Norovirus Spreads Rapidly At The PyeongChang Olympics

Jessica Lee, Feb. 8, 2018, 9:49 a.m.

Norovirus is spreading quickly in Pyeongchang with only a day to go until the Winter Olympics start. The number of Olympics staffers who came down with food poisoning increased from 32 on Tuesday to 86 on Wednesday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Among some 1,500 staffers who have been tested for norovirus after it was detected in their quarters, 1,102 tests have been completed. The virus has now also spread to Gangneung and Jeongseon, in addition to security staff quarters in Pyeongchang.

The number of guards from a private security company who tested positive had risen from 20 on Tuesday to 58 on Wednesday. Also infected were 12 police officers patrolling the venues, three staffers of the International Olympic Committee, six cooks and helpers, and four reporters.

Police are rushing to prevent spread of the virus by disinfecting the infected areas and replacing all bedclothes and equipment they used.

Health authorities believe the infection spread through contaminated water but have so far failed to trace it to its source. Tests found several strains of norovirus found in different victims who had never crossed each other's paths in their day-to-day duties, which suggests that they were infected from different sources.

"It appears that they were infected through diverse sources, not by contaminated water or food in a single specific area," a public health official said. "This makes it difficult for us to determine risk factors in our efforts to prevent further infection."

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