Tonga reports its first coronavirus case

Tonga’s prime minister will announce on Monday whether the island will be subjected to a national blockade.

The national island of Tonga has reported its first coronavirus infection since the start of the pandemic after a passenger traveling from New Zealand tested positive.

In a radio address on Friday, Tonga’s Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa confirmed that there was one case of COVID-19 among 215 passengers arriving from the city of Christchurch, local media reported.

Located northeast of New Zealand, Tonga is home to about 106,000 people. About 31 percent of Tongan residents are fully vaccinated and 48 percent have received at least one dose, according to research group Our World in Data.

The island is among the few remaining nations in the world that have prevented COVID-19 outbreaks. Like many of its neighbors, Tonga’s isolation has helped keep it safe, but it faces big challenges if the virus takes hold due to its poor health care system.

The nearby nation of Fiji prevented major outbreaks until April, when the Delta variant of the coronavirus swept through the island chain, infecting more than 50,000 people and killing at least 673.

Tu’i’onetoa said the government planned to make an announcement Monday on whether a national blockade will be imposed, Matangitonga reported.

Meanwhile, the prime minister demanded that all Tonga people respect physical distancing and follow regulations related to the coronavirus.

The Executive Director of the Ministry of Health, Siale ‘Akau’ola, also said that health workers, police and all personnel working at the Fua’amotu airport when the Christchurch flight arrived were quarantined. He added that everyone working near the flight had been vaccinated.

The passengers on the flight included seasonal workers and members of the Tonga Olympic team.

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