Covid reaches Antarctica as small and remote research station hit by outbreak

So far, 16 of 25 team members from the Princess Elisabeth polar station have tested positive for the virus and are supposed to isolate themselves

Sixteen researchers from the Princess Elisabeth polar station have so far tested positive (

Image: BELGA MAG / AFP via Getty Images)

A scientific research base in Antarctica has seen a Covid-19 outbreak.

So far, 16 of 25 team members at the Princess Elisabeth Polar Station have tested positive for the virus.

The station is in a remote area near the South Pole, and all workers are tested twice and must be quarantined before arriving.

The first case was discovered in the Belgian outpost on December 14th, and since then more and more people have contracted the virus.

Station staff must present a negative test before leaving Belgium for South Africa – where they must be quarantined before being tested negative again.

Workers must present two negative tests prior to arrival
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

Joseph Cheek, project manager for the International Polar Foundation, told the BBC: “The situation is not dire.

“Although it was an inconvenience to have to quarantine certain employees who were infected with the virus, it has not significantly affected our work on the ward as a whole.”

He said the workers had declined the option to leave the station and chose to stay instead.

Mr. Cheek said, “All residents of the station were given the opportunity to depart on a scheduled flight on January 12th. However, they all expressed their wish to stay and continue their work. “

Due to the outbreak, newcomers have been abandoned at the station.

Antarctica was the last continent to report a Covid case, with the first infection recorded at a Chilean army base in December 2020.

36 people would test positive in the following weeks.

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