France to strengthen COVID-19 lockdown in Guadeloupe island

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a Defense Council at Fort de Bregancon in Bormes-les-Mimosas, France August 11, 2021. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/Pool

PARIS, Aug 11 (Reuters) - France will strengthen lockdown rules in the overseas territory of Guadeloupe to rein in the spread of COVID-19, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday, as spikes in infections in its Caribbean islands overwhelm hospitals.

The French overseas territory of Martinique on Tuesday entered a tougher lockdown for three weeks to tackle the pandemic with the closure of beaches and shops selling non-essential items and restrictions on people's movements.

Authorities in Martinique have also advised tourists to leave the island.

President Emmanuel Macron, who on Wednesday held a virtual meeting with his senior cabinet ministers to discuss the pandemic, said the COVID-19 situation in Caribbean islands was "dramatic". read more

According to the independent COVIDTracker website, only 21% of the populations of Guadeloupe and Martinique have received a first dose of a vaccine.

That compares with 67.05% of all French people having received one vaccine dose and 56.04% being fully vaccinated.

Health Minister Olivier Veran on Sunday appealed for volunteer doctors and nurses to travel to the territories to reinforce local health staff.

Attal also said that there were no signs of new COVID-19 infections receding in France globally.

"The level of virus circulation is high," he told a news conference.

Attal said that France would stop reimbursing COVID-19 tests from mid-October as the country aims to get more people to be vaccinated.

Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Matthieu Protard; Editing by Alison Williams and Steve Orlofsky

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