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50 cases of Covid-19 aboard France’s ONLY aircraft carrier, Defense Ministry confirms

50 cases of Covid-19 aboard France’s ONLY aircraft carrier, Defense Ministry confirms
The coronavirus outbreak on board France's only aircraft carrier has infected 50 crew members, the French Defense Ministry has confirmed. The Navy flagship is on its way to Toulon after cutting short its Mediterranean mission.

A military medical team was dispatched to the Charles de Gaulle to assess the situation after the start of the outbreak. Of the 66 people tested after its arrival on Wednesday, 50 returned positive results, the ministry said on Friday.

Three infected sailors were evacuated from the Charles de Gaulle on Thursday by an NH90 military helicopter to Portugal before being airlifted to a military hospital in Toulon.

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The patients’ lives are said to be out of danger, with the command taking them to the shore as a precaution.

The medic team remains on the ship to conduct an epidemiological study and oversee quarantine measures.

Reports this week said dozens of sailors on board the French warship had been isolated with symptoms of the disease, prompting it to set sail to Toulon instead of taking part in France’s Operation Chammal against Islamist fighters in the Middle East.

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The French Navy is not the first to have its capabilities undermined by the pandemic. The US Navy last month had to send the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt to Guam after a Covid-19 outbreak on the ship.

The health crisis also led to a scandal after a scolding memo by the ship’s commander, which alerted his superiors to the need for swift evacuation of the sailors, was leaked to the press. Last week Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of his duties by then acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who in turn resigned shortly afterwards.

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