Streets of tsunami-hit Tonga empty on first day of COVID lockdown


(Reuters) – The streets of tsunami-hit Tonga have been empty and silent on Thursday on the first full day of a lockdown imposed within the beforehand coronavirus-free nation after two wharf staff have been recognized with COVID-19.

“Normally this highway can be queueing with automobiles and other people, however as you possibly can see all retailers are closed, the whole lot is closed – taxi stands, retailers, supermarkets, it is closed,” stated native journalist Marian Kupu as she stood at a abandoned crossroads within the capital, shuttered buildings behind her.

“It’s a ghost city right here in Nuku’alofa.”

There had been fears an inflow of worldwide ships and planes delivering badly-needed water, shelter and meals after final month’s devastating volcanic eruption had elevated the danger of a pandemic outbreak within the remoted Pacific nation. Tonga had beforehand recorded just one COVID case.

However, the contaminated waterfront staff weren’t employed on docks being utilized by international navies to ship help, stated Curtis Tu’ihalangingie, Tonga’s deputy head of mission in Australia.

The Australian Defence Force’s Chief of Joint Operations, Greg Bilton, stated samples from the wharf staff can be despatched to Australia for testing to confirm the pressure’s origin. An extra three circumstances have been recognized in a household, Tongan radio station BroadcomFM reported on Wednesday.

Tongans had queued outdoors banks and petrol stations on Wednesday forward of the lockdown which began at 6 p.m. (0500 GMT).

“Tonga has been hit with two disasters,” stated Fe’iloakitau Tevi, chief of employees at Tonga’s international affairs ministry.

“One is of course the eruption and the second is the invention of the COVID-19 circumstances. There is a lockdown and I feel it is a good factor. We have to be monitoring and doing tracing of those that have been in touch with the first two COVID circumstances.”

(Reporting by Stefica Nicol Bikes; Editing by Karishma Singh and Jane Wardell)

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