3 Feb 2022

'Resilience and strength of people' will get Kingdom through, Tonga's PM

7:20 pm on 3 February 2022

Tonga's new Prime Minister believes the "resilience" and "strength" of people will get the Kingdom through the impacts of the volcanic eruption, tsunami and now Covid-19.

Earlier today, the prime minister together with Minister of Health Saia Piukala said that one of the first two reported cases has since tested negative - but he remains in isolation at Taliai Military Camp awaiting further tests.

The total number of positive covid cases in Tonga now stands at four - down from five originally announced yesterday.

Tonga remains in lockdown with all shops closed and people ordered to stay home.

Work is underway to establish the source of the infections and identify which variant it is.

Tonga's Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku

Tonga's Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku Photo: Kaniva Tonga

Speaking with RNZ Pacific, Hu'akavameiliku said people have responded well to the lockdown.

"It's satisfying that we can actually make a difference during these difficult times, I think that even though it is a challenging time, but the satisfying thing, ah feeling about is we are here to actually help and minimise... of all the challenges to the people of Tonga."

Hu'akavameiliku said his government is looking at how to prioritise food and water for those most in need.

He has reassured people that containers full of vital supplies will be received.

The prime minister said the government is re-examining how to release drums to people under lockdown.

Measures may be implemented to ensure those in "urgent" need of food and water can leave their homes to collect drums.

French Polynesia provides relief supplies for victims of Tonga's volcanic eruption and tsunami

French Polynesia provides relief supplies for victims of Tonga's volcanic eruption and tsunami Photo: supplied

Through RNZ Pacific, Hu'akavameiliku thanked the world for the global response.

"It's hard, I mean... deal with a volcano and the tsunami and now the outbreak of Covid-19."

But Tongans are a resilient people, we have dealt with disasters before and our strength is the fact that we stand together, and then I believe that will get us through these challenges, we will stand together and we will work together and we will get through this together," Prime minister Hu'akavameiliku said.

New Zealand will continue to support Tonga

The New Zealand Government will continue to support Tonga with relief efforts after the Kingdom plunged into lockdown Wednesday night.

The Ministry of Trade and Foreign Affairs told RNZ Pacific all deployed crew and troops on the HMNZS Canterbury returned negative Day 10 PCR Tests as of Tuesday 1 February.

A spokesperson said all Defence Force personnel deployed in the Kingdom have been following strict protocols.

They have been using both Rapid Antigen Tests and PCR tests.

All supplies have been delivered in a contactless manner, using PPE when handling supplies.