Athletes unaffected as outbreak continues to spread

Reuters, PYEONGCHANG, South Korea

Fri, Feb 09, 2018 - Page 16

The number of people struck down by a virus causing vomiting and diarrhea at the Pyeongchang Olympics has soared to 128, although athletes remain unaffected, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said yesterday.

After an initial 32 cases were reported on Tuesday, 54 new cases were confirmed late on Wednesday, with police, security personnel and food preparation staff among those affected, KCDC Director Kim Hyun-jun said on Wednesday night.

Forty-two more were reported yesterday.

KCDC official Hong Jeong-ik yesterday said the number of cases is likely to continue to rise, because authorities are screening more areas for the disease.

Officials have sequestered about 1,200 security personnel. As the sick workers handled security, 900 military personnel have been called in to work at 20 venues.

“In order to stop the further outbreak of the virus, we’re quarantining patients beginning from the diagnosis to the treatment. We’re going to minimize this outbreak,” Kim said.

“There’s no confirmed cases and that’s the most important thing here, that when the athletes come to [South] Korea they demonstrate their performance after a few years of training,” Kim said. “In order to prevent any kind of accident that will prevent them from competing well and enjoying the Games, we’re doing our best.”

An outbreak of the virus at last year’s world athletics championships in London forced athletes from several countries to miss events.

Anyone confirmed to have contracted the virus could be out of action for up to three days, Kim said.

“After the diagnosis, you’re removed from your accommodation facility if you have the virus. The quarantine usually ends in 48 or 72 hours,” he said.

Additional reporting by AP