The death toll from the new coronavirus has exceeded that of the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2002 and 2003 in mainland China.
There are more than 17,000 confirmed cases in China, with 361 deaths, and more than 150 in other countries, with one death in the Philippines.
In a statement this morning, Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa has voiced “grave concern” about the increasing person-to-person spread of coronavirus after World Health Organisation declared it as a global emergency on Thursday.
The Prime Minister said the government was in the process of determining “the situation and actions necessary to ensure the welfare and potential return of the Tongan students in Wuhan, the Sports Team and Tongan students studying in mainland China.”
He said the government will also issue a travel advisory that would require quarantine measures to be implemented in order to protect Tonga’s borders and people.
“His Majesty’s Government, through the Embassy of the Kingdom of Tonga to China, has maintained regular contact with the students and sports team. At present, the reports from the Embassy have guaranteed that the students and sports teams are well, with the necessary supplies available to them until such time they depart China for Tonga,” the statement said.
“His Majesty’s Government, in light of the closure and potential closure of the New Zealand and Fiji borders to travellers from mainland China, are working and looking at options with for the return of our Tongan nationals who are currently in China.
“His Majesty’s Government has issued a travel advisory requiring the need for self-quarantine for all foreign travellers originating from or transiting through China and may be denied entry into Tonga, with the exception of Tongans. The Tongan nationals who qualify under this will need to undergo quarantine with the Ministry of Health.”
New Zealand will block travellers who have been through mainland China in a bid to stop the deadly coronavirus reaching our shores, NZHerald reported.
“It is placing temporary entry restrictions into New Zealand on all foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through, mainland China to assist with the containment of the novel coronavirus and to protect New Zealand and the Pacific Islands from the disease.”