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Rising infections force US warship into maintenance: analysts

Global Times

By Guo Yuandan Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/27 15:53:40

Following the first three confirmed novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) cases on board the US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt on Tuesday, the figure reportedly rocketed to 25 on Thursday, as the warship is heading toward Guam. Chinese military experts said on Friday that this latest move indicates the Theodore Roosevelt has now been into a maintenance condition and decided that scheduled military missions be cancelled.

Additional COVID-19 tests among the crew are expected, and possibly "dozens" of new cases could emerge, CNN reported on Thursday, citing an official, while another official said the number of additional cases is expected to be large, to an extent the US Defense Department would be unlikely to publicly specify how many of the Navy's overall cases are amongst members of the crew of the aircraft carrier," due to concerns that adversaries such as China or North Korea could see the ship as vulnerable."

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said that the Theodore Roosevelt is in a process of testing all of the crew, approximately 5,000 personnel, as the aircraft carrier is pulling into Guam, CNN reported.

"No one in the crew will be allowed to leave anywhere into Guam, other than on pier side," CNN quoted Modly as saying.

These measures indicate the US has essentially put the Theodore Roosevelt in a maintenance condition and had all scheduled military missions cancelled, as the aircraft carrier's main mission now has shifted to docking in Guam, quarantining all of its crew members at the military base there and conducting thorough disinfection work on the entire ship, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Friday.

The US Navy is currently flying personnel off the carrier, which is another move that reflects the emerging situation the Theodore Roosevelt is now facing. "It still takes some time for the aircraft carrier to arrive in Guam, and transferring related personnel to Guam via air transportation can reduce the risk of cross infection as much as possible," Song said.

Song said he expects all crew members to leave the ship and be quarantined for 14 days, and the aircraft carrier will likely undergo a full-scale disinfection procedure, including on air conditioning and sewer systems.

Even if such work is completed, the Theodore Roosevelt will not be put into action anytime soon, as thorough tests will follow which has to ensure the risks of infection are reduced to zero, Song predicted.

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