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Nuku’alofa – October 28, 2021: 11.25am (Nuku’alofa Times): The Ministry of Health is monitoring the passengers repatriated from Christchurch in New Zealand yesterday after two positive COVID-19 cases were recorded in the city in the last 24 hours.
The passengers are currently quarantined at the Tanoa Hotel in Nuku’alofa.
Health Chief Executive Officer Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola confirmed to Nuku’alofa Times this morning that the passengers are being monitored in quarantine.
Asked if there is any risk to Tonga, he said there was none at this stage.
“Should be OK for us since  all passengers are on quarantine and front-liners who worked last night had no direct contact with passengers,” Dr Siale said.
“And we will monitor these passengers closely while on quarantine and to make it even safer, our front-line team monitoring these passengers are also in quarantine too.”
There are around 300 passengers who were brought into Tonga yesterday on the repatriation flight.
That group is made up mainly of fruit pickers who were stuck in New Zealand.
Members of the Tonga Olympic squad who were stuck in New Zealand over the last two months were also on the flight.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Health authorities are still trying to determine the risk to Christchurch of two new community cases of Covid-19 there, and a snap lockdown is not being ruled out.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins is expecting to receive a public health risk assessment on the cases today, which will allow a quick decision about a potential lockdown, possibly at today’s 1pm briefing.

The two cases are from the same household, are not vaccinated, and their use of the Covid-19 Tracer app has been low.

They have been in Christchurch for up to a week after one travelled back from Auckland. They had a negative test result prior to that travel as required but later tested positive.

At this stage, there are no other known household contacts for the pair.

Hipkins told Morning Report “The nature of their contacts in Christchurch will be established during the morning and then we’ll have a bit more information to share, but you know, these cases came in quite late last night.

“My understanding is that they’ve been unwell for a while so they could have been symptomatic and infectious for a period of time whilst back in Christchurch and so that’s one of the things that the contact tracers will be working on as a as a top priority this morning – to identify exactly what the nature of the potential exposure in Christchurch is.”

It was not yet clear how many locations of interest there might be.

“As of last night that identified one other household so far that the person had had contact with … but we’ll know more within the next few hours, hopefully.”

The impact of their low use of the Covid Tracer app “ultimately would depend on exactly how much they’ve been out in the community, you know if they’ve been unwell, they may well have been staying at home for much of that period of time.

“If they have had a significant amount of movement within the community, and then the fact that they haven’t kept records does make that more challenging because human nature is everybody will forget things.”

The pair seemed to be co-operating with authorities so far, he said.

There was not enough information available yet to make a call on a snap lockdown, Hipkins said.

“We will know by later in the morning this morning what we’re dealing with in Christchurch. At this point we’re still just waiting to get more information there… I’m expecting to receive the public health risk assessment on these particular cases later on this morning, and that will allow us to make it speedy decision about anything any follow up that’s required in Christchurch.

“I couldn’t make a judgement at this point as to what follow up will will be required.”

According to Canterbury DHB figures, 89 percent of people in the region have received their first dose and 68 percent are fully vaccinated.

Hipkins said that was good.

“Once you get up to those sorts of rates, that does start to have an impact on the spread of the virus.”

But the cases illustrated why there were still restrictions in the South Island, he said.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the two Delta cases were the wake-up call her city was dreading and hoped a snap lockdown would not be needed.

Dalziel told Morning Report it was disappointing the pair were not scanning QR codes and were unvaccinated.

Seeing the damage one case caused in Auckland, people needed to be extremely vigilant, she said.

She wanted tougher border requirements for people leaving locked down regions.

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