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There’s a coronavirus outbreak on a ship delivering aid to Tonga

A ship on the way to Tonga to offer assistance is full of positive COVID-19 cases right now

SHARE There’s a coronavirus outbreak on a ship delivering aid to Tonga
Volcanic ash covers roof tops and vegetation.

In this photo provided by the New Zealand Defense Force, volcanic ash covers roof tops and vegetation in an area of Tonga, Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.

Cpl. Vanessa Parker, NZDF via Associated Press

About two dozen Australian sailors — who are currently on a military ship bound to bring aid to Tonga after its recent volcano eruption — tested positive for the coronavirus this week, stoking fears that the virus may spread to Tonga.

The news: NPR reports that the Australian military sailors tested positive for COVID-19 on the ship.

  • In response, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said the Australian government is trying to keep the ship at sea.
  • There is fear that the ship will bring a coronavirus outbreak to the 105,000 people in Tonga.
  • Tonga has been hit hard recently by tsunami waves caused by an underwater volcano.

Why it matters: Tonga authorities have been unsure about accepting any international aid because it could easily cause a COVID-19 outbreak. Per NPR, Tonga only had a single case of COVID-19 and has avoided any outbreaks.

  • “They need the aid desperately, but they don’t want the risk of COVID,” Dutton told Sky News. “We will work through all of that as quickly as we can.”

What to watch: The Australian Department of Defense said the ship will be allowed to head toward Tonga and that all supplies will be delivered in a “COVID-safe manner,” according to BBC News.