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Health advice for travelers to 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea: WHO

The XXIII Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will take place in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea from 9 to 25 February 2018 and from 9 to 18 March 2018, respectively. Nearby Gangneung will also host events such as curling, hockey and ice skating.

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The following recommendations are intended to advise national health authorities, health-care providers and individuals about preventive health measures for travellers to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Travellers to the Republic of Korea should also consult the travel advice issued by their national authorities and discuss health risks and preventive practices with their health-care providers prior to departure.

Potential health risks

The winter season in the Republic of Korea poses an increased risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Additionally, crowding of visitors indoors during the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games could increase the risk of spread of infections.

Currently, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) is reporting an increase in seasonal influenza (influenza type B and A(H3N2)).

The country has also been experiencing outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N6) in birds and poultry. No human cases of A(H5N6) have been detected during these outbreaks and the risk of human infection is considered very low.

Travel health and medicine issues

In addition, there is a small risk of the importation of other respiratory infections not normally seen in the Republic of Korea such as measles, diphtheria and human cases of avian influenza.

Mosquito and tick activity is low or non-existent at this time. The risk of vector-borne diseases during the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is therefore considered very low.

The risk of food- and waterborne outbreaks is, in general, increased during mass gatherings when large numbers of people eat from commercial outlets, many of which may have been set up temporarily.

Recommendations for international travellers

a) Vaccine-preventable diseases

There are currently multiple ongoing outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases worldwide, including measles, diphtheria, influenza and mumps. Travellers to the Republic of Korea are advised to consult their health-care providers to ensure they are up to date with the recommended routine immunizations prior to departure.

Read more at WHO