Wellington, September 14
The first US flight into Antarctica following months of winter darkness arrived on Monday with crews taking additional precautions to maintain out the coronavirus.
Antarctica is the one continent with out the virus, and there’s a world effort to ensure incoming scientists and employees don’t carry it with them.
The US Air Force flight left on Monday from the gateway metropolis of Christchurch carrying 106 passengers and crew, mentioned Tony German, the US Antarctic programme’s consultant in New Zealand.
He mentioned the brand new arrivals will begin preparing for the summer season and swap out with skeleton crews who’ve spent the Southern Hemisphere winter in Antarctica.
The flight was delayed for 3 weeks by large storms, leading to an prolonged six-week quarantine for these aboard.
German mentioned the crews had been first remoted in San Francisco for 4 days after which spent one other 5 weeks remoted in New Zealand, present process a number of virus assessments alongside the way in which. Upon their arrival at McMurdo Station, the ability entered Code Yellow, which means everyone will put on masks for 2 weeks.
“We are being meticulous to ensure nothing happens,” German mentioned.
If the virus was to interrupt out on the station, he mentioned, they’ve protocols in place to check and isolate anyone who’s contaminated.
Still, the flight delays over latest weeks underscore how tough it may be to rapidly evacuate folks from Antarctica who’re struggling extreme medical issues.
German mentioned it took greater than per week for winter crews at McMurdo, the primary US station on Antarctica, to dig out from the storms and clear the runway to ensure that the flight to proceed.
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster that landed Monday afternoon was the primary US flight to reach on the continent since early May.
Officials say uncommon teamwork among the many United States, China, Russia and different nations passed off this 12 months to make sure they maintain the virus out.
All are planning decreased numbers at their stations. The variety of folks at McMurdo is ready to peak at 450 this summer season, about one-third the same old.
Some deliberate analysis and development might be delayed. German mentioned the primary targets are to maintain the amenities working and put together for subsequent 12 months’s winter-over, whereas making an attempt to do some science alongside the way in which.
“The show must go on,” he mentioned. — AP