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Tokyo records second highest daily COVID total; US bases count another 34 coronavirus cases

Pedestrians wearing masks as safeguards against the coronavirus walk along a street in Fussa, western Tokyo, Japan, on Jan. 5, 2021.

THERON GODBOLD/STARS AND STRIPES

By JOSEPH DITZLER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 5, 2021

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TOKYO — Japan’s capital city posted its second-highest one-day coronavirus total Tuesday, less than a week after setting its pandemic record.

The U.S. military in Japan reported another 34 new infections as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, although some cases date back to Dec. 25.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 1,278 new patients with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, according to public broadcaster NHK. The number of seriously ill patients reached 111, the highest ever in the city, according to NHK. Tokyo reached its one-day record of 1,337 new patients on Thursday.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga may announce a state of emergency in Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures later this week. The declaration would allow prefectural governors more authority to regulate business hours and reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

In South Korea, all foreign travelers arriving after noon Friday must provide proof of a negative PCR test for the coronavirus within 72 hours of their departure for the peninsula, according to a news release from U.S. Forces Korea. Japan instituted a similar measure Dec. 28.

“Airlines will not board passengers without this negative PCR test result,” according to USFK.

The command said USFK personnel must adhere to the test requirement until the South Korean government clarifies the matter.

In northeastern Japan, Misawa Air Base reported five people have tested positive this week for COVID-19.

Three people immediately quarantined themselves after the base publicized a cluster of COVID-19 cases associated with two local restaurants, according to a spokesman for the base.

Contact tracing identified two more people with the coronavirus on Tuesday, 35th Fighter Wing spokesman Maj. Cody Chiles told Stars and Stripes by phone.

A limit on movement on and off the base set to expire midnight Tuesday was extended to midnight Thursday, according to a base press release Wednesday. Base personnel are restricted to essential activities while contact tracers do their work. Group numbers are capped at 10, no indoor dining at restaurants is allowed and essential purchases only are permitted.

The restaurants – Off the Wall and Black Sheep – provided base public health authorities with information to help with contact tracing, Chiles said.

Yokosuka Naval Base, south of Tokyo, on Tuesday reported its Chili’s restaurant would close until further notice for cleaning and sanitizing after an employee there contracted the coronavirus, according to a base Facebook post.

The base Personnel Support Detachment closed its ID lab until Monday, “out of an abundance of caution,” after a lab employee came in contact with a COVID patient, according to a Facebook post Tuesday.

Naval Air Facility Atsugi reported eight new COVID-19 patients since Dec. 25  and one before that date, base spokesman Sam Samuelson told Stars and Stripes by phone Tuesday. Three tested positive while quarantined; four, including a base employee, developed COVID-19 symptoms; one tested positive after arriving at a Tokyo airport; and one was discovered by contact tracers, according to a base Facebook post.

U.S. Army Japan at Camp Zama, southwest of Tokyo, on Tuesday reported six new coronavirus patients discovered between Saturday and Dec. 29, according to an Army news release.

Five individuals were already in quarantine after arriving in Japan. The sixth individual was also quarantined and was tested by Japanese health authorities after arriving Saturday.

Yokota Air Base, the headquarters in western Tokyo of U.S. Forces Japan, reported seven new coronavirus patients tested positive between Tuesday and Dec. 29, according to a Facebook post.

Four were still in quarantine after arriving from the U.S.; one was already isolated as a close contact. The remaining two were “identified and quarantined” by public health authorities but the base provided no further information. The base has eight active cases.

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni reported two new coronavirus patients Tuesday, according to a Facebook post. One was already in quarantine as a close contact, the other was not isolated, according to the base.

On Okinawa, Kadena Air Base reported four newly infected individuals Tuesday. A family of three became ill with COVID-19 symptoms while in quarantine after traveling outside of Japan. The fourth is an Army and Air Force Exchange employee who became ill, stopped working and self-isolated, according to the base.

The person’s workplace was cleaned and an unspecified number of close contacts quarantined.

ditzler.joseph@stripes.com
Twitter: @JosephDitzler