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Antarctica Records Covid Outbreak, More Than 20 Infected: Report

At least 24 people were infected with Covid-19 at a research base in Antarctica (Image: Reuters)

At least 24 people were infected with Covid-19 at a research base in Antarctica (Image: Reuters)

Earlier in December 2020, Covid struck the icy continent for the first time when researchers at a Chilean base were infected.

Antarctica reported another outbreak of Covid-19 for the first time since this year earlier this week. An official speaking to news agency AFP said that nine unvaccinated staff were evacuated after they tested positive for Covid-19. The official also said that 24 of the 43 scientists and military personnel living in the Argentine base of La Esperanza were infected.

Helicopters were used to evacuate nine of the infected. They were airlifted to Buenos Aires. Patricia Ortuzar, who is a member of the Argentine government’s National Directorate of the Antarctic said the situation is under control. The other 15 who were fully vaccinated as well as asymptomatic remained at the base with the rest of the team.

Antarctica first reported cases of Covid in December 2020 when an outbreak was reported at a Chilean base in the icy continent. Several nations have their research bases in Antarctica. Argentina has 13 research bases in Antarctica of which six are permanent. The outbreak began when a new arrival infected someone living in the base, Ortuzar told the AFP. The La Esperanza base is situated in the extreme northwest of Antarctica and was built in 1952.

Those infected by Covid-19 waited to get jabbed fearing any side-effects which would have been otherwise tough to tackle given the extreme climate conditions in Antarctica.

Argentina has tested more than 300 personnel to halt any outbreak of Covid in the icy continent since December as it battles a third wave of Covid. The South American nation reported more than 100,000 cases daily over the past week.

Covid-free nations

Only a handful of nations can claim to be Covid-19 free. Despite Turkmenistan and North Korea saying that they do not have reported cases of Covid, international observers feel that the real picture remains hidden as both nations are notorious when it comes to suppressing the media.

Only Tuvalu and Nauru, island-nations in Oceania, and also nations that are least visited managed to remain free from the clutches of the pandemic. Its neighbouring island nation Tonga, reeling from a tsunami caused due to volcanic eruption, reported its first case last year in October.

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first published:January 21, 2022, 16:47 IST