As Tonga struggles to recover from a volcanic eruption and tsunami, two community cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed on Tuesday night.
In a press conference, Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni confirmed the cases had been found at the wharf after 50 people were tested and the two men are currently in isolation at Taliai Camp.
The Kingdom is to go into lockdown from 6 pm on Wednesday night including the Niua island group.
It’s believed one of the cases could have been positive last week – their families have been isolated and contact tracing has begun.
The two cases, who are both double-vaxxed with no symptoms, had no contact with HMAS Adelaide which delivered aid supplies to Tonga.
The Australian navy had confirmed 23 crew were positive but were being isolated onboard and no contact was made with anyone onshore.
The Ministry of Health will update the situation every 48 hours.
Previously, Tonga had recorded only one positive case in quarantine, which was deemed to be a historical case.
The Prime Minister did not reveal the names of the positive cases, where they lived, or which ships they had been working with.
The discovery of community transmission is a second blow for Tonga, hitting while it is still in disaster recovery mode following the catastrophic volcanic eruption of Hunga Tonga – Hunga Ha’apai volcano which generated tsunamis and laid heavy ashfall over the Pacific Island nation, cutting its international fibre optic cable on 15 January, and plunging the nation into digital darkness.
Tonga now faces its first COVID-19 lockdown before full telecommunications have been restored, and businesses and homes are without working internet.
Tonga has maintained border restrictions since March 2020, while a national vaccination campaign has fully vaccinated over 83 per cent of the eligible population against COVID-19 up to 06 January, according to the Ministry of Health. This represents about 60% of the total population.
This means 64,047 people out of a total of 76,911 eligible people over the age of 12 years are protected against the virus.
On Tuesday night, the Ministry of Health said it will be compulsory for everyone to wear masks in public and if families have enough supplies they should stay at home today even before lockdown begins.
Officials confirmed last night Australia and New Zealand are fast-tracking booster shots to Tonga – 10,000 are coming immediately from Australia.
SOURCE: TVNZ/ TONGA WIRES/ PACNEWS