French and Riviera News Wednesday 18th November 2020

News

Covid-19 - France has recorded more than two million confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the start of the epidemic. Jérôme Salomon indicated during a press briefing on Tuesday evening, that 45,522 new cases of Covid-19 had been identified in the last 24 hours. The director general of health said that "The second wave is deadly” adding that there had been, on Monday, "an unprecedented number of 33,500 Covid-19 patients hospitalized" in France, even though "our collective efforts are starting to bear fruit" and that "the epidemic is showing signs of slowing down”. In total, at least 46,273 people have died from Covid-19 since the start of the epidemic in France.

During the update it was also revealed by Jerome Salomon that “the Covid-19 health crisis has revealed a psychological vulnerability for French people with a dramatic increase in the number of people with depressive symptoms with the number of people affected by mental health issues doubling between September and November. The health director called for an awareness “of the consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic on mental health. Public Health France has noted that those affected were “in financial difficulties, people with a history of psychological disorders, the inactive and young people.”

The health director went on to point out several questions to ask oneself such as "Is your sleep disturbed? Do you feel stressed, irritable or anxious? Do you have trouble concentrating, sadness, loss of appetite, lack of energy? And has your consumption of alcohol and tobacco increased?". All of which are characteristic signs of depression. Public Health France has therefore launched a 24/7 helpline available for people in need of psychological support on 0800 130 000.

French President Emmanuel Macron is to address the nation next week to outline the conditions of deconfinement. It’s been reported that the end of lockdown will be gradual with a possible curfew being put in place and the possible reopening of shops. The Head of State is also expected to give details of measures over the Christmas holidays. Despite a slight improvement on the epidemic front, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran has ruled out for the time being the prospect of reopening businesses before December 1st.

Vaccination - Meanwhile the French government has said it is aiming to kick off a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination campaign in January, if the vaccine is approved by the European Medicines Agency.

Wastewater - Meanwhile tracking Covid-19 in wastewater in Marseille is proving to be a valuable tool in protecting nursing homes and detecting traces of the virus up to six days ahead of first infections. Every week, firefighters in Marseille have been taking samples for the 166 nursing homes in the city which are then analyzed by a start-up. The results have made it possible to signal any presence of the coronavirus making it possible to identify places where there was contamination, isolate cases, and protect nursing homes.

Some hydroalcoholic gels ineffective - The Directorate of Competition, Consumption and Fraud Control in France (the DGCCRF) has revealed that some hydroalcoholic gels sold are dangerous because they are ineffective. According to the research some products did not contain enough alcohol. In order to be effective against the coronavirus, hydroalcoholic gels must contain at least 60% alcohol.

Storm Alex - The French government has announced an aid of 20 million euros to the Alpes-Maritimes region, affected by exceptional floods in October. Storm Alex literally devastated parts of the Vésubie and Roya valleys in the Nice hinterland on October 2nd. Colossal reconstruction of roads, bridges, water and electricity networks are needed. The human toll rises to 9 dead but remains provisional. There are nine people still missing.

Amazon - French left-wing politicians, NGOs and trade unions have supported a petition against American distribution giant Amazon, which they accuse of unfairly profiting from the Covid-19 restrictions that have threatened small business and thousands of jobs. The petition, calling for participants to forego holiday shopping on the US web giant’s platform in favour of local business, gathered several thousand signatures within hours of its launch on Tuesday.

Lockdown - Two ecological groups have called for the repeal of the limits on walks during confinement.  Europe Écologie Les Verts and Génération Écologie have filed an application with the Council of State along with several other groups in which they urge the government to repeal the “1h / 1km” limit and to adopt measures to ensure equal access for everyone to nature. The groups say that French people are expressing the need to access green and natural spaces in which physical distancing makes it possible to avoid any risk of contamination. They say that containment has negative effects on the health of French people such as deterioration of mental health, anxiety disorders and weight gain linked to inactivity.

Christmas market - The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi has said there will be no Christmas market in Nice this year. He said that Christmas decorations will be present everywhere in the city in support of local merchants. He added that he is in favor of shops opening on the 27th November if permitted by the health situation.

Teleworking - The French government's website providing information about teleworking during COVID-19 has been updated. The site aims to answer such questions as whether teleworking is compulsory and whether it's possible to alternate teleworking and partial activity. The website can be found here.

Christmas trees on sale from Friday - France’s Minister of Agriculture Julien Denormandie has announced that Christmas trees will go on sale in France from Friday November 20th. In France, 6 million Christmas trees are sold each year, mainly in supermarkets, DIY stores and garden centers, 80% of which are from French suppliers according to figures provided by the French association of the natural Christmas tree. (AFSNN).

