Pacific / Tonga

Tonga women forced from Oceania Cup over measles concerns

06:57 am on 22 November 2019

A member of the Tonga women's rugby team was reported to have suspected symptoms of measles. Photo: Oceania Rugby

Tonga's women's rugby team has withdrawn from this week's Oceania Rugby Championships in Fiji after the team was quarantined for measles.

Oceania Rugby said the decision was made after the team were forced into quarantine for 18 days - which would run through the tournament.

One of the players who arrived in Fiji was suspected of having measles, and tests were conducted on Sunday.

A senior official at the Fiji health ministry, Aalisha Sahukan, said the risk of infection was deemed too high for the Tongan team to participate.

"Based on the knowledge of the pattern of test results seen for measles cases amongst young adults in Tonga, we have advised the Tongan Women's team that they must be quarantined for the stated period," said Dr Sahukan.

"There is a risk that the teams they play against, and any other people they come into contact with during the infectious period of the disease, could be exposed and develop the disease," she said.

Oceania Rugby executive, Cathy Wong, said the health and safety of the team and the general public was the top priority for everyone involved.

"The decision to withdraw Tonga from the remaining rounds of the Oceania Rugby Women's Championships in 2019 was a collaborative decision between all parties in the best interest of player welfare and public health," Cathy Wong said.

As a result of Tonga's withdrawal from the remaining rounds, an amended draw for the 2nd to the 4th round has been circulated to all teams.