A stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhea has infected personnel hired for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Contagious Virus Rapidly Spreading
There were initially 32 cases of the norovirus on Tuesday but figures provided by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the contagious virus is rapidly spreading.
It has infected 54 on Tuesday and the number has skyrocketed to 128 as of late Thursday. Most of those affected were security guards hired for the event.
The virus broke out before the scheduled opening ceremony on Friday.The KCDC said that officials are discussing measures to contain the spread of the virus.
"The IOC is meeting right now about the Winter Olympics and countermeasures to the norovirus is one of the topic," said KCDC public relations official Su Mun-gyo. "We will then announce the results of the discussions and update the number of cases again."
Some 1,200 security personnel have been quarantined and organizers had to ask help from military personnel to secure the event. Nine hundred soldiers were dispatched to temporarily carry out the responsibilities of the security personnel until the latter is cleared to resume work.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that norovirus is behind more than half of all foodborne disease outbreaks that occur per year.
Large gatherings of people, including Olympics, are a perfect venue for the spread of this stomach bug. The virus can also infect passengers on cruise ships, and people who eat food prepared by a person who is sick with norovirus.
"The virus can easily contaminate food because it is very tiny and infective. It only takes a very small amount of virus particles (as few as 18) to make someone sick," the CDC said.
Culprits Of The Outbreak
All of the security officers hired for the event were staying in the same building and were eating the same food and drinking the same water. Officials think that contaminated food and water are the culprits of the infection.
The KCDC already ordered to stop serving the same food and water. It also ordered the local government to inspect staff buildings that use groundwater for drinking water supply as buildings in the Pyeongchang County are not connected to the central water system.
Thousands Expected To Attend 2018 Winter Olympics
Thousands of people, which include athletes, local visitors, and assistant staff are expected to flock to the venues and watch the games from Feb. 9 to Feb. 25.
No athlete has yet been confirmed to have been infected by the virus. Authorities are currently conducting inspections at accommodations and restaurants.