For the first time since the start of the pandemic, Coronavirus has reached an Argentine research base in Antarctica, causing the evacuation of nine unvaccinated staff who tested positive for Covid-19, an official said Thursday.
Twenty-four of the 43 scientists and military personnel resident at Argentina’s Esperanza Base (WAP ARG-Ø4) have been infected, Patricia Ortuzar of the government’s National Directorate of the Antarctic told AFP.
Nine of the 24, who have no symptoms, were evacuated by helicopter as a precaution.
They had been in Antarctica since before the start of Argentina’s vaccination campaign in 2021, and were due to travel to the capital to be jabbed.
They had decided to wait to get their shots in Argentina, fearing having to deal with possible side-effects in the extreme environment that is Antarctica.
Esperanza Research Base
At 63°24′ South and 56°59′ West on a rocky surface at 25 meters high and 30 meters from the coastline, Esperanza Base (WAP ARG-Ø4) is located in Hope Bay, Trinity Peninsula, the northernmost part of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The structure was inaugurated in 1952 as a permanent base, and it now consists of 43 buildings for a total covered area of 374.400 sqm. It accommodates up to 90 people during the summer which fall to 55 in the winter season. In addition, around 1,100 tourists visit the structure each year during the austral summer.