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More Than Half Of Crew At Remote Antarctic Research Station Catch Covid

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More Than Half Of Crew At Remote Antarctic Research Station Catch Covid

More than half of the crew at a remote research station have caught Covid.

Staff at the Princess Elizabeth Polar Station in the Antarctic reported that 16 of the 25 crew tested positive for the virus.

According to reports, the first cases of the virus were detected on 14 December, seven days after they had arrived at the facility, which is run by the International Polar Association.

All staff had been fully vaccinated before joining the station and had also tested negative for the virus.

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Every one of the crew members affected are now in isolation and none have suffered any serious symptoms as yet.

Speaking about the outbreak, Joseph Cheek, a project manager with the International Polar Foundation, said that it's not as serious as it may sound.

He told the BBC: "The situation isn't dramatic.

Over half the staff at the station have caught Covid. Credit: International Polar Foundation
Over half the staff at the station have caught Covid. Credit: International Polar Foundation
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"While it has been an inconvenience to have to quarantine certain members of the staff who caught the virus, it hasn't significantly affected our work at the station overall. 

"All residents of the station were offered the opportunity to leave on a scheduled flight on January 12. However, they all expressed their wish to stay and continue their work."

The Princess Elisabeth station is run by the International Polar Foundation and has been in operation since 2009.

This comes after more evidence emerged that Omicron is a more infectious but less deadly disease in comparison with other Covid variants.

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Six studies have found that Omicron is more likely to infect the throat than the lungs, which certainly was the case with Delta.

However, the findings are still preliminary and are yet to be conclusive, as reported by The Guardian.

Research suggests Omicron is less deadly than the Delta variant. Credit: Alamy
Research suggests Omicron is less deadly than the Delta variant. Credit: Alamy

Deenan Pillay, professor of virology at University College London explains: "The result of all the mutations that make Omicron different from previous variants is that it may have altered its ability to infect different sorts of cells.

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"In essence, it looks to be more able to infect the upper respiratory tract – cells in the throat.

"So it would multiply in cells there more readily than in cells deep in the lung."

Prof James Stewart was part of the team from the University of Liverpool’s Molecular Virology Research Group that published a pre-print study on Boxing day.

He said that Omicron was a 'less severe disease' in mice.

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The professor added: "It’s one piece of the jigsaw.

"The animal model does suggest that the disease is less severe than Delta and the original Wuhan virus.

"It seems to get cleared faster and the animals recovered more rapidly, and that ties in with clinical data coming through.

"The early indications are that it’s good news, but that’s not a signal to drop our guard, because if you’re clinically vulnerable, the consequences are still not great – there are deaths from Omicron.

Featured Image Credit: International Polar Foundation

Topics: Coronavirus, Science, World News

Dominic Smithers
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