Tonga enter lockdown days after reporting very first Covid case | Top stories

Tonga enter lockdown days after reporting very first Covid case

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The Tongan government has ordered a weeklong lockdown for the main island of Tongatapu, which includes a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., with residents urged to stop working and stay at home for all reasons except essential, according to the Ministry of Health.

Public transport will be cut off, restaurants, bars and clubs will close, schools and churches will also close and social distancing will be enforced.

The restrictions may seem onerous for a nation with a single confirmed case of Covid, but until a few days ago Tonga was one of the few countries not to report a single Covid infection since the virus was first reported. detected at the end of 2019.

Tonga is a Polynesian country of more than 170 islands in the South Pacific and home to around 100,000 people. It is a remote archipelago that lies approximately 800 kilometers (497 miles) east of Fiji and 2,380 kilometers (1,480 miles) from New Zealand.

Like other Pacific island countries, Tonga’s first actions in declaring a state of emergency in March 2020 and closing its borders to foreign nationals protected it from the Covid epidemics that could have devastated the country. Some 22.1% of the population lives below the national poverty line and medical facilities and equipment are limited.

That’s why, when a passenger who had traveled from New Zealand tested positive last Wednesday, it prompted thousands to get vaccinated and prompted authorities to expect pandemic restrictions.

The infected traveler arrived in Tonga after flying from Christchurch on a repatriation flight, according to the New Zealand Ministry of Health. The passenger was fully vaccinated, tested negative in New Zealand before the flight departed, and was discovered among travelers staying in a hotel used for isolation and quarantine of newcomers to the country.

“It could be because this person is fully vaccinated and the virus is struggling to grow, or this person had already contracted Covid-19,” said the director general of the Ministry of Health, Siale ‘Akau’ ola, according to local media Matangi Tonga.

“It’s better that we just identify it as positive now and lock ourselves in as a precaution, rather than regret it later when it’s too late.”

The other 214 passengers on the flight tested negative on arrival and are completing a 21-day quarantine, the online news site reported.

Following the news of the positive case, thousands of people rushed to vaccination centers to be vaccinated against Covid, reported Matangi Tonga.

Tonga’s health minister, ‘Amelia Tu’ipulotu, reportedly said the high turnout in recent days would increase the country’s immunization coverage.

As of October 25, 31.7% of the population had been fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.

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