Tongan evacuees leave UK for kingdom; world events Tonga expected to join cancelled amid coronavirus fears

    The first group of 26 athletes previously stranded in China due to the coronavirus outbreak have begun leaving some quarantined rooms in a hotel in the UK this morning.

    They were expected to start arriving in Tonga tomorrow March 5.

    The last group of 25 athletes was expected to leave UK on Thursday, said Tongan medical doctor in UK, Dr Faka’osi Pifeleti.

    The sport teams included boxing, table tennis, swimming and weightlifting trainees who were being trained in China before they were evacuated to London.  

    The Tongan authorities have previously announced that after being quarantined for 14 days in London the sport teams were expected to leave via Dubai and Auckland and will arrive in Tonga on March 5 and 7.

    Meanwhile the epidemic has cancelled international upcoming world events in which Tonga was expected to participate.

    These included the ITB Berlin Travel Fair, the world biggest travel show which was scheduled for this week, Former Acting Prime Minister Semisi Sika said on Facebook.

    He said the Pacific Art Festival in Honolulu which was set to begin in three months time just got canceled.

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