The proven coronavirus infection in Tonga has hardly come from the Australian navy ship Adelaide, Australia’s defense chief says.
Adelaide arrived in Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa last week, with emergency assistance in its cargo hold. Some of the crew were infected with the coronavirus, but Australia claims strict procedures were put in place to prevent the virus from landing.
One of the measures is to isolate all items for three days, before anyone on the ground has to handle them.
– The eruption at Nuku’alofa therefore does not appear to have originated in Adelaide, said Australian Armed Forces Chief of Operations Lt. Gen. Greg Bilton.
Tonga has so far escaped the pandemic. The country closed its borders in early 2020, and only one person has tested positive. He is from New Zealand.
Last month, Tonga experienced a powerful volcanic eruption that caused a tsunami. Several villages were laid on gravel and most of the country was covered with a thick layer of ash.
Australia, New Zealand, the United States, China, France, Fiji and the United Kingdom have all sent ships with humanitarian aid, and this week two dock workers tested positive for the coronavirus. Three family members have also been diagnosed, two of them children.
On Wednesday, authorities decided to shut down the island nation, home to more than 100,000 people.
According to Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni, the shutdown will initially last for 48 hours, and the situation will then be assessed on an ongoing basis.
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