News Alerts

23 Apr 2020 | 01:41 PM UTC

Tonga: Scores arrested for violating COVID-19 lockdown measures nationwide since March 29 /update 6

Tonga News Alert

Over three hundred individuals arrested amid the COVID-19 national lockdown measures since March 29

TIMEFRAME expected from 4/18/2020, 12:00 AM until 6/12/2020, 10:59 PM (Pacific/Tongatapu). COUNTRY/REGION Tonga

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According to regional media sources, as of Thursday, April 23, police forces have arrested at least 357 people for violating the lockdown measures during the state of emergency which was introduced on March 29, amid the ongoing global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Individuals were arrested for either breaching the lockdown measures or obstructing officers during the restrictions. According to reports, a further 211 people have been arrested since the state of emergency was initiated, for other crimes including domestic violence charges, public drunkenness, possession of illicit drugs, and other violent crimes.

The national lockdown in place prohibits non-essential movement, requiring individuals to stay at home with the exception of those buying food or medicine, traveling to the bank, or for workers of an essential service provider. The overnight curfew remains in effect from 20:00 until 06:00 (local time) and will be enforced by security personnel. On April 17, Tongan authorities extended the closure of its border until June 12 with the exception of humanitarian and repatriation flights.

Additionally, all gatherings of more than ten people indoors and 20 people outdoors remains prohibited. Bars, restaurants, night clubs, and shops selling nonessential goods are also closed, and all recreational or related gatherings are banned. 

As of Thursday, April 23, there have been no cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the country. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.


The first case of COVID-19 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 numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

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.


Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay. 

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.


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