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Fort-de-France, Martinique, Weds. Aug 11, 2021 (Reuters) – France’s overseas Caribbean territory of Martinique entered a tougher lockdown for three weeks, beginning yesterday, Aug. 10th, to tackle a COVID-19 outbreak on the West Indian island, a local government official said on Twitter.

Authorities in Martinique also advised tourists to leave the island.

Martinique had already imposed an evening curfew but the tougher lockdown, set to start from 7 p.m., will shutter shops selling items that are not essential, close beaches and clamp down on people’s movements.

The French health ministry said yesterday that 240 health workers were set to fly to Martinique and another overseas territory, Guadeloupe, to reinforce local staff as COVID-19 infections overwhelm hospitals on the two Caribbean islands.

Health minister Olivier Veran, who has appealed for volunteer doctors and nurses, will travel to the territories at the end of this week, the ministry also said in a statement.

Guadeloupe and France’s island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean have also imposed curbs against the virus.

Martinique has over 22,000 active COVID-19 cases and Guadeloupe has over 21,000. The total cases in each territory is 23,029 and 23,821, respectively. There have been 129 deaths in Martinique and 247 in Guadeloupe to date.

The news comes as anti-vaxxers in Guadeloupe protested on Sunday against the compulsory COVID-19 vaccination for certain workers and the mandatory use of the health pass called for by the French government.

President Emmanuel Macron said today that France’s overseas territories, in particular the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, were being hit hard by the COVID-19 epidemic.

“The situation is dramatic,” Macron said as he opened a virtual meeting with his senior cabinet ministers to discuss the epidemic.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Matthieu Protard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Timothy Heritage)

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