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Norovirus still a problem in Pyeongchang
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2018.02.19 16:22
  • Updated 2018.02.19 16:22
  • comments 0

Norovirus continues to affect the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games, while the lack of a proper protocol to contain the spread of the infection also came into question.

Norovirus, also known as the “winter vomiting bug,” is highly contagious and is often spread through touching surfaces or ingesting food and water contaminated with fecal matter. The virus thrives among those living in close quarters and can survive even boiling and cold water and surfaces. There are no drugs or vaccines that can treat the stomach bug, but the illness goes away by itself in a couple of days.

According to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games Organizing Committee (POGOC), two Swiss athletes competing in the ski slopestyle -- Fabian Bosch and Elias Ambuhl – became the first game participant to contract the virus.

The competitors rejoined training last Saturday, after receiving care for the infection in a sequestered private room.

“Both players were isolated for 48 hours to prevent the spread of Norovirus, and afterward the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowed them to return,” said German Clenin, the Switzerland team doctor in an interview with the Associated Press.

POGOC’s response toward norovirus patients also came into question.

According to Nocut News, a local news outlet, the committee failed to follow proper protocol and care for a quarantined volunteer diagnosed with the norovirus.

Despite the confirmation, the POGOC did not isolate the volunteer until the next day. Also, the committee did not provide him with food during his isolation even after continuous requests. Such actions led to the volunteer to go out to eat, which left room for further infection. The volunteer exhausted by the lack of care from the committee chose to quit.

In response to the incident, the committee admitted a problem in their chain of command.

“For some reason, the department handling the issue received the report regarding the volunteer for days after the initial incident,” a POCOG official said in an interview with Nocut News. “In general, we are managing the patient in detail, but in this case, there seems to have been a problem with our management system.”

As of Saturday, 275 people have been confirmed to have been infected with the highly contagious virus, while 53 remain in quarantine.


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