Beaujolais Nouveau - Despite the lockdown France will still be able to welcome the “Beaujolais Nouveau” tomorrow Thursday 19th November, but it now seems that there is competition from the UK with the launch of the “English Nouveau”. The UK's first young red is being made near the English border with Wales. Winemaker Simon Day has said however that "It's not a wine to be taken too seriously, it's a fun drink, taking on the spirit of Beaujolais Nouveau," concluding that amid the gloomy atmosphere during the coronavirus pandemic, he hopes that the wine would be a "little ray of sunshine to end the year". The whole production will amount to 2,500 bottles and will be sold for £11.99. The price is more expensive than Beaujolais Nouveau, most of which sells for between five and 10 euros in France.

Business

Global shares have come off record highs as soft US retail sales raised concerns that rising coronavirus cases could derail the fragile economic recovery. The numbers have dampened the euphoria from recent Covid-19 vaccine trial breakthroughs although many analysts say that a correction was inevitable. Global stocks have risen by some 11 percent so far this month but a spanner was put in the works on Tuesday as the retail sales report by the US Commerce Department showed spending was slowing down as the festive holiday shopping period approaches. The lack of fresh fiscal support from Washington is also playing on the minds of investors while more and more US states step up coronavirus restrictions and more than 70,000 Americans were hospitalized for Covid-19 treatment. The chair of the US Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, has noted the current surge in coronavirus cases and has said that the economy will continue to need both fiscal and monetary policy support.

The chief executives of Facebook and Twitter have been challenged over their handling of the US Presidential election in their latest appearance before the Senate. In their second cross-examination in three weeks, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey were asked by Democratic senators whether they’d gone far enough in flagging President Trump’s disputed claims about election fraud. Republicans meanwhile asked whether the social media firms should have been taking any action at all. The crux of the hearing centers around the controversial “Section 230” law which stipulates that social media firms are generally not responsible for illegal or offensive content posted by users. President-elect Joe Biden has suggested that the law should be revoked as he says that it “encourages the spread of falsehoods”. Republicans are taking a different approach and say that the social media giants are taking unwarranted editorial decisions about what to take down, label or leave unaltered.

Bitcoin has jumped above 18,000 dollars to hit a three-year high. The cryptocurrency has suffered a number of wild price swings since it was launched in 2009 but investors have been flocking to it since the start of the pandemic given the volatility seen on global stock markets. Experts have warned against seeing cryptocurrencies as a safe haven and there are still concerns surrounding fraudulent trading following a series of high-profile hacks. Bitcoin is currently trading at 18,182 dollars – a 9 percent increase since Tuesday.

Sport

Football - France beat Sweden 4-2 last night to confirm their place at the top of Nations League Group A3 with Sweden relegated to the B League. Spain have joined France in the finals as they thrashed a woeful German side 6-0 with Ferran Torres of Manchester City scoring his first career hat-trick. There are more Nations League games tonight with England against Iceland although England can’t now qualify for the finals. Scotland will win promotion to the A Leagues if they win or draw away at Israel in Group B2 while Northern Ireland could be relegated if they lose to Romania in Group B1. Wales host Finland in Group B4 needing only a draw to top the group while the Republic of Ireland could be relegated if they lose to Bulgaria in Dublin.

Rugby Union - Flanker Jack Willis has been left out of the England squad to face Ireland on Saturday as Sam Underhill returns. Willis made a try-scoring debut for England in their win over Georgia but he doesn’t make the 25 man squad for the Ireland game. Fly-half George Ford is included despite an Achilles problem while second row Jonny Hill and wing Ollie Thorley are also included. Ireland will be captained by Leinster’s James Ryan for the England match in the absence of Johnny Sexton who misses the game through injury. The match between Italy and Fiji has been called off with 29 reported cases of coronavirus in the Fiji camp. Fiji’s opening match against France was also called off and the tournament organisers say that they’re “assessing” the situation.

Tennis - Dominic Thiem is through to the semi-finals of the ATP Finals in London. The Austrian beat Rafael Nadal 7-6 7-6 in a high quality match at the O2 Arena. In Tuesday’s other match Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Andrey Rublev 6-1 4-6 7-6. He’ll now play Nadal on Thursday with the winner joining Thiem in the semi-finals.

Weather

Clear skies with light, variable winds. Top temperature 19 degrees. Overnight lows of 11 degrees on the coast and 8 degrees inland with clear skies.

Thursday and Friday - Mainly fine with highs of 17-20 degrees tomorrow and 14-16 degrees on Friday.

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