Chilean authorities report first COVID-19 outbreak in Antarctica

Saturday, December 26, 2020

On Sunday, Chilean military authorities reported 36 infections with COVID-19 at General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme Base in Trinity Peninsula, Antarctica. A first outbreak on the continent, it reportedly followed an outbreak on a naval supply ship that had travelled there. On Thursday officials reported the number of cases in the outbreak rose to 58.

O'Higgins base; photo from file.
Image: Stone Monki.
Patagonia in South America (polygon), and General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme Base (point).

The Health Minister for the Biobio Region in Chile reported on Tuesday, 21 confirmed cases of the virus on Chilean Navy's Sergeant Aldea supply vessel that visited the base between November 27 and December 10. On Thursday the local health secretary reported one more case in Las Estrellas' village, where some Air Force Base civilian personnel live.

The Chilean Armed Forces said on Sunday, the 36 people infected included 26 army personnel. They said the 36 people were moved to Patagonia, the south-most region in Chile in the South America continent, where they were being monitored by local health authorities.

With this outbreak, the Antarctic continent became the last continent to report cases of what the World Health Organization declared a pandemic earlier this year.