CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian navy’s largest ship docked at disaster-stricken Tonga on Wednesday and was allowed to unload humanitarian provides within the South Pacific nation regardless of crew members being contaminated with COVID-19, officers mentioned.
Practically two dozen sailors aboard the HMAS Adelaide had been reported contaminated on Tuesday, elevating fears the mercy mission may deliver the coronavirus to the small archipelago devastated by an undersea volcanic eruption and a tsunami on Jan. 15.
For the reason that pandemic started, Tonga has reported only a single case of COVID-19 and has averted any outbreaks. It’s one of many few international locations on the planet at the moment utterly virus free. About 61% of Tongans are totally vaccinated, in accordance with Our World in Information.
The 27,500 metric ton (30,300 U.S. ton) ship had accomplished the three,300-kilometer (2,050-mile) voyage from Brisbane and would ship provides with out contact with the native inhabitants to keep away from infections, the Australian authorities mentioned in a press release.
“We recognize the choice of the federal government of Tonga to allow HMAS Adelaide to dock and offload the humanitarian and medical provides, and the excessive precedence it has positioned on COVID security all through the restoration course of,” the assertion mentioned. “The ship is enterprise a wholly contactless supply of humanitarian help and catastrophe reduction provides.”
With restoration of the consuming water provide a significant precedence, the ship brings a desalination plant. It is also carrying helicopters and engineering tools.
Australia mentioned it was widening its catastrophe help to incorporate restoration of energy and communications.
Tonga often requires guests to quarantine for 3 weeks on arrival and the powerful pandemic measures complicate the worldwide catastrophe response. All worldwide support is to be delivered with out native contact.
Tongan authorities have been cautious that accepting worldwide support may usher in an even bigger catastrophe than the large eruption of the volcano. The tsunami has claimed three lives.
The ship is the second support mission from Australia by which at the very least one crew member examined constructive. A C-17 Globemaster army transport aircraft was earlier circled midflight after an individual aboard was identified with the coronavirus.