US bases in Japan report nine coronavirus cases; USFK says more vaccine is on the way
By JOSEPH DITZLER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 26, 2021
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TOKYO – The one-day coronavirus count in Japan’s capital edged up again Friday as the illness re-appeared at two U.S. bases where it had faded away for several days.
Meanwhile, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea announced on American Forces Network Radio that nearly 12,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive on the peninsula on March 31.
The U.S. military in Japan reported nine new coronavirus cases from the past week, but commands in South Korea announced none as of 6 p.m. Friday.
Yokota Air Base, the headquarters of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo, announced Friday it has one new patient with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. That person – Yokota’s only coronavirus patient – tested positive this week while in quarantine after arriving from the United States, according to the base.
Yokota went 10 days without reporting an infection. Its last report, on March 16, said two people contracted the virus after close contact with a previously infected individual.
Farther west, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, near Hiroshima, said Friday that three people tested positive after arriving in Japan and immediately entering quarantine. The base reported one new patient Thursday, also a new arrival, but prior to that reported nothing since March 12.
Yokosuka Naval Base, 35 miles south of Tokyo, on Friday reported five individuals tested positive for the virus since Tuesday, according to a Facebook post. One person fell ill with COVID-19 symptoms and the remaining four were discovered during contact tracing. None were vaccinated, according to Yokosuka.
The naval base, homeport of the U.S. 7thFleet, has seven patients under observation. It last reported one new case Tuesday.
Kanagawa prefecture, where Yokosuka is located, reported 117 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, according to NHK.
Tokyo on Friday reported another 376 people had contracted the virus, according to public broadcaster NHK. That’s 73 more individuals than tested positive the same day in the previous week, 303 on March 19, according to metro government data. The city has inched over the previous week’s one-day total for the past seven days.
In South Korea, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea told service members the peninsula was down to 900 doses of the Modern COVID-19 vaccine, though plenty more is on the way.
Army Gen. Robert Abrams, speaking Friday on AFN Radio at Camp Humphreys, said 11,900 doses of the one-shot vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson should arrive on March 31.
On April 5, the command will begin vaccinating people ages 18-64 who are at a high risk of catching COVID-19, he said. After that, they’ll move on to the general population, including family members.
South Korea reported 494 new COVID-19 patients Thursday, maintaining a 400-plus one-day count for all but one of the past nine days, according to the World Health Organization.
Seoul accounted for 121 new cases and Gyeonggi province, where Humphreys and Osan Air Base are located, reported 187, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, head of the Central Disease Control Headquarters, on Friday said level two social-distancing rules will remain in effect in Seoul and Gyeonggi until April 11. Lesser strictures apply outside those areas.
Level two requires masks indoors, shortened hours for some businesses and less than 100 people at events.
Stars and Stripes reporter Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.