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Japan’s coronavirus surge stays strong through holiday; US military reports few new cases

Travelers in coronavirus masks wait for their trains at Kamakura Station in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, April 27, 2021.

AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

By JOSEPH DITZLER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 3, 2021

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TOKYO — The spring coronavirus surge continued Monday in Japan’s two largest cities, where emergency restrictions dampened the traditional weeklong vacation period for many Japanese.

In Osaka prefecture, Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura called on people to stay home during Golden Week, the period ending Wednesday, and cited overburdened medical facilities due to record-breaking new case numbers, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Tokyo reported 708 newly infected people Monday, according to NHK. On Saturday, the city reported 1,050, according to metro government data.

About 833 people test positive in the city each day, according to the seven-day rolling average.

The U.S. military in Japan and South Korea reported six new COVID-19 cases between Saturday and Monday. In contrast to Japan, which has vaccinated less than 2% of its population, U.S. bases are ramping up vaccination clinics and urging all eligible adults over age 18 to get inoculated.

U.S. Forces Japan reported 47 COVID-19 patients at 10 installations across Japan on April 27.

Sasebo Naval Base, on the southern island of Kyushu, reported via Facebook on Sunday that two people tested positive during a medical screening and were quarantined.

The Marine Corps had three new COVID-19 patients between Saturday and Monday, one each at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and Camps Hansen and Courtney, according to a Facebook post by Marine Corps Installations Pacific on Monday.

Osaka, the second-largest metropolitan area in Japan, has reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 patients on 12 of the 14 days ending Sunday, according to the prefecture’s online database. Monday’s report was unavailable.

Yoshimura may ask the national government to extend the state of emergency in Osaka beyond its May 11 expiration date, according to NHK.

The emergency includes neighboring Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures and Tokyo. Business hours are limited in those areas, mass transit schedules in Tokyo are reduced and employees are encouraged to telework.

Previous emergency declarations in Japan lacked teeth, but a new law passed during the pandemic put some enforcement power behind the measures.

In South Korea, one soldier from the Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army tested positive Thursday after returning from leave, according to a U.S. Forces Korea news release Friday. The soldier is in quarantine at Camp Humphreys.

A spring surge is doubling the number of new COVID-19 patients in places across South Korea. Numbers there are the highest they’ve been since January.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 488 new COVID-19 patients Sunday across the country. Seoul accounted for 123 cases and Gyeonggi province, where Humphreys is located, reported 129.

Stars and Stripes reporter Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.

ditzler.joseph@stripes.com     
Twitter: @JosephDitzler