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Kosovo vote counters don protective wear after rash outbreak

Officials counting votes from Kosovo's Oct. 6 election are wearing protective clothing to handle ballots from neighboring Serbia after a dozen of their colleagues were hospitalized with unexplained skin complaints.

The counting, suspended Oct. 13 for votes from Serbia due to the incident, resumed Wednesday. According to Valmir Elezi, spokesman of the Central Election Commission, the counting would be done "under protective measures."

Kosovo authorities have not specified what caused the itching and rashes, or whether the symptoms were linked with the ballots.

Central Election Commission officials are dressed in white disposable overalls and wearing face masks as they count votes arrived from Serbia in Kosovo capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct.23, 2019. Vote counting has been suspended in Kosovo after several Central Election Commission officials reported health problems including allergic reactions and skin problems after opening ballot boxes from Serbia, authorities in Kosovo have said.(AP PhotoVisar Kryeziu)

Preliminary results show a left-wing party won the election. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, 9 years after NATO bombing ended a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

The ballots from Serbia were from Serb former Kosovo residents still registered there.

Central Election Commission officials dressed in white disposable overalls and wearing face masks count votes arrived from Serbia in Kosovo capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct.23, 2019. Vote counting has been suspended in Kosovo after several Central Election Commission officials reported health problems including allergic reactions and skin problems after opening ballot boxes from Serbia, authorities in Kosovo have said. (AP PhotoVisar Kryeziu)

Central Election Commission officials dressed in white disposable overalls and wearing face masks count votes arrived from Serbia in Kosovo capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct.23, 2019. Vote counting has been suspended in Kosovo after several Central Election Commission officials reported health problems including allergic reactions and skin problems after opening ballot boxes from Serbia, authorities in Kosovo have said. (AP PhotoVisar Kryeziu)

Central Election Commission officials dressed in white disposable overalls and wearing face masks count votes arrived from Serbia in Kosovo capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct.23, 2019. Vote counting has been suspended in Kosovo after several Central Election Commission officials reported health problems including allergic reactions and skin problems after opening ballot boxes from Serbia, authorities in Kosovo have said. (AP PhotoVisar Kryeziu)