The COVID-19 pandemic has now impacted all seven of the earth’s continents, with the first outbreak of the virus being reported in Antarctica this week.
At least 36 people have been infected at Chile’s Bernardo O’Higgins military base, according to Reuters. The base is located on a northern peninsula in the sparsely-inhabited continent, serving as a research outpost operated by the Chilean army. (RELATED: New UK COVID-19 Strain Likely In The US, Says Fauci)
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Chilean officials have been scrambling to isolate and quarantine personnel at the permanently-staffed base surrounded by icebergs and water, Reuters reports. 26 army personnel and 10 civilian contractors are reportedly infected. Chilean officials said the individuals stationed at the base were already “constantly monitored” and “properly isolated.”
Extraordinary measures have been taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to the isolated continent, including locking down research facilities, cancelling tourism programs, and reducing overall activity, reports Reuters.
British Antarctic Survey researchers estimate roughly 1,000 people spread across the continent had been able to navigate the pandemic without catching the virus until mid-December, when two Chilean soldiers first became sick, according to the army. (RELATED: REPORT: Mayor Of One Of World’s Most Populous Cities Arrested For Alleged Bribery)
The nearby Magallanes region of the South American country is said to be one of the hardest hit regions of Chile, and it’s also one of the closest populated areas to Antarctica in the world, according to Reuters. The area reportedly serves as a frequent launching point for travel to the continent.