10:47 GMT09 April 2020
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    China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has tightened the shore leave rules for crew members aboard the Shandong, the country’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, in an effort to prevent an outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus on the ship.

    According to Naval News, the official website of the PLAN, crew members who embark on and disembark from the Shandong will be subject to additional security measures. 

    Any crew member who decides to go to shore must receive personal permission from Captain Lai Yijun or Political Commissar Pang Jianhong as well as undergo a medical screening.

    “That was to cut off the possible transmission outside the ship and block the virus before any infection,” the PLAN is quoted as saying, the South China Morning Post reported.

    The 65,000-tonne warship will continue to undergo routine disinfection amid the coronavirus outbreak in China. 

    According to the Post, the PLAN has stated that military training, including emergency breakdown drills and missile defense studies, will not be impacted by the outbreak precautions.

    The Shandong officially entered service on December 17, 2019, in Sanya, Hainan Province, China's state media reported at the time. China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was acquired by Beijing from Ukraine in 1998 and modified afterward. 

    The Post reported that there have been 54 COVID-19 cases in Sanya, a city on the southern end of China’s Hainan Island, where the Shandong’s home port is located. One person has died in Sanya due to the coronavirus.

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