For Immediate Release (24 April 2020)

The Ministry of Health would like to reassure the public that they have yesterday taken the precautionary measure of placing one person who was bound for New Zealand under quarantine although the risk of being infected with COVID-19 is extremely low.

‘’We are just being extra careful and activated our quarantine process yesterday so that this particular person will be at the quarantine facility at Taliai Camp for the next 14 days,’’ says CEO for Health Dr. Siale ‘Akau’ola.

It is understood that the departing passenger had boarded the Air New Zealand flight yesterday and at around 2:20pm, Immigration New Zealand sent a message to the Air New Zealand manager in Tonga to offload one passenger as they deemed him ineligible to arrive under New Zealand’s tightened travel restrictions or face infringement or prosecution.

Tonga’s Ministry of Health Border Control team provided the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the passenger who disembarked safely according to approved procedures and transported to Taliai Camp quarantine facility.

‘’The risk of infection is very, very low because he has not had any contact with a confirmed or even a suspected case and there are no incoming passengers and all crew on the flight are required to provide a medical certificate clearing them before they fly here. Still, we are being extra careful and put him under quarantine and have staff to monitor this person as this is our standard response with the given situation,’’ added Dr. ‘Akau’ola.

Tonga is still COVID-19 free and continues to implement procedures to mitigate any risk of the introduction and spread of COVID-19 to Tonga. Air New Zealand departed Tonga yesterday at 3:10pm with 132 passengers. 

It is advised that departing passengers double check with New Zealand Immigration if they are planning to travel to New Zealand. Current advise from New Zealand Immigration says that New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family (partner or spouse, legal guardian and dependent children under the age of 24) can still travel to New Zealand. Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand can also return to New Zealand.

The Ministry of Health thanks the public for their continued support.

For more information please refer to the official announcement here: https://bit.ly/3azrwwL