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  HOME | Chile

First COVID-19 Cases Recorded in Antarctica



SANTIAGO – COVID-19 has now spread to every continent on Earth as 36 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at a Chilean military base in Antarctica.

The Chilean army reported in a statement that 26 military personnel and 10 civilian contractors at the Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme base tested positive on Sunday and were evacuated and “isolated” in Punta Arenas, a city in southern Chile.

Those infected are being “constantly monitored with the support from the Health Authority of the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic Region, achieving so far a favorable diagnosis and without any complications associated with COVID-19 by our staff,” added the institution.

The outbreak was announced a few days after the Navy confirmed three cases on its “Sargento Aldea” vessel, which had taken supplies and personnel to the base.

Known informally as O’Higgins, the base was built in 1948 and bears the name of a key figure in the establishment of Chile’s independence. It was the second Chilean base established in Antarctica and provides support to all kinds of scientific research.

The arrival of the coronavirus on the frozen continent, which was shielded from tourism in March and where there are almost 50 international bases, come as Chile prepares for an expected second wave after Christmas.

With 589,189 total cases in nine months and 1,699 deaths, Chile went through the peak of the pandemic in June, becoming one of the countries with the most daily infections in the world.

The capital city of Santiago, in which more than seven million people live, will spend the Christmas and New Year holidays in lockdown after a 15 percent increase in the number of new daily infections in the last two weeks.

 

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