01/17/2012 02:29 EST | Updated 03/18/2012 05:12 EDT

Norovirus students in B.C. denied travel, hotel says

Several journalism students suffering from norovirus say they were not allowed to board flights at Victoria International Airport on Monday.

About 60 of the 360 people attending the Canadian University Press's annual NASH conference for student journalists fell ill last week and the virus has now spread to 15 hotel staff members, who are now off work.

Ian Jones, general manager of the Harbour Towers Hotel, says about 20 students remain at the hotel, including several who say they were turned away by airlines in an attempt to contain the virus.

"Some still didn't feel strong enough to travel," Jones said. "A few have been turned away from the airlines, weren't allowed to board the plane. So they came back and, of course, we let them stay at the hotel for free.

"They've had a trying enough time to have to deal with that on top of the illness. We just want to make sure that everyone gets back home safe and sound and feels 100 per cent again."

Terry Stewart, manager of Victoria International Airport, says no one is being denied travel because of the norovirus. Stewart says both Air Canada and WestJet have said they will not charge passengers for changing travel dates because of their illness.

Norovirus can affect people of all ages and often leads to gastroenteritis, marked by inflammation of the stomach and small intestine, vomiting and diarrhea.

The virus usually only lasts two to three days but can be transmitted from person to person and by contaminated food, water or surfaces. There is no specific medication for norovirus but infected individuals are advised to remain well hydrated.