The French Navy (Marine Nationale) has said that 688 sailors aboard Charles de Gaulle carrier have tested positive for COVID-19 virus, of which 31 are currently hospitalized and one is in intensive care.
The Navy added that test results of 30% of the sailors are still pending, even as the number of them found to have the virus has jumped to one-third of all sailors. Among the ones that tested positive, at least two of them are reportedly American.
“On the evening of April 14, 1767 sailors from the Carrier Strike Group were tested. The vast majority of these tests at this stage concern sailors from the aircraft carrier. 30% of these tests have not yet delivered their results. 668 were positive. Among them, 31 are hospitalized today at the Sainte-Anne army training hospital in Toulon, including one in intensive care. This test campaign is still ongoing,” the French Navy said in a statement.
The warship carrying carrier strike group (CSG) set sail from Toulon Naval Base for “Operation Chammal” against Daesh in the eastern Mediterranean on January 21. It later took part in several multinational exercises in the Atlantic and the North Sea.
On April 8, 40 suspected coronavirus cases were announced, following which the ship was called back to the homeport in Southern France. Fifty out of 66 tested sailors were confirmed to have the deadly virus four days later.
French Navy aircraft including Rafale-M, helicopters and E-2C Hawkeye from the carrier’s air wing returned to their respective naval bases in Landivisiau, Hyères and Lann-Bihoué on April 11.
The following day saw escort ships- frigate La Motte-Picquet, supply vessel Somme, destroyer Chevalier Paul of the strike group return to their homeports.
All of CSG’s vessels and aircraft are currently being disinfected. In naval bases located in Brittany and Southern France, all sailors are put under a 14-day quarantine to contain the spread of the virus; the exception being coronavirus-negative testing sailors of frigate La Motte-Picque (they are authorized for home quarantine).
Sailors showing the symptoms are placed in isolated confinement, as a precaution vis-à-vis the rest of the crew.
The ‘Charles de Gaulle’ with an assortment of Rafale jets, helicopters and reconnaissance planes was originally scheduled to sail until April 23.