COVID-19 sets foot in Antarctica
COVID-19 sets foot in Antarctica

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. 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 and there is a scramble to clear out and quarantine staff from the remote station surrounded by ocean and icebergs.

Chile's armed forces said at least 36 people had been infected at its Bernardo O'Higgins base, including 26 army personnel and 10 civilian contractors.

It is unclear whether COVID-19 trackers 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.

Research and military stations in Antarctica - among the most remote in the world - had gone to extraordinary lengths in recent months to keep the virus out, cancelling tourism, scaling back activities and staff and locking down facilities. But the Magallanes region, one of the closest populated areas to Antarctica and take-off point for many boats and planes headed to the continent, is among the hardest-hit by the virus in Chile.

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