Fiji relief team to Tonga returns

The Fijian Government team returned to the country today from a relief outreach to Tonga that Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office Director Vasiti Soko described as a success.

The 12-team contingent including military personnel, Ministry of Health officials, as well as officers from the NDMO departed for the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa on Sunday with 244 tonnes of humanitarian supplies onboard Goundar’s Shipping Lomaiviti Princess 1 that was chartered by the New Zealand Government whose contribution to the deployment amounted to $FJ170,000.

“I would like to acknowledge all the partners, our CSO’s and NGO’S and the government ministries that came together to make this trip a success,” Soko said as she welcomed back the team at the Narain Jetty in Suva.

She said it was a whole government partnership that enabled the trip to happen.

The New Zealand High Commission told Mai TV that their contribution was in support of the Government of Fiji’s response to Tonga, including their deployment of humanitarian relief supplies from Suva as requested by the Government of Tonga. The relief and recovery efforts follows a volcanic eruption less than three weeks ago in Tonga that killed three people, left people homeless, cut off communications lines, affected food and water supplies both of which are running low.

Prior to their departure the Fiji crew was required to observe all COVID-19 protocols in line with advice from Tonga including a 48-hour pre-departure testing and contactless delivery to Port where supplies would have been quarantined for 72 hours before they were collected by wharf workers.

The contingent is believed to have arrived into Tonga on Tuesday, the same day Tonga announced that two of their wharf workers had tested positive for coronavirus prompting a 48-hour national lockdown from 6pm yesterday.

Close contacts were placed in isolation including the families of the wharf workers one of whom returned a negative result in a follow-up test. The country’s COVID-19 case numbers stand at four after one of the wharf workers’ wife and two children tested positive yesterday. The Tongan Government is reportedly investigating the source of the outbreak.

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