French and Riviera News.Tuesday July 28th 2020

Covid-19-The French Health Agency has reported 17 new deaths from Coronavirus since Friday but says that the spread of the disease is “under control”.

The Direction Generale de la Sante has warned people however , to “remain extremely vigilant” and conceded that there had been a “small increase” in the transmission of Covid-19 around the country over the past few days.

The total number of people to have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic now stands at 30,209 with 19,693 hospital deaths and 10,516 in care homes.

5,655 people are currently being treated for the virus in hospital with 398 in intensive care.

On Monday there were 224 active clusters of the virus around France with 7 new clusters detected.

The DGS has urged people to get tested for the virus if they experience any symptoms, however mild.

 

Higher Temperatures-Hotter weather is on the way for the south east of France although the Côte d’Azur should be spared heatwave conditions that may be affecting other parts of the country later in the week.

On Monday ,parts of the south west hit 40 degrees while temperatures in cities including Toulouse got as high as 35.

A band of cooler weather is forecast for today and tomorrow but by Thursday and Friday ,afternoon temperatures could climb to the high 30s again apart from the south east and east which are expected to see maximum highs in the mid 30s Celsius.

Coastal areas of the Alpes Maritimes and the Var should be a little cooler with the thermometer reaching 30-31 degrees.

 

Masks-The government has advised businesses to stock enough face masks for their staff for 10 weeks to cover any potential resurgence in Covid-19.

With cases of the virus on the rise in France again ,there are concerns that businesses will be unprepared for a sudden flare up which would prevent them from trading.

Businesses are required to supply face masks to workers and provide anti viral and anti bacterial hand gel.

The government insists that it will not implement another widespread lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus but will order localised confinement orders to control spikes of the infection.

 

Unemployment-The jobless total fell by 4.6 percent in June according to the latest data published by the French National Statistics Agency INSEE.

The drop in unemployment came as more people returned to work following lockdown but the overall numbers of those out of work and claiming benefits remains worryingly high at 4.221 million in category ‘A’ which represents those without any kind of paid employment.

When statistics for categories  B and C are added where people have returned to partial employment or training even for only one day a week ,the figure rises to an unprecedented 6.157 million.

The government has said that employment will be its top priority after the summer holidays.

 

Anti drowning buoys-New flotation devices to help inexperienced and weak swimmers in the sea will soon be available at patrolled beaches in Antibes Juan les Pins.

The inflated orange buoys are tied around a person’s waist and can be grabbed hold of in the event of fatigue or other physical problems.

There have already been a number of fatal swimming accidents in the south of France this summer and it’s hoped that the new devices will help to improve safety in the water.

 

Sterling 55-The England and Manchester City football star Raheem Sterling hasn’t wasted any time getting on with his summer holiday following the end of the English Premier League season on Sunday.

The 26 year old was full of smiles and took time to sign autographs and pose for selfies with fans as he enjoyed a day out at Club 55 in the Golfe de Saint Tropez.

It’s only a short break for Sterling and his family as he’ll be back in action for Manchester City in the Champions League quarter finals against Real Madrid at the start of August.

 

In National News.

 

Bioethics-The controversial bioethics bill which is seeking to make medically assisted parenthood available to all French women is back in the National Assembly after some 2,300 amendments were made by the upper House of Parliament ,the Senate.

The French political right wing parties and many Catholic organisations are fiercely opposed to the legislation which they say will allow the creation of families without fathers.

It’s the second time that the bill has come before the lower house and the debate is expected to last for most of this week and possibly longer.

Medically assisted parenthood for all women was one of President Macron’s election promises before he came to power.

Opponents say that it’s not fair to squeeze the debate into such an important issue into the final phase of the summer parliamentary session.

The French Prime Minister Jean Castex who’s a former member of the right wing Les Republicans has refused to state his position on the legislation.

 

Priority vaccines-The national Scientific Council of France is drawing up plans for high risk people who it says should be given priority access to any coronavirus vaccine once it comes to the market.

Reports say that around 30 million people may be given priority access from vital health and care workers to those with underlying medical conditions.

Dozens of vaccine projects are being worked on around the world with phase three human trials underway in both the United States and the UK.

Although early results have been encouraging ,there is no clear evidence as yet to any of the prototype vaccines’ efficacy in the medium or long-term and some experts hav suggest that humans may be living with coronavirus in the background for years.

When and if a vaccine is available in France ,absolute priority will be given to front line health workers followed by others doing vital jobs from teachers to bus drivers.

