UPDATE: All but two Chateau guests released after Norwalk outbreak

Twenty-three Fairmont Chateau Whistler guests were quarantined in their rooms for most of Monday and part of Tuesday (June 1 and 2), suffering from Norwalk virus, a public health official said this week.

The guests were part of a 100-member tour group from the Brisbane area in Australia, Dr. Paul Martiquet, public health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health, said on Monday. He said some members of another, similar tour group from the same area also came down with the virus last week.

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"Apparently there's something in common that has caused them to come down with this Norwalk virus," Martiquet said.

Norovirus, also sometimes referred to as Norwalk virus, can affect people of all ages, according to Wikipedia. It is characterized by severe gastrointestinal distress, and outbreaks of the virus often occur in closed or semi-closed communities including long-term care facilities, hospitals, dormitories or cruise ships. The virus can spread very rapidly, either by person-to-person contact or through contaminated food.

Late Tuesday, Lynn Gervais, director of public relations at the Chateau, said 21 of the guests had been checked by a doctor and allowed to continue with their itinerary. The other two were scheduled to remain at the hotel until Wednesday (June 3).

"We have two guests who will be staying with us for one more night," she said.

"We have had no symptoms with colleagues (hotel staff) and we have been working with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and done everything they've suggested, and it seems to be very well contained."

While they were ill, Gervais said the guests were asked to stay in their rooms and were visited by health-care professionals. She said the guests "are being supplied with anything they need."

Martiquet said the affected tour group recently rode the Rocky Mountaineer train from Calgary to Vancouver before visiting Whistler. The next stop on the itinerary was the Empress Hotel in Victoria, he said. Healthy members of the group were allowed to carry on with their itinerary, he said.

The virus usually takes about 24 hours to run its course, and as with many viruses, frequent handwashing is key to preventing contracting it from others, Martiquet said.

"It's basically self-limiting and the key for any virus is handwashing - that goes for normal viruses or Norovirus, you name it," he said.

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