Sailors evacuated from French Navy's flagship aircraft carrier

Thousands of sailors are evacuated from French Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle as 50 test positive for Covid-19 after NATO drills with allies including a British warship

  • 2,100 sailors will be taken into isolation after the vessel docked in port of Toulon 
  • The ship cut short its mission in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic by 10 days
  • On Tuesday, the ship will also be the subject of a major disinfection operation
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Thousands of sailors have been evacuated from the French Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier after 50 tested positive for coronavirus. 

Some 2,100 sailors on France’s Charles de Gaulle carrier were taken off and isolated after the cases were revealed on board. 

The aircraft carrier docked in the southern French port of Toulon after it undertook NATO exercises with British forces off the coast of Denmark before the coronavirus was detected on board and it had to make an urgent dash for the Mediterranean.

The vessel cut short its current mission in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic by 10 days because of the outbreak. 

Emergency vehicles and people wearing personal protective equipment in front of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle as it arrives in the southern French port of Toulon

According to French news channel BFMTV, ‘at least 40 cases’, possibly 50, of COVID-19 have been reported on the vessel – which arrived at the port at 3pm on Sunday afternoon. The evacuation began yesterday evening. 

Local authorities said it was a painstaking operation to remove the soldiers to ensure there was no risk of any further infection. 

Three sailors had already been evacuated to hospital Toulon as a ‘precaution’ before the ship docked.

According to French news channel BFMTV, ‘at least 40 cases’, possibly 50, of COVID-19 have been reported on the vessel (pictured) 

All the personnel will be tested and they will then be put into isolation for two weeks, with no physical contact allowed with their families, said the spokeswoman for the regional authorities, Christine Ribbe.  

‘Our aim is to protect all our sailors and also their families with an unprecedented deployment,’ she added. 

Only once the isolation period is over will the sailors be allowed home.

All the personnel will be tested and they will then be put into isolation for two weeks. Pictured: the evacuation of infected crew members

From Tuesday, the ship itself will also be the subject of a major disinfection operation.   

The vessel was equipped with a medical platform on board complete with a resuscitation unit, and everything was being done to keep those who were thought to be infected away from their comrades.

Sailors displaying symptoms of coronavirus were all placed in solitary confinement. 

At the end of March the Charles de Gaulle was the flagship for NATO Maritime Group One and took part in a training exercise off the east coast of Denmark.

Local authorities said it was a painstaking operation to remove the soldiers to ensure there was no risk of any further infection. Pictured: sailors are evacuated on buses 

The force included the Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland, which has a complement of 185. 

Beyond sailors and commandoes, the Charles de Gaulle has an air wing of 600 pilots and support crew.

It carries aircraft including Rafale M fighters and AS532 Cougar helicopters and was launched in 1994.

French navy soldiers stand onboard the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle yesterday 

It was the only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier built outside of the United States Navy.  

France on Sunday reported a lower number of COVID-19 fatalities over the last 24 hours, with 315 deaths in hospital over the last day, compared with 345 the previous day.

Its total toll from the coronavirus epidemic, including those who have died in nursing homes, now stands at 14,393, the health ministry said.

And for the fourth consecutive day in a row, the number of patients in intensive care fell with 35 fewer patients, making a total of 6,845 people needing such treatment.

At the end of March the Charles de Gaulle (pictured) was the flagship for NATO Maritime Group One and took part in a training exercise off the east coast of Denmark

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