John Lichfield Profile picture
Veteran correspondent on all things French and European. Tweets on 🇫🇷,🇪🇺,🇬🇧,🐟,🚂&⚽️.
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Mar 11 6 tweets 2 min read
Weekly French Covid thread

A strange week. Having plunged from a great height, the average number of Covid cases has increased for five days in a row. The running average is now 54,372 - about 2% up on last week. 1/6 A very similar pattern can be seen in the UK (see @nicolasberrod graph). I’ve seen no clear explanation. Is it the fault of the BA.2 sub variant of Omicron, now over 50% of Fr cases? Or just the effect of a loosening of restrictions?
2/6
Mar 9 8 tweets 2 min read
I’m reliably told there is a good (or bad) reason why Priti Patel and Boris Johnson refuse to allow Ukrainian refugees to apply for UK visas when they arrive in Calais. The reason? To block legal applications by asylum-seekers from other countries. 1/8 Someone who has been directly involved in UK visa operations in the past points out to me that any UK visa office in Calais would, in theory, be open to non-Ukrainian applicants (ie the Calais boat people from Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere|).
2/8
Feb 4 10 tweets 3 min read
Weekly French Covid Thread

A good week. The 5th (or some say 6th) wave of Covid is now falling fast.
Infections – 98.9% Omicron – have dropped by one fifth in 7 days.
They are still averaging 274,352 a day, however. Acute cases and deaths, though stable, remain very high. 1/10 The government started to remove social restrictions, as planned, on Wed of this week. No more limits on numbers in stadiums, theatres etc. No more compulsory home working or masks outdoors. From 16 Feb, clubs can reopen. Standing in bars and eating on trains can resume. 2/10
Jan 21 12 tweets 4 min read
Weekly French Covid Thread

A confusing week. Omicron infections have rocketed again – partly perhaps because a sub-variant of “O” has invaded France.
Nonetheless, the government has announced a timetable for gradual relaxation of social protections from 2 Feb.

1/12 The shedding of controls, such as working-from-home and max numbers for restos etc, may seem risky with cases running at 400,000+ a day for last 3 days. It’s based on accumulating evidence that Omicron is much less dangerous than other versions of C19. It's also electoral.
2/12
Jan 14 10 tweets 3 min read
Weekly French Covid Thread
The Omicron pandemic is raging but rising less rapidly; Delta is declining slowly (see Covidtracker graphic). Overall, there are reasons to hope that a plateau will be reached next week. In France as elsewhere, Omicron is causing less acute illness 1/10 Omicron is now 90% of new cases in France, up from 80% last week. Together the variants are producing an average of 293,867 cases a day – a 47% increase on last week, after 64% the week before. But (good news alert) acute care and deaths are “only” 5% and 3% up.
2/10
Jan 12 5 tweets 2 min read
The public prosecutor for the Annecy area says she is surprised by the global media reaction to the announcement that a man has been arrested for questioning for the 9 years old al-Hilli murders. Surprised? Really? 1/2

ledauphine.com/faits-divers-j… Prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis says it's an arrest like many others. "No cause to get excited. We're going to say nothing about the person being questioned. We've already had one suicide after an arrest in this case...I will give no clue to the person's identity or address." 2/2
Jan 7 15 tweets 5 min read
First weekly French Covid Thread of 2022

Omicron is now 80% of new cases in France and producing (in alliance with the declining Delta wave) an average of 200,000 cases a day – a 64% increase in a week. As the graphic shows, this is a “wave on top of a wave”. 1/15 So far, the explosion of mostly Omicron cases – over 300,000 a day on Tues and Wed, 260,000+ yesterday – is NOT causing an explosion of very acute cases or deaths. Hospital admissions are 35.3% up but acute care is “only” 6.3% up and deaths are “only” 14.5% up. 2/15
Dec 31, 2021 15 tweets 4 min read
Last French Covid Thread of 2021

I spoke last week of a very big Omicron wave about to crash onto France. That wave is upon us. There have been over 200,000 new cases in each of the last two days, bringing the 7-day average to 121,566, up more than 125% in a week. 1/15 The government now reckons that almost two in three - 62.3% - of those new cases are the Omicron variant, compared to 1 in 3 a week ago. The Delta strain (in terms of new cases) will be wiped out in Fr in a few days’ time. Good news or bad news? It’s still uncertain. 2/15
Dec 24, 2021 15 tweets 4 min read
Weekly French Covid Thread (one day early)

A worrying week and a confusing one. Lots of mixed signals from the French government. “New cases are the worst since the pandemic began…BUT unlike neighbouring countries, we plan no drastic new measures”. Hmm. 1/15 Imagine a very big wave crashing onto a beach and swallowing another big wave cresting ahead of it. That is roughly where we are in France this Christmas. There was an all-time record of 91,608 new cases yesterday – 32% of which MAY be the new Omicron variant. 2/15
Dec 18, 2021 13 tweets 4 min read
Weekly French Covid Thread
A confusing week. The 5th (Delta) wave has levelled off but the 6th (Omicron) wave is rising fast behind it. PM Jean Castex announced that the “health pass” will become a “vaccine pass” from Jan. A negative C19 test will no longer qualify. 1/12 New cases in France only rose by 6% this week to 51,102 a day – after rises of 24% and 52% in previous weeks. How many are the new Omicron variant, booming in UK, DK and Belgium? Officially, there are only 347 cases in Fr. It may really be 10x that figure, virologists fear 2/12
Dec 11, 2021 12 tweets 4 min read
Weekly French Covid Thread

