In Brief

Antarctica has its 1st COVID-19 outbreak

the Antarctic Peninsula seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft.
(Image credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The first COVID-19 cases have been reported in Antarctica, meaning the disease has now spread to every continent in the world.

On Tuesday (Dec. 22), Chilean officials reported an outbreak of 36 COVID-19 cases at the Chilean research base General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme on the Antarctic Peninsula, according to the BBC. Of these, 26 cases were military personnel and 10 were maintenance workers, the BBC reported.

All of these cases have been evacuated from Antarctica to Punta Arenas, Chile, according to The Guardian.

 Related: 50 amazing facts about Antarctica 

Antarctica had been free of COVID-19 until now. The continent has no permanent residents, but about 1,000 people, including scientists and other workers, stayed there this past winter, The Guardian reported.

Just a few days before the Antarctic outbreak emerged, three cases of COVID-19 were reported on a Chilean navy ship that had brought supplies to the research base, according to the BBC.

Originally published on Live Science.  

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.