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Tourists told to leave Martinique 'immediately' amid new COVID lockdown

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Local residents queue up to take a Covid-19 test at a laboratory in Fort-de-France, in the French Caribbean island of Martinique.
Local residents queue up to take a Covid-19 test at a laboratory in Fort-de-France, in the French Caribbean island of Martinique.   -   Copyright  THOMAS THURAR / AFP
By Josephine Joly  & Euronews with AFP

Martinique will enter a strict lockdown for three weeks as COVID-19 infections surge in the French overseas territory.

The island's prefect, Stanislas Cazelles, advised tourists to "leave the territory" as soon as possible, as Martinique has one of the highest COVID incident rates in France with almost 1,200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

All shops except groceries and pharmacies will be closed and hotels will only be open to residents or essential professional workers.

"Companies and administrations are also invited to participate in this lockdown effort, they are invited to organise service so that as many employees as possible can work from home," Cazelles added.

Pressure on the island's hospitals has intensified as a result of the outbreak and with occupancy at 227%.

Vaccination rates are also low with less than 22% of the population having received a first dose.

Calls for French medical staff to volunteer

French health minister Olivier Véran appealed for volunteer doctors and nurses to travel to the overseas territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique, with around 240 healthcare professionals flying out on Tuesday.

Sébastien Lecornu, France's minister for overseas territories, thanked healthcare workers and firefighters for their reinforcements overseas. He travelled to a hospital upon arriving in Guadeloupe to observe the situation there.

After the previous lockdown measures came into force on July 30, several clashes between demonstrators and police were observed on the island.

But Cazelles promised the strict rules will be lifted "as soon as the health situation allows", saying they would review the situation in 15 days.

Watch the video above for full details.