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COVID-19 hits largest research outpost in Antarctica

McMurdo Station, the largest research outpost in Antarctica, is suffering from an unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19, with at least 64 active cases among its more than 900 residents, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) said on 7 November. The agency this week paused most flights to the continent for 2 weeks and recommended that all residents wear KN-95 masks.

This year, NSF relaxed its strict policies that had required researchers to isolate before traveling to Antarctica, but the agency’s vaccine mandate, which now requires a bivalent booster, remains in force. The outbreak will likely upset summer fieldwork, much of which relies on McMurdo as a logistical hub, further straining projects that the pandemic has already delayed by several years.

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