(Reuters) - Tonga have been withdrawn from the Oceania Rugby Women's Championships in Fiji and quarantined until Dec. 4 as a precaution following an outbreak of measles across the Pacific islands and Samoa, Oceania Rugby said on Thursday.
The outbreak has seen schools closed and a crackdown on public gatherings after several deaths.
In Tonga, the ministry of health last week said an outbreak of measles in the country occurred following the return of a squad of Tongan rugby players from New Zealand and 251 confirmed or suspected cases were identified.
Tonga's women were to take part in the Nov. 18-30 tournament in Fiji, which are qualifiers for the 2021 women's World Cup, but the decision to quarantine the team was made by the Fiji Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation.
"Based on the knowledge of the pattern of test results seen for measles cases amongst young adults in Tonga, we've advised the Tongan Women's team that they must be quarantined for the stated period," Dr. Aalisha Sahukan, from Fiji's Ministry of Health, said in a statement.
"There's 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.
"And those who potentially develop the disease could spread it to other people in Fiji, and overseas when the national teams return home."
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)