Covid outbreak on UK aircraft carrier after Cyprus port call

More than 100 double-vaccinated crew test positive for coronavirus after shore leave

Britain's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier is managing a Covid-19 outbreak after more than 100 crew members were infected during a port call in Cyprus this month.

The Royal Navy said the first cases were identified on or around July 4 when the state-of-the-art warship was docked at Limassol on the island's south coast.

Britain's largest warship docked in the port from June 30 until July 5, spearheading the UK's largest peacetime deployment in a generation, Carrier Strike Group 21.

"As part of routine testing, a small number of crew from the Carrier Strike Group have tested positive for Covid-19," a Royal Navy spokesman said.

"All personnel deployed have received both doses of the Covid vaccine, and there are a number of mitigation measures onboard, including masks, social distancing and a track and trace system.

"The Carrier Strike Group will continue to deliver their operational tasks, and there are no effects on the deployment."

Almost half of the ships in the carrier strike group – which will visit 40 countries on the six-month tour of Asia – were reportedly hit by positive cases.

The outbreak on HMS Queen Elizabeth occurred after sailors "were given a run ashore in Limassol", The Sun reported.

During her five-day call at Limassol port, several dignitaries were welcomed on board including Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the outbreak had prompted no rethink of the carrier group's planned 40-country tour.

There are 3,700 personnel in the group, including 1,600 on the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

"Our crew are double vaccinated, so you'll be glad to know there is no serious effects on any of the crew, and we will manage it," Mr Wallace told a press briefing on Tuesday.

Last September, HMS Queen Elizabeth postponed sailing from its base in Portsmouth, southern England, after several crew members tested positive.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is leading nine UK Carrier Strike Group ships on a 26,000-mile journey across the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and into East Asia.

Cyprus is suffering a fourth wave of coronavirus driven by the aggressive Delta variant, with infections hitting a record 1,081 on Tuesday.

The country has recorded 86,185 cases and 382 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Updated: July 14th 2021, 2:19 PM
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