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Disaster Response Underway in Tonga Amid COVID Concerns

    Disaster Response Underway in Tonga Amid COVID Concerns
    Updated Jan 21, 2022
    Image credit: NICT/ handout via AFP [via Al Jazeera]

    Facts

    • A massive undersea volcano erupted near Tonga, creating a damaging local tsunami that traversed the Pacific and created an "unprecedented disaster" for the island nation.[1]
    • The twin disasters severed Tonga's connection with the outside world and caused catastrophic damage on its outer islands.[2]
    • As international aid organizations begin a large-scale response, there are fears that responders could bring a "tsunami of COVID" to the virus-free nation.[3]

    Spin

    Narrative A

    The global humanitarian system is mounting a robust, swift, and appropriate response. Some aid will be remote to respect Tonga's COVID-free policies, while resources like safe drinking water will need to be delivered on-site.

    Narrative B

    This global response must be sensitive. Tonga is nearly COVID-free and aid agencies must avoid bringing the virus. Responders must also consider that the Pacific Island community has just faced cyclone-related natural disasters.