The Only Continent Free of Coronavirus

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With more than 2.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 165,000 deaths, most countries on Earth have reported at least one confirmed cases. Cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have been detected in 185 countries across six continents ( More: Mapping the Spread of the Coronavirus). Antarctica is the last continent in the world with no reported cases of COVID-19.

While Antarctica has no permanent residents, the icy continent is home to research stations manned by 28 different countries, and there are seven sovereign states that have territorial claims there: Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom. While all seven countries have confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks in within those nations, none of those cases have occurred in Antarctica.

Antarctica has been under lockdown at the various stations to prevent the coronavirus from reaching the southernmost continent. Cruise ships were halted weeks ago, and most bases have skeleton crews manning them. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, access to the continent was strictly regulated with visitors being screened for viruses and illnesses upon arrival. New visitors to Antarctica are being screened for COVID-19 and have to undergo isolation to ensure they are not carrying the virus.

Brown Research Station in Antarctica.  Photo: Gary Bembridge, CC BY 2.0
Brown Research Station in Antarctica. Photo: Gary Bembridge, CC BY 2.0

More

Taylor, A., & Pitrelli, S. (2020, March 24). One continent remains untouched by the coronavirus: Antarctica. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/03/24/one-continent-remains-untouched-by-coronavirus-antarctica/

Laing, A., & Garrison, C. (2020, April 14). ‘Isolated within isolation’: Keeping out coronavirus in the frozen Antarctic. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-antarctica-feature/isolated-within-isolation-keeping-out-coronavirus-in-the-frozen-antarctic-idUSKCN21W2O4

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