(NEXSTAR) – The latest wave of COVID-19 cases has hit even the remotest corners of the world, including Antarctica.
Researchers on the isolated ice continent have started testing positive for the virus in recent weeks. On Sunday that Antarctic report 16 of the 25 people stationed at the Belgian Princess Elisabeth Station tweeted that they were infected with the corona virus.
All cases were “easy”, according to the Antarctic report.
“While quarantining certain employees infected with the virus was an inconvenience, it has not significantly affected our work at the station as a whole,” said Joseph Cheek, a project manager at the International Polar Foundation BBC.
Some of the scientists came to Antarctica from Belgium with a stopover in South Africa. The first positive test appeared on December 14th.
Everyone at Princess Elisabeth Station has been given the opportunity to depart on a flight scheduled for Jan. 12, but so far everyone has chosen to stay and keep working, Cheek said.
The station requires everyone to be vaccinated and tested negative before coming to Antarctica, the BBC reports.
This appears to be only the second COVID-19 outbreak in Antarctica. The coronavirus pandemic first reached the continent in December 2020. Chile announced that 58 people had tested positive for the virus at military bases in Antarctica or on a naval ship sailing to the continent.
Those 16 cases in Antarctica make up an exceptionally small portion of the recent surge in coronavirus cases, which is mainly powered by the Omicron variant. The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 data tracking project has recorded nearly 24 million cases worldwide in the past four weeks.