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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

British, Australian ships provide ‘contactless’ aid to Tonga

Canberra, Australia – (AP) – British and Australian Navy ships arrived in Tonga on Wednesday and attempted to deliver aid without contacting any coast to avoid spreading the coronavirus in a country that has never had an outbreak.

The danger of spreading the disease was underscored when nearly two dozen sailors aboard the Australian ship HMAS Adelaide were reported to have been infected on Tuesday, sparking fears they could be bringing the coronavirus to the small Pacific island, which It was devastated by an undersea volcanic eruption and tsunami on 15 January. ,

Since the pandemic began, Tonga has reported only one case of COVID-19. It is currently one of the few countries in the world completely virus free. According to Our World in Data, about 61% of Tongans are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the US announced that it would provide an additional $2.5 million in humanitarian aid to Tonga through the US Agency for International Development. The aid was in addition to an initial pledge of $100,000.

Britain said its ship HMS Spy arrived with medical supplies for 30,000 liters (7,900 gallons) of bottled water, more than 300 first aid kits and basic hygiene products. It said none of its sailors disembarked from the ship, and instead the supplies were moved ashore by crane.

“The UK is a long-standing partner of the Pacific islands, and deploying the ship to the Indo-Pacific means we can be there for Tonga in their time of need, as the islands begin to rebuild their homes and communities. does,” Armed Forces Minister James Happy said in a statement.

The Australian government said its ship had completed a 3,300-kilometre (2,050-mile) journey from Brisbane and would deliver supplies without contact with the local population to avoid infection.

“We applaud the government of Tonga’s decision to enable HMAS Adelaide to dock and offload humanitarian and medical supplies, and it is a high priority that it will be able to handle COVID-19 throughout the recovery process,” the statement said. Security has been put on.” “The ship is making a completely contactless delivery of humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies.”

The ship brings a desalination plant, with restoration of drinking water supply a major priority. It is also carrying helicopters and engineering equipment.

Australia said it was increasing its disaster support to include the restoration of power and communications.

Under pandemic measures, Tonga generally requires visitors to quarantine for three weeks upon arrival and this complicates international disaster response. All international aid is to be delivered without local contact.

Tongan officials have been wary that accepting international aid could result in a greater disaster than a massive volcano eruption. The tsunami killed three people.

The ship is Australia’s second aid mission in which at least one crew member tested positive. A C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft was first towed during mid-flight after a person on board was diagnosed with the coronavirus.


Perry reported from Wellington, New Zealand.

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