UNITED KINGDOM — Sailors on board both US aircraft carriers in the Pacific have tested positive to coronavirus, sparking fears the Navy could become crippled in the region a report by Andrew Court for Dailymail.com and Reuters said.
At least 25 sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, forcing the warship to port in Guam to test all 5,000 on board.
The United States is now tops in COVID-19 cases with 100,390 confirmed cases followed by Italy with 86,498 and China, where the virus originated, with 81,340.
The carrier was in the midst of a deployment to the Philippine and South China Seas when the COVID-19 diagnoses prompted the Navy to order it to cease sail Thursday.
On Friday, the US was dealt another blow following confirmation that two sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan – currently in port in Japan – had also tested positive to the highly-contagious virus.
Roosevelt and Reagan are the only two US carriers in the Pacific, and may be out of action for 25 days as they test and quarantine crew.
It effectively gives China free hand in the region. The country has two of their own aircraft carriers, including the recently-completed Shandong, rumored to have cost $9 billion and stationed at Hainan Island, the country’s southernmost point.
The US has 11 aircraft carriers – but two are deployed to the Middle East, and five are in US ports undergoing overhauls, including one with a sailor who has also tested positive for COVID-19.
The potential crippling of the US Navy in the Pacific is alarming news given escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
One anonymous service member stationed in Guam fears more US sailors and military members could become sickened with COVID-19.
‘We’re f**ked,’ they told The Daily Beast Friday.
The Navy currently has 133 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 104 of which are reported to be active-duty. On Wednesday, the Department of Defense raised its health protection level to its second highest level at every military installation around the world.
According to a bombshell report in The Huffington Post Friday, several service members claimed there is widespread frustration within their ranks about how the military has handled the COVID-19 outbreak.
One alleged that members of the military were ‘pissed’ that ‘the six feet of social distancing was not being enforced’ on numerous bases around the country.
Former Army epidemiologist Dr Remington Nevel told the publication: ‘The military’s dirty little secret, if you will, is that it is highly susceptible as an organization to outbreaks of particularly respiratory infectious illness’
With the military facing its biggest health crisis since the Spanish Flu of 1918, it’s a precarious time to be left vulnerable in the Asia-Pacific region, given the escalating feud with China.
China and the US have traded barbs over the origin of the highly-contagious virus, with President Donald Trump angering Beijing by calling it the ‘Chinese virus’.
Senior Chinese officials have retaliated by spreading their own conspiracy theories about the virus’ origin.
On Tuesday, China was left outraged after America’s destroyer USS McCampbell sailed through Taiwan Strait – the body of water which separates Taiwan and China, and which Beijing regards as its own territory.
Chinese officials on Thursday accused the United States of playing ‘a dangerous game’.
There are also concerns North Korea could take advantage of the vulnerable US situation. Three weeks ago, the country fired two short-range missiles into the sea off its eastern coast in a new challenge to Washington. It was North Korea’s first missile launch in more than three months. (ia/sovereignph.com)