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05.05.2020 Europe

All French overseas territories to ease Covid-19 lockdown except Mayotte

By Ollia Horton with RFI
RFI/Pierre René-Worms
LISTEN MAY 5, 2020
RFI/Pierre René-Worms

France is to extend the coronavirus lockdown in its Indian Ocean island territory of Mayotte over concerns about the continued spread of the virus and a fragile health system. It is the only overseas territory to be classified as a red zone. Meanwhile, other territories have begun to ease restrictions.

From next Monday, mainland France is set to enjoy an easing of the lockdown measures imposed since mid-March to slow the spread of Covid-19.

However, Mayotte, one of France's overseas territories worst hit by the virus will see its confinement period extended, with the situation to be reviewed next week.

Speaking to France's upper house on Monday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe stressed that confinement was the only way to avoid the saturation of the hospital system which is under pressure due to the outbreak of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne tropical disease not linked to the coronavirus.

With a population of 280,000, Mayotte has registered 686 confirmed cases and eight deaths, according to the French health ministry. Of 38 Covid-19 patients in hospital, six are in intensive care.

A new colour-coded map of France will be revealed by the national health director this evening, showing 'departments' or areas of the country which will have more or less restrictive measures implemented.

All of France's overseas territories except Mayotte are coded as 'green', meaning measures can be eased as the virus is not actively circulating, and hospital capacity has not been overloaded.

Overview of France's overseas territories-
New Caledonia: The Pacific archipelago registered 18 cases of Covid-19 and no deaths. Restrictions were partially lifted on 20 April. Access to the region is reserved only for residents returning home. Shops, restaurants and small entertainment venues are allowed to open, provided masks are worn, but no large sporting or cultural events are allowed.

French Polynesia: The territory in the South Pacific has reported 58 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the majority on Tahiti and Mo'orea islands. The lifting of lockdown measures began on 29 April, earlier in some smaller islands, but some restrictions remain in place. Air traffic is still suspended, social distancing is the norm and schools will remain closed until at least 18 May. Large public events, sports clubs, cinemas and nightclubs also remain closed.

Martinique: The Caribbean island had reported 181 confirmed cases and 14 deaths as of the 3 May. The epidemic appears under control, but a night-time curfew is still in place from 8pm until 5am.

Guadeloupe: As of the 4 May, Guadeloupe had recored a total of 152 confirmed cases, five patients in intensive care and 98 people who have recovered. However, a return to normal is not on the cards as yet. A majority of mayors voted on Monday to re-open schools in September, as opposed to 11 May for the rest of France.

Reunion Island: 424 confirmed cases since the 11 March, the most recent one being 4 May, according to health authorities. Out of 4 cases in hospital, two are in intensive care.70 percent of cases have been 'imported' (people infected outside the territory).

Saint Martin: Since 21 April, Saint-Martin has seen no new cases of Covid-19, with only 38 confirmed cases, two of them still active, and three deaths. However, health services have begun testing people in poor areas where residents might have symptoms but have not yet seen a doctor.

Saint Barthélemy: The island of 10.000 inhabitants in the French Antilles reported six confirmed cases, all recovered and no deaths. The the lifting of lockdown measures is due to go ahead as planned on 11 May. This includes shops, restaurants and bars, except nightclubs. Swimming and nautical activities are permitted, but borders will remain closed except for travel related to urgent health matters. €2million has been set aside to buy four automatic testing machines, the first has already arrived containing 1000 tests.

French Guiana: Currently in phase 2 of the coronvirus epidemic with 133 confirmed cases and one death as of 4 May. There is also the presence of dengue fever which has lead to some cases in hospital.

Saint-Pierre & Miquelon: One case reported 
Wallis & Futuna: No cases reported

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