News Coronavirus More coronavirus cases in Antarctica, with 58 infections now confirmed
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More coronavirus cases in Antarctica, with 58 infections now confirmed

Antarctica had been the only continent free of coronavirus, until 36 people tested positive. Photo: AAP
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Chilean authorities have announced that 58 people that were at two military bases in Antarctica or on a navy ship that went to the continent have tested positive for the coronavirus.

So far, no other country with a presence in Antarctica has publicly reported any other cases.

Chile’s army announced on Monday that 36 people at the General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme Antarctic base have tested positive, and on Tuesday the health minister for the Biobio region in Chile said there are 21 infections involving people aboard the Chilean navy’s Sergeant Aldea supply vessel.

Magallanes area regional health secretary Eduardo Castillo, who oversees Chilean operations in the Antarctic, said one more case was reported in Las Estrellas’ village – where civilian personnel working at the Air Force Base live.

The Sargento Aldea ship docked at that village, he added.

The army said the first group of 36 people includes 26 members of the military and 10 civilian employees of a maintenance contract company. It said none so far had shown complications.

The first three people on the Sergeant Aldea vessel tested positive last week and all 208 crew members are being quarantined aboard that ship, according to the navy. It said the vessel had serviced the base on the Trinity Peninsula between November 27 and December 10.

The US National Science Foundation, the agency overseeing US programs in Antarctica, said it was aware of the reports of positive cases in passengers aboard the Sergeant Aldea.

“Personnel at U.S. Antarctic Program stations have had no interactions with the Chilean stations in question or the personnel who reside there,” the foundation said.

“NSF remains committed to not exchanging personnel or accepting tourists at USAP stations.”

-AAP