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There's Been An Outbreak Of Norovirus Among Security Staff At The Winter Olympics

With the opening ceremony days away, South Korean officials have drafted in the army after 1,200 security staff were removed from work.

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Riot police at the Olympic Village.
Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

Riot police at the Olympic Village.

Almost 1,000 members of South Korea's army have been unexpectedly drafted in as staff for the Winter Olympics after an outbreak of norovirus just days before the opening ceremony.

After 41 guards got norovirus in Pyeongchang, officials said that 1,200 security staff have been pulled from work and are currently confined to their rooms until they have been tested for the highly contagious virus, which can cause diarrhoea and vomiting, the Associated Press reported.

Lee Hee-beom, president of the Winter Olympic Games organizing committee, apologized. He was criticized after the first case reportedly emerged on Thursday, at the Ho-lab Mountain Ode Youth Training Center, in Pyeongchang.

Winter Olympics volunteers smile during the village's opening ceremony.
Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

Winter Olympics volunteers smile during the village's opening ceremony.

“Our disease control centre and other related government agencies here are now discussing countermeasures and will come up with proper measures and will be announced soon,” Lee said.

He added that the newly drafted staff will be responsible for security searches.

Workers prepare for the opening ceremony of the games.
Charlie Riedel / AP

Workers prepare for the opening ceremony of the games.

Simultaneously, workers have complained about poor conditions in the run-up to the first Asian Winter Olympics to be held outside Japan.

Last Saturday, around 60 workers boycotted the dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony over basic conditions like food and transportation, the Korea Herald reported.

Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

Officials are already concerned that temperatures – currently hovering around -21 degrees at night – may be too cold for many spectators watching the opening ceremony on Friday night.

People have already started returning their tickets, knowing they'll be unable to stand outside for the show.

“Some have canceled their ticket for the opening ceremony,” Lee said.

The weather is unusually cold for the time of year. Student Kyungtae Lim, from the South Korean capital Seoul, told Reuters, "I cannot even think of the words. I think my brain is frozen or something."

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Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Rose Troup Buchanan at Rose.Buchanan@BuzzFeed.com.

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