More than a dozen USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors test positive for coronavirus a second time

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At least 13 sailors serving aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for coronavirus a second time, according to reports.

An unnamed Navy official confirmed Saturday that eight additional sailors serving aboard the aircraft carrier docked in Guam have become infected again after recovering from COVID-19, The Associated Press reported. The Navy official was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

In a statement Friday, the Navy had announced five had tested positive a second time.

All 13 sailors have again been removed from the ship and are in isolation at the U.S. Naval Base Guam, Politico reported.

Another sailor was removed from the ship after being diagnosed with tuberculosis, a bacterial infection that affects the lungs and involves similar symptoms to COVID-19, such as coughing, fever and difficulty breathing.

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An F/A-18F Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Philippine Sea March 18, 2020. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nicholas V. Huynh/Handout via Reuters) 

An F/A-18F Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Philippine Sea March 18, 2020. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nicholas V. Huynh/Handout via Reuters) 

"This week, a small number of TR Sailors who previously tested COVID positive and met rigorous recovery criteria have retested positive," Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Myers Vasquez said in a statement, according to Politico. "These protocols resulted in a small number of close contacts who were also removed from the ship, quarantined and tested. The ship remains on the road to recovery and will prepare to get back underway once a critical mass of crew with the required expertise is onboard."

"In the course of the ship’s rigorous infection surveillance, a single active case of TB was identified and diagnosed," Vasquez said. "The individual has been removed from the ship, isolated, and will remain under the direct care of the naval health system until cleared by doctors."

An estimated 1.5 million people died from tuberculosis last year worldwide – more than any other infectious disease. Tuberculosis is considered rare in the United States.

Before being allowed to return to the ship, all sailors who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 underwent at least two weeks of isolation and had to test negative twice in a row, with the tests separated by at least a day or two.

USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT SAILOR WHO DIED FROM CORONAVIRUS-RELATED COMPLICATIONS IDENTIFIED 

After an outbreak was discovered aboard the Roosevelt in March, the ship was forced to dock in Guam and some 4,000 of the 4,800- member crew were sent ashore for either quarantine or isolation.

Hundreds of sailors began returning to the ship in coordinated waves earlier this month to prepare to set sail again. That process has been slowed due to the discovery of new cases, which has raised questions about the reintegration of previously infected troops into the ranks.

The crew members who became infected a second time “developed influenza-like illness symptoms and did the right thing reporting to medical for evaluation,” the Navy said in a statement. As of Thursday, more than 2,900 sailors had returned to the ship. More than 1,000 crew members who had tested positive for the coronavirus have since recovered.

The accuracy of testing itself has also been called into question. Sailors were tested for the virus using nasal swabs. In some cases, an infection can be at such a low level that it is not detected by the test, which could mean no relapses occurred, and those cleared for the virus really had levels too low for detection.

The Roosevelt made headlines when the ship's captain was relieved of command. Brett Crozier was accused of going "outside the chain of command" and leaking a letter to the media in which he raised concerns about more than 200 sailors on the ship who had tested positive for COVID-19.

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The ship pulled into Guam on March 27, 10 days early for its scheduled maintenance stop due to the outbreak aboard.

The Navy has identified one Roosevelt crew member who died in mid-April after becoming infected with the coronavirus. Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, of Fort Smith, Ark., died April 13 at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam.

By late April, the entire crew of the aircraft carrier had been tested for the coronavirus.

Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson, Nick Givas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.