The National Science Foundation suspends trips to Antarctica due to the spread of COVID | Tech US News

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) has paused travel to Antarctica for two weeks after more than 70 cases of COVID-19 were detected at its research post on the continent.

In a statement released Friday, the NSF said it will move to reduce population “density” at the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica, where about 1,000 researchers are deployed.

“The US National Science Foundation’s priority is always the health and safety of our communities while ensuring that the global scientific mission can be achieved. Following the confirmation of more than 70 positive cases at McMurdo Station, NSF is review existing protocols implemented at the start of the season in September to reduce transmission rates,” the agency said.

In a second update over the weekend, the NSF said it would be “implementing a pause in all travel [Antarctica] for the next two weeks, with immediate effect, while we reassess the situation.”

This break excludes essential travel required for health and safety reasons.

The NSF said 10 percent of the population deployed to Antarctica is testing positive for COVID-19. Because of this infection rate, those at McMurdo have been advised to wear KN95 masks at all times.

An NSF spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that the symptoms reported among McMurdo’s were mild. So far, 98 cases have been confirmed among the 993 people stationed there, and 64 cases are currently active.

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