COVID-19 Reaches Antarctica, 36 Reported Cases

Up until now, the continent was free of the virus.
Fabienne Lang

COVID-19 has officially reached all continents as Antarctica saw 36 people tested positive at the General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme research base, said the BBC.

The Chilean Army reported the cases on Tuesday, 26 of which are army personnel and 10 are maintenance workers. They have all now been moved to the south of Chile for monitoring.

Up until now, the Antarctic Peninsula was free of COVID-19, alas, it has now succumbed as well. 


The news arrives just days after three cases were reported on a military ship, which was bringing supplies and personnel to the research station. 

The Sargento Aldea docked in Antarctica on 27 November and made its way back to Chile on 10 December. 

Upon their return to Talcahuano, three of the 208 crew members tested positive for the coronavirus said the Chilean Navy. The navy also stated that all ship members had been given PCR tests upon embarking the ship on the way to the Antarctic region, and all results had been negative. 

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The Sargento Aldea is now in "preventative quarantine," said the statement. Personnel at the research base in Antarctica are now in isolation and are being closely monitored. So far, there have been no complications, read the Chilean Army's statement.

The Bernardo O'Higgins research base is one of the four permanent stations that Chile has on the continent and is run by its army. Antarctica has no permanent residents, but approximately 1,000 people, including scientists and contractors, were located there this past winter, as the Guardian reported.

As it stands, Chile is reportedly the sixth worst-affected South American nation to be hit by COVID-19, with over 585,000 confirmed cases.

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