Lunchtime News Wednesday 3rd February 2021

News

INSEE publishes data on Covid deaths - According to data published by INSEE on Tuesday 2nd February there was an increase in the number of deaths in 2020 compared to the previous year. The institute points to higher mortality in the Paca during the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic, with disparities between departments and age groups.

In the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region during 2020 there was a slightly lower increase compared to the rest of France with 4,073 additional deaths from all causes recorded in PACA region . The regional mortality increased by 8% compared to 2019, according to the first estimate by INSEE.

As of December 31st, 2020, the Regional Health Agency for the  PACA region recorded 3,553 deaths linked to the coronavirus in the region since March 2nd. The highest increase in deaths was recorded in November (+33% compared to November 2019), + 31% in October and + 29% in December, compared to + 8% in March and + 11% in April. In March-April 2020. During the first pandemic wave, the increase in deaths was less in the PACA region than at a national level, however it was the opposite between October and December 2020. The Hautes-Alpes and the Bouches-du-Rhône at the peak of the pandemic were the departments of the PACA region the most affected by the increase in mortality in 2020, according to the report. It was lowest in the Var. The increase in deaths in 2020 is concentrated on people over 65: + 10% among 75-84 year olds, and 10.3% among those over 85. INSEE notes that mortality is decreasing among the youngest compared to 2019. The decrease echoes the drop in fatal road accident in 2020 due to travel restrictions. 2,550 people died on the roads of France in 2020, a record figure in the history of road safety.

Defence Council being held today to take stock of the health situation in France - A new Defence Council is to be held today at the Elysee Palace to take stock of the current health situation in France. The last defence council meeting took place on Friday with the Prime Minister announcing that the government was not in favour of a new lockdown. French President Emmanuel Macron called on the French on Tuesday to remain "extraordinarily responsible" in the face of Covid-19 in order to avoid a possible third lockdown. "

Cannes International Games Festival cancelled - The Cannes International Games Festival has been cancelled. The event is normally held from February 21st to 23rd but due to the current health crisis this year edition will take place virtually on Thursday February 25th. 

Vaccination available in pharmacies across France - Following the national health authority’s permission, pharmacists across France will be able to administer AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine. The authorization was given on Tuesday however, the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) has limited its recommendation to people under the age of 65, citing "insufficient data" from clinical trials on older patients adding that the French health authority is expecting more data on how effective it is for older people in the coming weeks. The third vaccine to be recommended in France is expected to be available in pharmacies by the third week of February, which would provide a considerable boost to the vaccination campaign in France.  It has yet to be decided who will be allowed benefit from the pharmacists' service. French vaccinations are currently reserved for older people, the most fragile, and for front-line health workers.

River Seine - With the recent rainfall access to areas around the River Seine in the French capital have been cut off for fear of the river overflowing. In addition, there is a ban on river navigation.  

Nationally, 17 departments in the north and southwest of France remain on an orange flood alert while Paris has been placed on a yellow alert due to the risk of flooding. According to data a new milestone was crossed this Wednesday morning with the river level at 4.30 meters.

French government to sanction companies which decline to use teleworking - The French government is set to control companies in France which do not respect the request to use teleworking in the fight against the spread of Covid. During his speech on Friday the Prime Minister expressed the “importance to use working remotely when possible”. Speaking to French media this morning the Employment minister Elisabeth Borne announced that they had “identified a number of sectors in which the use of teleworking has been declined”. Hence the government will be contacting them one by one with authorities carrying out inspections to support, advise and control as well as sanction if necessary.  

The rule is simple and has not changed: everything that can be done remotely, must be.

Trial of former French Prime Minister - Prosecutors in the corruption trial for former French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur have called for him to be sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term. They said the 91-year old, tried on charges he used kickbacks from 1990s arms deals to help finance a presidential bid, and should also pay a fine of 50,000 euros. The conservative ex-premier is one of a long list of senior French politicians pursued for alleged financial wrongdoing, including former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his predecessor, Jacques Chirac.

Balladur, who also has to answer to a charge that he concealed the crimes, has denied any wrongdoing, saying the 10 million francs came from the sale of T-shirts and other items at campaign rallies.

The WISE Mission - Twelve bottles of wine and 320 vine shoots have finally returned home to Bordeaux after two trips to the International Space station.  Tests will now be carried out to investigate the effects of ageing and to see how the stresses produced by zero gravity affect both grape growth and the finished product. The initiative could spur a new trend in agricultural research.

The dozen bottles of Bordeaux spent 438 days on the ISS, which orbits in the thermosphere – which is in the outer layers of the Earth's atmosphere, but with a density so low that it resembles what's typically referred to as outer space. 

"The WISE Mission" is the first private applied research programme aimed at using spatial conditions to tackle agricultural challenges of tomorrow, on a warmer planet and with less water,". A private expert tasting of the wine is planned for later this month.

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