2018 Winter Olympics - PyeongChang, South Korea
Updated: February 16, 2018
- Update to include information on reported outbreak of norovirus
- Original Publication Date: December 27, 2017
What's happening in South Korea?
PyeongChang, South Korea is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympic Games from February 9 – 25, and Paralympic Games from March 9 – 18. Canadians and travellers from around the world will make their way to PyeongChang to compete, work or watch these events. Olympic events will take place in both PyeongChang and Gangneung, South Korea.
What is the health issue?
Large crowds can lead to an increased risk of accidental injury and the spread of infectious disease like influenza (the flu), colds and travellers' diarrhea.
The government of South Korea has reported an outbreak of norovirus in the PyeongChang and Gangneung areas. Noroviruses are very contagious and can spread easily from person to person. People can become infected by:
- direct contact with a person who is infected.
- touching surfaces or objects contaminated with a norovirus (such as door handles).
- eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated.
Washing your hands and practising safe food and water precautions are the best ways to reduce the risk of norovirus.
How can you protect yourself from illness?
Before your trip:
All travellers should see a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before travel. Find a travel health clinic near you.
- Make sure your routine vaccines and adult boosters, including measles, are up-to-date.
- It is recommended that travellers get the seasonal flu shot.
- Pack a travel health kit and consider purchasing travel health insurance.
Visit the Government of Canada's Travel Advice and Advisories page on South Korea and read the Health tab.
During your trip:
Be aware of your surroundings.
- Know that your risk of accidental injury increases in large crowds.
- Locate the exit routes and medical facilities.
- Avoid densely congested areas with limited emergency exits.
Pay attention to the weather and dress appropriately
- Many of the events will be hosted outside where there is a risk of frostbite and/or hypothermia
- Frostbite occurs when skin freezes and becomes damaged. This damage can be permanent;
- Hypothermia occurs when a person's core body temperature falls below 35°C. Noticeable symptoms can include: shivering, delirium, tiredness, fatigue, and difficulties speaking (slurring);
- Don't forget sunscreen on sunny days, even when it's cold.
Practise safe food and water precautions
- Boil it, cook it, peel it or leave it!
- Only eat foods that are well cooked and served hot. Avoid food served at room temperature.
- Commercially sealed beverages in cans or bottles that are served unopened and drinks made with boiling water and served steaming hot (coffee, tea) are generally safe.
Wash your hands as often as possible:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.
- Wash your hands with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Always keep some with you when you travel.
- Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette:
- Cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs. Dispose of tissues as soon as possible after use, and wash your hands afterwards.
Avoid close contact with people who appear to be sick.
Protect yourself from HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections
- Using condoms during vaginal, anal and oral sex reduces your risk of getting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections.
To prevent the spread of infections, avoid risky behaviour such as:
- Unprotected sexual activity.
- Excessive drinking or taking illegal drugs, which lowers your inhibitions and affects your ability to make healthy and safe choices.
- Sharing razors, toothbrushes, needles, syringes or any other types of drug use equipment.
- Getting a tattoo, body-piercing or acupuncture at a facility that does not follow good sterilization practices to prevent the spread of infections.
Be alert to crime
- Global Affairs Canada provides information on safety and security for Canadian travellers to South Korea.
- Reduce your risks when attending mass gatherings or large-scale events.
Drive with caution
- The leading cause of death among international travellers is traffic accidents.
- Expect traffic congestion and temporary and permanent road closures.
- Avoid driving on unfamiliar and/or rural roads, especially at night.
- Don't drink and drive; excessive drinking is a leading cause of traffic accidents.
If you feel sick during your trip:
If you feel sick, stay home or in your hotel and avoid mass gatherings.
See a health care provider if you feel very unwell, especially if you have a fever. For more information on medical care abroad see sickness or injury.
After your trip:
If you are sick after you return to Canada, see a health care provider and tell them where you have travelled.
Registration of Canadians Abroad
Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.
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