36 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Antarctica

36 Chilean researchers stationed in Antarctica have contracted COVID, meaning that the virus has reached every continent on Earth.

Antarctica was the only continent to remain unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic… until now. An outbreak of COVID has hit Chile’s General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme research base, infecting 26 members of the army and 10 maintenance workers.

“Thanks to the timely preventive action … it was possible to relieve said personnel, who, after being subjected to a medical control and the administration of a PCR test … turned out to be positive for Covid-19,” the Chilean Army told press.

Photo: Doug Clark, Univ. Washington

The 36 infected workers were immediately evacuated to the Chilean city of Punta Arenas, where they are said to be in isolation and recovering well.

There has been a strong global effort to protect Antarctica from the virus. As a result, all major research projects on the icy pole have been suspended, placing majority of the world’s Antarctic research on hold.

The frosty island currently has no permanent residents, however, around 1,000 researchers and visitors are estimated to visit every year.

While the rest of the world was crushed by the pandemic back in March, Antarctic programs agreed that the presence of COVID on the continent could have devastating effects.

In a document released by the Council Managers of National Antarctic Programs“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.”

COVID really has no bounds, it seems, not even the utterly inhumane temperatures of -98 degrees.