Norovirus Outbreak At Winter Olympics Prompts Military Response

Troops will replace hundreds of civilian security guards until they're determined to be "well."

The Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea, are already stomach-churning ― and the competition hasn’t even started yet. The host country has called in the troops after pulling 1,200 civilian security guards from duty amid a norovirus outbreak, according to outlets.

Lee Hee-beom, chairman of the Pyeongchang Olympics organizing committee, said Tuesday that the civilian guards will be sequestered until it is determined that they are “well,” CBS News reported.

Dozens of guards were already hospitalized Sunday for sudden vomiting and diarrhea.

“The military personnel ... will be responsible for security checks of the 20 venues as they take up jobs such as security searches, previously done by civilian safety personnel, until the patients’ condition is normalized,” a statement Monday from the Olympics committee said, per CNN.

The infected guards were in stable condition, the statement said, and all Olympic living quarters and buses were being sterilized.

Soldiers inspect a visitor at a checkpoint after they replaced 1,200 civilian security guards amid a norovirus outbreak.
Soldiers inspect a visitor at a checkpoint after they replaced 1,200 civilian security guards amid a norovirus outbreak.
JUNG YEON-JE via Getty Images

The 41 security guards diagnosed with the easily transmitted virus were staying in the same building, the Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said Monday.

KCDC dispatched an immediate response team to the Pyeongchang site to check additional people for symptoms, check the origin of the exposure, take measures to control infection and prevent spread,” the statement sent to media said.

As of Tuesday morning, officials still had not determined the origin of the norovirus. But, CBS noted, they are focusing their investigation on food and water sources at the facility where the guards resided. They are also inspecting other facilities that rely on groundwater.

According to the CDC, you can contract norovirus by drinking contaminated liquids, touching contaminated surfaces and putting fingers in your mouth, or having contact with someone who is infected ― for example, sharing a fork.

Competition begins Wednesday and the opening ceremony is Friday.

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