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Virus enters Tonga along with disaster aid, lockdown planned

Tonga Volcano Eruption
Posted at 8:29 AM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 10:29:44-05

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Tonga will enter a lockdown Wednesday evening after finding coronavirus infections in two-port workers helping distribute aid arriving in the Pacific nation after a volcanic eruption and tsunami.

The urgent announcement by Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni appeared to confirm fears that accepting the aid could bring COVID-19 into a nation that had been virus-free.

The volcanic eruption and tsunami last month tainted drinking water, severed communications, and left dozens homeless.

Ships and planes from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Britain, and China have been delivering aid.

The crews of those vessels had made contactless deliveries to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

But the virus made its way onto the island after a dozen sailors aboard the Australian aid ship HMAS Adelaide came down with the virus, the Associated Press reported.

The news outlet reported that infections were also reported amongst crew members aboard aid flights from Japan and Australia.