Coronavirus: Crew of US aircraft carrier to be quarantined in Guam

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USS Theodore Roosevelt (file photo)Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
USS Theodore Roosevelt (file photo)

US officials have arranged for sailors from a virus-stricken aircraft carrier to be quarantined in Guam, where the ship has been docked since Friday.

Guam’s governor said those without the virus would be moved to hotels or quarantined at a naval base.

At least 100 people aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the disease, reports say.

Earlier this week the ship’s captain pleaded for most of his crew to be quarantined so deaths could be avoided.

Until now, sailors from the aircraft carrier had been restricted to the naval base’s pier.

Captain Brett Crozier wrote to the Pentagon warning that the outbreak aboard his ship was “accelerating” because crew members were living in confined spaces.

"We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die," he wrote in the letter, dated 30 March, which was published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told MSNBC on Wednesday that 1,000 sailors had been taken off the ship and “more and more” were being taken ashore for treatment. Others will remain aboard to keep the vessel running.

Mr Modly said every crew member would be tested for the disease. The ship can carry up to 6,000 people and the secretary said 800 testing kits were available last week. More would be sent, he added.

According to local newspaper Pacific Daily News, Guam’s Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said she supported the move but had “not made the decision lightly”.

Guam is battling the worst coronavirus outbreak in Micronesia, with almost 70 cases confirmed.

To prevent the virus from spreading further, all sailors placed in quarantine must remain isolated for 14 days. They will also have daily medical checks.

“I know there will a small chorus of cynics who will oppose the position, but now is not the time for us-versus-them,” said Ms Guerrero.