COVID-19 pandemic in Tonga
|COVID-19 pandemic in Tonga|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Arrival date||29 October 2021|
(4 months and 6 days ago)
The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached Tonga on 29 October 2021 with a traveller who tested positive in quarantine. Several more cases were found in January and February 2022 in a minor outbreak during the aftermath of the 2022 Hunga Tonga eruption and tsunami as other countries delivered aid. These are currently the only cases in the country so far; Tonga has followed a "Covid-free" policy.
A novel coronavirus that caused a respiratory illness was identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019, and was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on 31 December 2019, which confirmed its concern on 12 January 2020. WHO declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January, and a pandemic on 11 March.
The case fatality rate of COVID-19 is much lower than that of SARS, a related disease which emerged in 2002, but its transmission has been significantly greater, leading to a much greater total death toll.
On 27 March 2020, Prime Minister Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa announced that the country would be under a lockdown from 29 March through 5 April.
July to September 2021
October to December 2021
On 29 October, Tonga reported its first confirmed case, who was a seasonal worker returning from Christchurch in New Zealand. On 1 November, the Tongan government imposed a seven-day lockdown on the main island of Tongatapu. Public gatherings except funerals were banned while most economic activities apart from banks and essential services were ordered to close down. The sale of alcohol was also banned. In response to the new reported case, there were reports of long queues outside vaccination centers, banks, Western Union outlets and shops. During the lockdown, 124 people were arrested for violating those restrictions.
As of 16 January 2022, there was only one case in Tonga, who had recovered from the virus.
January to March 2022
The country's zero-COVID policy has caused complications with international aid following the Hunga Tonga volcano eruption in 2022. To keep the country virus-free, an Australian aid flight had to return to base after detecting a case midflight, while HMAS Adelaide made plans to stay at sea after 23 members of her crew tested positive for COVID-19.
On 1 February, the Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni and Minister of Health Dr Saia Piukala confirmed that two positive cases had been detected in poert workers at the wharf in Nuku'alofa. The two workers and their families went into isolation at an army base. The Tongan Government confirmed that the island country would go into lockdown at 6 pm on 2 February. By 4 February, a few contacts of the port workers (one's wife and two children as well as a possible fourth contact) had also tested positive, while one of the port workers tested negative on a second test.
As of 5 February 2022, there were 7 cases in Tonga, including 5 active cases and 2 recoveries. In response to the rise in new cases, the Tongan Government extended the lockdown until 6pm on 6 February 2022 local time.
On 7 February, the Tongan Government extended the nationwide lockdown by two weeks in response to rising cases.
As of 8 February 2022, there were 15 cases in Tonga, including 13 active cases and 2 recoveries.
By 9 February, Tonga had reported 20 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 34. Clusters were reported in Pili, Fasi, Vaini, Sopu, and Hala'ano. At least three cases had recovered.
As of 12 February, there are 66 cases in Tonga, including 64 active cases and 2 have been cured.
On 14 February, New Zealand eliminated Tonga from its quarantine free travel list due to rising cases. Tongans entering NZ from 15 February will have to undergo rapid antigen testing. Those entering New Zealand from 22 February will be required to self-isolate for seven days and to take rapid antigen testing. By 14 February, Tonga had reported a total of 139 cases, with 75 reported over the previous three days.
As of 16 February, there are 130 cases in Tonga, including 121 active cases and 9 have recovered.
As of 20 February, there are 234 cases in Tonga, including 196 active cases and 38 have recovered.
As of 26 February, there are 355 cases in Tonga, including 177 active cases and 178 have recovered.
As of 4 March, there are 645 cases in Tonga, including 342 active cases and 303 have recovered.
On 5 August 2021, the Tongan government introduced legislation amending the Public Health Act to allow compulsory COVID-19 vaccination. The bill passed its first reading by a 17 to 0 votes.
By 2 February 2022, 85 percent of Tonga's eligible population had been double vaccinated. Following the early February outbreak, Australia and New Zealand confirmed that they would fast track shipments of vaccine doses to Tonga.
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