Tonga’s Prime Minister Pohiva Tuionetoa has announced a seven-day lockdown to keep people at home for the main island of Tongatapu, with restrictions that will stop public gatherings, and close all work except for essential services.
The lockdown comes despite the country’s first recorded case of Covid-19 being in controlled isolation since arriving on a repatriation flight.
The positive case is not a community case, but a passenger who had arrived on Wednesday’s repatriation flight from New Zealand bringing Tongan citizens stranded abroad.
The person is in quarantine at the Tanoa Hotel on Nuku’alofa. The Covid test conducted for all passengers on the second day of isolation confirmed the positive case.
A total of 215 passengers were on the flight from New Zealand earlier in the week also repatriated citizens from Australia and part of the Tongan Olympic team, who had been stuck in New Zealand since the Delta lockdowns.
Tonga health authorities confirm that every passenger tested negative before departure from New Zealand and adhered to pre-departure requirements.
The otherwise quiet nation of 100,000 people went into a rush to become vaccinated when the news broke 4 days ago.
The government confirms that the number of those fully vaccinated jumped from around 35% before the first case was confirmed, to 62% by Monday, as people who had received their first dose but not returned for their second jab rushed to get vaccinated. Tonga has registered 80% of people have had their first dose.
“There is definitely more urgency now to be vaccinated,” said Tonga’s Health Minister, Dr ʻAmelia Afuhaʻamango.
The Minister confirmed all airport staff who were working when the plane came in, and all health staff, are in government-managed quarantine.
“When we found out we acted straight away and carried out the work we needed to do. The positive case was isolated and others have been monitored closely,” said Tuʻipulotu.
The number of lives claimed by the global coronavirus pandemic passed the 5 million mark in October 2021, a devastating milestone since covid19 was discovered two years ago.
What Lockdown Means
As for the restrictions, Acting Police Commissioner and Brigadier Lord Fielakepa announced the restrictions.
All persons shall be required to isolate at home unless for the purpose of purchasing or supplying essential consumer goods, obtaining medical supplies or seeking medical assistance, access to banking and financial services.
- Night time curfews will apply from 8:00pm to 6:00am to be enforced by Tonga Police and HMAF.
- All domestic public transportation will cease, except for those exempted.
- All bars, restaurants, clubs, bottle shops and liquor manufactures will be closed.
- All licensed businesses and activities shall be closed except supermarkets and retail shops selling essential ;needs.
- All public facilities and gatherings are prohibited. Schools will also be closed and no church services allowed.
- Funerals are restricted to 10 indoors and 20 outdoors, with an authorised officer to be present.
- Social distancing enforced
People who work in essential services, as specified by the order, may attend work. These include essential staff from the Ministries of Health, Police, Marine and Ports, telecommunications operators, media workers, among others. It also includes public enterprises such as Tonga Gas Ltd, Tonga Power, Tonga Water, Fire and Emergency all Government Ministries, and others.
Follow Matangi Tonga for more information on the Tonga situation.
Download full text of the restriction orders here: