Tonga Sees Small COVID Outbreak Tied to Ships Bringing Aid After Earthquake

Tonga went into lockdown Wednesday after a small outbreak of COVID-19 was reported from staff believed to be dealing with a cargo of provides wanted after a volcanic eruption triggered a tsunami that devastated the islands final month.

There had been considerations with worldwide ships and planes delivering provides doubtlessly bringing COVID to the Pacific nation, which had largely managed to maintain the illness at bay. The considerations grew to become actuality when two wharf staff examined constructive Tuesday after dealing with incoming cargo shipments, native media Matangi Tonga Online reported.

The two circumstances have been detected after conducting routine testing on frontline wharf staff. Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni stated 5 circumstances have been reported to this point with the sufferers positioned in hospital isolation. One individual has recovered, however stays in quarantine, native media reported.

The three new circumstances embody a partner and two kids, aged three and 4, who have been in shut contact with one of many wharf staff, Tonga’s well being minister Saia Piukala instructed native reporters.

An instant lockdown was issued following the reported circumstances and is scheduled to final till Sunday. Limited companies equivalent to outlets, fuel stations, and roadside meals distributors are allowed to open beginning Saturday from 6 a.m. to six p.m., Matangi Tonga reported.

It is unclear precisely which cargo the wharf staff picked up the an infection from. Sovaleni stated in a information convention Tuesday evening they’re attempting to determine which ship may have been accountable.

“We have the record of ships that had been here at a time that could have spread this virus. We are looking at goods that were offloaded,” he stated.

The Australian Navy ship, HMAS Adelaide, had 23 reported COVID circumstances on board when it docked in Tonga to unload help in a quarantine zone, Reuters reported. The Australian Defense Force’s Chief of Joint Operations Greg Bilton stated it does not seem the an infection got here from their ship, however samples from the 2 staff could be despatched to Australia for testing.

At least 726 COVID checks have been carried out on the island up to now. It’s not clear how many individuals have come into shut contact with the dockworkers, however the Tongan authorities launched a listing of doable places for transmission together with a financial institution, church, a kindergarten and several other outlets, the Associated Press reported.

Piukala stated they’ve been capable of determine at the least seven individuals who have been in shut contact with the employees however they’ve all examined unfavorable. The people have been positioned in dwelling isolation as a precaution, native media reported.

Paula Taumoepeau, a enterprise proprietor, instructed AP Friday that Tonga has a small hospital and restricted sources, however he is unsure how the well being system will maintain up.

“We are lucky we’ve had two years to get our vax rate pretty high, and we had a pretty immediate lockdown,” he stated.

According to native media, 87 p.c of Tonga’s eligible inhabitants is totally vaccinated whereas 97 p.c have obtained at the least their first dose.

Tonga COVID-19 Outbreak
Tonga was positioned on lockdown Wednesday after two circumstances of COVID-19 have been reported from dockworkers dealing with cargo. Above, members of the Australian Defence Force unload humanitarian provides on January 20 at Fuaʻamotu International Airport.
LACW Emma Schwenke/Australian Defence Force/Getty Images

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