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First coronavirus case on US Navy ship – sailor tests positive

The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) transits the Indian Ocean during well deck operations. Boxer, the flagship for the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU) are in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility on a western Pacific deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac/Released)
March 16, 2020

A sailor aboard a U.S. Navy ship has returned “presumptive positive” test results for coronavirus, in what is the first instance of a coronavirus case for a sailor aboard one of the service’s ships.

The incident was first confirmed on the USS Boxer on Friday, the U.S. Navy said in a press release. The U.S. Navy is now awaiting confirmation of the sailor’s test results from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The sailor has been returned home and is in quarantine after the initial coronavirus test results. Other personnel who came in contact with the sailor have also been returned to their homes to take up self-isolation.

“U.S. Navy ships conduct routine, daily cleanliness procedures geared toward health, wellness and the prevention of communicable disease spread. USS Boxer is taking appropriate preventative measures and conducting a thorough cleaning in accordance with specific guidance from the CDC and Navy-Marine Corps Public Health Center,” the Navy statement reads.

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“Military health professionals are conducting a thorough contact investigation to determine whether any additional personnel were in close contact and possibly exposed. Depending on the results of that investigation, additional mitigations may be taken,” the statement continued. “Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet is committed to taking every measure possible to protect the health of our force. We remain in close coordination with state and federal authorities, and public health authorities to ensure the well-being of our personnel and local population.”

The U.S. Navy has made other recent efforts to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Last week, the service implemented a new rule barring guests from attending Navy boot camp graduation ceremonies.

The U.S. Army Garrison Italy also recently imposed measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, suspending travel to and from Italy for soldiers, civilian personnel and their families. The 8th Army, stationed in South Korea, also stopped its personnel from traveling in and out of the country.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Defense issued orders effective from Monday, March 16 through May 11, ordering all service members and civilian DoD personnel located in the U.S. to suspend travel and limit those personnel to the immediate commuting area of their individual commands. The orders effectively put a hold on all Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders and put a DoD civilian hiring freeze into effect.