Antarctica Records Its First COVID-19 Cases, Becoming the Last Continent on Earth to Be Infected
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The novel coronavirus has officially reached Antarctica, making it the last continent on earth to be affected by the pandemic.
Antarctica, which has been free of the virus for more than nine months, recorded its first COVID-19 case after 36 people tested positive for the virus on a Chilean research base.
According to Newsweek, General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme Base confirmed this week that 26 military personnel and 10 civilians working at the base had tested positive for the disease.
The infected people were evacuated to the city of Punta Arenas in southern Chile and replaced by a new crew at the train station.
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The 36 people in Chile are reported to be in good condition and isolated.
Three crew members on a ship that had provided logistical support to the base also tested positive for the virus, although the entire crew had tested negative before the voyage began
All 208 crew members on the ship who served the base between November 27 and December 10 will be quarantined on board the ship, according to the Associated Press.
The Chilean base is one of 13 active Chilean bases in Antarctica. No other country with a presence on the continent has reported COVID-19 cases.
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As of Wednesday, there were more than 78.1 million cases of the coronavirus worldwide and at least 1.7 million deaths, according to the New York Times.
Earlier this week, public health officials in England confirmed the existence of a new, faster-spreading strain of the virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that London and other parts of south-east England would move to the highest levels of restrictions after officials said a variant of COVID-19 found in the country is moving 70 percent faster than other types.
The strain, which Public Health England (PHE) has named "VUI - 202012/01", was first identified in September when experts analyzed samples from positive COVID-19 cases in south east England. However, experts emphasize that there are often different strains of the virus and that COVID-19 has already mutated several times.
Officials said that while this strain appears to be spreading faster than others, there is no evidence that it leads to more severe COVID-19 disease or is more deadly.
COVID-19 cases with this strain have been identified in Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands.
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