Tonga defers first expected repatriation flight after Fiji confirms three new cases of Covid-19

    The first repatriation flight to return stranded Tongans from Fiji which was supposed to start tomorrow as announced by the government has been postponed until the weekend.

    A Fiji Airways aircraft. Photo: Fiji Airways

    A statement this afternoon from the Prime Minister’s office said: “The passengers are required to be tested for COVID-19 before boarding the aircraft.

    “The Public are hereby informed that the repatriation flight from Nadi, Fiji tomorrow Thursday, July 09 is deferred to Saturday, July 11 at a time to be confirmed.”

    In a media conference which has been livestreamed through Facebook this afternoon the Ministry of Health CEO Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola said the policy had been changed after Fiji detected three new cases of Covid-19.

    Fiji now has three new cases of coronavirus following two more positive tests yesterday had been reported after 80 days since its last case was cleared, Stuff reported.

    A 37-year-old man tested positive for Covid-19 in border quarantine, while the second case is a 36-year-old woman – both Fiji citizens repatriated from India on July 1.

    The man is the son of the 66-year-old man who tested positive on Monday, July 6, acting permanent secretary for health Dr James Fong told media.

    Three new cases

    Fiji’s acting permanent secretary for health, James Fong said the 66-year-old man was on the flight from Delhi on 4 July, RNZ reported.

    He said the man was returning from a medical procedure in India and was accompanied by his son.

    “The pair were travelling with 107 other passengers,” said Dr Fong. “The man was transported to the hospital for isolation.”

    On Tuesday, Dr Fong confirmed the man’s son and a woman on the flight had also tested positive for the virus.

    He said all three were isolated in hospital and the woman’s husband was being tested.

    Medical staff

    Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa told Kaniva News last week the flight from Fiji was expected to bring some medical staff and their families as well as Tongan students in Fiji.

    They will go through two weeks’ quarantine on arrival.

    Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said the repatriation flights from New Zealand would start no later than the first week of August.

    Tonga has remained free of the virus so far.


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