Vessels in the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet have been directed to remain at sea for at least 14 days in order to monitor sailors who have traveled to areas where coronavirus is prevalent, a U.S. Navy spokesperson confirmed.
What to Know
- The 7th Fleet, the U.S. Navy's largest, will need to stay at sea for 14 days if they do not return to the same port they departed from
- No U.S. Navy personnel have tested positive for coronavirus, though the first case of the virus among U.S. service members was reported this week
- Level 3 travel warnings were issued for China and S. Korea, two countries within the 7th Fleet's area of operation
U.S. Navy Lt. James Adams said the measure is precautionary as there is no indication that any Navy personnel have contracted what is officially named COVID-19.
"We're not calling it a self-quarantine," Lt. Adams said. "We're just taking precautionary measures to mitigate any effects of COVID-19."
Under the protocol, which went into effect on Thursday, any ships in the Navy's largest fleet that do not depart and return to the same port will need to stay at sea for at least 14 days.
The 7th Fleet's area of operation spans more than 124 million square kilometers in Indo-Asia Pacific waters and includes 36 maritime countries -- two of which have elevated travel advisories due to coronavirus.
This week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raised the travel advisory level for South Korea and China to level 3, which urges Americans to avoid all non-essential travel to those countries.
About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea. One of those service members became the first to test positive within the U.S. military this week. The 23-year-old soldier based in South Korea was in self-quarantine in an off-base residence.
Also this week, joint drills between the U.S. and South Korean militaries were postponed due to coronavirus fears.
The Navy will monitor sailors who have traveled to areas at higher risk for any signs of coronavirus while they are aboard ships-at-sea.
"The health and welfare of our Sailors, civilians, and their families is paramount and our efforts are directed at detection and, if required, prevention of the spread of this illness," a statement from Lt. Adams said.
The virus, whose epicenter was pinpointed to China's Hubei Province, has spread to nearly 60 countries by Friday as the World Health Organization announced the risk of the virus spreading worldwide was "very high."
More than 83,000 people worldwide have contracted the illness, with deaths topping 2,800.