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By ILIESA TORA

Nuku’alofa – November 4, 2021: 11.45am (Nuku’alofa Times): There are too many armchair critics around.

More so on social media platforms right now – and majority of them living outside of Tonga.

The current COVID-19 case has proven that.

More Tongans, especially those who are accessible to mobile fones and the internet, rely on social media now for their news than on mainstream media like radio, television and newspapers.

Even if what they are getting are unconfirmed, rumors or make believes people share because they have their own hidden agendas.

Sadly a lot of so called journalists in Tonga are also part of the group who trust social media blogs and updates that are unconfirmed and baseless.

More sad is the fact that some of these so called journalists take these unconfirmed, baseless and unethical news and use that to misinform or ill-advise readers, viewers or listeners.

We live in a world that is full of different challenges.

COVID-19 struck the world almost 24 months ago, after the Huwan outbreak that the Chinese tried their best to hide.

Before that we were trying to keep alive from the mass destruction we were bringing upon ourselves in the form of climate change.

That has been an ongoing problem we are also continuing to battle with daily even more so now.

HIV/AIDS killed millions when it broke out – and medical experts are still trying to find a cure.

The announcement by the top echelons of the Ministry of Health, in Dr Amelia Tuipolotu and Dr Siale Akauola, on Wednesday, November 4 that the COVID-19 positive case had returned negative results on Monday, should be taken as a relief for those who were worried of a possible transmission here.

Health Minister Dr Amelia Tuipolotu answering questions from the media on November 3, 2021. Photo: Nuku’alofa Times

Both Dr Amelia and Dr Siale clarified and confirmed that:

  1. the passenger was vaccinated twice and tested negative before coming to Tonga from Christchurch.
  2. the passenger then tested positive after 3 tests that were done but the positive result was a weak one.
  3. since the weak positive was announced the passenger had tested negative again.
  4. a further test will be carried out on Friday this week and if that proves negative again then the all-clear will be given to Tonga.
  5. all equipment used by the Ministry of Health in Tonga were already tested and are at the same standards as those used in New Zealand or any other country as per World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
  6. the Ministry trusts the systems and procedures in place for testing and confirmation of results of tests carried out to confirm whether one is negative or positive and there is no need to send for verification overseas.
  7. having double shots of the vaccine has proven to work and that was one of the reason why the passenger has tested negative again after the weak positive was first recorded.
  8. everyone who are eligible for vaccination in Tonga (12 years old and above) must get double shots so that they are protected.
  9. the Ministry of Health will continue to work on confidentiality of information with patients and also counsel repatriated passengers to ensure that they do not spread information that could put them in jeopardy and under public scrutiny.

National Emergency Management Committee chairman Hon Poasi Tei, Minister responsible for Emergency under the Ministry of MEIDECC, said Tongans must believe in the Ministry of Health and leave them to do their work.

Hon Poasi Tei stating that people should trust the Ministry of Health and government in the work that they are doing. Photo: Nuku’alofa Times

He told the press conference on November 3 that government’s plans and actions are led by the advise that the Health officials give them.

And he has called on people to trust that process and system. To play their own part in doing what they need to do to make sure that Tonga is safe.

So what can we do?

First of all, stop believing everything that you read on Facebook or any other social media UNLESS you see that is from authorities like the Ministry of Health, government ministries trusted media organisations and people who we believe are trustworthy to share such information. Find out whether they are true or not.

Second, go and get vaccinated if you are not vaccinated.

Third, wear your masks where you need to and keep social distancing.

Fourth, follow the restrictions set out by government.

Fifth, keep safe and make wise decisions for you and your family.

Tonga and her people must understand that some who post issues on social media and try to get their readers and viewers to follow their thinking will not help you out when you are in trouble.

We have a responsibility to our families, to our communities and to Tonga to ensure that we are able to keep everyone safe in our own circles.

Let us do our part, let Health and government do theirs!

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