Chile’s army reported on Monday that 36 people at the Gen Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme Antarctic base had tested positive, and on Tuesday the Minister of Health for the Biobio Region in Chile said that there were 21 infections affecting people on the Chilean Navy’s Sergeant Aldea supply vessel.
The pandemic has hit every continent on Earth.The Chilean authorities have confirmed that 58 people who have been on two naval bases in Antarctica or on a navy ship to the continent have been screened positive for the new coronavirus.
No other country with a presence in Antarctica has officially documented some other cases to date.
Another case has been registered in the village of Las Estrellas, where civilian staff employed at Lieutenant Rodolfo Marsh Martin Air Force Base reside, said Eduardo Castillo, Regional Health Secretary for Magallanes, who oversees Chilean operations in the Antarctic. The Sargento Aldea ship docked in the village, he said.
The Army said the first group of 36 people is made up of 26 veterans of the army and 10 civilian staff of the maintenance contract firm. It said none of them had a presentation so far.
The first three people on the Sergeant Aldea vessel tested positive last week and, according to the Navy, all 208 crew members were quarantined on that ship. The vessel was said to have operated the base on the Trinity Peninsula between November 27 and December 10.
The U.S. National Science Foundation, an organisation that manages U.S. projects in Antarctica, said it was aware of evidence of promising cases of passengers onboard Sergeant Aldea.
“Personnel at US Antarctic Program stations have had no interactions with the Chilean stations in question or the personnel who reside there,” said the Base. “NSF remains committed to not exchanging personnel or accepting tourists at USAP stations.”