Covid reaches ANTARCTICA: 36 people who are stationed at a Chilean research base fall ill with the disease – that is, it has now spread to all continents
- 36 people at General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme’s base tested positive on Monday
- This includes 26 military personnel and another 10 contractors doing maintenance
- The Chilean army said it had flown back to the mainland anyone who tested positive for the disease
- Comes after Antarctica halts all tourist travel to stay Covid-free
Coronavirus has infected a Chilean military and research base in Antarctica – which means that the disease has now spread to all continents.
Thirty-six people at General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme’s base tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday.
The outbreak is due to the delivery of supplies from the naval vessel Sargento Aldea, which arrived from Chile on November 27th.
The base is one of 13 Chilean bases in the Antarctic of a total of 70 international research bases at the South Pole, including five British stations
Chilean General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme Base in Antarctica (file photo). Thirty-six people at the base tested positive
When the boat returned to the port of Talcahuano in southern Chile on December 16, three of the 208 crew members tested positive for Covid.
According to the Chilean Navy, several other cases of the boat had already been discovered after it docked in Punta Arenas on December 10.
The Navy says all precautions were taken before sailing to Antarctica, with all of the crew coming back negative after swab tests.
At O’Higgins Base, 26 military personnel and 10 contractors who were performing maintenance on the facility were infected.
The Chilean army said all non-essential O’Higgins employees had been flown home.
In a statement to television broadcaster 24 Horas, the Chilean army said: “Thanks to the timely preventive measures, it was possible to relieve said staff, who after a medical check-up and performing a PCR test turned out to be positive for COVID-19. ‘
The base is said to have space for around 60 people, a mix of military personnel and a small number of civil scientists.
Penguins at the Chilean base in Antarctica
According to La Prensa Austral, 24 contractors participated in the maintenance work.
As of Monday, Antarctica was the only corner of the planet untouched by the deadly virus.
All tourist traffic to the icy continent at the South Pole was stopped during the pandemic and all contact between the around 70 bases was prohibited.
As a result, much of the collaboration, including the five UK research stations, has been hampered.
The base is one of 13 Chilean bases in Antarctica and is named after Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme, a national hero who led the struggle for independence from Spain in 1810.
O’Higgins was a wealthy landowner of Spanish and Irish descent.