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Friday, December 08 2023

Tonga to impose nationwide lockdown after port workers test positive for Covid-19

Covid test
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Suva: Tsunami-hit Tonga will go into a nationwide lockdown on Wednesday after two port workers in the South Pacific island nation tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday.

According to Tonga’s news website Matangi Tonga Online, Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni told a press conference on Tuesday evening that Tonga will start a nationwide lockdown at 6 p.m. local time (0500 GMT) on Wednesday after the island nation recorded two Covid-19 positive cases among the frontliners handling the incoming aid shipments.

The two cases were detected when Tonga’s Health Ministry tested 50 frontliners, who had been working at the port of Nuku’alofa, capital of Tonga, with the aid shipments arriving in the island nation following the volcanic eruption and tsunami caused by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano on January 15.

The two cases are the first community transmission confirmed in Tonga, and the two men are currently in isolation, Xinhua news agency reported.

Tonga had reported its first positive Covid-19 case in 2021 after an Air New Zealand flight arrived from Christchurch, a city of New Zealand, but this case was deemed to be a historical case.

As an island nation with a population of around 100,000, Tonga now faces its first Covid-19 lockdown before full telcommunications are restored, and businesses and homes are without working internet.

The relief supplies from the international community are on their way to Tonga after the island nation was hit by the violent eruption and tsunami, which has caused at least three deaths and multiple injures. To prevent Covid-19 from entering into Tonga, the emergency supplies from other countries have been handled in Tonga by contactless delivery.

Tonga has maintained border restrictions since March 2020 while a national vaccination campaign has fully vaccinated over 83 per cent of the eligible population (nearly 60 per cent of the total population) against Covid-19 until January 6, 2022. This means 64,047 people out of a total of 76,911 eligible people above the age of 12 are protected against Covid-19.

Meanwhile, at least 96 per cent, or 73,938 of the eligible population in Tonga have received their first vaccine dose.

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