Tonga to enter lockdown after port workers test positive for covid-19

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HMAS Adelaide alongside Nuku'alofa wharf
The HMAS Adelaide sitting alongside a wharf in Nuku'alofa to deliver medical supplies following the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano and a subsequent tsunami. Image: Petty Officer Christopher Szumlanski/ADF

RNZ Pacific

The kingdom of Tonga will go into nationwide lockdown from 6pm tonight.

Speaking via Tongan radio, Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni and Minister of Health Dr Saia Piukala held a media conference last night to announce the news.

They confirmed that two cases of covid-19 had been detected through routine testing at the wharf in Nuku’alofa.

Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku ordered the lockdown.

Dr Saia Piukala said 50 people were tested as part of routine surveillance and the two positive cases were found.

Tonga’s Speaker of the House, Lord Fakafanua — who is currently in Auckland waiting to return to Tonga — told RNZ Pacific the positive cases and their families were now in isolation at an army base.

Tonga reported its first positive covid case last year after an Air New Zealand flight arrived from Christchurch.

Recovering from volcano eruption
Tonga is currently recovering from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption on January 15 which triggered a tsunami that destroyed villages and resorts and knocked out communications for the nation of about 105,000 people.

Three people died as a result of the disaster.

Several countries, including New Zealand, have sent aid but have observed strict covid-19 protocols such as contactless delivery.

In Fiji, a human rights activist is demanding answers from the authorities after reports that hundreds of nurses in the country are resigning.

According to media reports, more than 300 nurses are leaving their jobs citing poor employment conditions including suffering from stress, fatigue and lack of compensation.

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre coordinator Shamima Ali said those who were resigning amid the covid-19 crisis were not speaking out because they feared victimisation by the health ministry and the government.

Tahiti, New Caledonia covid cases climb
in Pape’ete, authorities reported that French Polynesia had recorded a further 465 covid-19 cases over the past 72 hours.

There are now 900 active cases, but the outbreak appears to be stabilising. Two people are in hospital.

In Noumea, New Caledonian authorities recorded a further 1843 covid-19 infections over the past three days as the pandemic is again accelerating.

The latest figures have pushed the number of cases since the September 2021 delta outbreak to more than 20,000 with 21 people in hospital, including one in intensive care.

The seven-day average has neared 500 cases after being under 20 a month ago.

The virus has spread to all three provinces and most communes.

Kiribati infections top 600
Kiribati recorded its highest daily increase in new covid-19 infections yesterday, bringing the total number of positive cases to 629.

The Health Ministry said that there were 169 covid-19 cases — 155 of them from South Tarawa, Betio and Buota and 14 in Butaritari.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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