Covid-19 has finally touched base on every continent on the earth. Antarctica, earlier the only continent to not be affected by the pandemic, has now reported dozens of cases of the coronavirus. The approximately 58 new infections have reportedly been registered among people stationed at a Chilean research base, which include 26 members of the Chilean army and 10 maintenance workers.
This permanently staffed research station is operated by Chile’s army and lies near the tip of a peninsula in northernmost Antarctica, overlooking a bay often dotted with icebergs.
So far, no other country with a presence in Antarctica has publicly reported any other cases.
Chile’s army announced on Monday that of the total 58 cases, 36 people at the Gen Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme Antarctic base have tested positive for the virus, and on Tuesday, Health Minister for the Biobio region in Chile said there are 21 infections involving people aboard the Chilean navy’s Sergeant Aldea supply vessel. One more case was reported in Las Estrellas’ village, where civilian personnel working at the Lieutenant Rodolfo Marsh Martin Air Force Base live, said the regional health secretary for the Madallanes area, which oversees Chilean operations in the Antarctic.
The Base personnel are “already properly isolated and constantly monitored” by health authorities, the Chilean army said, adding that which is why so far there were no health complications. Among the most remote stations in the world, research and military stations in Antarctica had taken up extreme measures to keep the virus out, cancelling tourism, scaling back activities and staff, and locking down facilities.
With all positive patients being strictly quarantined within their premises, all major research projects in the Antarctic have been halted in a bid to prevent further spread of the virus.