With Antarctic Outbreak, Coronavirus Has Now Touched All 7 Continents

With three dozen COVID-19 cases now confirmed at a research base in Antarctica, the coronavirus has reached a grim milestone: The virus has officially swept the globe, touching all seven continents.

Antarctica had been the last continent free from reported coronavirus infections until the recent outbreak at a Chilean research base. A statement released by the Chilean army confirmed that 26 army personnel and 10 civilians working as contractors tested positive for the coronavirus, according to CNN. They were working on the General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme Base, a Chilean research base located on the continent’s northernmost Trinity Peninsula.

Those who tested positive have been evacuated to Chile, according to a report from the BBC. The news of the outbreak in Antarctica came days after the Chilean Navy confirmed three cases on a ship that had taken supplies and personnel to the research station, BBC reports.

While there are no permanent residents in Antarctica, there are more than 60 scientific stations scattered across the icy continent that serve as national research bases. These stations support as few as six people to as many as 1,300, and typically researchers stay for three to six months.

AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File

The coronavirus has continued its spread across the world, with a virus tracker from Johns Hopkins reporting 81 million confirmed cases in 191 countries and regions, and nearly 1.8 million deaths.

On a more hopeful note, vaccines are currently being rolled out in countries around the world.

The United Kingdom became the first country in the world to administer COVID-19 vaccines to its citizens and several more countries have since followed suit, according to Al Jazeera. In the United States, the first 2 million people have received vaccines, falling short of the administration’s previously stated goal to get 20 million Americans vaccinated by the end of December. Incoming President Joe Biden has said he will invoke the Defense Production Act to boost COVID-19 vaccine production.

You can see where you are in line to get the coronavirus vaccination with this tool from The New York Times.