HMAS Adelaide heads to Tonga to assist in relief efforts Photograph:( Reuters )
Australian authorities said at least 23 personnel onboard MAS Adelaide tested positive for the virus.
The Australian warship set to deliver humanitarian assistance to Tonga has been hit with COVID-19 cases, authorities said.
The country was hit with a devastating volcano and a tsunami on January 15 as it called for aid. Tongan authorities had earlier expressed fears over a virus outbreak.
Australian authorities said at least 23 personnel onboard MAS Adelaide tested positive for the virus. The warship has a crew of 600 which is reportedly carrying medical supplies and water purification equipment.
The coronavirus patients have been isolated in the warship.
The ship may now be anchored at sea so that there is "no threat" to Tonga. The Australian defence department said HMAS Adelaide will complete its mission.
UN had earlier warned that Tonga cannot afford an outbreak since it is already grappling with destruction due to the volcanic eruption. Tonga has remained COVID free for the past two years.
Other nations including New Zealand, China, France and Japan have also contributed to relief efforts in the region.
(With inputs from Agencies)