Uruguay has 'no qualms" playing at center of Zika outbreak

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) Uruguay will go ahead with a World Cup qualifier scheduled next month in Recife, the Brazilian city at the center of an outbreak of the Zika virus.

''For the moment we have no qualms about the location,'' Eduardo Belza, the national team's sports director, told The Associated Press.

''But it's a fluid situation and we're very aware of what health officials in Brazil and Uruguay are saying.''

The match will be played in the northeastern city on March 24.

Belza said players have been told to use mosquito repellents, bring long-sleeve shirts and avoid being out in the early morning or evening when mosquitoes are more prevalent.

Belza said he's already been to Recife and chosen a hotel with tightly sealed windows and a ventilation system that keeps insects out of the building.

''When we were in Recife we went to the two main training grounds and everyone was in short sleeves and shorts, and we didn't find any mosquitoes,'' Belza said.

An unusually large number of Uruguay fans are expected to travel to the match to see the return of Barcelona striker Luis Suarez.

He has been suspended from the national team after being banned for biting an opponent in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Uruguay's health minister Jorge Basso has cautioned pregnant women about traveling to an area where the Zika virus is prevalent. But he did not mention the match itself.

''If it's not strictly necessary, then it seems advisable and prudent to postpone the trip,'' he said.

Brazil's neighbor Uruguay has yet to register a case of Zika, a virus that is spreading and has been linked to birth defects.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.