Coronavirus Pandemic Reaches Antarctica

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    An outbreak of Coronavirus with up to 36 infected was detected at the base maintained by the Chilean Army in Antarctica, the only continent that remained free of the virus, that institution confirmed this week.

    The Chilean Army detailed in a statement that in recent days personnel from the “Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme” Antarctic Base presented symptoms associated with COVID-19, for which it was decided to evacuate them.

    After undergoing a medical check-up and the administration of a PCR test (swabbing), it was found that “36 men were found to be positive for COVID-19, of which 26 correspond to Army personnel and 10 are civilians from a contractor company that was carrying out scheduled maintenance work at the Antarctic base,” the statement said. All are isolated and constantly monitored, “achieving so far a favorable diagnosis and without any complications associated with COVID-19,” added the institution.

    Ship carried the Virus

    The contagion dates back to the recent visit to the base of the ship “Sargento Aldea” of the Chilean Navy, which carried out between November 27th and December 10th logistical support tasks. After finishing its mission and arriving at the port of Talcahuano (south) on December 16th, three positive cases were detected out of a total of 208 crew members.

    After the confirmation of the cases, all the ship’s crew were quarantined on board the ship in Talcahuano. They are also “in good health and complying with current health protocols.” Previously, positive cases had already been detected in the personnel who disembarked in the city of Punta Arenas (south) on December 10th, according to the Chilean Navy in another statement.

    Testing was carried out

    Before sailing and as a precautionary measure, “the entire crew of the ship had to undergo a PCR test. Once its result was known, and it was confirmed that the entire crew of the ship had resulted in a Negative PCR, the unit set sail from that city to the Antarctic continent”.

    Until now, Antarctica was one of the few places in the world that remained free of Coronavirus, after controls were increased and all tourist trips were canceled. It was also decided to transfer non-essential personnel and prohibit contact between the nearly 40 international bases based there.

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