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PARIS (AP) – French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle was headed back to port on Wednesday due to a possible outbreak of the new coronavirus aboard the ship, the French defense ministry reported.
About 40 sailors had typical symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, the agency reported in a statement.
“They have already been placed in confinement as a preventive measure,” said French government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye.
A similar outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt culminated in the firing of its captain last week and the resignation of the United States acting secretary of the Navy on Tuesday.
A group of doctors equipped with test kits were preparing to board Charles de Gaulle to confirm whether there were infected crew members and, if so, to prevent the virus from spreading further, the ministry said.
Concentrations on board the vessel were limited and sanitary practices were reinforced, including disinfection of common areas, telephones and computers after each use.
The aircraft carrier, which was on a mission in the Atlantic Ocean, immediately returned to its base in the port of Toulon, on the shores of the Mediterranean, where it was originally expected to dock on April 23. There are more than 1,700 crew members on board the vessel.
The U.S. Navy noted that as of Tuesday, at least 230 crew members of the Theodore Roosevelt had been diagnosed with COVID-19.