Almost half of crew on French aircraft carrier fleet have COVID-19
France’s Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly says more than 1,000 of the sailors on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier fleet have tested positive for the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
“Today, April 17, 2,010, tests have been done. They have allowed us to detect 1,081 sailors who are positive for COVID-19 — 1,081. The others are still awaiting their test results,” Parly said on Friday.
Test results are pending for about 300 sailors. Some 2,300 sailors were aboard the carrier group.
Parly said 545 of the sailors showing the symptoms of COVID-19 had been placed under medical surveillance and 24 were being treated in the Sainte-Anne military hospital in Toulon, including one in intensive care.
The nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle had helicopters and fighter jets on board. The ship, along with two accompanying frigates, was deployed in the Atlantic. It cut short its mission after some crew members started to show symptoms of COVID-19.
According to the French minister, the carrier is being disinfected and will sail again in June.
The origin of the outbreak on board the carrier is unknown, and investigations into a March 13-16 stopover in Brest and a stopover in the Cypriot city of Limassol on February 20-21 are still ongoing, the minister said.
Parly also denied reports that the outbreak aboard the vessel had been mishandled.
Referring to one report from a crew member interviewed by France Bleu radio that said the captain had asked for the mission to stop in Brest but the ministry had refused, Parly said, “This rumor is false.”
Earlier this month, Acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned after mishandling a coronavirus outbreak on US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt.
Modly had relieved the Theodore Roosevelt’s captain, Brett Crozier, of his command for writing a letter — leaked to the media — saying the Pentagon was not paying adequate attention to a viral outbreak among the ship’s 4,800 crew.