Fifty sailors on board the French navy’s only aircraft carrier have tested positive for COVID-19, the Defence Ministry announced on Friday.
Three infected sailors had been evacuated from the Charles de Gaulle on Thursday by helicopter “as a preventive measure,” the ministry said in a statement.
None of the sailors who tested positive on board the vessel, which has a total crew of 1,200, were suffering any “worsening of their health condition,” the ministry said.
They have been placed in isolation and a medical team is looking after them, while the ship makes an early return to its Mediterranean home port of Toulon.
The Charles de Gaulle was nearing the end of a three-month deployment, which started in the eastern Mediterranean, providing back-up to the international coalition against the Islamic State extremist group.
The deployment, in a squadron with various other French ships and one ship each from Belgium, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal, was also due to see joint exercises with allied forces in the Atlantic and North Sea.
The ministry did not give any indication as to how the virus might have arrived on board the aircraft carrier.