French and Riviera News Wednesday 20th January 2021

News 

32 additional deaths from Covid in the Alpes Maritimes - The regional health agency has announced that 32 additional deaths from Covid have been reported in the Alpes Maritimes region. Figures released on Tuesday showed that six people had died in the region’s hospitals and 26 in nursing homes. The additional deaths see the total number of deaths linked to Covid in the Alpes Maritimes pass the 1,000 mark with 1,003 deaths registered to date since the start of the pandemic. There were fourteen new admissions to hospital on Tuesday. The good news is that the positivity rate stands at 8.5% compared to 9.2% on Monday.

Wastewater in Nice shows port area significantly affected by Covid - Figures released on Tuesday show that the rate of coronavirus present in Nice’s wastewater continues to increase. Since mid-November samples from the city’s wastewater have been taken to measure the presence of coronavirus which tripled between the first and second week of January as authorities are concerned that this could predict a possible resurge of the virus. According to the analysis, which covers different districts in Nice, the port area is strongly affected with, on January 8th, nearly 8% of the population contaminated with Covid-19. Magnan and the west of Nice showed the lowest concentration of coronavirus with less than 0.2% of the population affected.

Monaco Covid patient dies - Meanwhile on Tuesday evening the Monegasque authorities confirmed the death of an 87-year-old patient at the Princess Grace hospital from Covid. To date nine people have died from Covid in the Principality since the beginning of the pandemic. 28 new cases of Covid were identified on Tuesday bringing the total number of residents affected to 1,240. Thirty-six people are currently hospitalized and 114 people are being followed by the Home Monitoring Center.

Vaccination campaign - The Principality continues its vaccination campaign which was launched on December 31st with some 2,700 people over 75 being vaccinated and on Tuesday those between 65 and 74 along with those at high risk were invited to get vaccinated. This week a second shipment of doses of the Pzifer Biontech vaccine was stored in order to be able to administer the second injection to those over 75.

Fight breaks out on ferry from Bastia to Toulon - A young Corsican man has been sentenced to six months in prison for hitting a passenger aboard the ferry between Bastia and Toulon. The incident occurred on Friday when an altercation broke out between two passengers because one of them had taken off his mask.

New official photo of princely family goes on sale - The Prince's Palace has unveiled the new official photograph of the princely family. The photo, which was taken in the Prince's Palace by Eric Mathon, will go on sale today in the Principality's Souvenir Shop, all profits from the sale of the photo will be donated to humanitarian works in the Principality.

France’s Health Minister - French Health Minister Olivier Veran has said that "200 to 300" new cases of Covid-19 per day are believed to be carriers of the so-called British variant. He said that regional health agencies are tracing "chains of infection". Mr Veran said that France has recorded about 20,000 coronavirus infections per day for several weeks. He said that "there is no resurgence of the epidemic, but this high plateau is not satisfactory". He added that the 6 p.m. confinement is beginning to take effect.

Speaking to French media the minister said that he expects 2.4 million people in France to have received a vaccine by the end of February, a figure which could rise to four million if the Astra Zeneca vaccine and other vaccines were given approval. He said the system for making vaccination appointments would be improved. The exact number of doses of vaccines at each vaccination center across France will be published each week. Doses at a regional and departmental level will also be made public, with the first numbers being published on the sante.fr website later this week.

Meanwhile, the French Ministry of Health has said that there have been 139 reports of "serious or unexpected" adverse reactions in France since the start of the vaccination campaign. Five people had died after being vaccinated, all of them being over 75 years of age and suffering from co-morbidities. However, it hasn't been possible at this stage to establish if their deaths were linked to the vaccine.

Weather warning – Meteo France has issued a weather warning due to strong winds and heavy rain expected today in the north and north west of the country before moving south towards Lyon and the southwest. Gusts of up to 100km/hr are forecast with heavy rain.

Winter sales - The winter sales are due to get underway across France today. The sales, which were originally scheduled to begin on the 8th January but were postponed because of the health crisis, will run until the 16th February.

