Aid flight to tsunami-hit Tonga forced to return after positive Covid case found onboard

The island nation is coronavirus-free and has a strict border control policy

By Reuters

Published: Fri 21 Jan 2022, 10:30 AM

As aid trickles into the South Pacific nation of Tonga, devastated by a volcanic eruption and tsunami, an Australian aid flight was forced to return to base due to a positive Covid-19 case onboard, a defence official said on Friday.

Tonga is Covid-free and has a strict border control policy, and is requiring contactless delivery of aid that began arriving by plane on Thursday.

The Australian aid flight left Brisbane on Thursday afternoon but was turned around midflight after being notified of the positive Covid-19 case, an Australian defence spokeswoman said.


All crew had returned negative rapid antigen tests before departure, but PCR tests later showed the positive result. The supplies were moved to another flight that took off on Friday.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano eruption last Saturday triggered tsunami that destroyed villages, resorts and many buildings and knocked out communications for the nation of about 105,000 people, and sent shockwaves and tsunami across the Pacific.

Three people have been reported killed, authorities said.

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