Tonga's National Emergency Management Committee meet to discuss Tropical Cyclone Sarai. Photo/Iliesa Tora (RNZ)

Utah infections

Tongan community radio in Utah is being used to promote safe behaviour during her Covid-19 crisis as infection rates soar.

The Salt Lake Tribune said the state’s Pacific community had been hard hit by the virus.

Jake Fitisemanu, chairman of the Utah Pacific Islander Health Coalition, said Pacific Islanders recorded higher per capita rates of hospitalisations and fatalities than the state average.

The Pacific community of 30,000 had about 1200 cases and at least 13 deaths.

He said health workers had been collaborating with state and county officials and using the media to reach the communities.

We did start very early on with public service announcements and interviews on our local Samoan radio, our local Tongan radio and local media that’s widely used among our Pasifika people,” he said.

Camp Covid

Tongans flying home from New Zealand will be housed in the Taliai military camp,

National Emergency Management Committee chair Poasi Tei said the government would talk to people living nearby to ensure they stayed away from the site.

Other venues that may be used for housing returnees include the Kupesi Hotel, Makeke of the LDS Church and the Indoor Stadium.

Around two thousand stranded Tongans have now registered online for these repatriation flights.

Predicting cyclones 

Researchers from Australia and New Zealand have developed a new scientific model that can predict cyclones four months ahead of the tropical cyclone season.

They hope their work can help save lives by giving Pacific governments and meteorological offices advanced warning of a major storm.

Dr Andrew Magee from the University of Newcastle said current technology can predict cyclones one month ahead of time.

He said the model also provided forecasts specific to individual countries.

In April Cyclone Harold demolished tourist resorts in Tonga after leaving a trail of destruction in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The Red Cross said Cyclone Harold caused widespread damage to crops and housing

Investing in ocean sustainability

Investing in ocean sustainability is key to rebuilding the world’s economies according to a new report from the World Resources Institute.

The report, which was commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, says every US$1 invested in ocean sustainability could generate U$5 in economic, health and environmental benefits.

It cites forecasts in four main areas: conserving and restoring mangrove habitats, scaling up offshore wind, decarbonizing international shipping, and increasing the sustainable sourcing of ocean-based protein.

Tonga is heavily dependent on its fisheries and ocean resources for food, transport, economic development and culture. Commercial fisheries jobs in Tonga represent a two percent of national employment, but an estimated 82 percent of Tongan families are involved in reef fishing.

Last year Tonga received a US$10 million grant from the World Bank to improve fisheries governance.

Only TP$2.4 million left

Only TP$2.4 million is left of the TP$16.2  million collected  by the sports levy, the Finance Minister said this week.

Hon. Tevita Lavemaau told the Whole House Committee the estimate included a budget to develop all sporting activities in Tonga and the operations of the Tonga Sports Council.

The Minister was responding to a question from former Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano, who wanted know what happened to the money that had been collected.

Hon. Lavemaau said the figures had been audited.

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