Twenty French Sailors Hospitalized Amid Massive Coronavirus Outbreak On Aircraft Carrier

Around 20 French sailors remain in hospital following a large outbreak of the coronavirus in the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle's naval group, a spokesman for the French navy said on Thursday.

"There are about 20 at the moment in hospital. Out of the 20, one is in intensive care and in a stable condition," spokesman Eric Lavault told RMC radio.

On Wednesday, the French armed forces ministry said 1,767 marines — nearly all from the Charles de Gaulle carrier itself — had been evaluated and at least 668 had tested positive for the virus.

The Charles de Gaulle set sail for the eastern Mediterranean on Jan. 21 to support French military operations against Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, before deploying to the Atlantic and then the Baltic.

There it participated in exercises with northern European navies in the Baltic Sea before returning to Toulon two weeks earlier than planned after crew members showed signs of Covid-19 symptoms.

The carrier which had helicopters and fighter jets on board, was accompanied by two frigates — one for aerial defence and the other an anti-submarine vessel.

Sailors from the Charles-de-Gaulle, one of the frigates and the pilots who returned the aircraft to their respective bases, have all been placed in isolation for 14 days, the ministry said.

There had been no virus outbreak on the other frigate.

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This article originally appeared at France 24.