This Remote Island Country Has Reported Its First Case Of COVID-19

The news of the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out in March 2020 and since then, almost all the countries have been affected by the deadly virus one way or another. By most countries, we mean there have been a few lucky ones that belong to the “No COVID club” and have never reported a single case, even till today. Tonga, the small island about 2000 kilometers northeast of New Zealand and 5000 kilometers southwest of Hawaii was among the lucky few but sadly, it’s clean slate recently came to an end when the first COVID case was detected in the region.

Like many nations and their COVID protocols, Tonga also requires travelers to quarantine for a period of time after entering the country. The country had been lucky till now as no case of COVID was detected in the travelers. But on Friday, the Prime Minister Pohvia Tu’I’onetoa announced that the disease was brought in to Tonga on a flight from Christchurch, New Zealand and the patient didn’t test positive until a day into his quarantine period. The infected passenger, Sika-Paotonu told Stuff, “likely indicates more Covid-19 spread in the Christchurch community than is being currently reflected.” This shows the significance of the quarantine period and how Tonga has still managed to keep their COVID cases to near zero.

By ignoring quanratine protocols, many regions faced devastating results. Fiji, another island less than 800 kilometers from Tonga had only seen 2 deaths and 70 cases from COVID. But in April 2021, the delta variant attacked the island and ended up infecting over 50,000 people out of the 900,000 population and killed about 673. To overcome this disastrous effect, Fiji started a massive vaccination drive and now has 70% of the population partially vaccinated.

Immunologist Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu told New Zealand news outlet Stuff that the case was “heart-breaking.” “Tonga has been one of a group of countries within the Pacific region that has managed to protect its people by keeping the virus out of the country for so long,” she said. “If this case is not contained, the potential consequences for the Tongan nation will be catastrophic.”

As Tonga’s first ever COVID-19 patient recovers, the other 214 passengers from the flight are all living in quarantine until the threat of the infection is gone.

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