The 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games Organizing Committee and the health authorities are making all-out effort to contain an outbreak of the norovirus in Pyeongchang ahead of the official kickoff of the sports event.
According to the organizing committee, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS), and the Pyeongchang Health Center & County Hospital are conducting a joint epidemiological survey on people who recently used the Horep Mt. Odae Youth Training Center.
The authorities received the initial report of the norovirus outbreak on Sunday, and 32 people have been confirmed to have been infected with the highly contagious virus as of Wednesday. Symptoms of norovirus infection include vomiting and diarrhea.
As of Tuesday, 21 out of the 1,025 people examined for the virus tested positive and the affected people were housed in separate rooms. Among them, 952 were users of the youth training center, and 73 were trainers. The conditions of the affected people were reportedly good.
Additionally, hospitals and the polyclinic at the Olympic Village received 11 other cases of norovirus infection among diarrhea patients. Eight were Koreans, and the rest three were foreigners. Another foreigner who showed similar symptoms is on a test. The nine are now on self-quarantine.
The health authorities said users of the training center, whose infections were not confirmed, are separated from one another depending on their symptoms. After test results come out, they will be able to go back to work, officials said. Health officials are tracing the route of transmission by investigating food preparation staffs, the food, and the underground water.
The MFDS and Ministry of Environment have investigated the youth training center’s water for food preparation and the tap water, but no norovirus has been detected so far.
The health authorities are also in an epidemiological study on persons who contacted the 11 infected patients at hospitals to find out the transmission routes.
The KCDC enhanced the monitoring of diarrhea patients and asked hospitals to make sure that they abide by hygiene rules to prevent norovirus infection.
The MFDS is continually checking the operation of sterilizers at 18 lodges use underground water. Hygiene checks are also in 1,300 places using underground water out of 4,300 food-related facilities around the stadiums.
The environment ministry has already carried out norovirus tests for Olympics-related facilities and restaurants using underground water. To enhance water quality management, however, try will test the water and check whether disinfection equipment is working properly, along with the related organizations such as Gangwon Province.
The environment ministry also vowed to thoroughly manage water quality for groundwater-using lodges of Olympic officials and operational staffs from Wednesday until the end of PyeongChang Olympic Games.
The water management will be carried out jointly with the National Institute of Environmental Research, the Seoul Water Institute, the Seoul Research Institute of Public Health and Environment, Gyeonggi Province Research Institute of Public Health and Environment, and the Korea Water Resources Corp.