The Tonga Women’s rugby team has been withdrawn from the 2019 Oceania Rugby Women’s Championships following a decision made by the Fiji Ministry of Health with consultation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nadi, today.
After evaluating test results of the suspected measles case earlier this week, the collective decision made by the health authorities was to quarantine the Tonga team for a total period of 18 days (Sunday 17th November to Wednesday 4th of December).
Acting Head of Health Protection for the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services Dr. Aalisha Sahukan said “the risk of infection through contact was deemed too high for the Tongan players to participate in the tournament,” Dr. Sahukan said.
“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,” Dr. she said.
“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,” Dr. Sahukan said.
“And those who potentially develop the disease could spread it to other people in Fiji, and overseas when the national teams return home,” she added.
This risk has been determined to be too high by the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services, which is why we have advised on quarantine,” Dr. Sahukan said.
Executive Member of Oceania Rugby Cathy Wong said that the health and safety of the team and the general public was the uttermost 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,” Wong said.
“Public safety and player welfare dictate all our decisions on any given day and today is one of those days,” she 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.
In light of the tournament being a qualifying tournament for the 2021 Rugby World Cup, an announcement will be made by World Rugby in due course regarding Tonga’s withdrawal.
Round Two of the Oceania Rugby Women’s Championships kicks off again tomorrow at the Churchill Park in Lautoka and tickets are sold at the gate for only $5.00 FJD.
There have been 17 confirmed deaths in Samoa from Measles to date.
There are 9 confirmed cases of measles in Fiji in the Serua and Namosi in Fiji to date.
The blood tests conducted over the period of 72 hours were negative but given the sample cases from Tonga, the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Supplies under the consultation of the World Health Organisation, have decided that the entire team and staff be quarantined for 18 days until December 4, 2019.