French and Riviera News.Tuesday July 28th 2020

Covid-19-The French Health Agency has reported 17 new deaths from Coronavirus since Friday but says that the spread of the disease is “under control”.

The Direction Generale de la Sante has warned people however , to “remain extremely vigilant” and conceded that there had been a “small increase” in the transmission of Covid-19 around the country over the past few days.

The total number of people to have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic now stands at 30,209 with 19,693 hospital deaths and 10,516 in care homes.

5,655 people are currently being treated for the virus in hospital with 398 in intensive care.

On Monday there were 224 active clusters of the virus around France with 7 new clusters detected.

The DGS has urged people to get tested for the virus if they experience any symptoms, however mild.

 

Higher Temperatures-Hotter weather is on the way for the south east of France although the Côte d’Azur should be spared heatwave conditions that may be affecting other parts of the country later in the week.

On Monday ,parts of the south west hit 40 degrees while temperatures in cities including Toulouse got as high as 35.

A band of cooler weather is forecast for today and tomorrow but by Thursday and Friday ,afternoon temperatures could climb to the high 30s again apart from the south east and east which are expected to see maximum highs in the mid 30s Celsius.

Coastal areas of the Alpes Maritimes and the Var should be a little cooler with the thermometer reaching 30-31 degrees.

 

Masks-The government has advised businesses to stock enough face masks for their staff for 10 weeks to cover any potential resurgence in Covid-19.

With cases of the virus on the rise in France again ,there are concerns that businesses will be unprepared for a sudden flare up which would prevent them from trading.

Businesses are required to supply face masks to workers and provide anti viral and anti bacterial hand gel.

The government insists that it will not implement another widespread lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus but will order localised confinement orders to control spikes of the infection.

 

Unemployment-The jobless total fell by 4.6 percent in June according to the latest data published by the French National Statistics Agency INSEE.

The drop in unemployment came as more people returned to work following lockdown but the overall numbers of those out of work and claiming benefits remains worryingly high at 4.221 million in category ‘A’ which represents those without any kind of paid employment.

When statistics for categories  B and C are added where people have returned to partial employment or training even for only one day a week ,the figure rises to an unprecedented 6.157 million.

The government has said that employment will be its top priority after the summer holidays.

 

Anti drowning buoys-New flotation devices to help inexperienced and weak swimmers in the sea will soon be available at patrolled beaches in Antibes Juan les Pins.

The inflated orange buoys are tied around a person’s waist and can be grabbed hold of in the event of fatigue or other physical problems.

There have already been a number of fatal swimming accidents in the south of France this summer and it’s hoped that the new devices will help to improve safety in the water.

 

Sterling 55-The England and Manchester City football star Raheem Sterling hasn’t wasted any time getting on with his summer holiday following the end of the English Premier League season on Sunday.

The 26 year old was full of smiles and took time to sign autographs and pose for selfies with fans as he enjoyed a day out at Club 55 in the Golfe de Saint Tropez.

It’s only a short break for Sterling and his family as he’ll be back in action for Manchester City in the Champions League quarter finals against Real Madrid at the start of August.

 

In National News.

 

Bioethics-The controversial bioethics bill which is seeking to make medically assisted parenthood available to all French women is back in the National Assembly after some 2,300 amendments were made by the upper House of Parliament ,the Senate.

The French political right wing parties and many Catholic organisations are fiercely opposed to the legislation which they say will allow the creation of families without fathers.

It’s the second time that the bill has come before the lower house and the debate is expected to last for most of this week and possibly longer.

Medically assisted parenthood for all women was one of President Macron’s election promises before he came to power.

Opponents say that it’s not fair to squeeze the debate into such an important issue into the final phase of the summer parliamentary session.

The French Prime Minister Jean Castex who’s a former member of the right wing Les Republicans has refused to state his position on the legislation.

 

Priority vaccines-The national Scientific Council of France is drawing up plans for high risk people who it says should be given priority access to any coronavirus vaccine once it comes to the market.

Reports say that around 30 million people may be given priority access from vital health and care workers to those with underlying medical conditions.

Dozens of vaccine projects are being worked on around the world with phase three human trials underway in both the United States and the UK.

Although early results have been encouraging ,there is no clear evidence as yet to any of the prototype vaccines’ efficacy in the medium or long-term and some experts hav suggest that humans may be living with coronavirus in the background for years.

When and if a vaccine is available in France ,absolute priority will be given to front line health workers followed by others doing vital jobs from teachers to bus drivers.

The French government is currently in negotiations to reserve vaccines despite questions remaining over their safety and potency.

Rigorous evaluation of any chosen vaccine will be carried out before its rolled out on a large scale and the Scientific Council has ruled out making vaccination compulsory.

 

Fire-A large forest fire has destroyed 250 hectares of trees in the south of the Gironde department with firefighters still battling to control the flames.

160 firefighters are on the ground with air support from 4 Canadair water bombers.

A firetruck has been destroyed in the blaze and several small hamlets in the area have been evacuated as a precaution.

The fire started at around 2pm on Monday in a forest near to Tuzan around 60 kilometers south of Bordeaux.

Recent weather in the area has been hot and dry and a strong wind on Monday has been fanning the flames.

 

Business.

 

Investors are hoping that more US government stimulus will help to revive the battered US economy as the Federal Reserve issued further dovish signals at the start of the week.

US Senate Republicans have introduced a 1 trillion dollar coronavirus relief package as an opening offer to negotiations with Democrats less than a week before extra unemployment benefits expire.

The US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin says that the package will contain extended unemployment payments which will aim to replace 70 percent of a laid-off worker&rs