The Secretary of State for Tourism encouraged the French to take the plane to spend a vacation in the Antilles, while just a few days ago, Guadeloupe was placed on maximum alert.
In red on the map, Guadeloupe, a tourist destination … On Monday, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, the Secretary of State for Tourism announced a vast government action plan, at the end of the 6the interministerial committee, in particular in favor of the Overseas Territories. The objective: to encourage the French, through promotional campaigns, to take the plane to “sun destinations”. Three weeks ago, on September 23, the Minister of Solidarity and Health, Olivier Véran, placed Guadeloupe on “maximum alert”. In the process, bars, restaurants, sports halls and the majority of public places were closed, while access to beaches and rivers was subject to regulated hours. Travel to Martinique and Saint-Martin was restricted and the director of the CHU launched an SOS and received in exchange a contingent of 37 military doctors and nurses to pilot a Covid unit. Since October 7, these restrictions have been partially lifted, at least on paper, because Guadeloupe has turned into a phantom place. The marinas of Saint-François and du Gosier are deserted.
Guadeloupeans are afraid and tourists are staying on the other side of the Atlantic for the moment. As proof, the Corsair flight on September 29 with 130 passengers on board instead of the 380 provided for in capacity. If nothing changes, it is the armed wing of the economy, tourism, which collapses. Asked in July by the QualisStat institute, at the request of the Guadeloupe Islands Tourism Committee, 77% of the inhabitants (out of a sample of 406 individuals) said they were in favor of a return of visitors at the end of the year, even if 64% believed that this relaunch constituted a risk of an epidemic rebound. Hence the ministerial announcements on Monday.
“The government sacrifices the population”
In Guadeloupe, neither the director of the Regional Health Agency (ARS), Valérie Denux, nor the director of the CHU, Gérard Cotellon, wanted to comment on this decision. Others, on the other hand, did not take off like Elie Domota, secretary general of the General Union of Workers of Guadeloupe (UGTG). “On the archipelago, according to figures from the ARS, a quarter of the population suffers from high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The equivalent of 100,000 individuals who are much more vulnerable than others to Covid. There is no hospital response for all these patients. And it is in this situation, recognized by all, that we want to encourage tourists to come en masse, taking the risk of sacrificing part of the Guadeloupe population. ”
According to figures from Public Health France, Guadeloupe has recorded 102 deaths since the start of the pandemic against 24 for Martinique. According to the WHO, the archipelago would be, in terms of the number of deaths linked to Covid, the second country in the Greater Caribbean most affected after Puerto Rico but ahead of Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela and Santo Domingo among others. “Yet we have the means to protect ourselves, continues Elie Domota, but here the health system is failing because the ARS, the CHU, the prefect and the elected officials did not know how to take the right decisions. “ The latest figures from the ARS confirm that the incidence rate for the 65-74 age group remains above the regional rate.
“An advertising campaign to promote Guadeloupe currently in scarlet red with beach access restrictions is unlikely to cause a real influx of tourists to our archipelago, tempers the president of the general council and president of the supervisory board of the CHU, Josette Borel-Lincertin. On the other hand, those who can be sensitive to such an incentive are the Guadeloupeans of the Hexagon tempted to return to the country for the next holidays. Unless we think that we have to oppose health and economy in vain, I believe that we must simply continue to apply the strict protocols for boarding passengers and maintain a language of truth about our health situation and our level of equipment that we have to keep improving. ”
Dengue fever comes to screening
Aaouatif Abounaim Gollion, liberal nurse and spokesperson for the Gwada Idel collective (liberal state-certified nurse) which has more than 600 members, is divided in the face of the Secretary of State’s proposal, but remains lucid. “The massive arrival of individuals will only increase the risks, especially since in recent weeks the dengue virus has become involved. I currently have more patients with dengue fever than with Covid. What will tourists do when they feel bad? They don’t have a doctor here. They will go to the emergency room. On site, maximum precaution is required, therefore Covid screening even for dengue fever and therefore circuit congestion. ” However, recalled, a few days ago, Doctor Bruno Jarrige, medical director of the Covid crisis at the CHU, “We are the most affected region and the least able to carry out PCRs. Our CHU has half the machines to analyze samples than that of Martinique. Of course, private laboratories have machines, but they are congested by screening, to the detriment of diagnosis ”. Ultramarine insularity has turned into a singular dilemma between the desire to protect and the economic imperative.
Updated at 9:15 p.m. with a quote from Josette Borel-Lincertin.