The novel coronavirus disease-associated lockdown has cast its shadow on India’s scientific expeditions to polar regions.

The expedition to the Arctic this year is cancelled while as many as 28 homeward-bound scientists, who were part of the country’s 39th scientific expedition to the Antarctic are in quarantine in Cape Town, South Africa, owing to the lockdown in India which began on March 25.

Efforts are on to bring the 28 scientists home, said M Ravichandran, director, National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, also known as NCPOR, India’s premier research institution responsible for the country’s research activities in the polar – Arctic, Antarctica and Himalayas – and Southern Ocean realms.

“The 28 Indians who are currently in quarantine at a hotel in Cape Town since April 12 are part of the 100-member Indian team to Antarctica. They were not able to return home through air travel due to the lockdown. We are in talks with the Ministry of External Affairs to bring them back home soon, most probably during the second week of May 2020,” Ravichandran told Mongabay-India.

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