Air New Zealand aircraft to repatriate stranded New Zealanders in Tonga arrives at the Fua'amotu Airport. Photo/Tonga Ministry of Health (Facebook)

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Tonga’s Minister for Internal Affairs, Vātau Hui, told Kaniva News this evening Cabinet would decide tomorrow whether to extend the ban on international flights until June.

The ban has been in place since March 23 and affects Fiji Airways, Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, and Talofa Airways flights.

Some flights have been allowed in to take Australians, Americans and New Zealanders home.

An air shipment of medical equipment was diverted to Fiji and its cargo sent on by ship.

Tonga remains free of the Covid-19 virus, but the decision on whether or not to extend the airline ban is in line with its extension of emergency laws including a nightly curfew and the closure of almost all public venues and events.

The kingdom instituted a lockdown on March 29.

Meanwhile, the kingdom’s plans to deal with the virus should it reach the islands have been boosted by the creation of an isolation facility at Mu’a hospital and the arrival of medical equipment from New Zealand.

Covid-19 testing equipment, an x-ray unit and 36 hospital beds have been sent to the kingdom.

Reaching out

Kaniva News has received many calls for help for overstayers during the crisis, with most people wanting assistance with food.

We published a list of contacts for food banks and other sources last night.

Auckland resident Nola Pasikala called to say she had collected food which she had given to a number of overstayers.

She described one family she visited as being in a pitiful situation, with a baby and no food. She said she was able to give them some food and cash after learning of their condition.

Other people have contacted Kaniva News to ask how they can get help with their rent.

Many overstayers have lost their jobs and because of their illegal position cannot access government financial support.

We have also had support for our call for the New Zealand government to implement a blanket amnesty or overstayers during the Covid-19 crisis for they can access the full range of official support.

1 COMMENT

  1. Lesson here? Don’t break the law and over stay. Do it the correct and legal way like everyone else had too. And if you are going to overstay don’t have babies and then complain. At the end of the day is this not “Gods plan?” Or maybe personal responsibility.

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