Business

The US Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen has said that lawmakers must “act big” on coronavirus relief spending and forget about national debt for the time being. In a three hour confirmation hearing at the Senate on Tuesday, Ms Yellen said that the economic benefits of the relief programme far outweigh the risks of a higher debt burden. She said that her task as Treasury Secretary will be to help Americans endure the final months of the pandemic as the population is vaccinated. She added that the economy would be rebuilt to make it more competitive and to create more prosperity and jobs. The plans indicate that the Biden administered Treasury will be more muscular and act aggressively to reduce economic inequality as well as to fight climate change and to counter China’s unfair trade and subsidy practices. Republicans are unhappy about the spending plans as they fear they will result in higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

The UK Business Secretary has confirmed that the government is looking at scrapping some EU labour laws now that it’s no longer bound by the bloc’s economic rules. Kwasi Kwarteng says that measures under consideration include relaxing the working time directive which enshrines a 48-hour working week. Mr Kwarteng has rejected claims that the government is intending to reduce workers’ rights. He says that the UK has the opportunity to reform regulation derived from EU law but stressed that the government would not try to “antagonise” the bloc so soon after the Brexit deal. The opposition Labour Party says that the government is taking a “wrecking ball” to hard won rights. The Shadow Business Secretary Ed Milliband said that Mr Kwarteng had “let the cat out of the bag” and warned that opting out of the 48-hour working week would harm workers in key sectors such as the NHS, road haulage and airlines from working excessive hours.

Audi has said that it intends to sell more than a million vehicles in China in 2023, up from 726,000 last year. The brand, which is a division of the Volkswagen Group sees China as one of its most potentially lucrative markets in the coming years. Audi is already manufacturing in the world’s largest car market in association with the FAW group. The division’s China boss Werner Eichhorn said this morning that more Audi products will be added to the Chinese market as it competes with rivals Daimler and BMW.

Sport

Football - There were two games in the English Premier League last night and Leicester have gone top of the table following 2-0 win over Chelsea as Frank Lampard’s problems intensify. West Ham are up to 7th on the back of a 2-1 win over struggling West Brom. There are 2 games tonight. Manchester City play Aston Villa and Fulham host Manchester United.

In the English Championship last night Derby beat Bournemouth 1-0. Reading were 3-0 winners over Coventry. Rotherham and Stoke drew 3-3 and Watford beat Barnsley 1-0.

In the third round of the FA Cup Southampton beat Shrewsbury Town 2-0 to set up a 4th round tie against Arsenal on Saturday.

Cricket - India are still savoring a famous Test series victory over Australia after winning the final match by 3 wickets in Brisbane on Tuesday. India fans were glued to their televisions and radios as the side pulled off one of the great exploits in Test cricket to secure a win by a visiting side to the GABA for the first time since 1988 and their first series win in Australia for 20 years. The England coach Chris Silverwood who’s in Sri Lanka preparing his side for the second Test on Friday said that it was “nice to see the opposition under pressure”.

Golf - Tiger Woods has put his season on hold after undergoing back surgery for a 5th time. The 15-time Major winner has had a procedure to remove a pressurised disc fragment that was pinching a nerve. The surgery is said to have been successful but Woods will miss a number of tournaments.

Weather

Sunshine and showers with some more persistent rain this afternoon. Light to moderate south easterly winds and a high of 12 degrees. Overnight lows of 9 degrees with outbreaks of rain.

Thursday and Friday - Sunshine and showers tomorrow, rain on Friday. Highs of 10-12 degrees.

And finally 

Scientists have claimed that bones from giant reptiles were flung into space when the extinction-event asteroid smashed into the Earth 66 million years ago. The claim stems from Peter Brannen's 2017 book, 'The End of the World,' which describes the violent asteroid as it ripped a 'hole of outer space vacuum in the atmosphere.' This sent debris flying into orbit and 'bits of dinosaurs' may have been mixed up in the enormous volume of earth that expelled into space - all of which settled on the moon.

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