Lunchtime News Thursday 14th January 2021


French government to announces new restriction this evening - French Prime Minister Jean Castex will this evening announce decisions taken by the government following Wednesday defence council meeting. At 6pm Castex is expected to give an update on the health situation in France along with new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 as well plans to try and contain the more aggressive strain of the virus which is now circulating in France with cases being detected in the Alpes-Maritimes and also the Var. According to reports two family clusters in Biot and Fréjus have been identified, in both cases, it was a young man in his twenties, studying in the UK who upon his return to the region infected those around him.

Health authorities have said that the health situation in France has not improved over the last weeks, with numbers of new cases hovering around 20,000, although the rate of infection has remained stable. A new full lockdown is not favoured by the government and Castex is likely to announce stricter measures with the new curfew of 6pm, which currently affects 25 departments, being extended throughout France. There is also the possibility of a lockdown at weekends and a limit on travel between regions, for those departments the worst affected.

Investigation into Coivd-19 - A team of experts from the World Health Organization have arrived in Wuhan to start a highly politicised investigation into the origins of the coronavirus. The team arrived as China reported its first death from Covid-19 in eight months. The 10 scientists will complete a two week quarantine before starting their work on a much delayed mission to examine the origins of the pandemic. The trip comes as more than 20 million people are under lockdown in the north of China and one province has declared an emergency, with Covid-19 numbers climbing after several months of being relatively static.

New study - Meanwhile a new study led by Public Health England has found that previous Covid-19 infection provides some immunity for at least five months, but people may still carry and transmit the virus. Experts have warned that a small number of those with immunity may still be able carry the virus and would therefore have a risk of transmitting it to others. The study found that antibodies from past infection provide 83% protection against re-infection for at least five months.

Seven people detained in connection with killing of French school teacher - French anti-terrorism police have this week detained seven people suspected of having communicated via social media with the killer of schoolteacher Samuel Paty whose beheading last year reopened debate about France's rights of expression. 47 year old Paty was killed October 16 outside his school in the Paris region after showing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed during a class debate on free expression. 

Former wife of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy faces allegations - French newspaper Le Canard Enchainé has reported that the former wife of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy was paid as a parliamentary assistant in 2002, casting doubt on whether she had worked to justify her salary. The allegations echo those made in 2017 against the wife of former Prime Minister François Fillon, have since been denied by a source close to Sarkozy who ruled out any wrongdoing saying her role was a “matter of public knowledge”.

The newspaper said Cécilia Attias, then known as Cécilia Sarkozy, was employed as an assistant taking home nearly €3,100 a month in income for the part-time job.

Sales of raclette devices on the rise in France - Due to lockdown and restrictive measure, sales of raclette devices have increased in France. It's well-known that the French love their cheese, but sales have rocketed to 300% in some stores. Demand is so high that the factory in the Savoie has stepped up production to keep up, employing temporary workers

And Finally 

Café, croissant and worms?  The European Union’s food safety agency says worms are safe to eat. The Parma-based agency published a scientific opinion Wednesday on the safety of dried yellow mealworms and gave them "a thumbs up". Researchers said the worms, either eaten whole or in powdered form, are a protein-rich snack or ingredient for other foods. While allergic reactions may occur, overall “the panel concluded that the food is safe under the proposed use.”



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