Sydney, Australia, Jan 25 (EFE).- An Australian ship carrying aid to Tonga, a Covid-19 free South Pacific country that was devastated by a powerful volcanic eruption and tsunami in mid January, detected a coronavirus outbreak among its crew, Australian authorities said Tuesday.
“We’ll work with the Tongan authorities to keep that vessel at sea to make sure that there’s no threat and obviously the Tongan government’s discussing that at the moment,” Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said on broadcaster Sky News.
“Obviously, they need the aid desperately but they don’t want the risk of Covid-19 so we’ll work through all of that as quickly as we can,” he added.
Twenty-three cases have been recorded among the 600 crew members of HMAS Adelaide complicating the delivery of humanitarian and medical supplies and engineering equipment scheduled for Wednesday.
The ship, which is also carrying helicopters to support logistics and distribution in Tonga, had left the Australian city of Brisbane on Friday.
The natural disaster in Tonga on Jan. 15 has affected 84 percent of its population.
The country has remained Covid-19-free since the start of the pandemic and has only detected one imported case of the disease.
On Friday, a C-17 plane from Australia had to return without delivering humanitarian aid after confirming a coronavirus case among its crew while the aircraft was en route to Tonga, Australian broadcaster SBS reported.
At least 3 people have died in Tonga following the massive volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami wave that cut off the country – made up of 169 islands and with a population of 105,000 – from the rest of the world for days.
Other emergency supplies have already been delivered mainly by planes and ships from New Zealand and Australia under strict protocols and without direct contact. EFE