Two US Navy ships in Middle East facing COVID-19 outbreaks

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Indra BeaufortBy LUIS MARTINEZ, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — Two U.S. Navy ships deployed to the Middle East are experiencing coronavirus outbreaks and are headed into port to isolate infected crew members, the Navy said in a statement Friday morning.

The amphibious transport ship USS San Diego has gone into port in Bahrain after 12 service members tested positive for the virus, the Navy’s Fifth Fleet said.

The cruiser USS Philippine Sea is still at sea but is expected to head into port after several sailors are believed to have been exposed to the virus and are considered to be “persons under investigation.”

The port where the cruiser will dock is not being disclosed for operational reasons.

Once in port, the exposed sailors will receive additional testing and access to medical care.

“U.S. 5th Fleet took immediate actions to identify, isolate, test and treat affected Sailors and Marines aboard two ships,” the Navy said in the statement.

“Medical health professionals are conducting a thorough contact investigation to determine the source of COVID-19 aboard the ships and whether any other personnel may have been exposed,” it added.

The sailors aboard the USS San Diego have been isolated aboard the ship, and the ship itself is “in a restricted COVID bubble.”

The recent exposures aboard the two ships at sea come a week after three sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for the virus while it was deployed to the Pacific Ocean.

A previous large-scale coronavirus outbreak aboard that ship in 2020 ultimately infected a quarter of the 5,000 sailors on board. As a result, the Navy imposed strict mitigation procedures for ship crews at sea and two-week quarantines for those preparing to deploy.

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