SANTIAGO, April 3 (Xinhua) -- The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the world's largest radio telescope, has temporarily closed operations due to the spread of COVID-19 in Chile, the observatory said in an announcement updated on Thursday.
"We made the unprecedented decision to shut down ALMA for the well-being and health of all staff, to ensure they can be at home with their families while this pandemic unfolds. An incredible effort was made by staff to ensure a safe and successful shutdown," ALMA Director Sean Dougherty was quoted as saying in the announcement.
He added that "a team continues working at the observatory to keep vital telescope systems operational and ensure that we are ready to restart operations whenever that is feasible."
ALMA shut down on March 22 and is expected to resume operations no sooner than May 19, according to the announcement.
ALMA is an astronomical interferometer of 66 radio telescopes located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.
Chile's health ministry on Tuesday released its latest figures on the COVID-19 epidemic, showing 2,738 people have tested positive and 12 have died of the disease so far.