DODEA school at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo announces coronavirus infection
By JOSEPH DITZLER AND AYA ICHIHASHI | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 22, 2020
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TOKYO — The U.S. military in Japan announced one new coronavirus case Thursday at the Defense Department high school at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo.
The patient is “a member of our Yokota High School family,” according to a letter to families and school staff from Principal Marian Leverette.
She wrote that depending upon the results of contact tracing, “some of our students (and family members) may be quarantined and will be transitioned to remote learning for the length of the quarantine.”
Yokota is the home of U.S. Forces Japan, the 5th Air Force and the 374th Airlift Wing. It has just one active case, according to the base Facebook page. The base last reported three new coronavirus cases on Oct. 2, all new arrivals to Japan.
Students and their families deemed a contact risk will be notified by public health authorities, Leverette wrote Thursday. “If you are not contacted by public health officials, you have not been deemed to have been in close contact,” the letter said.
Students returned to classrooms at Yokota when the new school year started Aug. 24. Classes were not interrupted Thursday, according to an email from Miranda Ferguson, spokeswoman for the Department of Defense Education Activity, Pacific Region.
The school will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected according to guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and military public health authorities, according to Leverette’s letter and a Facebook post by Yokota Air Base.
Tokyo reported 185 new coronavirus cases Thursday, according to public broadcaster NHK. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has reported 29,335 coronavirus cases during the pandemic, of which more than 27,000 have recovered. Another 439 have died, according to metro government data.
Also Thursday, two U.S. military installations placed parts of Japan off-limits to their personnel due to a rising number of infections in those areas.
At Misawa Air Base in northern Japan, the western portion of Aomori prefecture is now off-limits to U.S. military personnel, civilian employees, family members, contractors, Japanese employees, Defense Department retirees and “any other persons accessing Misawa Air Base,” according to a message on the base website.
On Okinawa, the Navy placed neighboring islands Ishigaki and Miyako off-limits to its personnel “due to a recent rise in coronavirus cases,” according to a Facebook post.
On Ishigaki, a cluster at Kariyushi hospital resulted in 33 patients and hospital workers testing positive, according to the hospital website. The cases on Miyako were traced to bars and restaurants, according to the prefectural website.
Also Thursday, a spokesman for the Okinawa Defense Bureau said a Japanese worker at the Camp Schwab construction site tested positive for the virus on Sunday. The Marine Corps is building a new airfield there to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
The man in his 50s felt ill, sought medical attention and tested positive the same day, the spokesman told Stars and Stripes. Another worker who had close contact was also quarantined, the spokesman said. Both employees worked on a boat and had no contact with U.S. military personnel, the spokesman said.
Government officials in Japan often speak on condition of anonymity as a condition of their employment.
Okinawa prefecture announced 38 new coronavirus cases and one death Thursday due to coronavirus complications, a prefectural health official told Stars and Stripes. Okinawa has reported 3,051 cases of the coronavirus and 57 deaths during the pandemic.