Over 20 COVID cases detected at an Argentine research station in Antarctica

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Updated: Jan 21, 2022, 11:57 PM(IST)

The Argentinian Esperanza military base in Antarctica. Photograph:( AFP )

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Twenty-four of the 43 scientists and military personnel resident at Argentina's La Esperanza base have been infected. 

More than 20 cases of the coronavirus have been detected at the Esperanza Base research station in Antarctica, the media reported.

According to Patricia Ortuzar of the government's National Directorate of the Antarctic, 24 of the 43 scientists and military personnel stationed at Argentina's La Esperanza outpost have been infected. 

As quoted by the Infobae news outlet, "COVID-19 has reached Esperanza Base in Antarctica, where 24 cases were discovered during the study of researchers and scientists as part of the 2022 campaign," the Antarctic command said.

Base employees who have not been vaccinated have been moved to Buenos Aires and placed in isolation. Those who were vaccinated against COVID-19 are still being monitored by doctors at the study station. 

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They had been in Antarctica since before Argentina's vaccination campaign began in 2021, and were scheduled to fly to the capital to get vaccinated.

They had decided to get their shots in Argentina rather than deal with the potential adverse effects of Antarctica's harsh environment.

The first occurrences on the frigid continent were recorded in December 2020 at a Chilean station.

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Ortuzar stated that the situation at the La Esperanza base was "in control."

The remaining 15 asymptomatic coronavirus-positive employees remained at the base with the remainder of the crew.

Everyone has been vaccinated.

According to Ortuzar, all other Argentina bases are still free of COVID. 

The La Esperanza base, built in 1952 in the extreme northwest of Antarctica, is one of 13 belonging to Argentina—six of them permanent.

In the winter months, Argentina has some 200 scientists, military personnel, and assistants at its permanent bases, a number that roughly doubles in summer.

The outbreak at La Esperanza started on January 12, when a base occupant was likely infected by a new arrival, said Ortuzar.

Argentina has been isolating and testing 300 scientists and military personnel aboard an icebreaker that is currently transporting them back to Antarctica to prevent illness at its Antarctic outposts since December.

Argentina, like many other nations, is in the midst of a third pandemic wave, with over 100,000 cases reported every day.

Since March 2020, the 45 million-strong South American country has recorded more than 7.4 million illnesses and 118,000 deaths.

(With inputs from agencies)

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