Anna Sheffer
February 06, 2018 7:57 am
Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

With the Opening Ceremony on February 9th, the 2018 Winter Olympics are just around the corner. The host country, South Korea, has been preparing for the games for months, but now organizers face a new obstacle that is threatening their hard work: norovirus.

An outbreak of norovirus caused 1,200 security guards to be removed from duty on February 5th, three days before the games begin. In their place, South Korea has dispatched about 900 military personnel, who will perform security duties at the games until the outbreak has passed.

On February 4th, 41 security guards were hospitalized after experiencing sudden vomiting and diarrhea, the first signs of the outbreak. Officials are currently investigating the cause of the outbreak, including the food and drinking water at one of the guards’ training facilities. The security guards will be quarantined in their rooms until they test negative for the virus.

Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi told reporters that officials are doing what they can to prevent the spread of the disease.

Many Olympic athletes have already arrived at the venue, and officials say that both buses and accommodation will be disinfected.

BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Norovirus is highly contagious and can be contracted by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, touching contaminated objects and then touching your mouth, or coming into contact with someone who is infected. The disease can spread quickly in close quarters like nursing homes or schools.

Experiencing an outbreak of such a contagious virus so close to the games is unnerving for everyone involved. We hope that organizers can stop the spread of this illness and make sure that the 2018 Winter Olympics are healthy and enjoyable for all participants.

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