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Tonga goes into Covid-19 lockdown after recording first local cases weeks after volcanic eruption and tsunami

Two optimistic cases have been found amongst entrance line employees at a port within the capital Nuku’alofa, the place help continues to move in to assist with restoration efforts, Tonga’s Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni introduced in a press convention, according to local media Matangi Tonga.
Tonga was one among solely a small variety of international locations to not report a single Covid an infection, having closed its borders in March 2020. In November, 2021, a traveler flying from New Zealand examined optimistic however was picked up within the nation’s quarantine lodge system. Still, Tonga went into lockdown following that case.

Tonga’s well being minister Saia Piukala stated on Tuesday the 2 males confirmed no Covid signs and have been discovered following rising testing of frontline employees on the port, Matangi Tonga reported.

The lockdown will begin at 6 p.m. local time on Wednesday and might be reviewed each 48 hours, stated the Prime Minister.

The potential outbreak could not come at a worse time for the island nation of 100,000 folks, which is struggling to recuperate from the huge January 15 eruption. Telecommunications and web — particularly on the nation’s extra distant islands — haven’t been totally restored, companies proceed to be impacted and greater than 1,500 folks stay displaced as a whole lot of houses have been destroyed, in accordance with the International Organization for Migration.
Aid businesses and Tongan politicians warned of potential meals shortages after crops have been ruined by the volcanic ash fall. A Unted Nations briefing final week stated entry to protected water stays a key problem, as water sources akin to reservoirs are contaminated.

Efforts are ongoing to clear ash, particles and distribute help to affected communities, the UN stated.

In a bid to maintain the virus out of its borders within the wake of the eruption and tsunami, contactless aid deliveries have been arrange. Humanitarian help and catastrophe aid — together with water, sanitation kits, shelter and mills — on flights and ships from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and elsewhere, have been delivered below strict tips to make sure no contact between crews and floor employees.

Tongan authorities stated they’re investigating which ship the virus might have come from.

“The most important issue at the moment … is for us to slow down and stop those who have been affected,” stated Sovaleni, in accordance with Matangi Tonga.

He added that boats touring between the nation’s roughly 170 islands — of which 36 are inhabited — might be stopped so as to observe and forestall any unfold.

“No boat will be allowed to go from one island to another. No more airplane flights to Ha’apai, Vava’u, or for them to come here to Tongatapu,” Sovaleni stated.

How you can help victims of the Tonga tsunami and volcano

The local optimistic cases present the complexities of launching a full scale restoration operation whereas making an attempt to keep away from the compounding catastrophe of a Covid outbreak on Tonga.

Australian navy ship HMAS Adelaide, which sailed to disaster-hit Tonga final week, detected 23 Covid cases on board.

The eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano despatched volcanic materials surging as excessive as 40 kilometers (25 miles) into the ambiance and generated tsunami waves as much as 49 ft (15 meters) excessive that hit elements of the archipelago together with the Pacific nation’s major island.

NASA stated the eruption was hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb, which was dropped by the United States on Japan throughout World War II. Experts stated the eruption was seemingly the most important volcanic occasion recorded since Mount Pinatubo erupted within the Philippines in 1991.
Prime Minister Sovaleni referred to as it an “unprecedented disaster” and stated a volcanic cloud prolonged to cowl all the nation’s islands. Photos showed complete island communities blanketed by thick volcanic ash and particles.

Tonga has totally vaccinated greater than 80% of its eligible inhabitants towards the virus, in accordance with the World Health Organization.



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