About two dozen cases of COVID-19 have been recorded among the crew of an Australian warship on its way to deliver humanitarian aid to virus-free Tonga, authorities said on Tuesday, APA reports quoting Reuters.
Authorities in Tonga, hit by a massive volcanic eruption and a tsunami on Jan. 15, have asked for aid to be delivered without human contact amid concerns a COVID outbreak would be devastating for the tiny Pacific island nation.
The HMAS Adelaide which left from Brisbane carrying large quantities of supplies, helicopters, water purification equipment, additional humanitarian aid, and also an Australian Army engineer contingent, is due to arrive in Tonga in a few days.
Australia's Defence Minister Peter Dutton said 23 personnel have tested positive to COVID on the vessel.
"We will work with the Tongan authorities to keep that vessel at sea to make sure there is no threat and obviously the Tongan government is discussing that at the moment," Dutton said on Sky News.