Santiago: As the year 2020 is about to end, the deadly coronavirus finally reached the last continent, which was earlier free from COVID-19. Chile's military said that the health and army officials scrambled to vacate and quarantine staff from a remote research station, which is surrounded by ocean and icebergs.
Around 36 people have been infected by the virus at the Bernardo O'Higgins base of Chile, which includes 10 civilians and 26 army personnel.
The permanently staffed research station, which is operated by Chile's army, is located near the tip of a peninsula in northernmost Antarctica.
The army said that the base personnel, "are already properly isolated and constantly monitored" by the health authorities in Magallanes, in Chilean Patagonia. They added that there are no complications yet.
One of the most remote military station of the world, the research and military stations in Antarctica have done a lot in the recent months to keep the virus out of the place. They have cancelled tourism, scaled back activities and staff and locking down facilities.
The British Antarctic Survey researchers estimated about 1,000 people at 38 stations across Antarctica, who had safely navigated the southern hemisphere winter without any incident. However, an increase in the travel to and from the region this spring and early summer have intensified the infection risk.
The first COVID-19 cases in Antarctica was reported in the mid of December when two soldiers of the Army fell ill.
The hardest-hit region in Chile is the Magallanes region. Most of the areas are under quarantine restrictions for months.
The Navy of Chile has reported three cases of COVID-19 among the 208 crew members of a ship. The ship had sailed in the Antarctic region between Nov. 27 and Dec. 10.