Fri, Dec 27, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Tourists hospitalized with virus in S Korea

NOROVIRUS?Early reports said that the tourists had contracted food poisoning, but the travel agency said that they had eaten separately and it was a contagious virus

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Thirty-six Taiwanese tourists were reported to have suffered infectious diarrhea caused by a virus while traveling in South Korea, a Taiwanese travel agency said yesterday.

The Taipei-based Lion Travel agency said that 36 Taiwanese tourists who were in two separate group tours in South Korea were sent to hospital in Seoul after they reported having fever and diarrhea.

The agency added that the two groups have a total of 69 tourists and that most of those hospitalized had been discharged after being put on intravenous drips and had rejoined the tour groups.

Two of the tourists were kept in the hospital for further observation, the agency said.

Earlier yesterday, media reported that the tourists had suffered a collective case of food poisoning, but Lion Travel Service Co spokesman Andy Yu (游國珍) later said that the hospital’s diagnosis was that the tourists had infectious diarrhea, which was not caused by food poisoning.

The two tour groups had separate itineraries and dined at different restaurants, Yu said, adding that similar circumstances have affected other tour groups from Hong Kong in South Korea.

“Last year, there was a outbreak of norovirus in [South] Korea in the winter. As far as we know, the virus is highly contagious. If one person in the group had the virus, other people would catch it as well,” Yu said, adding that the travel agency would pay for all the medical bills and that it had altered its itineraries for the remainder of the tours to avoid food poisoning.

In other news, Florencia Hsieh (謝妙宏), deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, yesterday said people planning to visit Colombia should be particularly careful after a case in which a Taiwanese businessman was stabbed and robbed in the South American country.

The ministry has maintained a yellow travel alert for Colombia, he added.

According to the ministry, two Taiwanese businessmen were robbed in Bogota last month and one of them was stabbed.

They were robbed when they stopped for a traffic light while driving a rented car, the ministry said. Later, they decided to return the car to the rental agency and walk back to their hotel, which was not a great distance, it added.

On their way back to the hotel they were robbed again and one of them was stabbed in the back, the ministry said.

After that, they called Taiwan’s representative office in Colombia for help, it added.

Officials at the representative office made sure they got to a hospital, the ministry said, adding that they did not suffer major injuries and flew back to Taiwan the following day.

The case drew attention because it happened in a neighborhood that is considered relatively safe, the ministry said.

The ministry has a four-color travel alert system where red represents the highest level of warning and signals that travelers should avoid the affected area. Orange means travelers should take precautions and avoid unnecessary travel, with yellow one step below and followed by gray.

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