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Second repatriation flight from NZ suspended

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Air New Zealand Boeing 777-200.

A second repatriation flight planned from Auckland to Tonga on August 25 has been suspended until further notice, Tonga's MEIDECC ministry advised this afternoon.

The National Emergency Management Committee (NEMC) / National Taskforce met this week and considered the increasing number of COVID-19 community transmission in Auckland.

“It is understood that Pacific islanders bear the brunt of the new COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand and it has been announced that one Tongan has been tested positive,” MEIDECC stated.

The Ministry of Health believed there is a high risk that COVID-19 will be imported to Tonga if the repatriation flight continued. They are assessing the situation in Auckland and will advise the Committee and the Government when to resume the repatriation flight.

In the meantime, all 150 passengers who arrived in Tonga on the first flight from Auckland, tested negative for COVID-19 and were released from the quarantine facilities on Wednesday, August 19.