Thu, Nov 30, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Chickenpox decimates Maldives squad

AFP , DOHA

The Asian Games has been hit by a chickenpox outbreak amongst the Maldives team but organizers insist that the problem will not affect the 10,000 athletes taking part.

The disease hit three members of the Indian Ocean island's volleyball squad.

Abdullah al-Mussleh, the Games program manager for health care and doping control, said that the disease was first spotted in one player shortly after his arrival in Doha.

"He was immediately isolated and all of the national Olympic committee of the team concerned was screened for chickenpox. None of them showed any indication of the disease at that stage," said Al-Mussleh.

Eight of the team were immune from the disease but seven were not. The whole team has since been isolated and all are on anti-viral medicine.

On Tuesday, two more Maldives volleyball players developed the chickenpox rash and they have also been isolated at the city's main Hamad Hospital.

"One has chickenpox, the other has a high possibility of having chickenpox," added Al-Mussleh.

As a result of the outbreak, the team was forced to cancel its match against Taiwan on Tuesday.

But the Olympic Council of Asia has said that the team will be free to resume their campaign as volleyball is not a contact sport.

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