COVID-19 has reached Antarctica, the last untouched continent
The coronavirus pandemic has reached Antarctica, which had thus far been free of the deadly virus. Chilean authorities have announced that a total of 58 people who went to that continent have tested positive for COVID-19. The news means that the virus, which originated in China late last year, has now officially affected every continent on the planet. Here are more details on this.
As reported by AP, the Chilean Army on Monday said that 36 people at the Gen Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme Antarctic base have tested positive. On Tuesday, the health minister for the Biobio region in Chile said 21 COVID-19 cases were found aboard the Chilean navy's Sergeant Aldea supply vessel. One more case was reported in Las Estrellas village.
According to Chile's Army, the first group of 36 people includes 26 members of the military and 10 civilians who are employees of a maintenance contract company. The Army added that none had shown complications so far. Further, after 21 people on the Sergeant Aldea vessel tested positive, all 208 crew members aboard that ship were quarantined, the Navy said.
Meanwhile, US National Science Foundation, the agency that oversees United States' programs in Antarctica, said it was aware of reports of positive cases. "Personnel at US Antarctic Program stations have had no interactions with the Chilean stations in question or the personnel who reside there," the foundation clarified. "NSF remains committed to not exchanging personnel or accepting tourists at USAP stations," it further said.
Chile is reportedly the sixth worst-affected country in Latin America with respect to the coronavirus outbreak, with more than 5,85,000 confirmed cases so far. The US remains the worst-hit country with more than 1.86 crore cases and over 3,30,000 deaths. Across the globe, the pandemic has infected over 7.83 crore people and has claimed more than 17 lakh lives.