Antarctica’s splendid isolation keeps coronavirus at bay


Chile's Eduardo Frei Antarctic base on the Fildes Peninsula, King George island on May 10, 2020
Chile’s Eduardo Frei Antarctic base on the Fildes Peninsula, King George island on May 10, 2020

As the planet battles the seemingly inexorable spread of the coronavirus, Antarctica remains the only COVID-19-free continent—thanks in the main to strict security and not a little luck.

The natural isolation of the frozen and desolate expanse has been taken to new extremes since the WHO declared a pandemic on March 11.

Authorities canceled all tourism, evacuated non-essential personnel, and prohibited contacts between the international ice stations.

“We are isolated within this natural isolation that we already have,” Alejandro Valenzuela, the maritime governor of Chile’s Antarctic territory, told AFP by phone.

Strict new health protocols were quickly put in place and visits limited to vital supplies.

Chile has cut its Antarctic staff to a minimum, maintaining a skeleton force of 10 navy personnel at its Escudero military base in Bahia Fildes on the South Shetlands.

The has always demanded close cooperation between various international missions.

Nearby is one of five Russian bases, as well as missions from Uruguay, Korea and China. Provisions are often unloaded and loaded together and recreation areas shared.

There were sports competitions and mutual invitations for national day celebrations and birthday parties.

But the fear of the coronavirus has put an end to all physical contact between the bases.

A Chilean Air Force doctor checking the temperature of personnel at the Eduardo Frei Antarctic base on the Fildes Peninsula, on
A Chilean Air Force doctor checking the temperature of personnel at the Eduardo Frei Antarctic base on the Fildes Peninsula, on May 10, 2020

Lucky break

Antarctica caught a lucky break when the start of the crisis coincided with the end of the tourist season, which brings around 50,000 visitors a year on to view penguins and seals in the pristine environment.

The last tourist ship arrived in Bahia Fildes on March 3, just when the first case of infection was reported in Chile.

And the continent dodged a bullet when an inward bound Australian tour ship, the Greg Mortimer, was forced to turn back when the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered aboard, an outbreak which eventually affected nearly all 217 passengers and crew.

From April, as the austral winter closes in and sun becomes a memory, weather conditions prevent all but essential travel to and from the continent, isolating personnel even further.

The declaration of a pandemic made controls even tighter, said Valenzuela.

As the planet battles the seeminlgly inexorable spread of the coronavirus, Antarctica remains the only COVID-19 free continent
As the planet battles the seeminlgly inexorable spread of the coronavirus, Antarctica remains the only COVID-19 free continent

“Supplies are sanitized before they can be brought in and contact with the ship is minimal. People stay on board and we don’t have direct contact now,” he said.

Strict hygiene controls are also now in place at Chile’s Eduardo Frei Air Base. The maximum number of people allowed to eat at a table in the canteen at any one time is limited to four, and sports activities in the gym and indoor recreation dome are suspended.

A year in isolation

Uruguay cut staff at its Artigas base to just nine people, after recently evacuating 10 non-essential personnel.

“The next turnover will be in the first fortnight of December, so the people left there will spend all winter there,” Rear Admiral Manuel Burgos, president of the Uruguayan Arctic Institute, told AFP.

The Uruguayans who stayed behind, like the Chilean marines, will have no contact with the other bases.

  • Chilean military personnel having lunch at the Eduardo Frei Antarctic base
    Chilean military personnel having lunch at the Eduardo Frei Antarctic base
  • Chile's Eduardo Frei Antarctic station on the Fildes Peninsula, King George island, on May 10, 2020
    Chile’s Eduardo Frei Antarctic station on the Fildes Peninsula, King George island, on May 10, 2020
  • Snowless hills around Chile's Eduardo Frei Antarctic base on King George Island on February 14, 2020
    Snowless hills around Chile’s Eduardo Frei Antarctic base on King George Island on February 14, 2020

“We are very conscious of what we are experiencing. We assume it with a resolve and we don’t let ourselves get down,” said Valenzuela, who arrived in Antarctica in November for a stint that will last a full year.

The spirit among those there is strong. So much so, Valenzuela said, “that now we are the ones sending messages of encouragement to our families.”


Ukraine scientists navigate lockdown to reach Antarctica


© 2020 AFP

Citation:
Antarctica’s splendid isolation keeps coronavirus at bay (2020, May 15)
retrieved 15 May 2020
from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-antarctica-splendid-isolation-coronavirus-bay.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.



loading...

Related posts:

