February 07, 2018
1 min read

Norovirus outbreak hits Winter Olympics

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Officials are searching for the source of a norovirus outbreak that has sickened dozens of people at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The Pyeongchang organizing committee (POCOG) said the outbreak began Sunday among security personnel being housed at a local youth center. Patients initially reported symptoms including headaches, stomach pain and diarrhea, prompting an investigation and quarantine of more than 1,000 residents at the youth center.

According to POCOG, 900 military personnel were deployed to cover security at 20 venues until the quarantined guards can return to work.

Organizers said public health officials were checking tap water, food preparation staff and food items to trace the route of transmission. Water used for cooking and drinking has so far tested negative.

According to POCOG, the outbreak spread to 32 people by Tuesday, including 21 security guards and 11 people from other locations. The Korean CDC updated the case count to 86, according to reports. No athletes have been reported among the sick.

Photo at Olympics
Officials scrambled to address a norovirus outbreak at the Winter Olympics that has sickened dozens of people.
Source: Shutterstock.com

Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread from infected people or from contaminated food, water or surfaces, causing symptoms that commonly include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain, according to the CDC.

POCOG publicized a list of norovirus prevention measures, urging people to wash their hands for more than 30 seconds with flowing water and soap, cook food thoroughly, boil water before drinking and wash and peel fruits and vegetables. It said people with diarrhea should not cook.

To prevent more infections, organizers said public health officials were “strengthening hygiene inspection on restaurants and all food and beverage facilities related to the Olympics, and the Korean Center for Disease Control is strengthening monitoring on diarrhea patients and is requesting everyone to follow the norovirus prevention measures.” – by Gerard Gallagher