The French armed forces are sending 100 tons of oxygen to the embattled island of Martinique, as the French regions in the Caribbean are enduring a strong fourth wave of COVID-19 infections. The oxygen supplies will be “available at the end of the week,” said the country’s defense minister on Monday.
The supplies are being taken to Martinique by the French navy, as the situation remains critical in the French Caribbean.
Guadeloupe and Martinique are experiencing unprecedented incidence rates of COVID-19. And both islands are under strict lockdowns to try to curb the spread of infections.
“People are on stretchers, on chairs. They are not in rooms. There are more patients than oxygen supplies,” according to a doctor in Guadeloupe who described the worsening situation to French media. While a physician from the Pointe-a-Pitre University Hospital said: “We need a hundred more caregivers.”
Further afield, in New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific, the island’s authorities said they are going to introduce the need for obligatory proof of vaccination as a new condition of entry. Previously, visitors could use evidence of a negative PCR test result or recovery from the disease to be able to visit New Caledonia, 1,200km to the east of Australia.
Government extends health pass restrictions
The French government’s coronavirus health pass has been made obligatory in 126 shopping centers across the country. From August 16, all malls bigger than 20,000 square meters must demand that customers show their COVID-19 certificate before entering.
On July 21, France brought in the health pass for the cultural and sports sector. It was extended on August 9 to bars, restaurants, hospitals, care homes and long-distance transport such as trains and coaches.
The COVID-19 pass can be in paper or digital form. And it proves that someone is either fully vaccinated, has had a recent negative PCR test or recently recovered after having contracted the disease.
Mega-cluster at summer camp
A “mega-cluster” of COVID-19 cases has been confirmed on the northwest French island of Belle-Île-en-Mer. And on August 14, 62 children tested positive for the coronavirus at a summer camp on the island, located off the southern coast of Brittany.
They will be taken back to the mainland on August 17 on a specially chartered boat.