The bug best known for cruise ship outbreaks has infiltrated the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, prompting the sidelining of some 1,200 private security staff, according to the Korea Times.
Olympic organizers say 41 security guards had suffered a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea on Sunday and had been taken to hospital, forcing the replacement of the large security staff with 900 military personnel while testing is being performed.
Organizers said the virus appeared to have originated from Horeb Odaesan Youth Training Center in PyeongChang, where the agents stayed in a room for six in a group of 10. The Institute of Health and Environment under Gangwon Province Office found traces of the virus in a drinking water dispenser, and in shower rooms and in washroom basins.
The Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) dispatched an immediate response team to the Pyeongchang site to check additional people for symptoms, check the origin of the exposure, take measures to control infection and prevent spread, according to a statement.
Water and food at the accommodations are currently being tested, while the Winter Olympics committee said it would strengthen checks on sleeping quarters for staff working at the games to prevent further infections.
“As a president of Pocog [the organizing committee], I would like to apologize for this,” Lee Hee-beom said.
Last summer, norovirus was the cause of an outbreak at the World Athletics Championships in London where dozens of suspect and confirmed cases were reported.
In December, KCDC Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said, “We’re sparing no effort to make next year’s PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games a sporting event that is free of infectious diseases and where you can feel safe. Come visit Korea with no worries in 2018!
“To make the PyeongChang Games as safe as possible, we’ve established a system of dealing with potential diseases of all kinds through a whole-scale process of inspection, diagnosis, epidemiological investigations and patient management. We’re doing our best so that anyone from anywhere in the world can come visit Korea at ease.”
Norovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that often goes by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.
The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills,headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.
Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food and water, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.
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