By LUIS MARTINEZ, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Two U.S. Navy ships deployed to the Middle East are experiencing coronavirus outbreaks and have arrived in Bahrain 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 was at sea when it was discovered that several sailors aboard had also been exposed to the virus and were considered to be “persons under investigation.”
The cruiser has since arrived in Bahrain, where those sailors tested positive for COVID-19, a Fifth Fleet spokesperson told ABC News Friday.
“Sailors with positive cases and close contacts have been isolated on the ship, and the ship remains in a restricted COVID bubble at the pier,” said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich.
“U.S. 5th Fleet took immediate actions to identify, isolate, test and treat affected Sailors and Marines aboard two ships,” the Navy said in its initial 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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