March 20, 2020 / 2:09 AM / 2 months ago

Rugby-Coronavirus case prompts shut down of all Fiji competitions

SYDNEY, March 20 (Reuters) - All rugby competitions in Fiji have been shut down until further notice after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the Pacific island nation, Fiji Rugby said on Friday.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimrama issued a directive banning unnecessary gatherings of more than 20 people to combat the spread of the virus on Thursday after a flight attendant tested positive for COVID-19 in the city of Lautoka.

“In the best interest of preserving and protecting the health and safety of Fijians ... the Board was left with very little choice but to suspend rugby competitions and events for the short term future,” the Fiji Rugby Union Board said in a statement.

Fijians were asked to contact local health authorities if they had been on the same flights as the coronavirus patient, who had staffed trips from Auckland and San Francisco in recent days, The Fiji Times reported.

The nation’s Olympic champion rugby sevens squad recently returned from North America after competing in the World Sevens Series tournament in Vancouver but Fiji Rugby said they had not been on the same flight as the patient.

“For those of you concerned for the wellbeing of our Fijian Sevens squad members in relation to their return from the USA and Canada,” chief executive John O’Connor said.

“We wish to advise that the sevens players are safe and have been cleared from isolation by the Ministry of Health with no players so far showing any symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.

“The players also did not return back home via the mentioned San Francisco flight.”

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford

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