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Today the Kingdom of Tonga moved into lockdown after 2 Covid cases were detected through routine testing of port workers at a wharf in Nuku’alofa.
John Pulu spoke to Tongan Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni today. Prime Minister Sovaleni said, all front line workers and their families are fully vaccinated, some had also received their booster shots.
“There is some confidence there because of the fact that they’ve been fully vaccinated.
“Last night we took those 2 positive [cases] into isolation and worked through their contact lists, testing their families and also their co-workers,” adds PM Sovaleni.
Test results are expected soon that will determine the next course of action. While the strain of the virus is yet to be confirmed, Sovaleni said test samples will be sent to either New Zealand or Australia for review.
Authorities in Tonga were talking to the 2 port workers to determine if there were possible breaches but would learn more about the situation within the week.
Earlier this afternoon, the Prime Minister held another press conference to announce 3 more cases were detected, a woman and her 2 children.
85% of Tonga’s eligible population has been fully vaccinated. Prime Minister Sovaleni says they are aiming for 95%.
“We’re thankful that New Zealand is looking at fast-tracking Pfizer over, so we can start our Booster program.”
In a press conference held yesterday, Minister for Health Hon Dr Saia Ma’u Piukala said that 50 people had been tested as part of routine testing.
Concerns were raised last week when the naval vessel HMAS Adelaide confirmed there was a Covid outbreak onboard shortly after its departure from Australia.
23 people tested positive on the vessel. Despite this Adelaide was still allowed to dock in Nuku’alofa. However Sovaleni doesn’t believe this was how the port workers were infected.
“Currently we’re looking at all the information, we’re looking at the schedule of ships but with the Adelaide it was contactless.
“Looking at possible time of infection, we do not believe the Adelaide was the cause of infection,” adds Prime Minister Sovaleni.
Aid and humanitarian supplies continue to pour in from the international community, with contactless drop-offs operating at both the wharves and at the airport.
The Prime Minister is still confident in their processes but believes they have to be extra careful.
“We have Covid-19 protocols in place at the airport and also at the wharf, but in terms of carrying out the protocols to supplies.”
Tonga has informed all international missions about the two cases. Prime Minister Sovaleni says it is up to them how their Covid-19 protocols play out.
He says they will not be stopping the current humanitarian aid relief programs that are in place.
Tonga will go into lockdown from 6 PM tonight with only essential workers allowed to travel. People have been given a chance to prepare for the lockdown and stock up on supplies. The lockdown will last for 48 hours.
This article has been updated to include the recent announcement of Covid cases Tonga.