BANGKOK — Coronavirus-related cases are on the rise in Tonga. Officials have revealed that tests have shown that the highly contagious Omicron variant of Coronavirus is responsible for the first pandemic outbreak in the Pacific island nation since the start.

Reporters were informed by Saia Piukala, Health Minister, that 31 people had been confirmed positive for the virus. This nearly doubled Tonga’s active cases to 64 for the second consecutive day, according to the Matangi Tonga news portal, and other media.

Although the number of infected people may seem small, 105,000 had managed escape so far. The only exception was a single case brought by a missionary from Africa to Tonga last October. This case was successfully isolated.

Two dock workers were tested positive for COVID-19 last week, thanks to the international aid that was delivered following the Jan. 15 eruption by the huge undersea volcano.

Piukala stated that despite efforts to contain the spread of the virus, the disease has continued to spread. Five tests sent to Australia for testing confirmed that it was the Omicron variant.

The tsunami and eruption claimed three lives, while several small settlements on outlying islands were also destroyed. The main island was also covered in thick volcanic ash, which may have contaminated drinking water and possibly damaged crops.

Tonga opts for humanitarian aid that is ‘contactless’


Tonga opts for humanitarian aid that is ‘contactless’

Communications were sporadic at best because the only fiber-optic cable connecting to the island was cut by the eruption. The Education Ministry started home education with teachers teaching lessons via FM radio, despite several areas being in total lockdown.

Red Cross and other medical authorities warned that Tonga’s fragile health system could be quickly overwhelmed as it tries to manage both the aftermath of the natural catastrophe and the coronavirus epidemic.

However, Tonga’s isolation, which was a benefit for the country over the past two years, is now a liability making it harder to provide assistance.

Piukala stated that the latest cases had only reported mild symptoms and that everyone was vaccinated, except the children.

He didn’t say how many were affected.

Tonga’s vaccination program was already doing well. However, the current outbreak has caused thousands to come out for their first shot or booster.

On Wednesday, 98% (or more) of Tonga’s eligible population were vaccinated. 88% have been fully vaccinated. According to the Health Ministry, 67% of Tonga’s total population have been fully vaccinated.