Lunchtime News Wednesday 17th March 2021


Covid measures - Following Tuesday’s meeting with the scientific council and today’s defence council the Head of State is set to make new decisions in the fight against the spread of Covid in France. French Prime Minister Jean Castex, has already suggested a possible introduction of a weekend lockdown in the Paris Ile de France region and an extension in the Alpes Maritimes and Pas de Calais.

Meanwhile the president of the PACA region Renaud Muselier has also suggested a possible weekend lockdown for the whole region. In the Var cases have been rising for several weeks with 95% of intensive care beds occupied and variants now representing 9 out of 10 cases.

Covid continues to kill with 320 deaths declared on Tuesday 16th March bringing the total number of victims from Covid in France since the start of the pandemic to 91,170.

One year anniversary of lockdown - From the strict two-month lockdown that took effect one year ago to the current situation of targeted restrictions and strained hospitals, France today marks a year of living with Covid linked to the deaths of more than 90,000 people.

It was at noon on 17 March 2020 that France entered its first national lockdown to counter the influx of patients infected with the new coronavirus to the country’s hospitals. 

National day of mourning for the victims of Covid – Meanwhile one year after the start of the first lockdown in France, associations of families of victims of the pandemic are fighting to achieve a day of national mourning with French President presiding over a national ceremony. Thousands of relatives of the victims of the pandemic are still struggling to mourn. Filled by the guilt of not having been able to accompany the loved one their last moments. Several elected officials have expressed their support with most of them referring to this tribute to the end of the health crisis.

Air quality - A new report out on global air quality notes a global emissions reduction, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions and social distancing measures, including in Paris. According to the 2020 report published by IQAir. Based on the data from 106 countries some of the cities that witnessed a significant drop in the PM2.5 levels include Paris (-17 %), London (-16%), Seoul (-16%), Delhi (-15 %), Chicago (-13 %) and Beijing (-11 %).

Demographic study on Covid deaths - According to a demographic study published today it claims that “some of the victims of Covid would have died anyway in 2020 from another cause”. Some 68,000 people died from Covid-19 in France last year, the total number of deaths increased by 55,000. The reason: some of the deaths from Covid "would have died anyway" another cause is that the flu and road accidents were less deadly. Of the 55,000 additional deaths, all causes combined, recorded by the civil status services in 2020 (compared to 2019), 13,000 are statistically attributed to the aging of the population  which automatically leads to an annual increase in the number of deaths, regardless of any pandemic context.

"There are therefore 42,000 additional deaths in 2020, linked to the Covid-19 pandemic", observe the authors of the study, Gilles Pison and France Meslé, from the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED). So how is this discrepancy explained?  On the one hand, the seasonal flu was not as deadly in early 2020 compared to early 2019, and road accidents also claimed significantly fewer lives, as a result of traffic restrictions during periods of lockdown. On the other hand, "other causes of death have also probably declined such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory failure," observe the authors. "Some of the fragile people suffering from these diseases have indeed died from Covid-19", whereas, without the pandemic, "they would have died in 2020 anyway" from one of these pathologies.

Prefect closes another store in the Var - The prefect of Var has ordered the closure of the Leroy-Merlin store in Puget-sur-Argens. The DIY store is therefore no longer accessible to individuals however professionals in the sector will be able to go there, with their professional card. The decision announced on Tuesday brings the number of shopping centers and non-food department stores closed due to the Covid-19 epidemic in the Var to 19.

In other news

Nicolas Sarkozy to appear in court today - The former head of state Nicolas Sarkozy is to appear before the Paris court today for "illegal financing of the presidential election campaign", along with 13 other defendants.

The trial will look at a system of false invoices intended to hide campaign expenses of candidate Nicolas Sarkozy during the 2012 presidential election. The trial however could be postponed as the lawyer for one of the defendants, Jérôme Lavrilleux, has been hospitalized for Covid-19.





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