French and Riviera News Wednesday 26th January 2022

News 

Regional Health Agency releases latest figures for covid - The Regional Health Agency has confirmed on Tuesday 25th January, that the Omicron variant is now the dominant strain of covid in the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur with its circulation the highest it's ever been in the region. In a statement the agency confirmed that the Omicron variant is "found in 95% of cases". The incidence rate for the region has reached 3,904 covid cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the PACA and the regional average is higher in the Alpes Maritimes standing at 4,208 and 3,691 in the Var.

327 patients are currently hospitalised in the Alpes Maritimes due to covid compared to 16 last week and there were 194 deaths recorded in one week. Since the beginning of the epidemic, Covid-19 has caused 2,501 deaths (including 481 in nursing homes) in the Alpes-Maritimes and 2,379 in the Var (including 496 nursing homes).

In Monaco, 99 new cases of covid were identified on Tuesday bringing the total number of residents affected to 7,790. 54 people are currently in hospital and 368 are being followed by the home monitoring centre.

New record nationally in number of covid cases - On a national level in France another new record in the number of covid cases has been reached with just over 500,000 being identified in the last 24 hours. 30,189 people are currently admitted to hospital. A figure that had not been reached since April 2021. 3,741 of these patients are currently in critical care.

Vaccination pass - Meanwhile French health Minister Olivier Veran has said that nine million people could lose their vaccination pass on February 15th if they don't act. The rules for the vaccination pass change on that date, with the time to have had a booster dose being reduced from seven months to four months after the last injection. The health minister said that there are "millions" of appointment slots available and those affected by the change shouldn't wait until the last minute.

EDF strike - Unions at EDF are on strike today Wednesday 26th January in protest against the government's measures to contain electricity prices. EDF's state shareholder has decided to increase the share of production which the EDF must resell at low cost to its competitors. The move is causing concern from employees who are worried about the group. A few months ahead of the presidential election it's a sensitive subject for the government which absolutely wants to stem the rise in electricity to 4% instead of 44.5%.

Study shows that the French are becoming more right-wing in their political views - According to a recent study carried out by Opinionway for Cevipof a political research centre, the French are becoming more right wing in their political views. The study showed that 32% of French people now declare themselves right-wing compared to 26% in 2017. 11% claim to be far right and on the other side of the political spectrum, 17% say they are left-wing and 6% are far left. 14% consider themselves in the centre. However, while they are positioning themselves more to the right than five years ago, the French are at the same time more hostile than ever to economic liberalism. 73% of them believe that "the current economy benefits the bosses at the expense of those who work", and 57% believe that "to establish social justice, we should take from the rich to give to the poor".  Regarding social issues, 61% of French people believe that "medically assisted procreation (ART) is a good thing for single or homosexual women". While 63% judge that "there are too many immigrants in France". 39% of respondents say they want to see at the head of the country "a strong man who does not have to worry about Parliament or elections", i.e a dictatorship.

Investigation into fifteen vehicles set alight in parking lot - An investigation is currently underway concerning fifteen vehicles which were set alight in a parking lot in La Trinité in Nice. Police believe the act to be criminal. The fire occurred shortly after 1am on Tuesday in a parking lot of a car mechanics garage. The vehicles were totally destroyed. Nobody was injured in the incident.

Real estate market in Monaco - The Monaco government's statistics agency IMSEE has published its latest report on the real estate market in the Principality. It said that the price per square metre shows a clear increase in 2021 and for the first time exceeds the symbolic amount of €50,000 to approach €52,000. It has increased by nearly 75% in 10 years. As regards the different areas of Monaco, the most expensive area was Monte-Carlo with Fontvielle not far behind. The lowest priced area was the Jardin Exotique. IMSEE said that the number of transactions in Monaco-Ville was too low to be able to calculate the price per square metre.

Direct flight from Nice to Montreal returns - Nice international airport has announced the return of a direct flight from Nice to Montreal. Operated by Air Canada from May 13th to October 28th, there will be three weekly flights on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The airport's Chairman of the Executive Board Franck Goldnadel welcomed the news saying that "the return of this direct flight marks a new step in the airport's desire to connect our territory with the rest of the world, by offering passengers direct flights".

Business

Investors are waiting for the US Federal Reserve to conclude its latest two day policy meeting to gauge when and how fast monetary policy will be tightened amid growing concerns about the effects of inflation and tension surrounding the situation in Ukraine. Concerns that a hike in interest rates could hammer equities have been dragging on benchmarks with US stocks posting their worst week since 2020 last week. The Fed will update its latest policy decisions later today outlining its timetable for rate increases and reducing quantitative easing. Growing tensions with Russia massing troops on the Ukrainian border and Nato and the United States putting its forces on alert are adding to a risk-averse environment for investors.

Microsoft has reported a profit of 18.8 billion dollars for the fourth quarter, beating analysts' expectations. The software giant reported revenues of 51.7 billion dollars, an increase of 20 percent compared with the same period last year. However, the news was not enough to impress investors with the firm's shares falling by 5 percent as money continued to drain away from the tech sector following the historic boom in prices during the pandemic. Microsoft is the first of the big tech firms to report quarterly earnings with Apple, Amazon, Meta and Alphabet to come. The earnings reports are being closely watched after the collapse in the price of Netflix shares following the release of disappointing subscriber numbers.

The US Commerce Department has warned that manufacturers have seen supplies of semiconductors plunge amid the global chip shortage. A survey of more than 150 firms found that supplies had fallen from an average of 40 days' worth in 2019 to just 5 in late 2021. Sales of electronic devices soared during the pandemic leaving semiconductor makers struggling to keep up with demand. The shortage has resulted in huge disruption for major industries. Millions of products from cars to smartphones rely on semiconductors for their production. Demand is around 17 percent higher than in 2019.

Sport 

Tennis - Matteo Berrettini of Italy will play Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the Australian Open in Melbourne. Berrettini beat the French 17th seed Gael Monfils in the quarter finals while Nadal overcame Denis Shapovalov in 5 with the Canadian complaining that Nadal had been given "preferential treatment".

In the women's event, Alize Cornet of France is out after losing in straight sets to Danielle Collins of the USA. Collins will play Iga Swiatek in the semi-finals. She beat Kaia Kanepi in three sets earlier this morning.

Football - Watford have appointed Roy Hodgson as their new manager following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri. The 74-year-old former England manager will be tasked with saving Watford from relegation. He's been out of the game since he left Crystal Palace at the end of last season.

In the English Championship last night Birmingham and Peterborough drew 2-2. Coventry beat Stoke 1-0. Luton beat Bristol City 2-1. Nottingham Forest were 3-0 winners over Barnsley and QPR and Swansea drew 0-0.

There was one game in the Scottish Premiership last night. St Mirren beat Aberdeen 1-0.

Rugby Union - England's preparations for the 6 Nations have been further disrupted after Joe Marler tested positive for coronavirus and there was a fire at the team hotel. The squad were forced to switch hotels after fire broke out at their base in Brighton while Marler has gone into isolation for a week following his positive Covid test. In addition, Jonny May will miss the first two 6 Nations games with a knee injury while Owen Farrell is out with an ankle injury and Courtney Lawes has been unable to train because of concussion.

Weather

Mainly fine with light variable winds. Top temperatures 12-14 degrees. Overnight lows of 5-6 degrees on the coast and -1 degree inland with partially cloudy skies.

Wednesday and Thursday - Mainly fine with highs of 12-14 degrees.

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