Tongans were quick to get vaccinated against the coronavirus after the Pacific island nation confirmed its first case on Friday.
The infection was detected in a fully vaccinated person who had arrived on a return flight from New Zealand.
The Prime Minister of Tonga, Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, warned that residents of the main island of Tongatapu will face a possible blockade next week.
Tonga was one of the last countries to not have reported Covid infections.
Over 100,000 people live in the island nation, located in the northwest of New Zealand.
Only one third of Tonga’s population has been fully vaccinated. But national immunization coordinator Afu Tei told AFP news agency that thousands of people showed up at vaccination centers to receive vaccinations.
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The infected individual was among 215 people on a repatriation flight from Christchurch, New Zealand. Others on board included members of the Tonga Olympic team who had been stuck in the city since the Tokyo Olympics.
The New Zealand health ministry said the individual had tested negative before leaving the country.
But Tongan authorities said a positive reading was recorded Thursday after a routine test, performed during mandatory managed isolation.
Siale Akau’ola, chief executive of Tonga’s health ministry, told reporters that the infected Tongan had received a second dose of the vaccine in mid-October and that authorities were satisfied that the person would not become seriously ill.
Prime Minister Tu’i’onetoa said he was advised against imposing an immediate blockade “because the virus will take more than three days to develop into someone who catches it before it becomes contagious.”
“We should use this time to prepare in case more people have confirmation that we have the virus,” he added.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 246 million coronavirus cases and nearly 5 million Covid-related deaths have been reported worldwide, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
The virus has yet to spread to some Pacific island nations such as Tuvalu.
Other countries such as North Korea and Turkmenistan have not yet reported any cases, but experts agree that the virus may be present, although it has not been officially confirmed.
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