Critics humiliate PM and Health Minister over their initial claims and denials over Covid-19

    Critics have humiliated Health Minister Associate Professor Amelia Tu’ipulotu after she vehemently denied on Thursday night October 29 reports that Tonga had its first case of the Covid-19 virus,  before the test returned positive for a passenger from New Zealand on Friday 30.

    PM Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa. Photo/Kalino Lātū (Kaniva News)

    The Prime Minister was also humiliated and criticised for bragging during the same meeting that the kingdom was still Covid-19 free because voters had elected him to Parliament, implying that it was his leadership that saved Tonga from the virus.

    The Prime Minister again told his Tongatapu 10 constituency meeting God protected Tonga from Covid-19.

    They are now being criticised for not apologising to the public for their false confirmation.

    The full house meeting at Tongatapu 10’s  Lapaha town was also livestreamed as part of Tu’i’onetoa’s campaign for the upcoming election on November 18.

    The Minister of Health  took the stand and strongly criticised the media.

    “To all Tongans, Tongatapu 10 and Kauhala ‘uta. The information which was released on internet that Tonga has Covid-19 is all lying,”  Tu’ipulotu said to applause by the gathering.

    She criticised people who spread the information and warned the gathering about them.

    Minister of Health Dr ‘Amelia Tu’ipulotu

    The Minister did not identify the source of information to which she referred, but there was a lot of discussion and debates on Facebook by the Tongan online community on Thursday morning after the arrival of the repatriation flight from New Zealand on Wednesday night.

    Concerned Tongans wanted to know whether the two cases of Covid reported in Christchurch on Thursday morning had any link to the passengers who flew in the Tongan repatriated flight.

    The positive test for Covid was confirmed and the news released  by Kaniva News on Friday afternoon before a press conference by the Prime Minister confirmed it.

    Mixed reaction 

    There was a mixed reaction on social media, with people split over the situation. Some claimed the government made up the story about the Covid positive case in an attempt to postpone the election. Others said they still believed the Minister of Health’s statement on Thursday night denying there was any Covid case in Tonga.

    Even now when the news has been overwhelmingly confirmed by the media, some Tongans on Facebook still do not believe there is a Covid case in Tonga.

    No apologies

    Unfortunately, the Minister and the Prime Minister did not correct what they had said on Thursday night during the Press Conference on Friday and no one from the media asked them about it.

    The supporters of Opposition Party, the PTOA Party, have criticised the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health on Facebook for politicising the Covid issue and said they should have not given such a false assurance when it was clear Covid cases had been recorded in Christchurch before the flight departed to Tonga.

    The PTOA candidate for Parliament from Tongatapu 10 Kapeli Lanumata accused the Prime Minister of lying to the constituency.

    “I regret Tu’i’onetoa and his government’s  lying to me and my house”, Lanumata, who is from Lapaha, said on Facebook.

    Critics have called on Tu’i’onetoa to resign. The PM had said it was his leadership that saved Tonga, but the fact that the virus was in Tonga meant his leadership was strongly called into question.


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