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Covid Free Continent

Covid Free & Freezing Cold

I have always wanted to go to Antartica.  I hate the cold but I am spell bound by the ice blues.  They are out of this world.  The whales mesmerise me and the penguins are really cute.

penguins in antarctica

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing Antarctica as a holiday destination:

1.  It is not easy to get there

2.  You can only go in the summer

3.  It is expensive

4.  The voyage across the Southern Ocean can be horrendous

5.  It is very cold

In spite of all that, the scenery and wildlife are awe inspiring.

beautiful blues in the Antarctic

It is still on my Bucket List which is fast becoming a Triple Road Train List.  My dream mode of transport is a Ponant Cruise.  Check out their video clip which has some superb footage of an Antarctic Expedition Cruise.....

ponant le commandant polar explorer luxury cruise ship

Ponant - World Leader in Luxury Expeditions

and now it is the only continent without Covid-19.  Not something I'd thought of until I read this article by National Geographic.  So, while we have problems all around the world, this distant, frozen land has its own set of logistical hurdles with the pandemic.

Here is the article for you to have a read - it is quite interesting - with some interesting links .....

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Antarctica is the last continent without COVID-19

Scientists want to keep it that way.

Studying Antarctica is critical to combating climate change, but most scientists can’t travel to the continent this upcoming season.

The busy summer season in Antarctica begins in October and runs through February, when thousands of scientists from dozens of countries usually pack into the continent’s remote research stations. Forty permanent bases dot the desolate landscape, a number that nearly doubles when summer-only facilities resume operations. This year, however, getting to this icy scientific realm comes with a serious concern: Antarctica is the only continent without a single reported case of COVID-19.

Medical care at the research stations is limited, and dorm-like living makes it easy for disease to spread even in the best of years. During a pandemic, reducing the number of scientists on the continent will mitigate the risk of an outbreak, but it also disrupts urgent research.

Scientists working on Antarctica scan the stars with telescopes, search for fundamental particles, and study some of the most remarkable animals in the world. The remote continent is also crucial to understanding changes across our entire planet. Climate scientists study ancient air bubbles trapped in the ice to understand Earth’s history, and they monitor the melting ice sheet and warming Southern Ocean to forecast the planet’s possible future.

view of antarctica from space by nasa

But most of these scientists will have to do this work away from the continent this season, relying on remote sensors and the large volumes of data and samples collected in previous years.

“It is gut-wrenching,” says Nancy Bertler, director of the Antarctic Science Platform in New Zealand. “We only have a few years left to make some very significant changes to avoid the worst of climate change consequences, and we can’t afford to wait a year.”

Keeping COVID-19 off the ice
The Antarctic environment is so extreme that Dirk Welsford, chief scientist at the Australian Antarctic Program, compares it to outer space, and with good reason. The International Space Station orbits 220 miles above Earth, while the most remote base on Antarctica—France and Italy’s Concordia research facility—is about 350 miles from its nearest neighbor and over 600 miles from the closest source of supplies on the coast.
Most Antarctic bases are located on the vast coastline rather than inland like Concordia, but even these are difficult to reach. Scientists travel via planes and ships that are delayed by extreme weather so often, the United States Antarctic Program has a section of its participant guide titled “Be Patient.”
This year, patience alone won’t be enough. “For all nations working in Antarctica, it is the main goal to keep the virus off the ice,” says Christine Wesche, logistics coordinator at Germany’s Antarctic program. But exactly how to accomplish that goal remains in flux, as programs navigate many moving parts.
The Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) and its 30 members are coordinating a major reduction in personnel. All of the programs will cut their teams by varying degrees—Australia and Germany by 50 percent and New Zealand by 66 percent, for example. The United States hasn’t shared their adjusted team size, but recent press releases say the number of people they can safely deploy is “limited.”
By reducing team sizes, the programs can better ensure a strict quarantine and testing regime, since tests can be costly and it takes time to get results. Limiting the number of workers at the stations also helps ensure that, if the virus does make it through say, due to a faulty test, fewer people are exposed.
by DI MINARDI
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tender boat exploring antarctica
So, it looks like Antarctica may have to go to the bottom of the list for a while.
Not that anywhere is in the immediate future right now.
I'll just keep imagining being in this tender boat.

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