Tonga now in lockdown

Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa Photo: RNZ Pacific

Tonga’s week-long national lockdown began on Sunday as authorities strive to keep the country Covid-19 free.

There have been no confirmed cases in Tonga with eight suspected cases returning negative tests last week.

Despite this the government introduced a State of Emergency and a lockdown, including a night curfew which began on Sunday.

Our correspondent Kalafi Moala said Sunday was eerie as it’s normally a day the nation set aside for attending church.

“The only thing that we know it was Sunday is because of the bells ringing but there were no church services, or if there were church services they were held in the home. On a Sunday, with a lockdown, it was absolutely amazing how quiet the town [was].”

Kalafi Moala said people appear to be following the stringent new measures introduced to keep the country Covid-19 free.

That’s despite some of the restrictions severely hampering Tongans’ ability to practice their cultural norms.

“There’s a lot of Tongan men, they go to kava clubs at night. So there’s a lot of those social events, even funerals. Families are warned that if there are funerals, they may not be able to attend, even of their loved ones. So this is something absolutely revolutionary in terms of Tongan culture.”

Kalafi Moala said it appears everyone is supportive of the measures to protect the community.

“Our government may be trying to learn from how the New Zealand government has been operating,” he said.

“Very clear communication, very decisive and timely and people understand what it’s all about.”

He said multiple government ministers and CEOs have fronted at press conferences to give the public information over the past week.

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