La Reunion is closed after being hit by wave of Covid

La Reunion is on lockdown after slow vaccinations and ‘unprecedented epidemic growth’ led to France’s travel restrictions in the UK, akin to ‘Brits hammering at a Falklands Covid outbreak’

  • La Reunion, a French island near Madagascar, suffers wave of Covid cases
  • Having been largely spared the first two waves, the island is hit hard after the arrival of more contagious Beta and Delta variants of the virus
  • Low vaccination coverage has also made many people vulnerable to get the disease
  • The plight of the island spotlighted after the British minister suggested the spread of the virus was the reason Frenchmen had to be quarantined on arrival in Britain

The French island of La Réunion is on lockdown after a spate of Covid cases due to the arrival of new and more contagious variants of the virus.

Those living on the Indian Ocean island, which has a population of 860,000, will be largely confined to their neighborhoods from Saturday — unable to stray more than six miles from home during the day and under a storm between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. strict curfew.

The situation on La Réunion is being closely watched after Britain suggested it was the main reason travelers from France are still required to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in the country, despite being on the amber travel list. stand.

But that position has been hammered out by Brittany Ferries, which operate passenger boats across the Channel, and says so ‘like France intimidating British holidaymakers over a Covid outbreak in the Falkland Islands.’

La Reunion is suffering an ‘unprecedented’ wave of Covid infections, driven by the arrival of new and more contagious variants of the virus

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tried to clarify the reasoning to the BBC, saying it’s not the distance that matters, but the ease with which people can travel between parts of the territory.

France’s European Affairs Minister, Clement Beaune, also denounced the British restrictions as “discriminatory against the French” and “not logical in terms of health policy”.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps was then sent out to clarify the policy and said the La Renuion outbreak is not to blame and hinted that quarantine rules for French travelers may be eased.

Either way, it has drawn attention to La Reunion — a small island off the coast of Madagascar — which is suffering a painful spate of new infections.

Islanders were largely spared from the first two waves of Covid, but have seen cases spiral out of control after the arrival of new variants.

The French island, located near Madagascar, was largely spared the worst of Covid's devastation in 2020, but has been hit hard this year with a lockdown now in place

The French island, located near Madagascar, was largely spared the worst of Covid’s devastation in 2020, but has been hit hard this year with a lockdown now in place

La Reunion, which only reports case data once a week, recorded just over 100 cases in every report it filed in January this year.

But that rose sharply to more than 600 cases in February, as new and more contagious variants like Alpha – the one discovered in Kent – and Beta – the one in South Africa – started to spread.

The Delta variant — which originated in India and is more contagious than Alpha or Beta — was subsequently confirmed on the island in late June.

Since then, cases have risen even further, with 1,450 infections recorded in a report on July 13.

That prompted Jacques Billant, the prefect of La Réunion, to warn that the island is now seeing ‘unprecedented exponential growth’ of the virus and that as many as 350 people in every 100,000 inhabitants are now infected.

To help contain the spread, he announced lockdown measures starting this week, including locking people up in the areas around their homes and closing cafes, restaurants and gyms for the next two weeks.

Dominic Raab

Grant Shapps

Dominic Raab put La Reunion in the spotlight by suggesting it was to blame for the French being forced to quarantine in the UK before Grant Shapps (right) shot him

In addition to the spread of new varieties, a slow vaccination campaign has left many of the islanders vulnerable to infection.

France is now prioritizing medical staff and supplies for some of its overseas territories, after many of them saw the Covid situation deteriorate rapidly.

The French military has said it is sending 40-50 doctors and nurses to the Caribbean island of Martinique to combat a rise in cases.

The number of positive cases in Martinique has risen from 2,241 last week to 3,537, while the incidence has risen from 280 cases to 995 for every 100,000 people.

Martinique, where only 15 percent of people have been vaccinated, will also be in lockdown for three weeks starting Friday with limited movements during the day and a curfew from 7 p.m., the prefect, Stanislas Cazelles, said.