© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WEDH · WEDN · WEDW · WEDY · WNPR
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
ATSC 3.0 FAQ
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Tonga enters lockdown after first community transmitted COVID-19 cases detected

This photo shows the Australian Navy's HMAS Adelaide docked at Vuna Wharf in Tonga's capital Nukualofa on Jan. 26 to deliver aid following the Jan. 15 eruption of the nearby Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai underwater volcano. Tonga's deputy chief of mission in Australia Curtis Tu'ihalangingie told Reuters that the infected dock workers were not at the same wharf the HMAS Adelaide docked at.
Mary Lyn Fonua
/
Matangi Tonga/AFP via Getty Imag
This photo shows the Australian Navy's HMAS Adelaide docked at Vuna Wharf in Tonga's capital Nukualofa on Jan. 26 to deliver aid following the Jan. 15 eruption of the nearby Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai underwater volcano. Tonga's deputy chief of mission in Australia Curtis Tu'ihalangingie told Reuters that the infected dock workers were not at the same wharf the HMAS Adelaide docked at.

Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni announced a lockdown for his nation of 106,000 people after it recorded its first cases of community transmission of COVID-19. Tonga's High Commission in London confirmed the announcement and said it would be reviewed every 48 hours.

Two workers tested positive Tuesday, local media reported, after the Ministry of Health increased testing at the wharf they worked at amid a flow of international aid following last month's volcanic eruption and tsunami.

Mr. Sovaleni saidWednesday that three more people tested positive for the virus. The lockdown will require people to remain at home, though aid personnel will be exempt.

These newly recorded cases bring Tonga's overall total for the pandemic to six. The South Pacific archipelago nation recorded its first COVID-19 case last October. Following the volcanic eruption, there had been worries that the influx of foreign development workers would bring coronavirus to Tonga. An Australian Navy ship had 23 COVID cases on board when it docked last week to deliver pallets of supplies.

Reuters reportsthat the Australian Defence Force's Chief of Joint Operations Greg Bilton said in an interview that ship is unlikely the source of the first two infections. Tonga's deputy chief of mission in Australia Curtis Tu'ihalangingie told Reuters that the infected dock workers were not at the same wharf the Australian ship docked at.

The prime minister said at his press conference that authorities were trying to identify which ship the dock workers were unloading.

"We have the record of ships that had been here, at time that could have spread this virus," Mr. Sovaleni said. He said the lockdown would help slow the spread, and "no boat will be allowed to go from one island to another. No more aeroplane flights to Ha'apai, Vava'u, or for them to come here to Tongatapu."

Tonga is a nation of 171 islands, of which 45 are inhabited. Last month's eruption left some covered in ash and cut off from communication when an undersea fiber-optic cable was damaged.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Peter Granitz

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content