Jan 25, 2022 - World

COVID outbreak reported on Australian aid ship bound for Tonga

Members of the Australian Defense Force board the HMAS Adelaide as they prepare to depart for an aid mission at the Port of Brisbane on January 20, 2022.
Members of the Australian Defense Force board the HMAS Adelaide as they prepare to depart for an aid mission at the Port of Brisbane on Jan. 20, 2022. Photo: CPL Robert Whitmore/Australian Defence Force via Getty Images

Twenty-three people have tested positive for COVID-19 on an Australian aid ship bound for Tonga, Australian Minister of Defense Peter Dutton confirmed on Tuesday.

Details: The ship, the H.M.A.S. Adelaide, was delivering aid to Tonga in response to a tsunami and a volcanic eruption that devastated the country and left at least three people dead.

  • Dutton said the aid could be delivered in a "contactless way" in order to prevent the spread of COVID.

The big picture: Tonga has only had one positive COVID case, which was reported in October, per the New York Times.

  • Tonga requires travelers to quarantine for 21 days and around 60 percent of the Island has received two doses of the COVID vaccine, per NYT. Their geographic isolation has helped the nation avoid the virus.
  • The volcanic eruption and tsunami has covered Tonga with ash and water, and cut off the nation's only connection to the internet.

What he's saying: "Under no circumstance will we compromise the health and well being of those Tongans who have already had a concerted effort against [COVID-19]," Dutton said at a press conference on Tuesday.

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