COVID-19 pandemic in Antarctica
|COVID-19 pandemic in Antarctica|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Index case||Base General Bernardo O'Higgins, Chilean Antarctic Territory|
|Arrival date||21 December 2020|
(4 months and 1 day ago)
|Chilean Antarctic Territory|
|‡Suspected cases have not been confirmed by laboratory tests as being due to this strain, although some other strains may have been ruled out.|
|Part of a series on the|
The COVID-19 pandemic in Antarctica is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Due to its remoteness and sparse population, Antarctica was the last continent to have confirmed cases of COVID-19 and was one of the last regions of the world affected directly by the pandemic. The first cases were reported in December 2020, almost a year after the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in China. At least 36 people are confirmed to have been infected. Even before the first cases on the continent were reported, human activity in Antarctica was indirectly impacted.
On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan, Hubei, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.
Impact on scientific research
People coming to Antarctica research stations have to undergo isolation and COVID-19 screening. The Antarctica research stations of Australia, Norway and Germany have respirators and coronavirus tests; it remains unconfirmed whether the research stations of the U.S. and Britain have them. The British Antarctic Survey implemented precautionary measures. The Argentine Antarctica territories had taken measures at its six permanent bases to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the territory before the arrival of the virus.
As of 14 April 2020[update], bases in Antarctica contain only skeleton crews, visitors have been limited, and scientific research has been impacted. Several conferences on the topic of Antarctica that had been planned for mid-2020 were cancelled due to the pandemic.
In April 2020, a cruise ship headed for Antarctica had almost sixty percent of its passengers test positive for COVID-19. The cruise stopped in Uruguay, where the passengers were allowed to disembark.
The first official cases were announced on 21 December 2020 by the government of Chile. At least 36 people, including 10 civilians and 26 officers of the Chilean Army and Chilean Navy, were confirmed as positive for COVID-19 after contracting the virus on the Base General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme (in continental Antarctica), where they were doing scheduled maintenance work for the base. The people developed symptoms for COVID-19 aboard the Sargento Aldea ship, and most of the cases were treated after arriving to their destinations in Punta Arenas and Talcahuano.
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