By Elena Pasilio on Tokelau
First passenger boat for Tokelau since March 2022 Photo: RNZ Pacific/Elena Pasilio
With Covid 19 restrictions relaxed, Tokelau which remains Covid-19 free, has opened its borders to allow essential workers to return to the atolls.
The general manager of the Apia based Office of Tokelau Aukusitino Vitale said that they have been planning the repatriation process for returning Tokelauans, who will arrive via passenger boat. The last repatriation was in early 2021.
“We’re comfortable with how this is progressing,” he said.
The first passengers to arrive were a nurse and a telecommunications contractor. In preparation for their arrival Alapati Tavite, Tokelau Deputy Director of Health, carried out a vital safety briefing:
Managed isolation house on Atafu Photo: RNZ Pacific/Saniata Semisi
“We sat down with the workers and talked, just reminding the workers of the safety measures as usual, but we have had time to get used to this new working system so I’m confident everyone knows what to do,” Tavite said.
This arrival comes six months after the last passenger boat, in March of this year.
The interval has given Tokelau time to plan and implement a new system, to safely manage the repatriation of workers. Passengers and stevedores will stay in managed isolation houses and receive frequent Covid 19 testing from health workers.
Managed isolation house on Nukunonu Photo: RNZ Pacific/Elena Pasilio
“Although most countries in the world have moved into stages where they are able to open their borders without the restrictions they used to have,” Vitale said.
He said Tokelau is different because of our remote location and that we do not have the hospital capacity and health resources needed if we were to have a Covid 19 outbreak here.”
Police officers have been stationed next to the managed isolation houses, in order to monitor visitors during the isolation period.
Constable Viliamu setting up table for food drop off Nukunonu Photo: RNZ Pacific/Elena Pasilio
A number of Tokelauans are currently in Samoa, awaiting repatriation as space on passenger boats to the atolls becomes available.
Vitale explains the priority given to essential workers: “We have opened to essential workers first because we need our hospital staff back who have been in Samoa for months-having taken sick patients.
We currently don’t have a doctor in any of the three atolls and so having the nurses back is a priority before we open to repatriate our other passengers,” Vitale said.
Copyright © 2022, Radio New Zealand
for ad-free news and current affairs
Pacific RSS
Follow RNZ News


Shop Sephari