Australian Navy ship with infected crew delivers aid to Tonga

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – The largest ship in the Australian navy docked at the disaster-stricken port of Tonga on Wednesday and was given permission to unload…

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – The largest ship in the Australian navy docked at the disaster-stricken port of Tonga Wednesday and was allowed to unload humanitarian cargo in the South Pacific nation despite crew members. infected with COVID-19, officials said.

Nearly two dozen sailors on board the HMAS Adelaide were reported infected on Tuesday, raising fears the mercy mission could bring the coronavirus to the small archipelago ravaged by an undersea volcanic eruption and a tsunami on January 15.

Since the pandemic began, Tonga has only reported a single case of COVID-19 and has avoided any outbreaks. It is one of the few countries in the world that is currently completely virus-free. About 61% of Tongans are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.

The Australian government said the 27,500-ton (30,300-ton) ship had completed a 3,300-kilometer (2,050-mile) journey from Brisbane and would deliver the cargo without needing to come into contact with locals to avoid contagion.

“We appreciate the Tongan government’s decision to allow HMAS Adelaide to dock and unload humanitarian cargo and medical supplies, and make COVID safety a priority during the recovery,” the statement said. said. “The ship is carrying out a completely contactless transport of humanitarian aid and disaster relief.”

With restoring drinking water supplies a priority, the ship delivers a desalination plant. It also carries helicopters and engineering equipment.

Australia says it is expanding disaster assistance to include restoring power and communications.

Tonga typically requires travelers to quarantine for three weeks upon arrival, and the pandemic’s harsh measures have further complicated international disaster response. All international aid will be delivered without local contact.

The Tongan government has warned that accepting international aid could lead to a disaster greater than the volcano’s massive eruption. The tsunami claimed the lives of three people.

The ship is the second aid mission from Australia, in which at least one crew member has tested positive. A previous C-17 Globemaster military transport plane turned around midway after one person on board was diagnosed with coronavirus.

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https://wtop.com/australia/2022/01/australia-navy-ship-with-infected-crew-offloads-aid-to-tonga/ Australian Navy ship with infected crew delivers aid to Tonga

James Brien

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