The norovirus outbreak at the Pyeongchang Olympics has officially spread to athletes, infecting two freestyle skiers from Switzerland.
The outbreak began among staff and volunteers and showed no signs of slowing down, with 17 new cases diagnosed on Friday according to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That brings the total number of those infected by the highly contagious disease to 261. The outbreak has been traced to contaminated water used in food preparation at the Horeb Youth Center, reports the Los Angeles Times. The two skiers are reportedly no longer staying in the Olympic Village with the other athletes.
The first cases of the norovirus were announced on the Tuesday prior to the opening ceremony with 41 security guards testing positive for the virus. Symptoms of the highly contagious, viral stomach flu include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. It is often called the stomach flu, and while it can cause food poisoning, it is not the only cause of food poisoning, according to the Center for Disease Control. It can easily spread from contaminated food, water, or contact with contaminated surfaces. Foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables that are not washed or cooked before they are eaten are among foods that are most often contaminated, reports Time.
It has not yet been confirmed whether both of the skiers will still compete, though they have been treated and no longer show signs of the virus. In a statement released by the Swiss Olympic delegation, they did not confirm either way. “We would like to point out that athletes affected by norovirus will be admitted to the competitions in good physical condition and after examination by a Swiss team doctor,” the statement read, adding that “it is also not out of the question that the athletes are competitive after surviving the disease.”
The New York Times contacted emergency communication director for the South Korean Centers for Disease Control, Park Kisoo, who would not confirm whether any other athletes had been infected with the virus. He did confirm that they were working with the International Olympic Committee leaving it up to the individual countries to “decide on the disclosure about health information of athletes.”
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