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Antarctica Reports First COVID-19 Outbreak

photo of covid 19 virus

Dec. 24, 2020 -- Antarctica reported 36 COVID-19 cases this week, which means the coronavirus is on every continent.

The General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme research base on the northern tip of Antarctica near Chile confirmed that 26 Chilean army personnel and 10 civilian maintenance personnel tested positive, according to CNN.

In addition, three people tested positive for COVID-19 on a military ship that provided support to the research base between Nov. 27 and Dec. 10. Crew members were tested for the virus after arriving at Chile’s Punta Arenas port on Dec. 10.

The research base personnel who tested positive were evacuated to Chile and are now being isolated and monitored there, according to the BBC. So far, the staff hasn’t recorded any complications associated with COVID-19.

No other countries with a presence in Antarctica have publicly reported COVID-19 cases there, according to USA Today. Most countries have reduced the number of scientists and staff working there as a precaution, but hundreds of people still travel to and from the continent for routine operations. The U.S. National Science Foundation is aware of the positive cases at the Chilean research base, according to NPR.

“Personnel at U.S. Antarctic Program stations have had no interactions with the Chilean stations in question or the personnel who reside there,” a spokesperson told NPR in a statement. “NSF remains committed to not exchanging personnel or accepting tourists at USAP stations.”

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Sources

CNN: “Covid-19 is now on every continent as Antarctica records its first outbreak.”

BBC: “Coronavirus spreads to Antarctic research station.”

USA Today: “With dozens of cases reported in Antarctica, COVID-19 has now infected every continent.”

NPR: “The Coronavirus Has Reached Antarctica. Now It's On Every Continent.”

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