The Covid invades Tonga; containment in sight
A photo taken and released by Matangi Tonga on October 30, 2021 shows people lining up inside the Queen Salote Memorial Hall to get vaccinated against the Covid-19 coronavirus in Nuku’alofa. Eleanor GEE / Matangi Tonga / AFP
NUKU ‘ALOFA: Tongan Prime Minister Pohiva Tuionetoa warned on Saturday that residents of the country’s main island, Tongatapu, face a possible lockdown next week after recording his first case of Covid-19.
The small Pacific kingdom had so far been one of a handful of countries to have escaped the virus, and the infection was detected in a person in controlled isolation after returning to Tonga on a repatriation flight from New Zealand.
“The reason the lockdown will not take place this weekend is that I have been informed that the virus will take more than three days to develop in someone who catches it before it becomes contagious.” , said Tuionetoa.
“We should use this time to prepare in case more people are confirmed to have the virus.” Most of Tonga’s 106,000 people live in Tongatapu, and less than a third have been doubly vaccinated against Covid-19.
Health officials said the person who tested positive received their second vaccine in mid-October.
The repatriation flight included members of the Tonga Olympic team who had been stranded in Christchurch since the Tokyo Games. The athletes were doubly vaccinated before they left for the Olympics.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health confirmed that the infected person tested negative before the flight left Christchurch, where there are only four known cases of Covid, all in the same focus.