Winter Olympics 2018: Norovirus outbreak in South Korea takes 1,200 guards off duty

A sudden outbreak of norovirus, or an infection characterized by severe vomiting or diarrhea, has forced 1,200 Winter Olympics security guards out of duty two days before the Opening Ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

In response, CNN reported Tuesday, South Korea has already deployed 900 military personnel to help replace the ill security staff. Forty-one of the guards stationed in Pyeongchang for this month's 2018 Games had been taken to the hospital, according to CNN's Sol Han and Ben Westcott, and a total of 1,200 were then removed from duty "to prevent the spread of the disease."

Olympic organizers, per CNN, have assured the public that "all the civilian guards were in a stable condition" after staying in the same building while battling the virus, and that "all Olympic accommodation and buses were being disinfected."

The Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, told CNN that it "dispatched an immediate response team to the Pyeongchang site to check additional people for symptoms, check the origin of the exposure, take measures to control infection and prevent spread."

South Korean security forces are dealing with an outbreak of norovirus. Getty Images

With the KCDC still searching for the origin of the sudden infections, such as in a water or food supply, this news hardly serves as a ringing endorsement of Pyeongchang for those who may previously have been on the fence about traveling to the Winter Games.

Military personnel are no stranger to the South Korean Olympic grounds after holding terrorist simulations and armed-forces drills, but interest in attending the Games has long been reported as "stagnant" due to other concerns about the area.

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