“Stung, cured or dead”, warns Germany as Europe fights Covid surge

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POINTE-A-PITRE, France: School canceled, street barricades and pharmacies ransacked: days of riots against measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 have paralyzed normal routines on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe in France.
Parisian authorities sent elite police and counterterrorism agents to Guadeloupe this weekend in an effort to quell violence, the latest COVID-19-related headache in French overseas territories for the government of President Emmanuel Macron.
Vaccination rates in the French overseas territories, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, have generally been much lower than in the metropolis and the agitations over anti-virus measures have been repeated.
Protests in Guadeloupe, a territory of around 400,000 people, erupted after the announcement that COVID-19 jabs would be mandatory for all healthcare workers, as the protests were marred by clashes and looting.
On Sunday night, police arrested 38 people after curfew violators looted and torched shops and pharmacies, and two members of the security forces were injured.
Macron acknowledged the gravity of the situation and urged local politicians not to mix the urgent problem of COVID-19 with grievances from the colonial era and also long-standing complaints that the territory is being economically neglected by Paris.
“We will not give in to the lies, the distortion of information and the exploitation by some people of this situation,” he told reporters during a visit to Amiens, in northern France, qualifying the situation of “very explosive”.
“We are not playing with health and we will not allow the health of the French to play in the name of political quarrels,” he added.
Police reinforcements began to dismantle the barricades of the demonstrators shortly after their arrival, according to Colonel Jean Pierre of the gendarmerie in Pointe-à-Pitre, the main town on the island.
Prime Minister Jean Castex, Overseas Minister Sébastien Lecornu and Minister of Health Olivier Veran will hold an emergency meeting later Monday with Guadeloupe lawmakers to discuss the situation on the island.
The barricades had hampered traffic, forcing the closure of schools on the main island of Guadeloupe on Monday, the education ministry said.
The Guadeloupe prefecture said protesters fired at security forces and firefighters, adding that “organized gangs” were now also involved in the unrest.
Even though some barricades have been dismantled, “the situation remains uncertain regarding road traffic and the ability for staff and students to move smoothly and safely seems compromised at this stage,” local authorities said in a statement. .
Thirty people will appear in court Monday in Pointe-à-Pitre for allegedly participating in the unrest, according to local prosecutor Patrick Desjardins.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal called the situation “intolerable and unacceptable” and pledged a strong response against a “small minority” who intimidated health workers, prevented pharmacies from opening and even used drugs. barricades to block ambulances.
A dusk-to-dawn curfew from 6:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. is currently scheduled to last until Tuesday.
Over the weekend, Guadeloupe’s main union, the UGTG, called for the protests to continue.
While the protests were sparked by the vaccine’s mandate, they also express “the depth of suffering, inequality, poverty and exclusion felt by the population, especially the young and the elderly,” the said. general secretary of the UGTG, Maite Hubert M’Toumo.
Since the summer, the vaccination campaign in Guadeloupe has accelerated, with 90% of health personnel vaccinated, as well as nearly half of the general population. In mainland France, the vaccination rate is close to 75% of the population.
In the French overseas territory neighboring Martinique, a general strike was called on Monday, calling for an end to compulsory vaccination of health workers but also for salary increases and other social demands.

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