Tonga Enters First Lockdown

Tonga’s main island entered its first lockdown on Tuesday, just days after recording its first case of COVID-19 since the pandemic.

Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onenoa announced the week-long lockdown in a press conference on Monday, despite no evidence of community transmission.

The stay-at-home order would “ensure the safety and health of our people … to prevent or minimize the spread of Covid-19 within the kingdom of Tonga,” Tu’i’onenoa said.

Health authorities reported a surge in people rushing to get vaccinated at government-run clinics over the weekend after the Prime Minister announced that a passenger from New Zealand tested positive for COVID-19.

The passenger, who was fully vaccinated, and another 214 people who were on the same flight, had been in isolation since landing and the health department said no community transmission had been found on the island.

Tonga’s first case ended the nation’s run as one of the last virus-free places in the world.

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