14 Oct 2021

French minister promises aid to covid-hit New Caledonia

10:19 am on 14 October 2021

France's Overseas Minister Sébastien Lecornu has promised "long-term" medical and financial assistance to New Caledonia.

Mr Lecornu's comments came on Wednesday during a visit to the Koutio Medipole hospital, on the outskirts of Nouméa, which has been deluged with Covid-19 patients.

He said France is going to make its support sustainable.

Sebastien Lecornu

Sebastien Lecornu Photo: AFP or licensors

Mr Lecornu said 42 caregivers, from the Health Reserve, are preparing to leave France and relieve the 300 staff already in New Caledonia.

The minister has also indicated that patients could be medivacced to France, to relieve the hospital's intensive care unit, in which 90 percent of the 61 covid beds are occupied.

A local medical body has advised the minister that such is the Covid demand on health facilities that they could not cope if there was a major motor accident.

Mr Lecornu has said the army health service is also looking into providing additional resuscitation facilities.

He said the last tranche of €80 million previously granted to the archipelago to pay for health protection will be paid this week.

The minister also a new package to cover the current crisis is to be discussed on Thursday with New Caledonia's president Louis Mapou.

He said France has made a political choice, "validated by the President of the Republic, according to which there is no question that purely covid expenses are the subject of debt. It is national solidarity."