"You think you've got something in place to bring everyone home and then something happens."

Homeward Bound

As the coronavirus pandemic made it difficult — and ill-advised — to travel, one group found itself trapped in a particularly inhospitable environment: Antarctica.

The members of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) staff were working at research stations when the pandemic hit. And while plans have been made to bring just about everyone stationed there home, BBC News reports, it was a harrowing endeavor to arrange travel in the midst of a global crisis.

Global Leapfrog

The current plan is to get BAS workers on a ferry to the Falkland Islands, off the coast of South America, and then fly them home to the U.K. But the BAS is also commissioning a cruise ship, BBC News reports, to accommodate everyone until the ferry arrives and to help keep everyone separated.

“The situation has been changing every day,” BAS director Jane Francis told BBC News. “You think you’ve got something in place to bring everyone home and then something happens.”

Safe Haven

Once everyone is home, the next problem is figuring out how to keep Antarctica coronavirus-free when scientists inevitably head back to continue their work.

“We’re working very hard to do that,” Francis told BBC News. “We’re trying to make sure that anybody that goes to Antarctica is virus-free. So, they’ve either not been anywhere where there’s been the virus or they’ve been in isolation. But that will be our challenge for the forthcoming season, I think.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus complicates journeys home from Antarctica [BBC News]

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