Tonga reports its first coronavirus case

The nation island of Tonga has reported its first coronavirus infection since the beginning of the pandemic after a passenger travelling from New Zealand tested positive.

In a radio address on Friday, Tonga’s Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa confirmed that there was one COVID-19 case among 215 passengers who arrived from the city of Christchurch, local media reported.

Located northeast of New Zealand, Tonga is home to about 106,000 people. About 31 percent of Tongans are fully vaccinated and 48 percent have had at least one dose, according to research group Our World in Data.

The island is among the few remaining nations in the world that have avoided outbreaks of COVID-19. Like many of its neighbours, Tonga’s isolation has helped keep it safe but it faces big challenges should the virus take hold due to its under-resourced health system.

The nearby nation of Fiji avoided significant outbreaks until April, when the Delta variant of the coronavirus ripped through the island chain, infecting more than 50,000 people and killing at least 673.

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