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COVID-19 reaches Antartica, the last untouched continent

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Dec 23, 2020 2:05 am

The coronavirus pandemic is officially all over the world as Antartica, the last untouched continent, records its first COVID-19 case.

According to a statement by the Chilean authorities, "at least 58 people that were at two military bases in Antarctica or on a navy ship that went to the continent tested positive for the new coronavirus," the Associated Press reported .

On Monday, it was reported that 36 people have tested positive at the General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme Antarctic research base—26 are members of the said army, while 10 are maintenance workers. These individuals have been evacuated and are currently quarantined in the city of Punta Arenas in Chile.

This was after at least three people tested positive on Sergeant Aldea vessel, which has been supplying logistical support to the O'Higgins research base between Nov. 27 and Dec. 10. All other 208 crew members are being quarantined aboard the ship.

In a statement, the Chilean Army said, "Thanks to the timely preventive action, it was possible to relieve said personnel, who, after being subjected to a medical control and the administration of a PCR test... turned out to be positive for COVID-19," Newsweek reported.

While Antarctica has no permanent residents, thousands of researchers, scientists, and staff are stationed throughout the continent.

Since the outbreak in March, Antartica has been trying to keep the coronavirus at bay, halting "all major research projects."

“We are being very, very careful about keeping the continent virus-free simply because if anybody were to become really sick in Antarctica, it would be very difficult to treat them,” said Jane Francis, director of the British Antartic Survey.