France seeks volunteers to help battle Covid-19 in Caribbean territories

Martinique and Guadalupe are facing 'intense wave of infections'

Residents queue for a Covid-19 test at a laboratory in Fort-de-France, in the French Caribbean island of Martinique. AFP
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French Health Minister Olivier Veran on Sunday appealed for volunteer doctors and nurses to travel to the Caribbean island territories of Guadalupe and Martinique as a wave of Covid-19 infections overwhelms hospitals there.

Mr Veran said the first medical staff would fly out on Tuesday, as authorities race to administer Covid-19 shots but come up against a deep-rooted culture of vaccine hesitancy.

Only 21 per cent of the populations of Guadalupe and Martinique had received a first dose of a vaccine by August 5, said the independent CovidTracker website.

That compares with two thirds of all French people having received one dose and 55 per cent being fully vaccinated.

Intensive care bed occupancy on Martinique is at 200 per cent of normal capacity.

On social media, Mr Veran said Martinique and Guadalupe 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 initiative to include bars, restaurants and cafes, as well as long-distance trains, to help contain a fourth wave of infections.

Updated: August 09, 2021, 7:46 AM