Antarctica has recorded its first COVID-19 ‘outbreak after 36 people tested positive on a research base.
The news marks an unfortunate milestone in the global fight against coronavirus, as, until this week—Antarctica was the last continent to be ‘COVID free.’
The General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme Base, a Chilean research base located on Antarctica, confirmed that 26 army personnel and ten civilians working as contractors on the site tested positive for COVID-19.
The outbreak comes after three people tested positive for COVID-19 on a military vessel supplying logistical support to the O’Higgins base between November 27 and December 10.
They were tested after two military personnel tested positive for the virus after disembarking at Chile’s Punta Arenas port on December 10, according to a Chilean Navy statement.
The Sargento Aldea is now in “preventive quarantine,” the statement said.
Personnel on the O’Higgins base have been isolated, and the statement said they are “constantly monitored with the support from the Health Authority of the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic Region, achieving so far a favorable diagnosis and without any complications associated with COVID-19 by our staff.”
The Chilean Navy added that they have an “unconditional commitment to safeguard the health of its members.”