strengthen and many advanced nations are heading for a re-opening due to progress in vaccinations. However, despite the hopeful signs, a bullish session on Wall Street failed to inspire Asian markets. One area of concern is India which is struggling with a surge in coronavirus infections that has overwhelmed its healthcare system. Many investors have chosen to stick to the sidelines ahead of the Fed meeting which ends on Wednesday where the US central bank is expected to confirm that it will maintain its easy monetary policy to bolster the economy.
A top White House economic aid has said that President Biden’s forthcoming capital gains tax hike proposal would affect only 0.3% of taxpayers. Mr Biden is set to propose nearly doubling taxes on capital gains to 39.6% for people earning more than $1 million a year. That would be the highest tax rate on investment gains since the 1920s. Brian Deeze, who runs Mr Biden’s policy writing National Economic Council says that something must be done to equalise the taxation of work and wealth in the United States. He said that tax reforms will be focused on the top sliver of people. Under the new plan, wealthy Americans could face an overall federal capital gains tax rate of 43.4% including the Obamacare tax.
The Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will speak in parliament today to outline his plans to rescue the country’s economy from the pandemic and fix long-lasting structural weaknesses. Mr Draghi will be calling on European Union funds of some €261.1 billion with the Italian cabinet expected to rubberstamp the proposals on Wednesday or Thursday. Much is riding on Mr Draghi’s plan which aims to overturn the fortunes of an economy long regarded as the weak man of Europe. The Italian government estimates that grants and loans from the European Union will boost economic output by around 3.6% by 2026. There are reports that the European Central Bank which has been backing Italian bonds through unprecedented stimulus could wind down support earlier than currently expected. Around 40% of Italy’s funding will be allocated to green projects and 25% to digital with priorities including infrastructure and high-speed trains.
Football – The 1st semi-final first leg time of the European Champions League is being played tonight. Real Madrid host Chelsea with kickoff at 9 pm.
There was one game in the English Premier League last night. Leicester City moved closer to a place in next season‘s Champions League thanks to a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.
In the Scottish cup last night Kilmarnock and St Mirren drew three all with St Mirren coming through in a penalty shootout.
Formula One - Sprint races will be introduced to the sport this year to set grid positions at three Grands Prix. Points will be awarded to the top three finishers – three for first, two for second and one for third. Grid positions for the shorter race to be called “sprint qualifying” will be set by moving qualifying to Friday. The sprint qualifying race runs around one third of the distance of a Grand Prix which has a maximum length of just over 305 km. The move will involve a series of other sporting changes to the standard weekend and is intended as an experiment to see whether it introduces extra levels of uncertainty and interest to the action. The British Grand Prix will be the first event to host the new format followed by the Italian Grand Prix in September. The third venue is yet to be decided.
Cricket – Several players are leaving the Indian Premier League early to return home in light of the coronavirus crisis affecting the country. Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson and Andrew Tye are all leaving early but there is no word yet as to whether any English players will leave the competition. The England captain Eoin Morgan who’s the skipper of Kolkata Knight Riders says that the tournament should continue as long as it doesn’t hamper the efforts to combat COVID-19. India has been reporting more than 300,000 daily cases of coronavirus for several days setting new daily global records.
Tennis – The former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray says he’s looking forward to playing in front of crowds again. The tournament, which was cancelled last year starts on the 28th of June seven days after all Covid restrictions could be lifted in England. Murray says crowds will make a huge difference and that he’s missed the atmosphere. The 33-year-old lives just a short drive away from Wimbledon but will need to stay at designated hotel within a bio-secure bubble to comply with ATP protocols.
Cloudy with showers and moderate north easterly winds. Top temperature 18 degrees. Overnight lows of 12-14 degrees with cloudy skies.
Wednesday and Thursday - Partially cloudy tomorrow. Sunshine and showers on Thursday. Highs of 16-19 degrees.
According to research by Hilton, 57% of dog owners in the UK say that the one constant thing that has helped them through lockdown has been their furry friends. So in response the hotel chain has unveiled Bone Appétit 'a mouth-watering new dog menu to provide the nation with an easy way to show their canine pals they care'.
The menu will be available to guests and their beloved pets across 32 of Hilton's pet-friendly hotels in the UK and Ireland from May 17th. Hilton explained that the menus have been developed with the help of veterinary nutrition experts and approved by DogFriendly, which provides dog lovers with information on exploring dog-friendly hotels and restaurants throughout the UK. The menu consists of four meal options from Beef Doguignon to Mutt Roast.
Research conducted by Hilton reveals that the vast majority of British pet owners feel the pandemic would have been much harder for them without their canine companions, who boosted moods (86 per cent) and provided companionship during tough times (86 per cent).