Covid outbreak onboard Australian aid ship on way to Tonga

By 1news.co.nz and republished with permission.

There have been 23 cases of Covid-19 recorded among the crew of HMAS Adelaide, which departed Brisbane on Friday to deliver humanitarian aid to coronavirus-free Tonga.

Aerial view of HMAS Adelaide of the Royal Australian Navy in 2017. It is a helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship (file photo).

Australia’s Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the Government was working with Tongan authorities to keep the boat at sea and make sure there is no threat to the Pacific nation.

“They need the aid desperately but they don’t want the risk of Covid,” the minister told Sky News on Tuesday.

“We will work through all of that as quickly as we can.”

There are over 600 crew onboard.

Dutton said aid has already been sent via C-17 planes and contactless delivery remained an option.

“We are not going to put the Tongan population at risk,” he said.

Mr Dutton added it was about balancing the quick delivery of aid to the ravaged nation and not exposing the vulnerable population to Covid.

“It may mean [the ship] is able to dock and we provide that support and then move on from there,” he said.

“It may mean that they stand off and wait a number of days but we don’t have personnel on the ground, it’s a matter of dropping the aid and providing that support.”

It’s the second aid shipment from Australia where a positive case has turned up, with a C-17 plane turned around mid-flight after someone was diagnosed with Covid-19.

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