Covid-19 cases reported on RAN amphibious ship amid Tonga relief effort

The Royal Australian Navy landing helicopter dock HMAS Adelaide departs Fleet Base East at Garden Island, Sydney, January 17, 2022, as part of Operation Tonga Assist. (Photo: Royal Australian Navy/ABIS Susan Mossop)

The Australian Department of Defence (DOD) has recorded 23 positive Covid-19 cases on board a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ship that was deployed to support relief operations in Tonga.

The DOD said the cases on the landing helicopter dock (LHD) HMAS Adelaide were detected after the ship set sail to Tonga as part of Operation Tonga Assist, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)-led effort to support the Government of Tonga following the eruption of Tonga’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano on January 15, 2022.

The positive Covid cases and close contacts are being isolated and managed in accordance with DOD Covid-safe protocols. Adelaide also has adequate medical facilities on board, including Covid testing capabilities and a 40-bed hospital with operating theatres and a critical care ward.

The DOD assured that the personnel are asymptomatic or displaying mild symptoms as all crew are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Adelaide will continue its mission to support the Tongan relief efforts by carrying humanitarian and medical supplies, engineering equipment, and helicopters to support logistics and distribution. The DOD expects the ship will arrive off the coast of Tonga, as planned, in the early hours (local time) of Wednesday, January 26.

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