Indian Base In Lockdown After Coronavirus Scare In Antarctica

by Darshit Singh 4 years ago Views 2836

Indian Base In Lockdown After Coronavirus Scare In

One of the most isolated and least touched places in the world, Antarctica, is feeling the same level of COVID-19 fear as the rest of the world. Researchers are strictly following health protocols, implementing lockdown, and isolating any visitor to the region for 14 days.

Many who are living in the remotest part of the earth fear that if the novel coronavirus reached an Antarctic research base, it could be lethal. Since there are limited medical facilities and the likelihood of spreading it to others is quite high.

Home to around 70 active research bases belonging to various countries, these bases shelter more than 4,000 people during the summer and around 1,000 people in winter. Researchers spend an entire year in isolation, conducting research projects on the icy continent.

Indian researchers have maintained their presence in Antarctica since 1981. Every year, summer and winter teams are sent to two Indian research bases, Maitri and Bharati, to carry out various scientific studies.

This year’s Indian research team consisting of 23 members deployed at the Bharati station has been on lockdown since February despite being the only continent without any cases of COVID-19.

Before the continent was marred with COVID-19 fears, there would be regular visits to the Bharati station from neighbouring expeditions. The visitors’ national flag would be raised upon their arrival and different teams would celebrate important days together. And borrow equipment from their neighbours if a team went short of it. But since March, such acts of harmony among other countries have vanished due to coronavirus fears and lockdown.

Located on the Larsemann Hills, the Bharati base started operations in 2012 and is one of the most secluded research outposts on the planet. The nearest mainland is South Africa which is more than 5,000km away. Travel is possible only by boat during the Antarctic summer, between November and March-end.

Living in one of the most sequestered region is not a cakewalk, lack of social interaction and sunlight puts them at a high risk of developing depression. Maintaining a sleep pattern here is difficult since the region gets no sunlight at all for many winter months.

As travel restrictions continue across the globe, these researchers might have to spend many more months than they expected in such a harsh and inhospitable environment.

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