The Ministry of Science and Innovation has decided to cancel the participation of the Oceanographic Research Vessel (BIO) Hesperides in the Spanish Antarctic campaign to avoid any risk of spreading the virus among the personnel participating in the campaign and its possible introduction into the Antarctic Treaty area.
This decision was made after 35 positives of covid-19 were detected in the oceanographic vessel, which is currently in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with the entire crew in quarantine and under medical supervision. With this exceptional measure, the ministry explains, it seeks to protect the investigative and technical personnel (civil and military), who as of January 20 will carry out their activities at the Spanish Antarctic bases Gabriel de Castilla and Juan Carlos I, from where the capacities evacuation times are slow and limited.
The campaign will be carried out with the ship ‘Sarmiento de Gamboa’, which left Vigo on December 16
Thus, most of the planned research projects have had to be rescheduled in terms of length and number of participants. The oceanographic project that would be developed on board the BIO Hesperides at the moment it is canceled. The technical personnel that keep the bases operational have also been reduced to the minimum necessary for their maintenance and support of scientific activities in safe conditions.
The total duration of the campaign will therefore be limited to one month during which it has tried to maintain as much scientific activity as possible, developing five scientific projects and four historical series.
The campaign will be carried out with the support of the Research Vessel Sarmiento de Gamboa, which left Vigo on December 16 and will arrive in Punta Arenas (Chile) on January 15. The bases will remain open until the end of February.
The first group of scientific and technical personnel that will open the bases, around January 22, is in Punta Arenas (Chile), quarantining for 14 days since last January 4. The second and last group of researchers will fly to Punta Arenas at the end of this week to begin the 14-day quarantine in that town.
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