Baffling infections on Argentina fishing ship

Top News | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 15 Jul 2020

Argentina is trying to solve a medical mystery after 57 sailors were infected with the virus after 35 days at sea, despite the entire crew testing negative before leaving port.

The Echizen Maru fishing trawler returned to port after some of its crew began exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms, the southern Tierra del Fuego province's health ministry said.

A total of 57 sailors, out of 61 crew, were diagnosed with the virus after undergoing a new test.

All the crew members had undergone 14 days of mandatory quarantine at a hotel in the city of Ushuaia. Prior to that, they had negative results, the ministry said.

Two of the other sailors have tested negative and two others are awaiting test results.

"It's hard to establish how this crew was infected, considering that for 35 days, they had no contact with dry land and that supplies were only brought in from the port of Ushuaia," said Alejandra Alfaro, the director of primary health care in Tierra del Fuego.

The head of the infectious diseases department at Ushuaia Regional Hospital, Leandro Ballatore, said he believes this is a "case that escapes all description in publications, because an incubation period this long has not been described anywhere."

The crew was placed in isolation on board the ship and returned to the port of Ushuaia.

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