Two crewmembers who tested positive for COVID-19 had limited contact with patients on the hospital ship USNS Mercy, Navy officials confirmed to NBC 7 Wednesday.
In a statement, the Navy told NBC 7, “Two crewmembers had minimal contact with a very small number of patients, and both were wearing the proper personal protective equipment during those interactions; an N95 mask, gloves, and gown.”
It was unclear if the crew members had the virus while they were treating patients but it was unlikely they were symptomatic at the time, as the U.S. Navy has been monitoring all on board the hospital ship for symptoms.
Five other crew members who tested positive had no contact with patients.
More than 100 crew members were taken off the ship this week and placed into isolation after the Navy determined the members were considered to be in contact with the seven infected members.
A spokesperson for the Navy said in a statement, “All are currently in quarantine off the ship and have tested negative for COVID-19 with the exception of one crew member, who was the fifth confirmed positive case.”
As of April 15, 48 patients have been treated on the Navy Hospital Ship and 30 of those patients have been discharged.
The Navy could not confirm if any of the patients who came into contact with the two infected crew members have been notified but did say in a statement, “As always, all patients are monitored for symptoms while being treated aboard Mercy."
"The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crewmembers and patients on board. The hospital ship follows infection control procedures, just as any civilian hospital ashore. “
To date, the Navy says no patients have displayed symptoms, so under Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, there is no need to isolate them.
There are more than 1,000 members of a Navy medical team and crew operating on the San Diego based hospital ship, which departed San Diego on March 23 to respond to the Los Angeles area. The ship is caring for non-COVID-19 patients to ease hospitals coping with the coronavirus.