The prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was hospitalized on Thursday after being struck in the head by a projectile during a protest against Covid vaccine legislation in the Caribbean island nation.
Prime Minister Ralph E. Gonsalves was “physically assaulted and wounded by opposition demonstrators” and “recuperating under the care of hospital staff” in the capital, Kingstown, according to a statement from his office.
His son Camilio, who is also the finance minister, later told Parliament that Mr. Gonsalves would be flown to Barbados to undergo an M.R.I. scan.
Demonstrators surrounded Mr. Gonsalves’s car as he arrived at the Parliament building, where lawmakers were scheduled to debate a health bill that would require frontline public-sector workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Some trade unions and other groups have opposed the bill, arguing that it infringes on workers’ rights.
When about 200 protesters blocked his car, Mr. Gonsalves, 74, got out and attempted to enter the building on foot, the statement from his office said. Then someone in the crowd threw an object that hit him just above the temple. Photos showed Mr. Gonsalves being led away, his shirt bloodied and paper towels being pressed against his head.
“The prime minister is bleeding,” a journalist said in a video taken at the scene. “Somebody just busted the prime minister’s head with a stone.”
St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a picturesque island chain with about 110,000 residents, has had relatively few coronavirus cases, but the pandemic has decimated its tourism industry. About 9 percent of the nation’s residents are fully vaccinated, according to New York Times data.