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Tonga enters Covid lockdown after aid delivered

Tonga will be placed under lockdown after many cases of Covid were discovered in the capital city of Nuku’alofa. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said that two port personnel had tested positive for the virus. Three other cases in family members were later confirmed by officials.

Previously, the South Pacific nation has been virus-free. The outbreak occurs as Tongans attempt to recover from a devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami that killed three people and destroyed homes and infrastructure. Tonga prevented Covid outbreaks in early 2020 by blocking its borders to the outside world. However, it has been severely reliant on foreign aid for supply of fresh drinking water, shelter kits, and rescue equipment since the eruption.

Tonga enters lockdown after volcanic devastation

To prevent the virus from spreading from overseas, foreign aid deliveries have been handled via contactless methods so far. They include putting humanitarian aid in quarantine for three days before handing it over to Tongans.

Ships transporting supplies have been dispatched from Australia, New Zealand, the United States, China, France, Fiji, and the United Kingdom. Last week, however, a Covid epidemic affected dozens of crew members on the HMAS Adelaide, a vital Australian rescue ship destined for the island nation.

The ship eventually arrived at the port of the capital. The Tongan government is investigating, although it claims there is no connection to the ship. Workers who tested positive had been working in a separate section of the port than where the vessel was, according to the Australian Defence Force’s operations chief, who added that there was “no evidence” the instances were linked.

“We unloaded in a manner that was Covid-friendly, contactless, in line with arrangements made with Tongan officials at the wharf,” Lieutenant General Greg Bilton told Sky News Australia.

The ship will bring samples from the Tongan cases back to Australia so that an Australian health facility can examine the strain and determine where it originated. Mr Sovaleni confirmed the Covid cases in a public speech late Tuesday, and said Tonga will go into lockdown on Wednesday at 18:00 local time (05:00 GMT), with the situation being reviewed every 48 hours.

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