More than 1,000 sailors aboard a French naval aircraft carrier have tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus, of whom some 50 percent have no symptoms at all, French media report.
The French minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, announced on April 17 that 1,081 sailors had tested positive for COVID-19 out of a crew of 2,300 sailors on the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and the aeronautical group accompanying it.
During a hearing by the Defense Committee of the National Assembly, Ms. Parly said that 545 sailors had revealed some symptoms and 24 are hospitalized, with just one in intensive care. Nearly 300 sailors are still awaiting their test results.
The Charles de Gaulle, France’s only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, reached the port of Toulon on Easter Sunday, two weeks ahead of schedule.
The origin of the contamination remains an enigma, since the crew has had no outside contact since making a stopover in Brest from March 13 to 16.
According to Ms. Parly, at this point it is unknown whether the virus was already present on board before the stopover on March 13.
With a predominantly male and healthy population, aged twenty to fifty, the case of the Charles-de-Gaulle shows that there are many mild forms of the virus, French media reported, with more than half the sailors who tested positive showing no symptoms at all.
“There are probably a significant number of asymptomatic forms which occur in particular in the younger populations,” declared Jean-François Delfraissy, president of France’s scientific council for the fight against the coronavirus.