Nine hundred military personnel have been drafted to cover the 1200 security staff quarantined after a suspected norovirus outbreak at the Winter Olympics.
The POCOG, the local organising committee for the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, confirmed on Tuesday that 41 private security staff were admitted to hospital with headaches, stomach pain and diarrhoea. As a precaution the 1200 staff staying in the same area have been quarantined until the threat is clear.
With temperatures plummeting to below -20 with wind chill in the stadium, this compounds the issues of an already problematic opening ceremony, for the games organisers. Many countries, including Team GB are planning to allow their athletes to spend less than 20 minutes in the arena for the ceremony, as concerns over athletes safety are running high.
With the first Olympic events due to begin on Thursday, and many athletes already arriving in Pyeongchang, officials are taking every measure to ensure the infection does not spread.
“The military personnel … will be responsible for security checks of the 20 venues as they take up jobs such as security searches, previously done by civilian safety personnel, until the patients’ condition is normalized,” a statement from the South Korean Olympic committee said.
All Olympic accommodations and buses will be disinfected, the organizers added. Health officials are also testing water and food for norovirus.
The Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement that they had dispatched “an immediate response team to the Pyeongchang site to check additional people for symptoms of norovirus, check the origin of the exposure, take measures to control infection and prevent spread.”