Tonga conducts drill ahead of first COVID-19 repatriation flight from New Zealand

Chief Executive Officer for Health, Dr. Siale ‘Akau’ola said, the drill was aimed at filling in the gaps that were identified during process of the repatriation flight from Fiji, and to ensure that the logistical arrangements and coordination processes were also in place at Taliai Camp.

“This is our readiness to make sure Tonga will still be COVID-19 free. And as for our front-liners involved to be fully aware of their roles and responsibilities in terms of the arrival of the first COVID-19 repatriation flight from New Zealand.”

Domestic violence on the rise in Tonga

Acting Police Commissioner Tevita Vailea told a local Press Club event that between January and June this year there were 537 domestic violence cases reported, with 117 Police Safety Orders issued, although there were only 99 prosecutions.

Vailea could not put a number on the cases that may have been unreported, but it has often been said the majority of incidents fit that category.

The acting Commissioner said there needed to be co-operative efforts involving the community and the police to break the cycle of domestic violence.

Modern slavery rife in NZ and Pacific Islands, charity claims

The Walk Free report identifies cases of forced labour, commercial sexual exploitation of children, and forced marriage in the Pacific.

The report, Murky waters: A qualitative assessment of modern slavery in the Pacific region, said exploitation was fuelled by widespread poverty, migration, and the abuse of cultural practices.

Doctors, civil servants, RSE workers and patients priority on first flight from Auckland to Tonga

Health CEO Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola said passengers would include doctors, nurses, police, soldiers, public servants including one Government CEO, who all remain on the government pay roll.

They were  being given priority because they were  needed in Tonga to support the repatriation work.

Kaniva News reports seasonal workers who are experiencing social issues and stranded travelers would also be included.

Tongans with health problems who had been treated in New Zealand were also considered.

New digital education programme to launch in the Pacific

The inaugural meeting of a Pacific Islands Digital Citizenship and Safety Advisory Group included Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Australia.

The new education programme to launch this year, will use Facebook's 'We Think Digital' to start a tailored education campaign relevant for local communities. 

Facebook's director of policy Mia Garlick said Pacific communities were spending more time online and there had been an increase in the use of social media platforms following the rise of Covid-19 incidence.

Second repatriation flight from New Zealand scheduled for 4 August

The flight is expected to bring about 150 nationals.

The list of confirmed passengers includes medical staff, diplomats, members of the armed forces, police officers, civil servants, students, seasonal workers and others.

CEO for Health Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola said that passengers are required to be tested for COVID-19 three days prior to departure.

“The COVID-19 test must be negative and all passengers are also required to wear masks and gloves on board.”

Former soldier who endured personal tragedy sets up trust to help people in Tonga

Badly injured twice whilst serving in the military in Afghanistan, losing his best friend in an IED explosion on that tour of duty, life has definitely dealt him some heavy blows.

But the greatest of all was the death of his beloved mother Akanesi on his wedding day.

Whilst others would have let that grief defeat them, Frazer decided to follow the lead of his community-minded mother and devote his time to helping others.

New classrooms for Tonga’s ‘Apifo’ou College under TC Gita rehabilitation project

The rooms housed in two buildings were commissioned by Prime Minister, Rev. Dr. Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa Wednesday.

The classroom buildings were funded by the World Bank and the Australian Government under the Pacific Resilience Program (PREP) under the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC).

‘Apifo’ou College Principal, Fr. ‘Ekuasi Manu said, words cannot express their deep gratitude towards the World Bank, Government of Australia and the Government of Tonga for their assistance.

New report says too early to open borders to flights because of low level of preparedness

Tonga has brought back one flight from Fiji and other nations have also begun repatriation flights.

However, as Kaniva News reported yesterday, the Tongan government believes that keeping the kingdom free of the Covid-19 virus has to be the priority.

Ministry of Health CEO, Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola said Tongan authorities had to prepare properly and make sure all steps were completed to minimize risk.

Now a new report says it is too early to open the borders because the risk of Covid-19 remains high.

Keeping coronavirus-free status important as Tonga prepares for first NZ repatriation flight

Dr ‘Akau’ola said while New Zealand is pushing for the Pacific Islands to repatriate their people, it needs to recognise that Tonga has to prepare properly.

“Even though repatriating our people back is slow, every step has to be confirmed,” Dr ‘Akau’ola said.

“These little steps can put us at risk.”

The Tongan government said Wednesday it would begin bringing back Tongans from New Zealand no later than the first week of August.

The number of passengers to be flown home has yet to be announced.