Chile’s army announced that 36 people at the Gen Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme Antarctic base have tested positive; the health minister for the Biobio region in Chile said there are 21 infections involving people aboard the Chilean navy’s Sergeant Aldea supply vessel.
One more case was reported in Las Estrellas’ village, where civilian personnel working at the Lieutenant Rodolfo Marsh Martin Air Force Base live. In April 2020, a cruise ship headed for Antarctica had almost sixty percent of its passengers test positive for COVID-19. The cruise was detained in Uruguay, where the passengers were not allowed to disembark.
The first official cases were announced on 21 December 2020 by the government of Chile. At least 36 people, including 10 civilians and 26 officers of the Chilean Army and Chilean Navy, were confirmed as positive for COVID-19 after contracting the virus on the Base General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme, where they were doing scheduled maintenance work for the base. The people developed symptoms for COVID-19 aboard the Sargento Aldea ship, and most of the cases were treated after arriving to their destinations in Punta Arenas and Talcahuano.
So far, Antarctica is home to no permanent residents, but around 1,000 researchers and visitors stayed there during its winter period from March to October. The British Antarctic Survey estimated that about 1,000 researchers at 38 stations across the continent had safely travelled back without reporting any infection cases in the winter.
Prior to these cases, Antarctica had remained the only coronavirus-free continent on the planet for nearly a year since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China