French and Riviera News Wednesday 19th January 2022

News

New record number of covid cases in France - The latest data from Public Health France has shown that a new record has been reached with 464,769 new covid cases identified in the last 24 hours. Numbers are on the rise in hospitals with an increase of 11% in one week, with 2,407 new admissions on average per day. The number of deaths in hospital is also increasing by 5%, with 215 daily deaths in hospital. The only decline is in intensive care, where 3,881 patients are currently admitted with a 2% drop over a week.

Monaco - In Monaco on Tuesday 106 new cases of covid were declared bringing the total number of residents affected to 6,943. Thirty-nine people are currently in hospital and 284 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

Vaccination centre for children opens today in Toulon - From today Wednesday 19th January a new vaccination centre will be open in Toulon for children aged 5 to 11. The centre is located at 1 avenue Amiral Aube and is open on Wednesdays from 9am to 5pm and on Saturday and Sundays from 10am to 6pm.

Strike - As teachers get ready to strike tomorrow, Thursday 20th January, in protest against the government handling of the health protocol in French schools, the police prefecture in Paris has announced a ban on demonstrations, claiming that the request to demonstrate in the French Capital was submitted too late. Meanwhile recently criticised Education Minister Jean Michel Blanquer has said that he regrets "the symbolism" of his holiday in Ibiza, saying that he "should probably have chosen" another place. According to recent reports in French media, the minister was on holiday on the Spanish island when he announced the controversial health protocols for schools. Speaking at the National Assembly on Tuesday he said that the decisions he took would not have been different had he been elsewhere. The opposition have demanded his resignation.

EDF strike action - The four main unions in the energy sector have launched a joint call for a strike by EDF employees on 26th January in protest against the measures that the government plans to impose on the group to contain the increase in electricity bills. In order to limit the rise in electricity prices for consumers, within the context of soaring energy prices, the French government on Thursday asked EDF, of which the state owns 84%, to increase by 20% the volume of nuclear electricity sold at a reduced price to its competitors this year. The decision has caused a stir amongst the managers at EDF with CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy describing the government's decision as a "real shock". "This is not what we had proposed to the government" and this decision "will weigh heavily on our results".

National Rally - National Rally candidate for the presidential elections Marine Le Pen, will be in Fréjus in the Var tomorrow Thursday 20th January, to discuss her proposals to the health service in France. The day's schedule includes a visit to a nursing home and a round table with carers. Marine Le Pen will be greeted in the morning by the mayor of Fréjus David Rachline, who decided on Monday to take legal action against the compulsory wearing of masks outdoors.

Referee hit by player's father - A referee has been hit by the father of a player during an under 10's football match in Roquebrune Cap Martin. The incident occurred at the Decazes stadium on Saturday. The victim has since filed a complaint for assault.

Villa Aurora fails to find a buyer - The most expensive villa in the world has failed to find a buyer. Villa Aurora in Rome went up for auction on Tuesday 18th January for nearly half a billion euros. Owned by an ancient family of Roman nobility, Villa Aurora was priced at 471 million euros, including 350 million for Caravaggio's painting alone that adorns a monumental ceiling. The next sale will take place on April 7 for a revised estimate of 376.8 million euros, a discount of 20%. Many Italians would like the property to remain Italian rather than fall into the hands of a wealthy foreigner and ask the state to buy it.

Two euros coins may be worth more - You might want to check your change, as certain two-euro coins could be worth more than you thought. Collectors are reportedly eager to get their hands on a 2008 two-euro coin minted in Germany, popular due to an error as the European borders are not printed on it. There is also a Monegasque 2-euro coin from 2007 to mark the 25th anniversary of Grace Kelly's death and finally a popular two-euro coin of the Vatican, which came into circulation in 2004 to mark the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the State of the City.

