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Belgian research outpost in Antarctica hit by COVID-19 outbreak

The current surge in COVID-19 cases has reached Antarctica, affecting a fully vaccinated crew at a Belgian scientific research station, according to reports.

At least 16 of the 25 workers at the Princess Elisabeth Polar Station have caught the deadly bug since Dec. 14, the BBC reported.

But the cases have been mild.

“The situation isn’t dramatic,” Joseph Cheek, a project manager for the International Polar Foundation, which operates the station, told the BBC.

“While it has been an inconvenience to have to quarantine certain members of the staff who caught the virus, it hasn’t significantly affected our work at the station overall,” he told the outlet.

“All residents of the station were offered the opportunity to leave on a scheduled flight on Jan. 12. However, they all expressed their wish to stay and continue their work,” Cheek added.

Staff at Princess Elisabeth Polar Station, where there are two doctors, must be vaccinated and tested for the virus upon arrival, the BBC said.

The station announced that new arrivals have been suspended for the time being.
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New arrivals at the station have been suspended until the virus is eradicated.

The outbreak isn’t the first to take place in Antarctica.

Last year, several Chilean military workers based at Bernardo O’Higgins research station were infected after sailors on a supply ship tested positive for the bug, according to the report.

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