Virus outbreaks worsen in French overseas territories.

Virus outbreaks worsen in French overseas territories.

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The coronavirus situation is worsening in the French overseas territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, where a surge in new cases, fueled by the fast-spreading Delta variant, threatens to overwhelm hospital capacity on the two islands.

“The situation is extremely serious,” Sébastien Lecornu, the minister in charge of overseas territories told reporters, adding that the current rate of new coronavirus cases in the islands had never been experienced in any of France’s regions.

“These are incidence rates that have never been known in these territories, but also in all the territories of the Republic combined,” he said.

Guadeloupe has reported nearly 1,750 cases per 100,000 people, with the intensive care units at hospitals operating at about 156 percent of capacity. Martinique has reported 1,200 cases per 100,000 people and I.C.U.s at hospitals are at 227 percent of capacity, according to the latest data from health authorities.

In late July, Martinique was put under a new lockdown limiting travel while a nighttime curfew was introduced in Guadeloupe. But faced with the deteriorating situation, local authorities in Martinique announced a tougher lockdown that will force nonessential shops, hotels and beaches to close while residents’ movements will be limited to a maximum one-kilometer radius from their homes. Tourists were also advised to leave the island.

In Guadeloupe, Mr. Lecornu said that “we will obviously have to toughen the curbing measures, given the emergency.”

On Sunday, Olivier Véran, France’s health minister, called on volunteer doctors and nurses in mainland France to go and help the hospitals of the islands “which are facing a very intense epidemic wave that is affecting a population that is still undervaccinated.”

The islands’ vaccination rate is much lower than mainland France’s: only 22 percent of their collective population have received at least a first dose of the vaccine, compared to about 65 percent on the mainland.


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