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After avoiding the pandemic for about nine months, Antarctica is reportedly the last of the seven continents on earth to record COVID-19 infections.

A total of 36 people stationed at the Chilean research base General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme in Antarctica, including 26 members of the Chilean army and 10 civilian maintenance companies, recently tested positive for COVID-19, according to several Spanish-language reports on Monday.

“Thanks to the timely preventive measures,” said the Chilean army in a statement according to 24 Horas. “It was possible to relieve said staff after a medical check-up and a PCR test. . . turned out to be positive for COVID-19. “

At least some of the infected people are believed to have had symptoms before testing positive for the virus, according to the Associated Press. All 36 have now been evacuated to the city of Punta Arenas in southern Chile, where they are reported to be isolated and in good condition. The station staff was replaced with a new crew who had been quarantined and tested negative before their trip.

The Chilean Navy also reported Monday that three crew members of a ship providing logistical support to the Antarctic base had tested positive for the virus after returning from their mission, while the entire crew had tested negative before departure.

It’s not clear when officials first learned of the Antarctic crew’s positive tests, although Punta Arenas’ La Prensa Austral newspaper reported last week that government officials said they were trading in information from people living in had traveled to Antarctica and showed symptoms related to Covid-19 upon arrival on the continent, which were later confirmed by PCR testing. “

It is not clear whether any of the cases reported in the last week match the cases confirmed as positive on Monday, although the base usually does not accommodate more than a few dozen people with a maximum of 60 people. Medical experts believe that PCR testing is the most reliable way to determine COVID-19 infection. Therefore, it is very unlikely that a significant number of the cases will be false positive.

Antarctica has no permanent residents, but is typically home to between 1,000 and 5,000 people, mostly scientists and support staff stationed at research bases spread across the continent. Population peaks in the summer months, which last roughly from October to February. The Chilean base, named after a key figure in Chile’s independence from Spain, is one of the oldest and has been operating continuously on the icy continent since 1948.

While no cases of the somewhat analogous Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 made it to Antarctica, the COVID-19 cases reported on the continent on Monday mean no major chunk of the planet has escaped the current pandemic. The virus has continued to grow at over 77 worldwide. 3 million cases and more than 1. 7 million deaths were reported on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Coronavirus, Antarctica, Continent, Base of General Bernardo O’Higgins, Chile

News – AU – COVID-19 hits Antarctica, its 7th. Continent, infected by viruses as the Chilean base
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Ref: https://www.newsweek.com