Flu Outbreaks Hit North Korea and South Korea
Deadly flu outbreaks in North Korea and South Korea have drawn some concerns for those travelling to the region for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.
Both Korean countries have reported flu-like cases, fearing a rapid spread of the disease that might jeopardize the Olympics. To avoid this scenario from happening, the government killed almost 1 million chickens on its side of the border. Aside from that, officials quarantined all poultry farm workers. Markets in cities were also banned from selling poultry.
In North Korea, around 126,574 individuals with flu-like symptoms and 81,640 were confirmed as cases of influenza A (H1N1) between December 1 and January 16. The regime reported that the flu has killed one adult and 4 children under age of 5.
In South Korea, a highly contagious strain of bird flu (H5N6) has been reported at chicken farms near Seoul. The South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed a “highly pathogenic strain of H5N6 avian influenza” on a chicken farm in Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi Province. However, no cases of bird flu have been reported in humans.
Cause For Concern
As North Korean athletes and spectators prepare to arrive ahead of the games, there is a possibility that it might be hard to stop the virus from spreading.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, said, “Influenza is fickle, people are capable of transmitting the virus before they get sick. Even if you screened people coming from North Korea, they might still be carrying the virus unbeknownst to themselves and undetectable to anyone else.”
Schaffner also warned that “people will be rooming together, eating together and socializing in close proximity. Sustained face-to-face contact in enclosed spaces will permit the transmission of respiratory viruses.”
The Prestigious Winter Olympics 2018
The 2018 Olympic Winter Games will be held for 17 days from 9 to 25 February 2018 in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, the Republic of Korea. PyeongChang was selected as the host city of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
This is the Olympic Winter Games will be held in Korea for the first time in 30 years after the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988. PyeongChang will be the stage for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and most snow sports.