As the Winter Games Begin, Norovirus Continues to Spread at an Alarming Rate

The outbreak of norovirus hasn’t hit Olympic athletes, at least yet. (Photo: Getty)
The outbreak of norovirus hasn’t hit Olympic athletes, at least yet. (Photo: Getty)

The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea is quickly resembling a terrible cruise, thanks to a norovirus outbreak that’s rapidly spreading.

On Thursday, Korean health officials reported, there were 42 new cases diagnosed, bringing the tally up to 124 confirmed cases in total. Most of these cases have involved security staff at the Horeb Youth Centre in Pyeongchang, where they were being housed. There have also been cases involving locals spotted in Pyeongchang and Gangneung, where the athletic village is being held. All of those afflicted have been quarantined to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Norovirus, while rarely life-threatening, is both incredibly contagious and an absolute drag to go through. It causes diarrhea, vomiting, and an assortment of flu-like symptoms which last for up to three days. As of yet, there’s no clear origin of the outbreak, though officials have reportedly suspected contaminated groundwater near the centre.

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Officials have disinfected common public spaces, supplied bottles of hand sanitizers, and sequestered over a thousand security staff members showing any symptoms in their rooms, according to The New York Times. Notably, 900 military personnel have been deployed to temporarily replace the missing staff. Staff who have tested negative for norovirus have been allowed to return to work, according to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far, at least, the worst case scenario hasn’t happened: There have been zero cases of norovirus among Olympic athletes. The first Olympic events are scheduled to start today, while the official Opening Ceremony is Friday.

Science writer at Gizmodo and pug aficionado elsewhere

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DISCUSSION

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ThisLatteIsRidiculous

It causes diarrhea, vomiting, and an assortment of flu-like symptoms which last for up to three days.

Anecdotal, but this was not exactly my experience nor what I’ve read about it. You don’t necessarily get a fever. While symptoms obviously vary, I had no fever and my only symptoms were a stomachache (for a few minutes) and I vomited twice. But man, I will never forget it. Violent, projectile-type action that made me see stars. I thought I had torn both my retinas. I collapsed on the floor after. About 8 hours after it started, my stomach felt fine. But I was weaker than a soaking-wet one day old kitten. I was barely able to stand up for 5 days afterward. Also my understanding, it is VERY hard to sanitize against. Only bleach works. The good news is that you have immunity for several months following.