Lunchtime News Friday 3rd December 2021


First case of Omicron variant detected in the PACA region - A first case of the Omicron variant has been detected in the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur region. This morning Friday 3rd December, the health minister said that it was the ninth case of the new variant to be detected in France. The nine cases have been identified in the "Reunion, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Ile-de-France, Pays de la Loire and Grand Est region". Each case concerns travellers returning from Africa. Experts agree that the new variant has sent a wave of panic across the world, but "it's too early to say what impact it will have on the pandemic". On paper, the unprecedented number of mutations it contains leads to fears that it is more transmissible and more resistant to vaccines. But this remains to be confirmed and it is not known whether it will replace the Delta variant which is, currently responsible for a fifth wave of the epidemic in France. On Thursday, 48,416 cases were recorded, for a daily average over 7 days of 36,700, compared to less than 6,000 a month earlier. The increase is having an impact on the hospital: 10,790 Covid patients are currently hospitalized in France, including 1,934 in critical care services, compared to around 6,600 and 1,000 a month earlier. A new Health Defense Council will take place on Monday to "see if there is need to take additional measures".

Motorway fares are expected to increase by 2% on average on 1st February - Tariffs for the main motorway networks in France are expected to increase by an average of 2% on 1st February 2022. The increases come after an increase of 0.44% in early 2021. The French government has yet to formally approve these new tariffs.

School bullying - The French parliament has voted to make school bullying a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison. The proposed law was supported by Emmanuel Macron's education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer who said the law sent a strong message to society that "we will never accept the lives of our children being shattered". As many as one in 10 French children are estimated to have been affected by bullying.

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