Almost a year after the initial bunch of COVID-19 instances was officially reported in China, the pandemic has reached Antarctica.
Until December 21, the world’s southernmost continent hadn’t reported a single instance of COVID-19 however 36 have been verified at the General Bernardo O’Higgins foundation, a Chilean research station,
We all were carrying out maintenance work at the bottom.
It’s uncertain how these individuals were infected and if the disease has spread into other research centers around the continent.
Euronews has achieved into the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) that conducts the channel for comment but hadn’t got a response in the time of publication.
Here is how events unfolded according to testimonials from Spanish and social websites.
The Chilean navy boat LSDH-91 Sargento Aldea abandoned Punto Arenas in late November to go to Antarctica with over 200 crew. Everybody on the boat failed a PCR test and all of them came back negative.
The LSDH-91 Sargento Aldea remained in Antarctica before December 10, at which stage it made to return to Punto Arenas.
In Punto Arenas, a part of the team disembarked, two of these tested positive on December 14.
On December 16, each team member on board failed another PCR test plus also a quarantine was imposed as a preventative step from its homeport of Talcahuano.
The midsize military released a press release on December 21 notifying the general public concerning the instances in O’Higgins. People who tested positive were placed in quarantine in Punto Arenas.
The way the virus obtained to Antarctica
“My guess — and it’s only that — is that the initial infection happened in Chile before passing, or aboard a ship or aircraft during transit on the channel,” Artic expert Alan Hemmings advised Euronews.
“When there’s a single individual infected in the channel, proximity and quarters could favor its broader dissemination,” he added.
The continent hasn’t settled inhabitants but up to 1,000 scientists personnel that the 38 research channels during its winter season.
What effect might the virus happen on the continent?
Before cases were verified on the continent, several countries had”already radically scaled back their mathematics programs for its 2020-21 field year”, as per a research paper released last month at the Antarctic Science journal.
This could result in remote scientific instruments being in danger of burial out of snow accumulation.
“As climate change continues, our comprehension of its dramatic impacts will probably be held back if essential monitorial work is disrupted,” the newspaper notes.
Hemmings told Euronews that “some action is now underway around the continent”
“National Antarctic programs happen to be quarantining scientists and staff before their death,” he clarified.
The continent can be a touristic destination with a listing of 74,401 individuals visiting at the 2019-2020 summertime (from October to February).
The pandemic introduced the season to a previous ending than anticipated as Chile and Argentina, though which many polar vacationers transit, limited accessibility from March and April. Reaching the Antarctic can stay catchy for anybody wanting to experience the Midnight Sun.
“I believe that Antarctic tourism won’t happen this summer months. Besides the dangers aboard the boats, rather than being welcomed at scientific channels, you will find significant problems getting boats, passengers, and crews into the death ports in the first place, as a result of global travel limitations and boundary control,” Hemmings added.