For many months now, reports about the global impact of COVID-19 have had to make note of the fact that the deadly virus had affected only six of the continents. Even as cases rose to tens of millions, the tally had segregated caseload by country, with the US and India leading the charts. All that has now changed.
According to reports that quote the Chilean army, Antarctica has recorded its first COVID-19 cases at a research base. The Base General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme had reportedly undergone it's annual exchange of personnel in recent days. 24 Horas quotes a statement by the Army to add that the people in question had been relieved after they tested positive. They had been "subjected to a medical control and the administration of a PCR test" before the diagnosis. The list includes 26 members of the Chilean army and 10 maintenance workers.
It is unclear whether COVID-19 trackers now consider Antarctica as a whole to be infected. The snowy continent is not owned or governed by any one nation, and has representatives from various countries manning research stations. With no mention of Antarctica on COVID-19 watch lists thus far, one would assume that the new cases are being counted in conjunction with their affiliated country.
With extreme temperatures and an incredibly isolated terrain, combating COVID-19 can be quite a challenge for the region. It now remains to be seen whether this outbreak manages to be an isolated case.