The French government is currently in negotiations to reserve vaccines despite questions remaining over their safety and potency.

Rigorous evaluation of any chosen vaccine will be carried out before its rolled out on a large scale and the Scientific Council has ruled out making vaccination compulsory.

 

Fire-A large forest fire has destroyed 250 hectares of trees in the south of the Gironde department with firefighters still battling to control the flames.

160 firefighters are on the ground with air support from 4 Canadair water bombers.

A firetruck has been destroyed in the blaze and several small hamlets in the area have been evacuated as a precaution.

The fire started at around 2pm on Monday in a forest near to Tuzan around 60 kilometers south of Bordeaux.

Recent weather in the area has been hot and dry and a strong wind on Monday has been fanning the flames.

 

Business.

 

Investors are hoping that more US government stimulus will help to revive the battered US economy as the Federal Reserve issued further dovish signals at the start of the week.

US Senate Republicans have introduced a 1 trillion dollar coronavirus relief package as an opening offer to negotiations with Democrats less than a week before extra unemployment benefits expire.

The US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin says that the package will contain extended unemployment payments which will aim to replace 70 percent of a laid-off worker’s previous wages.

There is also to be another round of direct payments to individuals and families as well as a reduced Federal supplement to unemployment benefits and liability protection against coronavirus-related lawsuits.

However ,Democrats appear to be unhappy with the plan as it will reduce  weekly unemployment benefit payments from 600 dollars to 200 dollars.

The Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer says that it’s “too little too late”.

He said that the Republican plan amounted to a 30 percent pay cut for workers and that the government was “running out of time” to secure an agreement.

 

Facebook has announced that it’s delaying the publication of its second quarter results until the 30th of July to allow CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before a rescheduled Congressional hearing.

A House Judiciary Committee hearing had been due to take place on Monday but has now been rescheduled for tomorrow.

The hearing has been called to question the heads of big tech firms which include Facebook ,Apple ,Amazon and Google’s parent company Alphabet about whether they have been actively working to harm and eliminate smaller rivals while depriving customers alternative choices.

Facebook and the tech giants deny the claims which should make for some fiery exchanges during the hearing.

 

And-Gold has hit a record high as nervous investors seek safe havens for their money amid widespread concern over the continued spread of coronavirus and increasing tensions between the United States and China.

Gold has risen  to 1,950 dollars 95  ,just short of the symbolic 2,000 dollar mark which has never before been reached.

Some investors tend to shun the precious metal as it doesn’t pay dividends or interest but with Covid-19 cases rising to more than 16 million globally ,there are more and more takers.

Gold prices have risen by 28 percent so far this year with a fall in the value of the dollar in recent days adding to the momentum.

Prices could also be boosted further depending on the outcome of the US Federal Reserve’s policy meeting and increased geopolitical tensions which will see demand for safe haven assets grow while equities come under pressure.

 

Sport.

 

Cricket- England are looking for 8 West Indies wickets as they attempt to wrap up the third and final Test on the final day at Old Trafford.

No play at all was possible in Manchester on day 4 as a result of heavy rain.

West Indies are on 10-2 in their second innings looking for an unlikely total of 399 to win the match and the series.

Stuart Broad needs just one more wicket to reach the milestone of 500 Test match wickets.

 

Football-It’s advantage Fulham following the first leg of the English Championship playoff semi final.

Fulham were 2-0 winners at Cardiff with the second leg at Craven Cottage on Thursday.

 

Formula 1- The sport is monitoring the coronavirus situation in Spain “closely” following a spike in cases.

The Spanish Grand Prix is still set to go ahead on the 14th of August but Formula 1 bosses have said that they will not take risks with the health of participants.

Spain is taking fresh measures in an effort to curb the spread of the virus amid fears of a more widespread second wave.

 

Rugby Union-This year’s autumn internationals in the northern hemisphere are to be replaced with an 8 team tournament in which the 6 Nations sides will be joined by Fiji and Japan.

The tournament will start on the 14th of November-two weeks after the final round of the 2020 6 Nations is completed.

No decision has yet been taken on whether fans will be allowed to attend the 6 Nations but organisers of the 8 team tournament are confident that it can be staged with crowds watching.

 

Weather.

 

Mainly fine in coastal areas-some thundery showers developing inland this afternoon.

Light variable winds and highs of 28-30 degrees on the coast and up to 33 degrees inland in the Var.

Overnight lows of 22 degrees with clear skies.

Wednesday and Thursday-Fine in coastal areas showers inland and highs of 28- 34 degrees.

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