Covid-hit Australian Warship Delivers Disaster Aid To Tonga
A coronavirus-hit Australian warship docked in Tonga on Wednesday, delivering desperately needed aid to the volcano-and-tsunami-struck nation under strict "no-contact" protocols
Nuku'alofa, Tonga, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 26th Jan, 2022 ) :A coronavirus-hit Australian warship docked in Tonga on Wednesday, delivering desperately needed aid to the volcano-and-tsunami-struck nation under strict "no-contact" protocols.
Tongan Health Minister Saia Piukala said the crew of the HMAS Adelaide would follow drastic health protocols to ensure the remote Pacific kingdom remains one of the few places in the world still free of Covid-19.
The warship is carrying about 80 tonnes of relief supplies, including water, medical kits and engineering equipment.
Piukala said that number had increased to 29 by Wednesday.
The ship's 600-plus crew are fully vaccinated, and the Australian Defence Force said Tuesday that the initial 23 patients were asymptomatic or only mildly affected.
It said the ship has a 40-bed hospital, including operating theatres and a critical care ward.
Piukala said contactless protocols were being applied to all relief supplies, including those aboard the HMAS Adelaide, meaning all goods offloaded from foreign planes or ships would be left in isolation for three days before being handled by Tongans.
The ship is said to be loaded with about 250,000 litres (66,000 US gallons) of water, buckets, jerry cans and portable field-testing kits that can now be offloaded.
"We can do that in a contactless way, spray the equipment so that the chance of passing on the virus is obviously negligible," Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said Tuesday.
"Under no circumstance will we compromise the health and well-being of those Tongans who have already had a concerted effort against the virus by protecting themselves, and the virus is not present on the island." But coronavirus restrictions are already hampering the aid effort in other ways.
"We are making sure that the impact on the mission is minimal, and once our review of anti-infection measures is completed, we'll continue the mission," a defence ministry official told AFP.
However, the devastating blast from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, which lies about 65 kilometres (40 miles) north of the capital Nuku'alofa, has created what the Tongan government describes as an "unprecedented disaster".
Entire villages were washed away by tsunamis, while ash has poisoned water supplies and destroyed crops.
OCHA said communications severed by the eruption were slowly being restored and assessment teams were visiting hard-to-reach areas to gauge the full scale of the disaster.