Right now, Antarctica is the only continent with no cases of coronavirus.
“You’d better stay there, you’re safer there,” colleagues have told Alberto Della Rovere, leader of the Italian expedition. “Right now, this, Antarctica, is the safest place in the world,” says Della Rovere. “There are no outside contacts and we’re far away from any settlement.” Twenty-eight countries have stations on the continent, the largest being the American McMurdo Station. However, even though it’s relatively safe because people are screened before arrival, the isolation and close quarters at the station would prove dangerous if the virus did arrive.
Jeff Ayton, chief medical officer at the Australian Antarctic Division, says, “it’s akin to living on the moon or on the way to Mars. We can’t get these people out,” said Ayton. “We can’t do a medical evacuation from our Australians stations for up to nine months” of the year. Antarctic station residents are well aware of their situation and talk about it on social media. “I think it is safe to say that McMurdo Station, Antarctica, had the largest St. Patrick’s Party in the world in 2020,” said one person there.