Dr. Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida, he told me once that COVID-19 is a “behavioral disease.” It implied that people who work from home or those who generally avoid other people have a very low risk of contracting it. This is because the coronavirus spreads from person to person, through respiratory drops from coughing, sneezing or talking. This is part of the reason that remote locations where people rarely go – such as Antarctica – have so far been able to avoid its deadly grip.
Unfortunately, the pandemic is no longer affected by the coldest southernmost continent.
Last week, Chilean officials confirmed that a new coronavirus had appeared in Antarctica, which means that it has now infected people on all continents on Earth. According to Wall Street Journal, 26 military personnel and 10 civilians, who are contractors of the maintenance company General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme, were infected. All were evacuated to the city of Punta Arenas in Chile where they are isolated and monitored. As of December 22, none of those infected had any serious symptoms.
According to BBC News, the naval ship Sargento Aldea arrived at a research station in Antarctica on November 27, 2020. Before leaving, everyone on board underwent a PCR COVID-19 nose test and received negative results. He returned to Chile on December 10, when part of the crew disembarked the ship, and then some members began to develop symptoms. On December 14, two people tested positive. In light of this, every crew member on board had to be re-tested and had to be quarantined. But while this was happening in Chile, people at the Chilean Antarctic base developed symptoms of COVID-19.
So how did the new coronavirus get to such a remote location, when everyone was tested before departure? Although the investigation is still ongoing, there are immediately available clues.
“My guess – and that’s just it – is that the original infection happened in Chile before departure, either on a ship or a plane during transit to the station,” said Arctic specialist Alan Hemmings. Euronews. “Once a person is infected in a cell, proximity and proximity would probably favor its wider spread.”
Could that have happened on the ship? At the beginning of the pandemic, cruise ships were the main ones coronavirus spread vector. In fact, the proximity of the ship is the main condition for the spread of coronavirus.
Still, it is curious that they were all tested before the trip and got negative results, which could speak to the flaws inherent in testing.
According to a a study by researcher Johns Hopkins, if a coronavirus-positive patient is tested prematurely during infection, it is likely to result in a false-negative test. There is a reason why state health departments recommend that asymptomatic people who think they are at risk for COVID-19 be tested five to seven days after exposure.
“A negative test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing or that your sample was collected prematurely in your infection,” the Centers for Disease Control said. “If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably weren’t infected at the time the sample was collected; that doesn’t mean you won’t get sick.”
In that sense, the outbreak in Antarctica may be similar to the outbreak from the White House, because it reveals the shortcomings of our testing technology. After President Donald Trump was positive, several people close to him were initially negative after he was exposed, and eventually after a few days he was positive. It may take days for someone who has been exposed to the virus to develop symptoms or a positive test.
Despite the fact that Antarctica is now affected by the pandemic, there are other places in the world where the pandemic is under control, and the attacks are a thing of the past. In New Zealand the coronavirus was eliminated. As BuzzFeed recently announced, life has returned to normal in parts of Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, China and Thailand.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Antarctic outbreak is the way it represents the incredibly virulent spread of the virus. The continent is sparsely populated by temporary scientists and military personnel, and is a symbol of isolation, psychological stress, and limited resources. Yet in the midst of a pandemic, Antarctic residents had more freedom of movement and interaction than the rest of the world. As the field guide said AP News in September: “Generally, the freedoms we are given are wider than those in the UK at the height of the lock; we can ski, socialize normally, run, use the gym, and all for a reason.”
Since there are 70 research bases in Antarctica, it is unlikely that this outbreak will spread to others.
“Staff at U.S. Antarctic program stations have not interacted with relevant Chilean stations or staff residing there,” a spokesman for the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) said. he told CBS News. “The NSF remains committed to not exchanging staff or receiving tourists at USAP stations.”