Tue, 21 Sep 2021

The French overseas territory of Martinique will enter a new lockdown starting Friday evening for at least three weeks to stem the alarming rise in Covid-19 cases, while the French military announced it will send a team of medical personnel and extra ICU beds to the region. Curfews will also apply to Guadeloupe and Reunion Island from this weekend.

Faced with a surge of Covid-19 cases, the prefect of Martinique Stanislas Cazelles announced on Wednesday that the island will enter a new lockdown for three weeks starting this weekend.

"Faced with worrying indicators", the authorities have decided to restrict travel "between 5am and 7pm within a 10km limit", with a certificate to justify travel beyond that.

The curfew, currently in place from 9pm, will be brought forward to 7pm from Friday.

Visitors from mainland France will be required to prove they have been vaccinated or have a compelling motive for travel.

Covid variant sees France tighten travel restrictions for overseas territories

According to the latest data, Martinique has an incidence rate of 995 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. It recorded 680 cases in the past 24 hours. According to reports, the Martinique University Hospital has reached a saturation point.

Only 19% of the population is vaccinated in Martinique compared to 59% on the mainland.

Cazelles said that during the lockdown, transport and transfers to the airport will be authorised while shops will be allowed to remain open, with mask-wearing mandatory.

Increase in cases in Guadeloupe, La Reunion

Meanwhile, another French overseas territory, Guadeloupe, announced a series of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, including the reinstatement of a curfew from 9pm to 5am from Friday evening.

The island reported 290 cases per 100 000 inhabitants last Sunday, compared to 86 the previous week.

On Wednesday, a state of emergency was declared in Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy.

Elsewhere, on Reunion Island, in the Indian Ocean, a partial lockdown was announced for 15 days starting from Saturday.

The police chief of the island, Jacques Billant, said he was witnessing an "exponential growth of the epidemic never seen before".

A curfew from 6pm to 5am will be in place, with people allowed to travel up to 10 kilometres Monday to Saturday and five kilometres on Sunday.

Any establishment where masks could not be worn permanently, such as bars, restaurants, sports clubs would be closed for this period, he said.

Meanwhile, France is to deploy 50 military medics and 10 ICU units to the Caribbean region to relieve hospitals facing the coronavirus surge, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Military planes are also bringing some critically ill patients to the French mainland for treatment.

Originally published on RFI

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