Are we wired for romance? fMRI imaging and genetic analysis say yes
Early indicators of vaccine efficacy
The coronavirus doesn't exist in isolation—it feeds on other diseases, crises
Research probes why COVID-19 seems to spare young children
Newborn may have contracted coronavirus in the womb
Plan in place to increase production of prefilled syringes for future COVID-19 vaccine
Nearly half of Moroccans 'anxious' under lockdown: study
DGIM-Vorsitz 2020/2021: Dresdner Gefäßmediziner Schellong übernimmt 
CT findings of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in children 'often negative'
COVID-19 and people with disabilities
Incidence of AMI hospitalization down during COVID-19
Sedative drug in combination with opioids may be especially dangerous
Chile's hospital ICUs near full capacity as pandemic rages
Researchers use brain imaging to demonstrate weaker neural suppression for those with autism
Selbsttonometrie und telemedizinischer Datentransfer: Kick-off-Video zum SALUS-Projekt jetzt online
Blood flow recovers faster than brain in micro strokes
Compression stockings might not be needed to prevent blood clots after surgery
UK's COVID-19 study aims to vaccinate more than 10,000
Fighting hospital germs with UVC light-emitting diodes
Healthcare rationing could see 'unlawful deaths' from COVID-19, researchers claim
Leitlinie „Neurogene Dysphagie“ komplett überarbeitet
Erfolgreicher Sonderforschungsbereich zu Hepatitis-Viren und Immunabwehr
Mortality rates hint at even higher coronavirus death toll
Mental ill health 'substantial health concern' among police, finds international study
Neue Emmy Noether-Nachwuchsgruppe erforscht schwere Pilzinfektionen
STAAB-Studie: Mehr als die Hälfte der Probanden haben Vorstufe einer Herzinsuffizienz
Tests expand on whether wearables could predict coronavirus
Iran says virus deaths close to 7,000
Biochemie-Absolvent der Universität Bayreuth hat Antigen für SARS-CoV-2-Antikörpertest entwickelt
Moleküle in Zellen zerstörungsfrei analysieren
Kostengünstige Netzhaut-Diagnostik per Smartphone - Biermann Medizin
Continuously tracking fear response could improve mental health treatment
US death toll from coronavirus surges past 100,000 people
Multiple sclerosis risk 29% higher for people living in urban areas, new research reveals
Dentists re-open in France after two-month lockdown
Nicht immer lässt sich SARS-CoV-2 über einen Abstrich nachweisen
Combinatorial screening approach opens path to better-quality joint cartilage
India backs hydroxychloroquine for virus prevention
SARS-CoV-2 verstehen: Forschungsprojekte ergründen Eigenschaften und Ausbreitung
Virus heads upriver in Brazil Amazon, sickens native people
Landmark recommendations on development of artificial intelligence and the future of global health
How the coronavirus could be prevented from invading a host cell
Study reveals 'extensive' financial links between leaders of US medical societies and industry
Roboter hilft Pflegenden - Biermann Medizin
New virus deaths in Spain fall to two-month low under 100
India yogi who claimed to live without food or water dies aged 90
Interaktion von Immunsystem und Gehirn
New study could pave way to cure of global parasite
South Korea re-imposes some social restrictions to combat new virus outbreaks
COVID-19: Studie zur Therapie der schweren Entzündungsreaktion
Norway allows work-related trips and some kids sports
Krohne folgt Kirchhof: Neue Leitung der Netzhautchirurgie an der Uniklinik Köln
Americans and Europeans soak up the sun amid new rules
Preventing 'cytokine storm' may ease severe COVID-19 symptoms
New research shows that increasing number of lost pregnancies is linked to higher risk of developing...
Krankheitserreger nutzen Stickstoffmonoxid bei der Schleimhaut-Besiedlung
Researchers identify therapeutic targets to prevent cancer-associated muscle loss
Virus could cut up to 9.7 percent off global economy: ADB
Study highlights importance of emergency department in hospital readmissions
Leopoldina: Gesundheitssystem weiterentwickeln - Biermann Medizin
Observing the world during childhood affects the rest of life
Analytics and data collecting spur helmet safety in football
Prevalence of 'silent' COVID-19 infection may be much higher than thought
New York City 'on track' to begin reopening week of June 8: governor
Herz und Lunge: Studienprojekt zu COVID-19-Folgen bei Sportlern
Study finds association between atherosclerosis and changes in the structure, heart function
COVID-19 patients may have lower stroke rates than previously suggested
EU calls for independent probe of WHO's pandemic response
Aerobics may be a smart workout for your brain at any age
Daily Internet use is linked to social isolation
US maternal health spending varies by state, driven by cost of childbirth
Pregnant and lactating women with COVID-19: Scant clinical research
Antibody designed to recognize pathogens of Alzheimer's disease
Studie enthüllt viele Möglichkeiten, wie Karzinogene die Entwicklung von Brustkrebs auslösen
Hobbies may help defeating depression
Corona-Antikörpertests: Sichere Ergebnisse im Fokus
Minimum legal age for cannabis use should be 19, study suggests
Corona-relevante Vorerkrankungen hätten verhindert werden können
COVID-19 und der neue Alltag mit Maske: Welche sind wofür geeignet?
Parents that know a child's preferences can assertively guide exercise
Das Spülschwamm-Mikrobiom: Was dich nicht umbringt, macht dich härter!
Cancer drugs cause large cells that resist treatment; scientist aims to stop it
Analysemethoden nehmen Einfluss auf das Ergebnis
Chicago Latinos see higher rates of COVID-19 infections
Problems with alcohol? 29 gene variants may explain why
CD4+-Zellen auf der Überholspur
Bluttest könnte Behinderungsprogression bei MS voraussagen
Using electrical stimulus to regulate genes
Möglicher Übertragungsweg? Erstmals SARS-CoV-2 in Muttermilch nachgewiesen
AI model predicts risk for age-related macular degeneration
Public information key to combating rising 'superbug' threat
Gesucht: Hirnstruktur, die unser Verhalten steuert
We can't (and shouldn't) expect clinicians without PPE to treat COVID-19 patients
Krebs im Kindesalter: Den richtigen Zeitpunkt für ein Gespräch zum Lebensende finden
New stroke guidelines aim to improve care amid COVID-19
AI successfully used to identify different types of brain injuries
New research into stem cell mutations could improve regenerative medicine
New infections show virus accelerating across Latin America
Preclinical study offers hope for Hirschsprung's disease
Researchers launche clinical trial to help reduce severity of COVID-19 illness in men

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Post

Përse Mushkonjat Na Bëjnë Zhurmë Në Vesh?

Fri May 15 , 2020
Mushkonjat janë ndër krijesat më të urryera në planet. Ato janë të afta të na lënë pa gjumë por edhe të ushqehen me gjakun e njeriut dhe të kafshëve të tjera duke shkaktuar kështu një sërë sëmundjesh të ndryshme. Besojeni ose jo, kur vjen puna tek sëmundjet, mushkonjat janë krijesat […]