Tonga Confirms First COVID-19 Case Ever; May Impose National Lockdown

Tonga has confirmed its first COVID-19 case ever, and the government may impose a lockdown on Monday. The nation island which is located northeast of New Zealand got its first coronavirus case from a traveler who arrived from New Zealand.

The infected passenger was one of the 215 passengers that left Christchurch in New Zealand to come to Tonga. According to Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, the passenger tested positive after arrival in the country, even though he tested negative before leaving Christchurch.

About 31% of the population of Tonga is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 48% of the people are partially vaccinated. The perfect isolation of Tonga has shielded the country from the pandemic, but the nation is at a disadvantage in terms of community spread since its health system is highly challenged.

The neighboring island of Fiji only got its first COVID-19 cases in April. But the Delta variant ripped through the small country and killed more than 673 people after infecting more than 50,000 of the population. Tonga has a population of about 106,000 people.

The Togan government is considering imposing a lockdown on Monday, but they recommend observing all health and safety protocols in the meantime. These include frequent washing of hands, social distancing, and using face masks.

The country’s ministry of health said all public workers on duty at the Fua’amotu Airport when the aircraft from New Zealand arrived have been quarantined. Although most of those at the airport are vaccinated, they are still quarantined to forestall any eventuality given that the Delta variant is more aggressive and resistant.

The passengers of the air flight are Tonga’s Olympic team and seasonal workers, among others.