It may be the most desolate and uninhabitable place on the planet, but New Zealand is taking steps to ensure that Antarctica stays free of the deadly virus, Covid-19.
Antarctica New Zealand, the government agency that does environmental research on the desolate landmass and the Southern Ocean, said Tuesday it would reduce its scientific projects in Antarctica to keep the continent free from Covid-19, CGTN.com reported.
Limiting the number of people visiting was key to stopping the spread of the coronavirus, the agency said, addding it had decided to support “only long-term science monitoring, essential operational activity and planned maintenance this season” at its Scott Base.
According to reports, the number of projects was being cut from 36 to 13 across the upcoming research season from October to March, CGTN.com reported.
Antarctica New Zealand is committed to maintaining and enhancing the quality of Antarctic scientific research, chief executive Sarah Williamson stated.
However, current circumstances meant their ability to support science was extremely limited this season, she added.
Antarctica New Zealand said it was developing a managed isolation plan with multiple government agencies to ensure COVID-19 does not reach the continent, CGTN.com reported.
Scott Base is New Zealand’s only Antarctic research station and is 3,800 kilometres (2,360 miles) south of Christchurch and 1,350 kilometers (840 miles) from the South Pole, according to Antarctica New Zealand.
Usually, up to 86 scientists, staff and visitors can stay there at any one time, CGTN.com reported.
New Zealand has recorded a total of 1,504 confirmed and 22 deaths.
Meanwhile, more than 7.13 million people have been reported to be infected with the new coronavirus globally and 406,913 have died, according to latest data from Johns Hopkins University.