31 Mar 2020

Health official says Tongan borders may have to close longer

7:45 pm on 31 March 2020

Tonga's Ministry of Health says two weeks of the borders being closed is not long enough as the country needs more time to put in place its strategy to counter Covid-19.

Chief executive of Tonga's Ministry of health Dr Siale Akauola.

Chief executive of Tonga's Ministry of health Dr Siale Akauola. Photo: Christine Rovoi

The ministry's CEO Siale 'Akau'ola told Matangi Tonga the country needed testing equipment and protective clothing for health workers.

Prime Minister Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa had declared the borders closed until 6 April to the stop the inflow of people into the country and to give Tonga time to put preventative measures into place.

However Dr 'Akau'ola said they need more time.

He also said establishing places of quarantine was important as sending people to secure places would be much better than telling them to "home isolate".

Tonga currently has no confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Covid-19 Police operation makes over 80 arrests

Meanwhile local police have made 81 arrests since the weekend for breach of curfew, obstruction of police, public drunkenness and ' housebreaking'.

The latest arrest was made early Tueday morning of a 30 year old man for breach of curfew and an active warrant for his arrest.

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Photo: RNZ Pacific / Koro Vaka'uta

Police also seized 15 cartons of mutton from the man's car which they believed were stolen.

Police urged people to respect the law and respect officers as they go about their duty.

"This is a difficult time but we need the public to follow instructions and comply with the directions of the National Lockdown," said Acting Deputy Commissioner Atunaisa Taumoepeau.

"We are here to save lives and to keep everyone safe. People need to stay home especially during the curfew hours."

Police were working alongside the Armed Forces to enforce the National Lockdown Order.

The country is currently under a one-week national lockdown which includes a nightly curfew between 8pm and 6am.