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25 May, 2024
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Covid-stricken flagship sails on after Cyprus

No change of plans in Asia tour after HMS Queen Elizabeth hit by virus during Limassol port call


Britain's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier is managing a Covid outbreak after more than 100 crew members were infected during a port call in the Republic of Cyprus.

According to British media, the tour of Carrier Strike Group 21 -UK's largest peacetime deployment in a generation led by the aircraft carrier- was not expected to be affected after almost half of its warships have been hit by positive cases of the coronavirus.

Britain's largest warship docked in Limassol port from June 30 until July 5, with dignitaries including Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades paying a Saturday visit to the HMS Queen Elizabeth during five-day call at the southern town’s port.

'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'

Reports said all personnel onboard had been fully vaccinated and there were a number of mitigation measures onboard, including masks, social distancing and a track and trace system.

But during routine tests, a number of crew on the aircraft carrier tested positive for COVID-19, with the Royal Navy saying the first cases were identified on or around July 4.

According to The Sun, positive cases included “at least 100 crew of the HMS Queen Elizabeth after sailors ‘were given a run ashore in Limassol’.”

The port of call could not have come at a worse time, as the Republic of Cyprus has been suffering from what many experts believe to be a fourth wave of coronavirus, attributed to the Delta variant thought to have been introduced to the island earlier in the spring.

British Defence Minister Ben Wallace said the outbreak had prompted no rethink of the carrier group’s planned 40-country tour.

“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,” Wallace said.

There are 3700 personnel across the entire carrier group, including the 1600 on the Royal Navy’s 65,000-ton aircraft carrier.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently on her first operational deployment along with the Carrier Strike Group 21, having departed from Portsmouth on May 22 to lead a fleet of nine ships on a 26,000-mile voyage in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and East Asia.

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