THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
January 25, 2022 at 17:55 JST
An Air Self-Defense Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, front, arrives at an Australian air force base in the eastern part of the country on Jan. 21 before heading for disaster-hit Tonga to deliver supplies of drinking water. (Provided by Joint Staff Office, Ministry of Defense)
An Air Self-Defense Force member of an emergency mission to airlift drinking water to disaster-hit Tonga tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to Australia, which was also a stopover on the outward journey, the Defense Ministry said Jan. 25.
It said the individual in his 30s flew on a Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to deliver supplies to the South Pacific island nation following a huge underwater volcanic eruption there.
The incident will not affect the mission as the ministry secured sufficient personnel to transport supplies, officials said. The water was delivered to Tonga on Jan. 22 and the aircraft returned to Australia the same day.
The ministry said the individual tested positive for COVID-19 after developing a fever and taking a test in Australia on the morning of Jan. 24. Both the individual and 21 others who are thought to have come in close contact are self-isolating in Australia.
Another C-130 delivered water to Tonga on Jan. 24 and returned to Australia the same day. The ministry said the ASDF members who flew on this aircraft will now be tasked with transporting supplies to Tonga.
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