France’s health minister on Sunday appealed for volunteer doctors and nurses to travel to the overseas territories of Guadaloupe and Martinique as a wave of Covid-19 infections overwhelms hospitals on the two Caribbean islands.
Health Minister Olivier Véran said the first medical staff would fly out on Tuesday, as health authorities race to administer Covid-19 vaccine shots but come up against a deep-rooted culture of vaccine hesitancy.
Only 21 percent of the populations of Guadaloupe and Martinique have received a first dose of a vaccine, according to the independent COVIDTracker website citing August 5 data, compared with two thirds of all French people having received one dose and 55 percent being fully vaccinated.
Hospitals on the islands are buckling under pressure with intensive care bed occupancy on Martinique alone at 200 percent of normal capacity.
In an appeal launched on social media, Véran said Martinique and Guadaloupe were facing “an intense wave of infections” that was hitting a population where vaccination levels were too low.
On Monday, mainland France will extend its health pass measure to include bars, restaurants and cafés, as well as long-distance trains, to help contain a fourth wave of virus infections.
>> French territory of Guadeloupe to return to lockdown as Covid cases spike
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
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