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04 Feb 2020 | 08:27 AM UTC

Tonga: Authorities implement new entry restrictions amid coronavirus outbreak February 3

Tonga establishes new travel restrictions for all passengers beginning February 3; further spread of coronavirus to be expected over coming weeks

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Event

On Monday, February 3, Tongan officials announced that in efforts to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, all travelers will need to complete a health declaration card on arrival into Tongan territory, travelers coming from or having transited through mainland China will need a 14 day self-quarantine in a country free from novel coronavirus, and all foreign travelers will need medical clearance within three days before traveling to the Kingdom. The government declared the entry measures effective from Monday but has not stated how long the measures will be in effect.

To date, no 2019-nCoV cases have been confirmed in Tonga.

Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in 23 countries worldwide besides China, as well as in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is a "public health emergency of international concern."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia. 

Advice

Potentially impacted individuals are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries and consider rebooking options, if needed, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Potentially impacted individuals are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries and consider rebooking options, if needed, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Individuals in Hong Kong are also advised to confirm doctor's appointments, to anticipate longer waiting times in medical facilities for the duration of the strike, and to avoid any protests.

Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:

  • Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
  • Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
  • Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
  • Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments