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Government reviews repatriation plans for Tongans stranded abroad

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 24/06/2020

The government is reviewing the first plan of repatriating Tonga’s from abroad as New Zealand currently has active cases of COVID-19.

When announcing the repatriation plans a couple of weeks back – the first repatriation flight was understood be from New Zealand as that was the only flight service, albeit without passengers, existing at the time. And that was when New Zealand was over 20 days without active cases of COVID-19, today though, the country currently has 10 active cases.

The MEIDECC Minister – Poasi Tei says they are now considering repatriating Tongans from Fiji, which also includes a number of Tongan doctors stranded there, who’s skills would be needed to boost the ministry of health’s preparedness for COVID-19.;

Fiji has declared they are COVID-free and there are not active cases at the moment.

Tei says, government is yet to make a finalised decision whether repatriation should start from New Zealand of Fiji but the most important issue to them now is ensuring the front liners and the Ministry of Health are 100% ready for the repatriation operational with the resources available.

Meanwhile during Radio Tonga’s talkback show this morning, members of the public expressed their views about the opening of Tonga’s borders. Fau and ‘Ofa from Vava’u 14 said, they fully support the Government and the Prime Minister’s leadership and if the government thinks it’s time to open the borders then the people should be prepared and accept it as the incoming passengers are just Tongan people returning to reunite with their families. However, Kolo from Matuku and Mele from Tt6 thought otherwise saying returning Tongans stranded abroad will pose a huge risk to the country especially the elderly and they pleaded that government should keep the borders closed.

Meanwhile, government plans for a third drill of the first repatriation flight next week before finalising the date for the flight to take place.

© Radio and Television Tonga News