The French health minister on Sunday called on volunteer doctors and nurses to travel to the overseas territories of Guadaloupe and Martinique as a spate of Covid-19 infections swept hospitals in the two Caribbean islands.
Health Minister Olivier Véran said the first medical staff would fly out on Tuesday as health authorities rush to administer vaccines against Covid-19 but are encountering a deep-seated culture of vaccine hesitation.
According to the independent COVIDTracker website citing data as of Aug. 5, only 21 percent of the population of Guadaloupe and Martinique has received a first dose of a vaccine, compared with two-thirds of all French people who have received one dose and 55 percent have been fully vaccinated.
Hospitals on the islands are succumbing to pressure with bed occupancy in intensive care units in Martinique alone at 200 percent of normal capacity.
In a social media call, Véran said Martinique and Guadaloupe were dealing with “an intense wave of infections” that hit a population where vaccination levels were too low.
On Monday, mainland France will expand its health pass to include bars, restaurants and cafes, 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 peak
( Jowharwith REUTERS)