Five American sailors have tested positive for Covid-19 for a second time after resuming duty on board an aircraft carrier that saw a major outbreak in March, even after a full evacuation of its crew and months of deep cleaning.

Though the Navy imposed several layers of screenings before allowing sailors to re-board the ill-fated USS ‘Theodore Roosevelt’ – where more than 1,000 personnel contracted the virus in March – the five seamen nonetheless tested positive again after returning to the ship, the military confirmed on Thursday.

“Five [‘Theodore Roosevelt’] sailors who previously tested Covid positive and met rigorous recovery criteria have retested positive,” Navy spokesperson Commander Myers Vasquez said in a statement, adding that the sailors were “immediately removed from the ship and placed back in isolation.”

The five sailors developed influenza-like illness symptoms and executed their personal responsibility by reporting to medical for evaluation.

Some 18 others who came in close contact with the infected sailors have also been taken off the ship and placed into quarantine “out of an abundance of caution,” a US official told CNN.

The ‘Roosevelt’ made international headlines after its outbreak in March – by far the largest on a US warship to date – and was again thrust into the spotlight after its captain, Brett Crozier, penned a dire letter directly to Navy leadership calling for a full evacuation of the ship’s crew. Though the captain’s request was ultimately granted and the ‘Roosevelt’ was allowed to dock in Guam for quarantine, the Navy quickly removed Crozier from his post, arguing his letter violated the chain of command. Of the more than 1,000 sailors infected on the ship – including Crozier himself – one died in the outbreak.

At least 26 US warships in total have detected the virus among their crews, according to the Navy, the latest being the USS ‘Kidd,’ a guided missile destroyer with nearly 100 infected sailors. Much like the ‘Roosevelt’ – which had to abandon its mission in the South China Sea – the ‘Kidd’ was stricken while patrolling the Eastern Pacific on a ‘war on drugs’ mission targeting Venezuela, and was forced to return to port in San Diego.

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