Guadeloupe: Police Rescue Hospital Staff from Anti-Vax Protesters

A man rides his bicycle past burnt cars after violent protests in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe. Photograph: Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters
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Previous protests outside the hospital in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, have also turned violent. The island of some 400,000 people has one of the lowest vaccination rates in France, and many oppose Paris’s Covid-19 health pass policy.
Previous protests outside the hospital in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, have also turned violent. The island of some 400,000 people has one of the lowest vaccination rates in France, and many oppose Paris’s Covid-19 health pass policy. © Christophe Archambault, AFP/File

Police have rescued a hospital boss and his two deputies after anti-vaccination protesters laid siege to their offices in the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe.

Demonstrators against the legal requirement for health staff to get vaccinated against Covid-19 surrounded the university hospital’s administration building and locked up its managing staff on Tuesday.

Police intervened and had to protect them while escorting them out of the building, managing director Gerard Cotellon told AFP.

“I was evacuated after receiving a punch in the ribs and a huge blow to the head. I think I was unconscious for 10 seconds,” he said.

His deputy Cedric Zolezzi said his shirt was torn and he was splashed with urine while rushing towards a police vehicle. The experience was “shocking”, he said.

Back in Paris, government spokesman Gabriel Attal called the attacks “shameful, revolting, scandalous, unacceptable in a republic” and assured the managers of his “solidarity”.

The government on Wednesday declared a “state of health emergency” in some of France’s overseas territories, including Guadeloupe, because of a rise in coronavirus cases combined with a low vaccination rate there

Nobody was arrested during Tuesday’s incident, which looked like a “rugby scrum” according to a police source.

The rest of the demonstration went off calmly.

A health worker union representative, Gaby Clavier, told AFP that the protesters were demanding “the money we are owed”, after the salaries of health workers who refuse to be vaccinated were frozen.

According to the hospital’s management, only five percent of the staff there have declined Covid jabs.

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