By Matthew Roscoe • 01 January 2022 • 10:00
Antarctica outbreak: Fully vaccinated staff catch Covid in one of the most remote places in the world. Credit: Pixabay on Pexels
DESPITE having to follow strict safety measures; being fully vaccinated, passing multiple PCR tests and quarantining before entering its Polar Station, two-thirds of the 25 staff based at Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth in Antarctica – one of the most remote places in the world – have caught Covid after an almost impossible outbreak.
Although living miles from civilisation, a large percentage of the staff have been infected by the virus that spread from a single positive case, which was detected on December 14, among a group of people who had arrived at the base seven days earlier.
Despite this person being immediately placed into isolation, tests revealed that two others had also contracted the virus – leading to the eventual outbreak.
All three people were eventually evacuated on December 23, but not before the virus had spread further. Now, the two emergency doctors at the station are not allowing any new arrivals at the station until the virus dissipates.
Prior to arriving at the base, all 25 polar researchers at the zero-emissions base in remote Antarctica underwent a PCR test in Belgium two hours before flying to South Africa, then once there, they were quarantined for 10 days and took another PCR test.
A further test was needed when leaving Cape Town for Antarctica and a final one five days after that.
All 25 of the staff are fully vaccinated and one had a booster shot.
The research will now be shortened, according to Belgium’s Polar Secretariat, and staff will stay there until at least January 12, when new expeditions are set to arrive.
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Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]
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