French Carrier Returns to Home Port with 40 Suspected Covid-19 Cases

After a first suspected case of Covid-19 aboard the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle increased to 40 in a matter of days, the French armed forces ministry decided to bring her home to Toulon (pictured) two weeks earlier than initially planned. (FR Navy photo)

-- Aboard the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier currently deployed in the Atlantic as part of the “Foch Mission,” approximately 40 sailors are today under enhanced medical observation. They have symptoms consistent with a possible Covid-19 infection. These first symptoms have appeared recently.

-- The aircraft carrier has a medical component including an intensive care unit. The health measures already implemented on board have been reinforced.

-- The French Navy and the aircraft carrier command are closely monitoring the progress of the sailors’ health.

-- As of today, a screening team with medical tests will be dispatched to the aircraft carrier to investigate current cases and to prevent the spread of the virus aboard the ship.

-- After a mission which started on January 21, 2020 and initially committed to support Operation Chammal, the aircraft carrier was returning to the Mediterranean [from the North Sea.]

-- It was decided to immediately bring her back to Toulon, which was initially scheduled for April 23.

Sailors with symptoms are currently being taken care of and are subject to enhanced medical monitoring. They were placed in isolated confinement, as a precaution vis-à-vis the rest of the crew. No worsening was seen in these patients. Everything is being done to ensure the safety of the crew.

The aircraft carrier has robust capabilities to manage and monitor the progress of cases, including in the event of worsening:
-- A medical platform with a medical team comprising around twenty caregivers (doctors, nurses, surgeons);
-- Dedicated facilities: a hospital ward with a dozen beds, respirators, a scanner, as well as a containment space with one hundred places to isolate and monitor patients;
-- Evacuation capabilities by on-board helicopters, at short notice, to a higher-level hospital (in case of aggravation).

The organization on board has been adapted to continue the mission while ensuring the health of sailors. Barrier gestures and precautionary measures have also been reinforced and continue to be strictly applied:
-- Sailors on the aircraft carrier carry out twice a day cleaning of the common spaces, insisting on the disinfection of the ramps / handles / taps and in the common living areas and disinfect the workstations, telephones and shared computers after each use;
-- Daily reminders are repeated, and vigilance is maintained, on the barrier gestures to be followed;
-- The number of meetings and participants has been reduced, and gatherings in certain common life areas have been limited;
-- Masks have been distributed as a preventive measure to all personnel who may experience symptoms, especially coughing. These personnel are monitored twice a day by medical personnel.


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