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US Navy evacuates virus-hit aircraft carrier Roosevelt

Nearly 1,000 of crew stay on board during sterilization process of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, says US Navy chief

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 02.04.2020
US Navy evacuates virus-hit aircraft carrier Roosevelt


The U.S. Navy is evacuating thousands of sailors from the aircraft carrier ship USS Theodore Roosevelt onto the island of Guam due to the spread of coronavirus on board the ship.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told a press briefing in Washington late Wednesday that nearly 1,000 sailors had been removed, and the number would rise to 2,700 within a couple of days.

The action was taken after Brett Crozier, the ship’s captain, warned the epidemic is "spreading uncontrollably" inside the ship and asked for immediate help to quarantine its crew. At least 93 coronavirus-related cases have been confirmed among the 4,800-strong crew so far, according to the U.S. Navy.

"We cannot and will not remove all the sailors from the ship," Modly said, adding around 1,000 of the crew need to stay on board during the sterilization process.

"This ship has weapons on it, it has munitions on it, it has expensive aircraft, and has a nuclear power plant," he explained.

The Pentagon confirmed that more than 1,400 Defense Department employees have tested positive for the virus as of Wednesday, including 771 military personnel.

With nearly 217,000 cases, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, followed by Italy, Spain, China, and Germany, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The death toll is more than 5,130, while over 8,670 have recovered.

Separately, the Defense Department confirmed Wednesday that it is planning to provide 100,000 body bags at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as the White House has projected a possible nationwide coronavirus death toll of 100,000 to 240,000.

The virus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, has now spread to 180 countries and regions.

Nearly 939,500 cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll almost 47,300 and over 195,000 recoveries.

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