COVID outbreak on Spanish Antarctic vessel | Polarjournal
The Spanish research and supply vessel Hespérides has been in service for the Spanish Antarctic Programme since 1991, but belongs to the Spanish Navy. The ship is 82.5 meters long, 14.3 meters wide and has a crew of 58 plus a maximum of 29 scientists as passengers. The ship was on its way to Punta Arenas to sail from there towards Antarctica. Image: christopher CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia

Spanish media report a COVID outbreak on the Spanish research and supply vessel Hespérides. The ship had to turn back and sail to Gran Canaria after just 10 hours of sailing south after several people on board showed symptoms of the viral disease.

The ship is now back in port and all persons are in quarantine. According to Spanish media, those who have been infected are doing well and some have even tested positive but show no symptoms. A total of 10 people are known to have contracted the virus.

The Spanish station Gabriel de Castilla on Deception Island is one of two Spanish Antarctic stations. The station has been on site since 1990 and conducts biological, geological and climatological research. It is located near the Argentine station. Picture: Michael Wenger

Originally starting in Cartageña, Spain, the ship was to take a group of scientists to Antarctica. All people on board had undergone both quarantines and PCR tests to detect the virus in advance of the trip. The first destination would have been Punta Arenas in Chile. From there, the ship would have departed to resupply the two Antarctic stations, Gabriel de Castilla and Juan Carlos I, on Livingston Island. Despite the situation, supplies to the stations are assured as another ship is already on its way to Antarctica, the Sarmiento de Gamboa.

The location of the two Spanish stations in Antarctica. The Gabriel de Castilla station is located on Deception Island, and the Juan Carlos I station is located on Livingston Island.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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