Cruise ships turned away from Tonga over coronavirus fears

Four cruise liners scheduled to dock in Tonga today have been diverted to  Suva and New Zealand waters amid coronavirus fears.

Three ships were to arrive in Nuku’alofa today – the Astor, Columbus, and Crystal Serenity.

A fourth vessel, a super-yacht Windstirid, was to call into Vava’u having sailed from Rarotonga.

The decision was made with an order under the Public Health Act “to prevent the introduction or spread of a controlled notifiable condition”, the government said.

The Tongan government has imposed a range of travel restrictions and medical requirements in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Ministry of Health said all travellers entering the kingdom must complete and submit a Health Declaration Card.

All travellers originating or having transited through China must spend 14 days in self-quarantine at the last port that is free of the coronavirus and obtain a medical clearance within three days of their departure to Tonga.

The expected arrival of the cruise ships comes as another 66 passengers onboard a luxury cruise liner quarantined in Japan have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the number of infected people on the ship to 136.

The Guardian reported that the infected passengers on the Diamond Princess included 45 people from Japan, 11 from the US, four from Australia, three from the Philippines and one each from Canada and Ukraine.

The vessel was quarantined when it arrived in Yokohama after it emerged that a passenger who had disembarked in Hong Kong had tested positive for the illness.

According to the BBC, 103 died in Hubei province in China on Monday. The brought the national death toll to 1016.

However, the number of new infections nationally was down almost 20% from the day before, from 3,062 to 2,478.


In 1918 the passenger ship SS Talune docked in Neiafu during a voyage to Fiji, Samoa and Tonga from New Zealand.

The Talune brought the influenza virus to the kingdom  and killed between five to nine percent of the population.

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