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US Army Japan confirms first coronavirus case in its community since April

A soldier screens a driver for the coronavirus at Camp Zama, Japan, March 31, 2020.

WINIFRED BROWN/U.S. ARMY

By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 25, 2020

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TOKYO — A new member of the U.S. Army Japan community was confirmed to have the coronavirus a day after arriving in Japan, officials confirmed Thursday.

The person was tested Monday upon landing at Narita International Airport in Chiba prefecture, according to an emailed statement provided by U.S. Army Japan spokesman Maj. Elias Chelala.

“This person was asymptomatic during travel and had no reason to believe he/she was infected prior to undertaking the trip to Japan,” it said.

It’s unknown if the person is an active-duty soldier. Defense Department guidance prohibits the release of such information, Chelala said in a follow-up email.

After being tested, the person was taken to Camp Zama, about a two-hour car trip from Narita, and immediately placed into quarantine, the statement said.

On Tuesday, after receiving the positive result, Japanese officials alerted the Army, which moved the infected individual into “more restrictive isolation,” according to the statement.

“Due to the extensive precautions and strict controls which [U.S. Army Japan] has implemented, at no time did this individual pose any risk to the community or installation,” the statement added.

However, in a later email Chelala said two others have been quarantined due to close contact with the person who tested positive.

This is the seventh reported coronavirus case associated with U.S. Army Japan and the first since late April, when several workers at a base fire station tested positive for the virus.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on March 27 ordered commanders to stop announcing new infections on their installations, citing a concern that potential adversaries might exploit that information.

robson.seth@stripes.com
Twitter: @SethRobson1