Tongans in coronavirus epicentre Wuhan to be evacuated

Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa has announced the government will evacuate Tongans from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The government has asked New Zealand and Australian governments to help quarantined the returrnees in their countries despite the fact these Tongans do not hold arrival permits into their countries.

According to Kaniva News reports, the Tongan sport teams and students in Wuhan are expected to return home next week or as soon as possible and they will face 14 days quarantine.

PM Tu’i’onetoa said the Government  is considering suspending China incoming flights which were scheduled to fly to Tonga through New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Samoa amid an escalating death toll from the new coronavirus.

The Government has allocated funding for the Ministry of Health to fund facilities and equipment as part of its preparation for a potential arrival of the deadly coronavirus, the Prime Minister said in a statement.

There have been no confirmed cases in the kingdom, despite critics saying on social media the Government has been slow to take action to prepare if it does land on our shores.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Government has announced any seats not taken by Kiwi evacuees on its chartered flight to bring New Zealanders from China would be offered to Pacific Island and Australian citizens as a matter of priority, Stuff reported.

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said the Government will charter an Air New Zealand aircraft to assist Kiwis leaving coronavirus hit Wuhan.

He said the aircraft will have capacity for around 300 passengers and will fly from the Chinese city to New Zealand. 

The news comes as New Zealand health officials announced they were still working on plans of where to quarantine the evacuees, and were considering using hotels.