COVID-19 has now reached Antarctica, infecting 36 at research base

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It’s now a global pandemic in every sense of the word.

The coronavirus scourge has now affected all seven continents after COVID-19 cases were recorded in Antarctica for the first time ever Monday.

The virus reportedly infected 36 people at a Chilean research base. That number included 26 members of the Chilean army along with 10 maintenance workers, Newsweek reported.

The infected, who were stationed at General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme, tested “positive for COVID-19” after the “administration of a PCR test,” according to a statement by the Chilean Army to local news outlet 24 Horas. At least some of those infected exhibited symptoms before the positive tests.

Fortunately, all 36 have since been evacuated to the city of Punta Arenas in Chile, where they are reportedly isolated and in stable condition, according to the Guardian.

“Thanks to the timely preventive action … it was possible to relieve said personnel,” the Chilean Army said in a statement to local media. They have since replaced GBOR’s crewmembers with new personnel who had been quarantined and tested negative for the disease prior to their deployment.

Unfortunately, station staff members weren’t the only ones infected. Three workers on a ship that provided support to the South Pole station had also tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from their voyage.

Despite its status as the most isolated continent on earth, Antarctica remains uniquely susceptible to a coronavirus outbreak at its 40 year-round bases, the Guardian reported.

“A highly infectious novel virus with significant mortality and morbidity in the extreme and austere environment of Antarctica with limited sophistication of medical care and public health responses is high risk with potential catastrophic consequences,” according to a document by Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs.

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