Coronavirus Reaches Every Continent On Earth As Antarctica Reports First Cases
The coronavirus pandemic has now reached every continent on Earth, as Antarctica reports its first cases of the virus.
This week, health and army officials worked to remove and quarantine personnel at the Bernardo O’Higgins base, a remote research station located in northernmost Antarctica, which is surrounded by ocean and icebergs.
At least 36 people are said to have become infected at the permanently staffed base, which is operated by Chile’s army. This includes 26 army personnel and 10 civilian contractors who had been conducting maintenance work.
The army has said that members of staff ‘are already properly isolated and constantly monitored’ by health authorities in Magallanes, in Chilean Patagonia, with no complications so far, Reuters reports.
Antarctica-based research and military stations – which are among the most remote on the planet – reportedly went to extraordinary lengths in the last few months to keep the virus at bay. This included cancelling tourism, scaling back on activities and staff members, and locking down facilities.
British Antarctic Survey researchers have estimated around 1,000 people at 38 stations across the continent had managed to safely navigate the southern hemisphere winter without incident.
However, increased travel to and from the region in the spring and early summer reportedly heightened infection risk. An Army press officer has stated that the first coronavirus cases were reported in mid-December, with two soldiers having fallen ill.
The development comes just days after Chile’s navy confirmed there had been three cases on a ship which had transported supplies and personnel to the base, BBC News reports.
The Sargento Aldea reportedly arrived at the base on November 27, sailing back to Chile on December 10. Three crew members tested positive for the virus upon their return to the Chilean naval base in Talcahuano.
According to Chile’s navy, all of those who had embarked on the Antarctic trip had been given PCR tests, with the results all coming back negative.
Chile is said to be the sixth worst-affected country in Latin America, with over 585,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
This latest news means that cases of coronavirus have now been recorded on each of the seven continents on Earth.
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