KEY POINTS

  • No COVID-19 cases reported in 7th Fleet
  • Special medical testing teams sailing on three ships
  • Plan in place if coronavirus is discovered

The Navy has taken coronavirus testing directly to the 7th Fleet in the South China Sea. The fleet is deployed to remind China the waters are international and open to its neighbors.

Teams from the Navy Forward-Deployed Preventive Medicine Units and Naval Medical Research Center joined the amphibious assault ship USS America, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge last week.

The medical teams include a preventive medicine technician, preventative medicine officer, a microbiologist and medical laboratory technician, according to a Navy statement.



While testing healthy sailors would be a waste of resources, the Navy is testing sections of ships to see if COVID-19 is on board. If coronavirus is detected after batch-testing areas of the ship, then sailors in that batch will be individually tested.

No one in the fleet had tested positive as of Saturday.





If a batch sample were to come back positive for the virus, the sailors in that group may be isolated or, depending on their symptoms, evacuated off the ship for further testing, according to the statement.

The two tests being utilized by the teams are the BioFire Film array, which tests for respiratory diseases, and the Step One RT-PCR System, which allows the team to perform more comprehensive coronavirus tests at sea.