Perhaps it was just too good to be true, the remote, pristine and icy white continent, holding out to the end, as the last place on earth with no Corona Virus.
But no, it now seems nowhere is safe, not even Antarctica.
The Chilean Army now says that 36 cases at the Bernardo O’Higgins Research Base on the Antarctic Peninsula have been reported. The infected have been evacuated back to Chile. For details direct from Chile, (and if your Spanish is working well today) their article and video are here.
For many of us, who would have now been there for the season: skiing, climbing, guiding and enjoying the wonderful opportunity of life in Antarctica, the decision of the Antarctic companies to close for the season, seems especially prescient. Nowhere is safe from this virus it seems.
Both ALE, which takes climbers to Mt. Vinson, to visit the Emperor Penguins and to the South Pole, as well as White Desert, which serves the continent by private jet from Cape Town to Antarctica and on to the South Pole, shut down their operations for this years 2020/21 season many months ago.
Anywhere it seems where there are more than a few people, there will now be the Corona in the mix, no matter what precautions might have been taken. With Chile currently having 585,00 cases as reported by the BBC, and ships servicing their base on the Peninsula, it was only a matter of time before the virus reached the last continent it seems.
While Antarctic bases are very isolated, there is often air traffic passing through, cruise ships and even the occasional overland adventurer or skier who may stop by. As reported by the New York Times, this isolation at American Bases should hopefully keep them safe this year.
“Personnel at U.S. Antarctic Program stations have had no interactions with the Chilean stations in question or the personnel who reside there,” a spokeswoman said, adding that the foundation “remains committed to not exchanging personnel or accepting tourists” at American stations.“
With these first cases reported, lets hope that this is the beginning and the end of Corona in Antarctica. But right now, that may only be wishful thinking, and the hope we can return next year?