A somewhat encouraging week. The 5th (Delta) wave of the pandemic is still rising but less rapidly. The peak may be reached next week. However…the Omicron variant has yet to hit France in a big way. It’s coming. It’s already surging in the UK. 1/12 New cases rose this week to 48,248 a day, up 24%, after 52% last week. The incidence rate (tdi) - 470 cases per 100,000/7 days – rose by 31.6%, compared to a weekly rate of 60% ten days ago. See graph by @nicolasberrod on the rise/fall of the tdi in recent months/weeks. 2/12
Dec 10, 2021 10 tweets 2 min read
It’s Friday and this is a big day in the Anglo—French fish war. The European Commission has given Britain until tonight to move towards a settlement of the 11 months old dispute over licences for Fr boats to fish within 6-12 miles of the S Engl and Channel Islands coasts. 1/10 The UK government refuses to recognise this deadline. France says it will ask the EU to take retaliatory action – and will otherwise take action of its own – unless there is some movement by Britain (not necessarily a complete solution) by tonight. 2/10
Dec 4, 2021 10 tweets 3 min read
Weekly French Covid Thread

A very worrying week. New cases jumped by 52% to 38,887 a day. The incidence rate for the 5th wave (366.8 cases/100,000 people/7 days) is now above the peaks of the 3rd and 4th waves in April/August. And Omicron has yet to arrive in big numbers… 1/10 President Macron will chair a health council on Monday. Limits on numbers in bars/ restos/cinemas etc are possible. So is an early start to school hols, due to begin 18 Dec. Covid is raging amongst 6-10 year olds – whose incidence rate is 750, double the national rate. 2/10
Dec 1, 2021 8 tweets 2 min read
Fish war latest. Not a big breakthrough but a significant advance which, by implication, weakens the UK and Jersey govt positions.
Guernsey has just issued 43 permanent licenses for French boats to fish within the island’s 12 mile limit. 1/6
lemonde.fr/international/… Guernsey – also covering Sark and Alderney - has always been more cooperative than Jersey or UK. It has been rolling over lots of temporary licences for 11 months since Brexit. It has now issued 43 out of 59 permanent permits requested by France. Others still being considered 2/6
Nov 20, 2021 10 tweets 3 min read
Weekly French Covid Thread

A worrying week. Covid-19 infections in France almost doubled (an 83.8% increase) to an average of 16,066 a day. New cases have now been 20,000+ for 3 days in a row. The Fifth Wave is here in a big way – and likely to stay until the New Year.
1/10 The Fr government still insists there are no plans for new lockdowns, curfews or other harsh restrictions. It is, however, expected shortly to open 3rd or booster vaccinations to over 40’s and maybe (like the US) to all-comers 6 months after a 2nd jab. 2/10
Nov 13, 2021 11 tweets 4 min read
Weekly French Covid Thread
No more talk of ripples or wavelets. The fifth wave of Covid-19 infection is here – although still weak in France compared to Austria, Germany or NL. New cases in Fr averaged 8,739 in the last week, compared to 6,592 a week ago – a 32.5% increase.
1/10 The health minister, Olivier Véran, said on Wed that it “looked like the 5th wave” of the pandemic was upon us. He thought that it could be contained. As yet, Fr has no plans for new restrictions, unlike NL (curfews on shops/bars etc) or Austria (lockdown for the unvaxxed) 2/10
Nov 4, 2021 11 tweets 3 min read
Non-fish people look away. Here is my reply to a dishonest kettle of fish dumped on Parliament yesterday by the British government which purportedly “clarified” numbers at the heart of the UK-French dispute about fishing licences. 1/11

questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statem… Lord Frost, @DavidGHFrost, tweeted that for “full transparency” the government was “setting out full and authoritative data” on which licences had been issued and which ones refused. The presentation was as transparent as the mud at the bottom of the English Channel. 2/11
Nov 2, 2021 6 tweets 1 min read
Short fish thread

There is confusion about the number of missing French fishing licences at the centre of the greatest Franco-British spat since 2003 (or maybe since 1898 or, some stubborn historians insist, 1066). Here is a brief attempt to crunch the stats. 1/6 Having collated different sources (others are available), here is my best guess at the state of play.
Licences asked for by 🇫🇷 361
Given permanently 148 (41%)
Temporarily 113 (31%)
Missing 100
2/6
Oct 16, 2021 10 tweets 3 min read
Weekly French Covid Thread

For the first time in weeks, Covid cases in France are creeping upwards. Numbers remain very low. Is this a blip or the start of the new colder weather wave, or ripple, forecast by experts?
1/10 The graphs by @nicolaberrod show how cases and incidence rate (tdi) have bottomed out and started to climb. At 44.9, the tdi is still below the alert threshold of 50 (cases/per 100,000 people/7 days.) Cases are 4,656 a day, up 11% in a week. But there were 6,099 yesterday. 2/10
Oct 2, 2021 5 tweets 2 min read
Weekly French Vaccination Thread
Minimal service this week because there isn't much to report. The pandemic is melting; vaccinations are trickling along but have reached v high totals. From now on I will merge my 2 weekly threads into 1, on Wed, covering pandemic/vax stats. 1/5 First vaccinations are down to 40,000 a day. Many vaccination centres are closing. The 1st jab total has reached 50.5m – which is 75% of the entire pop. and over 88% of adults. The numbers creep up daily but it’s going to be tough to reach 5m or so stubbornly unvaxxed adults 2/5
Sep 22, 2021 11 tweets 3 min read
Weekly French Covid thread

I delayed the thread today in the expectation of big news from the health defence council under President Macron’s chairmanship this morning. In the event, a decision on whether to suspend the “health pass” in low Covid départements was postponed. 1/10 From 4 October – ie Friday week – mask-wearing in primary schools and colleges (middle schools) WILL end in départements where the incidence rate is under 50 (about 40 out of 100 départements at present, shown green on the map). So will limits on numbers in public venues. 2/10