The Prime Minister of the Caribbean country St. Vincent and the Grenadines was struck by an object during COVID-19-related protests on Thursday and was scheduled to be flown to nearby Barbados for medical treatment, according to officials.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves was walking through a crowd of 200 protesters to get to Parliament when he was struck by a projectile just above his temple, according to his office in a statement on Thursday.
A Reuters witness who had seen protesters throw water bottles and stones heard a person in the crowd yell: “Somebody’s busted the prime minister’s head!”
Reuters images show that blood from Gonsalves’ head wound had stained his white dress shirt crimson, as an aide held a wad of paper towels to his head.
Gonsalves’ office said he had been “bleeding profusely” and taken to hospital.
“He has informed his colleagues that he is recovering,” his office said.
During a Parliament session in the evening, Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves said medical staff had recommended that the Prime Minister be flown to Barbados for an MRI scan.
The incident occurred as Gonsalves, 74, was returning from a Parliament session in which lawmakers were debating a public health reform that would require most frontline workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a chain of small islands in the southern Caribbean, has a population of over 110,000 people and is known for its picturesque harbours and white sand beaches.
The coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the country’s tourism industry, and 15,000 people were forced to flee a volcano that erupted in April after decades of inactivity.