TONGANS on repatriation flights schedule for next week from six countries including New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu and American Samoa can lodge an application for home quarantine upon arrival.
However, there are conditions applied.
Prior to travel, repatriated passengers must apply to CEO of Health for a home isolation. Before an application is approved a health inspection is to be conducted to ensure the home quarantine facility is suitable for mandatory isolation.
Chief Medical Officer of Public Health Dr. Reynold ‘Ofanoa made the announcement during a press conference with the media today.
In the last repatriation flight on February 15, 22 of the 181 repatriated passengers were allowed home isolation for 14 days.
This new arrangement had raised concerns of risks involved and chances of more community transmission.
However, Chief Medical Officer of Public Health, Dr. Reynold ‘Ofanoa said frontliners have reported those in home quarantine did comply with the COVID-rules and Health Protocol.
“This is great news to the Minister, Health Ministry and Government since it is a first-time arrangement for home isolation. And so far, so good,” said Dr. ‘Ofanoa.
Meanwhile, CEO of Health, Dr. Siale ‘Akau’ola said those in MIQ and in home isolation are treated the same with health care. Also, they are closely monitored and provided with covid testing.
Dr. ‘Akau’ola said home quarantine is better choice for Tonga in the future. “We have a feeling home quarantine is safer than MIQs. It is the way to go in the future, the risk of transmission is less.”
The Health Minister Hon. Dr. Saia Piukala said countries like New Zealand, travelers are no longer required to go into managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ). Home isolation is an alternative to MIQ while Fiji has reduced the MIQ period to three days only.
The next repatriation flight scheduled for next Tuesday is to bring Tongans stranded in Australia and New Zealand. The rest of the flights next Thursday will be from Fiji, Samoa, Pangopango and Vanuatu.
More than 400 Tongans are anticipated to return home on these repatriation flights.
A total of 3280 stranded passengers have been repatriated to Tonga since last year.