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Health ready for first repatriation flight today

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Dr Siale 'Akau'ola, Hon Dr 'Amelia Tu'ipulotu, and Dr Reynold 'Ofanoa at a press conference. 13 July 2020.

Tonga is ready for its first repatriation flight from Fiji today, with 58 passengers expected to land at Fua’amotu International Airport at 12:45pm, on a Fiji Airways flight chartered by the Tonga government.

The Minister for Health, Hon Dr ‘Amelia Tu’ipulotu said this morning that about 30 of the passengers are returning doctors, nurses, and their families.

“The spare seats were filled by government employees who were stranded in Fiji, including students who have completed their studies.”

The passengers were tested for CoViD-19 in Fiji last Friday and the results received on Saturday were all negative.

The Minister was grateful to the Fijian Government for making the exception to allow these passengers to be tested for CoViD-19 due using Fiji's precious resources of scarce testing kits and PPE. Fiji's policy does not include CoViD-19 testing for people leaving the country.

All passengers were required to wear masks on the flight and practice personal hygiene. On arrival at Fua’amotu Airport, a health team will check passengers temperatures and anyone found with CoViD-19 symptoms will be isolated. 

In Tongatapu the incoming passengers will be quarantined for 14 days at the Tanoa Hotel and then are required to self-quarantine at home for a further 7 days in Tongatapu.

On arrival at the hotel in Nuku'alofa, passengers will be tested for CoViD-19 by another health team, with results expected within 24 hours. A third and final test will be made the 14th day of hotel quarantine, before they are released to their homes. The health team at the hotel will stay with the passengers for the full 14 days quarantine. They will also be tested for CoViD-19.

Public Chief Medical Officer, Dr Reynold ‘Ofanoa said during the last seven days of self-quarantine, a health team would monitor passengers daily before any were allowed to leave Tongatapu for the outer islands. Assuming they were negative, no further CoViD-19 tests would be performed. Those who broke the quarantine rules would be fined or face charges.

Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola said the Fiji Airways crew on this flight were the airline's domestic aircrew who had not been in contact with any CoViD-19 cases and were considered low risk.

The flight was expected to return to Fiji carrying Fijians who had been in Tonga.

Restricted area

Roads were being closed today around the Tanoa Hotel.

In a joint public notice yesterday, under the Emergency Management Act, Tonga Police Commissioner, Stephen Caldwell, and the Chief of Defence Staff and His Majesty's Armed Forces, Brigadier Fielakepa, directed that access to the area is restricted

Members of the public are prohibited from entering the Tanoa Dateline International Hotel and an area marked by cordon lines and road blocks near the hotel along Vuna Road, Tupoulahi Road and the beach front of the hotel.

The restrictions start at noon today, 13 July until 10:00am on Wednesday 29 July.

The restriction does not apply to essential Tanoa Hotel International Dateline Hotel staff, emergency officers and medical emergency officers, and authorised officers.