Business

Asian markets have followed Wall Street down this morning as investors remain concerned about inflation and tighter US monetary policy. Treasury yields hit two year highs on Tuesday as investors braced for higher interest rates while the price of oil hit their highest level since 2014 as a result of geopolitical tensions and a breakdown in a pipeline between Iran and Turkey. Investors are concerned about the prospect of inflation becoming more persistent with the dollar strengthening to near-one week highs. The dollar index was trading at 95.760 a little earlier this morning. UK inflation figures are out today and are expected to confirm the upward trend of inflation globally with the headline rate forecast to reach its highest level in almost a decade at 5.2 percent. Gold has been trading slightly lower at 1,812 dollars per ounce.

Shares in the Japanese giant Sony have slumped in Tokyo today after Microsoft said that it plans to buy the games company Activation Blizzard. The deal, which is worth a reported 68.7 billion dollars would be Microsoft's biggest ever buyout and the largest gaming deal in history. It would give the firm control over a number of popular gaming franchises including Call of Duty, Warcraft and Overwatch. The latest development comes a year after Microsoft bought another influential gaming firm, Bethesda, for 7.5 billion dollars and would give its Xbox brand a clear edge against rival Sony's PlayStation. The purchase would turn Microsoft into the world's third largest gaming company by revenue behind Tencent of China and Sony.

A group of more than 100 billionaires and millionaires has issued a demand to political and business leaders to impose higher taxes on them. The group, which calls itself "The Patriotic Millionaires" say that the ultra wealthy are not being forced to pay their share of the global economic recovery following the pandemic. In an open letter, the group said that "as millionaires, we know that the current tax system is not fair". The letter, which was published as political and business leaders convene for the virtual World Economic Forum, goes on to say that "while the world has gone through an immense amount of suffering over the past two years, we have actually seen our wealth rise during the pandemic, yet few of us, if any can say that we pay our fair share in taxes". In 2021, the World Bank published an article urging countries to consider a wealth tax to help reduce inequality, replenish state coffers depleted by coronavirus and to regain social trust.

Sport

Tennis - It's day 3 of the Australian Open in Melbourne with world number one Ash Barty safely through to round three following a straight sets demolition of Lucia Bronzetti of Italy. Jelena Ostapenko is also through after beating Alison Riske in 3 sets. Highlights of day 2 included Andy Murray making the second round in a five set thriller against Nikolaz Basilashvilli and the US Open champion Emma Radacanu beating Sloane Stephens in three sets.

Football - Chelsea'a title challenge must be over after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Brighton last night. Chelsea took the lead in the first half but Brighton fought back well to equalise on 60 minutes. The result means that Chelsea stay in 3rd place in the table, 12 points behind leaders Manchester City having played a game more. There are 2 games tonight. Leicester play Spurs and Brentford host Manchester United.

In the English Championship last night the Fulham goal scoring machine notched up another impressive win- 6-2 against Birmingham to go top of the table and Preston and Sheffield United drew 2-2.

In the Scottish Premiership last night, Aberdeen and Rangers drew 1-1. St Mirren were 2-1 winners over Dundee United. Hearts beat St Johnstone 2-0. Livingston beat Dundee 2-0 and Ross County were 3-1 winners over Motherwell.

Cricket - The England and Wales Cricket Board has launched an investigation after police in Hobart were forced to intervene to break up a post-Ashes drinking session at the team's base. Video shows the England captain Joe Root as well as James Anderson and the Australian trio of Nathan Lyon, Alex Carey and Travis Head being ordered to disperse by police. The England squad has apologised for the inconvenience after complaints were made by hotel guests.

Formula 1 - There may not be any sprint races next season in a row over money. Formula 1 had an agreement in principal with the teams to increase sprint races from 3 to 6 next season but McLaren's Zak Brown says that there are issues over funding. 8 out of the 10 teams need to agree on the detail for the sprint races to go ahead but reports say that some are holding out for more money.

Weather

Mainly fine with perhaps the slight risk of a shower in the Var this afternoon. Light southerly winds and a high of 12-14 degrees. Overnight lows of 3-7 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday - Clear skies with highs of 10-13 degrees.

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