two thirds of researchers infected

two thirds of researchers infected
two thirds of researchers infected

Omicron continues its unstoppable run. After hitting South Africa, first landing in Europe and then in the United States, it reached one of the most remote places in the world. Far from civilization and in a place considered practically inaccessible by a virus: Antarctica. It did so by challenging all the logics of the pandemic known up to now, by overcoming the shield provided from thousands of kilometers away, by molecular control buffers and vaccines, demonstrating how its transmission speed has no known limits.

Omicron outbreak in Antarctica: protocols

The case, reported by the newspaper Le Soir, is that of the Belgian polar station Princess Elisabeth where two thirds of the 25 employees who live there tested positive for the new variant. The very strict protocols implemented before reaching it were of little use. All 25 researchers were fully vaccinated and one had received the booster. Staff members preparing to leave for the station had to undergo a molecular test in Belgium two hours before leaving for South Africa, one five days after arriving in Cape Town, where they were forced to quarantine. for ten days. At the end of this period they underwent another test necessary to leave Cape Town and fly to Antarctica. Finally, another molecular swab five days after arriving at the polar station. The good news, confirming the effectiveness of vaccines in protecting against the disease, is that none of them currently suffer from particularly relevant symptoms.

The speed of diffusion

Despite stringent measures, a positive case was detected on December 14 among a group of people who had arrived at the base seven days earlier and, although this person was immediately placed in solitary confinement, tests revealed that two other employees also contracted. the virus. All three people were evacuated on December 23, but the virus continued to circulate. According to a virologist consulted by the Polar Secretariat, there is a high probability that the infection at the station was caused by the Omicron variant, as it accounts for 99% of cases in South Africa, which would explain the rapid circulation.

Polar station in isolation

The Strategic Council of the Polar Secretariat decided on Monday to keep staff at the station but will ban any new entry into the station before the outbreak has died down and, at least, until January 12, when two new shipments should arrive.

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thirds researchers infected

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