COVID-19 reached the Hope Base of Argentine Antarctica, where 24 positive cases were detected during the survey of military and scientific personnel in the 118th Summer Antarctic Campaign (CAV) 2022.
As detailed in the statement from the Joint Antarctic Command (COCOANTAR), the health protocols provided for these cases on the Antarctic continent were applied and the relatives of the infected people and the official authorities were immediately notified.
As part of the health operation, the oldest personnel from the Antarctic base were initially withdrawn, due to the fact that had not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine, and was transferred to the City of Buenos Aires. All are isolated in military health facilities and the disease is not serious, according to the report of the Armed Forces.
Meanwhile, the relief personnel who tested positive for coronavirus are asymptomatic and in good health, being monitored daily by the Esperanza Base doctor, who is in direct and permanent contact with the COCOANTAR medical specialists. All of them are already vaccinated.
So far, the rest of the Argentine bases in Antarctica remain free of COVID.
Preventive quarantine on the Almirante Irizar icebreaker
With the aim of not transferring the pandemic to the 13 bases that Argentina operates in its Antarctic territory during a journey that will last between January 11 and May 1, nearly 300 scientists and military Since last December 28, they have complied with a preventive quarantine in the port of Buenos Aires aboard the icebreaker Admiral Irizar, which sailed on January 12.
In this sense, the Argentine planning included strict quarantines and tests for all personnel who must carry out logistical and scientific tasks on the Antarctic continent.
All the scientists and technicians of the National Antarctic Directorate, as well as the crew of the icebreaker, had to go through a first PCR test, two weeks of isolation and a second PCR test before embarking. But due to the fact that in the first round of tests more than 50 positives were detected, all of them disaffected from their functions, the authorities decided to carry out two additional rounds, totaling 4 swabs for each person to be shipped.
Prior to the new trip that the icebreaker Almirante Irízar made to Antarctica, Ship Captain Carlos Musso Soler referred to the health situation due to COVID-19. “The pandemic continues to exist and we cannot take the virus to a place where there are people who are not vaccinated because they have been there for a year and who also have low defenses due to being isolated in that environment for so long, that is also why from the beginning After the emergency in 2020, visits with Antarctic bases from other countries and those of tourist contingents were suspended,” he remarked.
”The fundamental mission of the Navy is to safeguard life at sea, and when the ‘Admiral Irízar’ sails in Antarctic waters there is peace in all the bases in the area because they know that there is a medical response nearby that has three operating rooms, respirators and the possibility of facilitating evacuations through its two helicopters”, Musso Soler completed to the agency Telam.