Navy base in Japan counts eight new coronavirus cases; Tokyo infections stay below 400
By JOSEPH DITZLER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 16, 2021
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TOKYO – Japan’s capital city recorded fewer than 400 new coronavirus cases for the fifth day in a row Tuesday, and a nearby U.S. military base reported eight new infections since Friday.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 350 people had contracted the virus Tuesday, also the tenth consecutive day below 500 new cases in the city, according to public broadcaster NHK and metro government data.
The winter wave in Japan of COVID-19, the respiratory disease linked to the virus, appears to have crested. It reached a peak Jan. 7 of 2,520 new cases, a figure the city revised higher Monday by 73 patients.
Tokyo has reported nearly 108,000 patients during the pandemic and about 1,140 deaths due to complications of COVID-19. Japan has had nearly 418,000 cases and 7,038 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Yokosuka Naval Base, 35 miles south of central Tokyo, has recorded eight new patients since Friday, according to a Facebook post. Two are recent arrivals to Japan and six were discovered during contact tracing. Twelve patients have recovered since Friday, and the base is monitoring 43 in all.
Other U.S. commanders in Japan provided no new case tallies between Friday evening and Tuesday.
Col. Lance Lewis at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni near Hiroshima declared the air station free of known COVID-19 patients, according to a Facebook post Tuesday.
The year began, Lewis wrote, with a COVID outbreak on base.
“That outbreak occurred because of unauthorized gatherings and was, in all manners of speaking, preventable,” he said. “As an installation, we rose to the challenge the outbreak presented and now, I can proudly say, we are back to zero cases of COVID on MCAS Iwakuni.”
On Friday, two other U.S. installations – Naval Air Facility Atsugi southwest of Tokyo and Sasebo Naval Base on Kyushu – said they had cleared their last known coronavirus patients.
Yokota Air Base, the headquarters of U.S. Forces Japan in Tokyo, announced Friday it had one patient still under observation.
That evening, Yokota’s commander, Col. Andrew Campbell, lifted a prohibition on amusement parks outside central Tokyo and Yokohama, which remain off limits to U.S. personnel.
At MCAS Iwakuni, Lewis lifted a prohibition on visiting Hiroshima on liberty, according to his statement Tuesday. Service members, Defense Department civilians, contractors and family members must be out of Hiroshima between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Exceptions apply to anyone on official business or who lives there.
Orders on wearing masks, maintaining six feet separation between individuals and frequent handwashing still apply, both commanders said.
The greater Tokyo metro area and parts of central Honshu, including Osaka and Kyoto, remain in a state of emergency until March 7. The emergency brought with it voluntary measures, including early closing of businesses, increased telework and a reduction in travel.