/US Navy captain pleads for help over outbreak

US Navy captain pleads for help over outbreak

The USS Theodore Roosevelt enters port in VietnamImage copyright

The captain of a US aircraft carrier carrying more than 4,000 crew has called for urgent help to halt a coronavirus outbreak on his ship.

Scores of people on board the Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the infection. The carrier is currently docked in Guam.

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Captain Brett Crozier wrote in a letter to the Pentagon.

Captain Crozier recommended quarantining the entire crew.

His letter was first reported in the San Francisco Chronicle before being confirmed by other outlets. The Chronicle said at least 100 sailors had contracted the coronavirus.

In the letter Captain Crozier said the outbreak on board could not be contained, with the spread now “ongoing and accelerating”.

Cramped, communal conditions on vessels like the Theodore Roosevelt make imposing social distancing measures extremely difficult.

“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed US nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure,” Captain Crozier wrote.

“This is a necessary risk,” he added.

Speaking to Reuters news agency, a US Navy spokesman said the service was “moving quickly to take all necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of the crew of USS Theodore Roosevelt”.

On Tuesday the coronavirus death toll in the US passed the figure reported in China, where the outbreak began. At least 3,400 have died.

The number of recorded cases stands at nearly 175,000, more than any other country, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

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Media captionUS death rates v UK, Italy and South Korea