Antarctica NZ limits activity in continent to stay Covid-19 free

Antarctica New Zealand is cracking down on unnecessary travel to the continent in a bid to keep Covid-19 out.

A frozen section of the Ross Sea at the Scott Base in Antarctica on November 12, 2016.

A frozen section of the Ross Sea at the Scott Base in Antarctica on November 12, 2016. Photo: Mark Ralston / POOL / AFP

It follows consultation with other National Antarctic programmes in the Ross Sea region about the upcoming research season.

Antarctica NZ will only support long-term science monitoring, essential operational activity and planned maintenance this season.

Its chief executive, Sarah Williamson, said limiting the number of people travelling to Scott Base and a strict isolation plan were ways to keep the case Covid-19 free.

“Antarctica New Zealand is committed to maintaining and enhancing the quality of New Zealand’s Antarctic scientific research.”

Williamson said the global pandemic meant that their ability to support science was extremely limited this season.

General manager of operations Simon Trotter said the impact of the decision on research, but said it wasn’t an easy one to make.

“Our focus is to keep Antarctica free from the virus, and the best way to do that is minimise its opportunity to get onto the continent” he says.

Antarctica NZ said a managed isolation plan was being developed with multiple government agencies to ensure the virus did not enter the continent.

In addition, it said other National Antarctic Programmes had indicated that they would likely only support essential operations and critical services due to operational challenges.

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