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Police secured the release of a hospital director and two managers who were blocked in their offices by anti-vaccination protesters in Guadeloupe, one of France’s departments in the Caribbean, where a new state of health emergency has been declared as Covid cases rise.
On Tuesday protesters surrounded the administrative building of the university hospital in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe’s main city, to denounce the mandatory requirement for health workers to get vaccinated against Covid.
A health worker union representative, Gaby Clavier, said protesters are upset that those who have refused vaccinations have seen their salaries frozen, and and are demanding “the money we are owed”.
According to hospital management, 5 percent of staff have declined Covid jabs.
Though most of the demonstration was peaceful, police had to intervene to escort the hospital’s managing director Gérard Cotellon and his staff out of the building.
“I was evacuated after receiving a punch in the ribs and a huge blow to the head. I think I was unconscious for ten seconds,” he told French public radio.
His deputy, Cedric Zolezzi, said his shirt was torn and he was splashed with urine while rushing towards a police vehicle. The experience was “shocking”, he added.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal called the attacks on hospital managers “shameful, revolting, scandalous, unacceptable in a republic”.
Nobody was arrested during Tuesday’s incident, which looked like a “rugby scrum” according to a police source.
“There was pushing and shoving, but for Mr Cotellon to pass himself off as a victim of aggression, as a victim of union thugs, as he said, is a bit rich. We are the victims,” Clavier explained to France Television.
Meanwhile, as Covid cases continue to rise, the government on Wednesday declared a “state of health emergency” in Guadeloupe and other of France’s overseas territories, where vaccination rates remain low.
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