Navy docks USS Theodore Roosevelt to test crew for COVID-19

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Five more sailors aboard aircraft carrier test positive for coronavirus

At least 23 sailors aboard the Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have become infected by the novel coronavirus, according to two USA officials.

"We found several more cases on board the ship", Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters at the Pentagon.

The aircraft carrier was deployed to the Pacific Ocean after visiting Da Nang, Vietnam, earlier this month.

"We took great precautions when the crew came back from that shore visit, and did enhanced medical screenings of the crew", he said. The Navy is now on its way to fly all personnel from the ship.

At least 133 members in the Navy and 44 in the Marine Corps have tested positive for the virus.

It's unclear how long it will remain there, but the move cuts the number of carriers in the region by half, according to Breaking Defense. It is a major cause of concern for defense officials, as the tight quarters in aircraft carriers hold the potential for even more infections among the ship's crew.

The testing for their shipmates will involve a combination of swab and surveillance testing, officials said.

Pentagon officials have stressed that the US ships are not set up for quarantining patients and say the close quarters makes it easy for viruses to spread.

The Roosevelt has about 800 test kits on board and "we're flying more on there today", he said.

Roosevelt is moving into Guam, according to Modly.

The carrier was in the midst of a deployment to the Phillippine and South China seas when it was ordered to ship to Guam. "No one on the crew will be allowed to leave anywhere into Guam other than pierside".

"No base or regional personnel will access the pier", Gilday said.

Gilday added, "We are confident that our aggressive response will keep USS Theodore Roosevelt able to respond to any crisis in the region".

At that time, the number of cases in the country was low and all were in the northern part of the country away from the port.

Careful screening of returning sailors was carried out before they boarded the carrier, which then followed the Navy's new guidance to maintain 14 days at sea following a port of call, officials said.

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