The Tongan government announced a national blockade on Tuesday after the discovery of two community cases of COVID-19 in the Pacific island nations still recovering from last month’s volcanic eruption and tsunami.
Tonga’s Prime Minister Xiao Si Sovaleni found two cases after the Ministry of Health tested 50 workers at the port of the capital Nuku’alofa.
“We haven’t been able to identify any of them yet because of the arrival of so many ships, and we couldn’t identify any of them,” Sovaleni said at a press conference at Matangi Tonga Online. report..
Health Minister Saia Piukala of Tonga said the two fully vaccinated workers were virus-positive last week but asymptomatic. Both the infected worker and his family were quarantined.
Authorities refused to identify infected workers in order to prevent them from being “sacrificed,” Sovaleni said.
Tonga will enter a national blockade at 6 pm local time on Wednesday, and every 48 hours the situation will be reviewed to determine whether to extend the blockade.
All inter-island transport and flights were suspended until the blockade was lifted, urging residents to wear masks in public, according to Sovaleni.
“We are looking at unloaded goods. The most important thing at the moment is to slow down and stop infected people. Because of the inter-island transport, that is our national blockade. That’s why, “he said.
Tonga has previously reported only one case since the outbreak of the pandemic, making it one of the few countries to remain COVID-free. About 60 percent of Tonga’s 105,000 population has been fully vaccinated, local media reported.
The eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano on January 15 and the subsequent tsunami wiped out the entire village on one of the small remote islands, killing at least three people and providing humanitarian assistance from various countries. I have received it.
The eruption also cut the only fiber optic communication cable connecting the Pacific island nation to the outside world.
On January 26, the Tongan government berthed the Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Adelaide, whose 23 crew members were tested positive for the virus, to deliver humanitarian and medical supplies under a non-contact protocol. Allowed to do.
All international aid was provided without human-to-human contact and was granted permission provided that supplies sent by aid flight were unpacked for 72 hours to minimize the risk of infection. ..
Epoch Times Sydney staff contributed to this report.