Tonga goes into lockdown; COVID cases not at international aid port – official


SYDNEY (Reuters) -Tsunami-hit Tonga stated two wharf employees had come down with COVID-19, prompting the beforehand virus-free nation to go into lockdown on Wednesday, however the waterfront employees have been not on docks being utilized by international navies to ship aid.

There have been fears an inflow of international ships and planes delivering badly-wanted water, shelter and meals after a devastating volcanic eruption had elevated the chance of a pandemic outbreak within the remoted Pacific nation. Tonga had recorded just one earlier COVID case.

The Australian navy ship, HMAS Adelaide, was identified to have 23 COVID cases onboard when it docked at Vuna wharf final week and offloaded 250 pallets of aid to a quarantine zone.

Tonga’s deputy head of mission in Australia, Curtis Tu’ihalangingie, advised Reuters the 2 cases have been detected at a unique wharf and “not the one which the HMAS Adelaide used”.

“The wharf that had the case is a unique one used for industrial cargoes,” he stated.

The supply of aid would not change on account of the COVID cases, he stated, including, “frontliners will must be extra cautious”.

The Australian Defence Force’s Chief of Joint Operations Greg Bilton stated it did not seem the HMAS Adelaide was the supply and samples from the 2 wharf employees could be despatched to Australia for testing to confirm the origin of the COVID pressure.

“I do not assume there’s any connection, there isn’t any proof of that,” he advised Sky News.

Tongan radio station BroadcomFM reported on Wednesday one other three cases had been detected in a household, bringing complete case numbers to 5.

Tongans queued at retailers and banks on Wednesday forward of a lockdown to begin at 6pm, as authorities try to cease the unfold of COVID.

Health authorities have been administering booster pictures to the general public on Wednesday, with extra vaccine booster doses to reach from Australia and New Zealand. Around 83% of the eligible inhabitants have acquired two doses of vaccine.

In addition to HMAS Adelaide, three New Zealand and one British naval ships, and two Chinese fishing ships from Fiji have come into port and unloaded aid pallets. French, Japanese and Chinese navy ships are additionally enroute carrying aid.

The Tongan authorities has insisted on contactless supply of aid, and all pallets unloaded from plane or ships are remoted for 72 hours earlier than being distributed by the native emergency service.

At a press convention on Tuesday, Tongan authorities stated the 2 employees at Queen Salote wharf who examined optimistic have been vaccinated, and it was unknown if that they had the Omicron variant.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Michael Perry)

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