Tourists, some complaining bitterly, are cutting short their vacations and leaving Martinique as the French Caribbean Island battles an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases.
Martinique Prefect, Stanislas Cazelles, had advised the visitors, most of whom are from mainland France, to leave as soon as possible as the territory recorded an alarming 1, 200 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants putting pressure on hospitals and mortuaries.
A total of 4,216 people have been infected with the virus in one week and there were 36 deaths during that time period.
On Monday, Martinique authorities announced that all non-essential shops would be closed, as well as hotels and holiday rentals.
They also said that beaches would also be closed and people can only go within a 1 kilometre radius of their homes.
On Thursday, visiting French Solidarity and Health Minister, Olivier Véran and Overseas Territories Minister, Sébastien Lecornu, while on a tour of Martinique’s University stressed that need for more vaccinations as a means of addressing the COVID-19 crisis.
Véran announced that a military hospital equipped with around 20 beds will soon be operational in the French Caribbean territory, where soldiers from the French Medical Regiment and health care volunteers from France already are to help the Island cope with a fourth COVID-19 wave.
The visit of the two French Ministers saw new protests by Martinique health care personnel against an announcement that they have to get the COVID-19 vaccine by September 15 or face a suspension of their contract without pay.
Similar protests have taken place in France.