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Gov’t discuss ways to repatriate Tongans stranded abroad

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 09/09/2020

Discussions are currently underway by the governments of Tonga and Fiji regarding appropriate ways to repatriate Tongans stranded at high-risk countries to COVID-19 such as the US and India.

The Health Director -Dr. Siale ‘Akau’ola says, the issue is currently under discussions however it is difficult at the moment as Fiji’s borders are still closed but once their borders are opened, there’s hope the Tongans could spend 14 days of quarantine in Fiji before returning to Tonga.

Dr ‘Akau’ola says, about 10 of the Tongans went to India for medical treatment and were supposed to return back but India is among the high-risk countries to COVID-19 at the moment.

Health Director adds, Fiji’s government has approved for those Tongans stranded in India to be quarantined for two weeks there.

“As Fiji approves for the Tongans stranded in India to spend 14 days of quarantine there, we are now looking at ways to repatriate other citizens from the US and other countries with hope Fiji would also approve, Dr ‘Akau’ola says.

Siale also says, there are conditions for the government to pay for the quarantine costs of those repatriated from these countries but the government will definitely pay for those Tongans in India as they were sent for medical treatment, under the government’s assistance.

He adds, other passengers arriving from other countries apart from India, will have to pay for their own quarantine costs, as the cost for one person quarantining in Fiji will amount to $3000 FJD.

However, these discussions are yet to be finalized but Siale says, this is one of the issues discussed because of the many stranded Tongans who want to return home but cannot due to border closure.

Meanwhile, there are now more than 3thousand 400 people who have registered online via the government’s online repatriation registration program.

© Radio and Television Tonga News