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Medical assistance from China to arrive aboard VOEA Neiafu today

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 10/06/2020

The VOEA Neiafu is expected to arrive today from Fiji bringing medical assistance from the Chinese government that had been stored in Fiji. The VOEA had traveled to Fiji last week to bring the much-needed medical equipment donated from China and were also able to return with the body of a young Tongan girl who had passed away in Fiji.

In an interview with the Health Minister this morning, Dr. ‘Amelia Tu’ipulotu explained that this was a special circumstance that the ministry and the family had worked closely together on to ensure the return of the girl back to Tonga. The minister says it was the family’s wish that she be buried in her home country but with the borders being closed since late March, this was the only option, which meant the body of the deceased would be repatriated alone while the young girls parents and siblings remain in Fiji.

Dr. Tu’ipulotu says they’ve already established the process for the arrival of the body, with only a few representatives of the family here in Tonga being allowed to join a health official to identify the body before it is released to the family. However, the minister said the family would not be able to have an open-casket funeral wake due to the special circumstances.

The soldiers aboard the VOEA Neiafu were also given strict instructions for the repatriation and the minister says if they follow the directives they will not need to be quarantined upon their return.

The medical assistance from China includes personal protective equipment – PPE for health officials, and will boost Tonga’s preparedness level for COVID-19.

© Radio and Television Tonga News