Royal Navy confirms about 100 sailors on HMS Queen Elizabeth now in isolation after fresh coronavirus outbreak

ABOUT100 sailors on board the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth are self-isolating after ‘fewer than 10’ more crew members tested positive for Covid-19.

The departure of the 65,000-tonne warship from Portsmouth Naval Base was delayed last week when a handful of sailors were taken off the ship after testing positive, with a previous sailing also postponed in April after two sailors tested positive.

The £3.1bn warship returned to base on Sunday as planned but again delayed its sailing from Portsmouth on Wednesday of this week.

The Royal Navy said the latest schedule alteration has been caused by changing weather forecasts.

Britain's biggest warship HMS Queen Elizabeth pictured returning to Portsmouth after 10 weeks at sea, carrying out critical training. Picture: Sarah Standing (020720-5149)

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It is now set to sail tomorrow to take part in exercises off Scotland, including embarking US and UK F35B Lightning jets.

A Royal Navy spokesman said the entire ship’s company had been retested in the past week, with ;fewer than 10’ having received positive tests.

They have been taken off the ship while those who had been in close contact with them will self-isolate on board.

This will involve staying in rooms occupied only by sailors who are also having to isolate.

The navy spokesman said the ‘vast majority’ would be released from isolation on Friday, having completed 14 days from when their colleagues tested positive.

The spokesman added: ‘Retesting the ship’s company has confirmed a number of additional positive cases.

‘Those individuals have been removed from the ship and the remaining ship’s company continue to follow PHE guidelines.’

He added many of the crew are operating in small bubbles to help prevent any spread of the virus.

He said the navy will not give a running commentary on the number of cases.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail from Portsmouth with a full complement of 1,700 crew, with the F35 jets joining from RAF Marham while in the North Sea.

It is aiming to declare strike carrier capability later this year ahead of its first operational deployment in 2021.

On this week’s delayed departure, the spokesman said it had been originally planned for Friday but the weather forecast worsened, only for it to improve again allowing the ship to revert to its original schedule.

He said: ‘The timing of sailing of our ships is dependent upon a number of factors. The decision to sail rests with the captain.’

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