Tonga + 1 more

Pacific Islands Multi-Country Office: Humanitarian Situation in Tonga Report No. 5 - As of 04 February 2022 (4pm FJT)

Attachments

Highlights

  • Tonga recorded its first COVID-19 community cases with two frontline workers at the wharf who tested positive, and subsequently 3 of their family members.

  • A country-wide lockdown is in place as the Government of Tonga prioritizes containing the spread of the virus.

  • A total of about 44 tons of UNICEF emergency supplies are now in Tonga.

  • The airport in the capital Nuku’alofa may soon open for civil and commercial flights, but the borders remain closed for travelers.

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

With Tonga still reeling from the impact of the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haa’pai volcano and ensuing tsunami, another potential crisis is looming with the first recorded community transmissions of COVID-19. Two frontline workers at the wharf tested positive with the virus on 1 February, and the wife and two children of one of them also tested positive on 2 February. Contact tracing and isolation were immediately initiated for primary contacts. The Government declared a country-wide lockdown starting at 6 pm of 2 February, with its continuity to be assessed every 48 hours. Health authorities are bracing for more cases, while schools and offices are suspended, and no inter-island shipping is allowed during the lockdown period. Only humanitarian responders can go out of their homes during the lockdown as the government shifts its focus towards containing the virus.

More humanitarian supplies continue to arrive in the capital, Nuku’alofa, through contact-less drop-off and release. All shipments have to undergo disinfection and 72-hour quarantine before being moved. Distribution to communities however is suspended until the lockdown is lifted. Water continues to be the most expressed need. Tap water has been tested in Tongatapu and found to be safe by the Tonga Water Board whereas the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in Ha’apai found the water in Fonoi, Tungua and Nomuka to be contaminated with sea water and not fit for human consumption.

Progress has been made to clear ash residue along the runaways and the national airport may soon be open to civil and commercial flights