December 24, 2020 – Antarctica reported 36 cases of COVID-19 this week, meaning the coronavirus is on all continents.
A research base by General Bernard O’Higgins Riquelme on the northern tip of Antarctica near Chile confirmed that 26 Chilean military and 10 civilian maintenance officers were positive, according to CNN.
In addition, three individuals tested positive for COVID-19 on a warship that supported the research base between November 27 and December 10. Crew members were tested for the virus after arriving in the Chilean port of Punta Arenas on December 10.
Research base personnel who tested positive were evacuated to Chile and are now isolated and monitored there, according to the BBC. To date, staff have not noted any complications associated with COVID-19.
No other country present in Antarctica has publicly reported COVID-19 cases there, according to USA Today. Most countries have preventively reduced the number of scientists and staff working there, but hundreds of people still travel to and from the continent for routine operations. The American National Science Foundation is aware of the positive cases of the Chilean research base, according to the NPR.
“The staff at the stations of the American program for Antarctica had no interaction with the Chilean stations in question or the staff staying there,” a spokesman for NPR said in a statement. “The NSF remains committed to not exchanging staff or receiving tourists at USAP stations.”