Tropical Cyclone Gita passed through Tonga and Fiji on 12-14 February 2018 as a category 4 cyclone, causing substantial damage. Tropical Cyclone Gita continues to travel through the South Pacific - for further information please see the Tropical Storm Risk website.
Health Advice following the Cyclone
Over the weeks following the cyclone there may be an increased risk from food, water borne and arboviral diseases. This is due to damage to infrastructure, such as water and power supplies, possible sewage contamination and the proliferation of mosquito breeding sites. The current outbreak of dengue in Tonga could be exacerbated if there is an increase in mosquito populations.
As there is no vaccine to protect against dengue, travellers are advised to use insect repellent, wear protective clothing, and stay in lodgings where there are mosquito screens on windows and doors. The Ministry of Health website contains more advice on avoiding mosquito bites while travelling.
Dengue is a serious viral disease. Symptoms of dengue include sudden fever, headache (especially behind the eyes), joint pain, muscle and joint pain, feeling very tired and rash. If travellers do develop any of these symptoms while away, or when they return home, they should seek medical advice promptly, see further information here. People with severe dengue symptoms require hospitalisation, because the disease is life-threatening. See our related news feature on the Dengue fever outbreak.
Other health advice:
- Get vaccinated against typhoid fever and hepatitis A.
- Only eat thoroughly cooked food and only drink well-sealed bottled or packaged cold drinks if unsure of hygiene standards.
- Boil drinking water or use water purification tablets if the water quality is doubtful. Avoid ice in drinks.
- If you have fever, drink plenty of fluids and use paracetamol to manage fever and pain. Do not use aspirin or ibuprofen tablets (and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory tablets) as they can increase the risk of bleeding from dengue infection).
- Avoid contact with flood or stagnant water and mud. Wear protective clothing such as gumboots, as well as gloves, goggles, when working in water, soil or mud or with animals. Clean and cover any cuts and abrasions on your skin with a waterproof dressing.
- Always wash and dry your hands.
Situation in Tonga
In Tonga, power, telecommunications, and water and sanitation services have been damaged, and in some areas completely destroyed. Transportation routes are slowly clearing. Tourist facilities such as hotels and resorts have been severely affected in Nuku’alofa. Fuaʻamotu International Airport has reopened, but some flight services may be delayed.
The Government of Tonga has activated its National Emergency Operations Centre. Authorities have been placed on alert and a state of emergency has been declared until 12 March 2018. The Tonga National Emergency Management Office continues to issue advisories in Tongan and English, and the Fiji Meteorological Service also provides regular regional updates.
The New Zealand High Commission in Nuku’alofa reopened on Wednesday 14 February, and the High Commission Facebook page has been updated with information about the cyclone. New Zealanders in Tonga who require consular assistance should contact the New Zealand High Commission in Nuku'alofa, Tonga on the afterhours number of +676 881 7022.
Situation in Fiji
In Fiji, the extent of damage to southern Lau is still being assessed by the National Disaster Management office of Fiji. Initial indications are that the damage may not be as extensive as originally anticipated.
The New Zealand High Commission Suva is currently open - New Zealanders in Fiji who require consular assistance should contact High Commission on + 679 331 1422 or at NZHC@unwired.com.fj.
We recommend people stay informed of developments by monitoring local news and weather reports. We also encourage people to keep family and friends in New Zealand updated on their well-being. New Zealanders should contact airlines or travel agents directly to check on potential disruptions to flight schedules. If your travel is disrupted, ensure you keep all receipts to support your travel insurance claim.
Reviewed:16 Feb 2018, 16:25
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