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TRSC concerned about the passengers’ mental health

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 03/08/2020

One of the issues raised during a press conference this morning was the mental health impacts of the passengers during their 14-days quarantine period.

The Health Director – Dr. Siale ‘Akau’ola says, Tonga should now be prepared for challenges that lies ahead should COVID-19 reach our shores through these repatriation flights, as the Ministry is fully prepared for this challenge.

Dr. Siale ‘Akau’ola says, with the new cases recorded in Fiji, they were confirmed while in quarantine where Siale says they are working diligently to ensure the country will remain COVID-19 free not only the passengers but especially those who are working as front liners during the repatriation period.

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the Tonga Red Cross Society – Sione Taumoefolau says, they are now looking at addressing the mental health impacts on the passengers expected to arrive from New Zealand tomorrow.

The concern is because the passengers need to be well looked after and they are now awaiting a free toll line provided by the Ministry of MEIDECC for passengers to call their office when they need assistance. They will also work with internet provider – DIGICEL to install television channels at the rooms as one of the ways to address the issue.

The hope, according to Sione, is to ensure the passengers will not reach such a situation where the impact will take a toll on them, leading them to have mental health issues caused by staying too much in their rooms for 14 days straight.

Another concern is on the stigmatization of those who are assisting with the repatriation of the passengers including bus drivers and the need to treat them with respect since COVID-19 has not reach Tonga.

Taumoefolau urges cooperation from the public during the repatriation period and to respect those assisting with the repatriation.

The Health Ministry is now preparing to receive the 150 passengers expected to arrive from New Zealand tomorrow.

© Radio and Television Tonga News