From Tuesday to Thursday night, cases of the highly infectious bug leapt from 32 to 128.
With the opening ceremony set for Friday, an outbreak of the highly infectious gastrointestinal bug norovirus already has a solid lead at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea.
In just a few days, official case counts have nearly quadrupled, according to multiple reports from The New York Times. The tally was 32 just two days ago but quickly climbed to 86 [nytimes.com]. Then another 42 cases were confirmed by Thursday night, bringing the total to 128 [nytimes.com] around the Olympic sites.
Officials at the games first announced the outbreak of the virus—also called the “winter vomiting bug”—on Tuesday. Security personnel were the first to test positive, and about 1,200 of the security staff were sequestered in their rooms at the time. About 1,100 people, some non-security personnel, were still in quarantine on Thursday. South Korea deployed 900 military personnel to make up for the quarantined security workers.
But the infection has now spread beyond the security staff to Olympics Organizing Committee staff, venue personnel, and even cafeteria workers.
[...] No athletes are known to have been infected.
Norovirus is a particularly tenacious and pernicious bug [oup.com]. It’s generally spread by the fecal-oral route—which can be direct or via food, beverages, surfaces, or air. Viruses can linger on contaminated surfaces for up to two weeks and survive heating, cooling, and some disinfectants. They can also be easily aerosolized, such as by a toilet flush. As few as just 18 of the wee germs can ignite a gut infection, which sheds billions of viral copies in feces and vomit. Infected people tend to be sick for one to three days with diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. Viral shedding can continue after symptoms clear.
As someone who has experienced this, I can only hope they track down and eradicate it quickly. Being at the toilet all day and needing to continually decide if one should face it or sit on it is no fun at all. So far, no athletes have come down with it, and I hope it stays that way. I can only imagine the heartache of spending years training for this once-in-a-lifetime event... and being sidelined by a bug.