Tonga Health says only ‘seven babies’ dead in July, August contradicting social media death spike fake news

The Ministry of Health says only seven babies had been recorded dead in Tonga in the months of July and August.

Photo/Kaniva Tonga

The Ministry was responding after Facebook fake news posts alleged that there was a spike in newborn babies death since July which some have linked to COVID-19 vaccines. The allegations did not provide any exact numbers and they amplified their claims by using exaggerated Tongan words such as “mate tavale” (died randomly) or “tuva e mate” (died indiscriminately).

But the Ministry said, in July, only three of the recorded deaths were babies.

One was an eight-month-old baby who died from Pneumococcal Meningitis. Another was a two-year-old who died from Sepsis and a third died after he was diagnosed with West Syndrome with Severe Sepsis.

In the month of August, the Ministry said it recorded four deaths as babies.

One was a newborn with a severe respiratory distress from meconium aspiration. Another was a two-year-old with severe multiple injuries from a car accident. A third death was a four-year-old with brain tumour and the fourth died from a left intrathoracic tumor.

The last two deaths were babies referred to Vaiola from Vava’u.

“It is important to note that all the above causes of death are life-threatening conditions with very high fatality rate”, the Ministry said.

“Also the disclosure of information about the causes of death is confidential and only be shared with the parents or guardian”.

“None of the deceased had a positive covid test which are routine for all hospital admissions”.

The update from the Ministry came after its chief executive Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola said last week, that there was no evidence to show there was excess deaths among children.

He said the Ministry records showed there was a decline in this year’s death records in the first six month compared to the same time recorded during previous years.

He said he was aware of allegations made on Facebook regarding a surge in death but at the same time he did not receive any complaint from the public.

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