US bases in Japan report six coronavirus cases; new restrictions loom for metro areas

Retired Navy captain Brian Park receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a shot clinic at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, April 21, 2021.


By JOSEPH DITZLER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 23, 2021

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TOKYO The U.S. military in Japan reported six new cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus respiratory disease, as of 6 p.m. Friday.

Yokosuka Naval Base, 35 miles south of Tokyo, said four people there have tested positive since Tuesday, according to a Friday news release.

One of the new patients, a new arrival to Japan, was still in quarantine, and the others, one of them a base employee, fell ill with COVID-19 symptoms, according to the base.

Kadena Air Base on Okinawa has two new COVID-19 infections, according to base Facebook post Friday. Both fell ill and isolated themselves before their tests.

U.S. military bases in Japan that largely relied on the two-shot Moderna vaccine rather than the one-shot version made by Johnson & Johnson are continuing to schedule shot clinics. The Defense Department suspended distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the suggestion of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration after at least six people out of 6.8 million inoculated with it contracted very rare and dangerous blood clots.

In Tokyo, meanwhile, another 759 people tested positive for the virus Friday, according to public broadcaster NHK. For nearly a month, the number of new cases in the city has exceeded the total on the same day the previous week. The city is reporting its highest one-day new patient numbers since January.

Osaka prefecture reported another 1,162 patients Friday, according to NHK. The second-largest metro area in Japan is experiencing its worst coronavirus surge of the pandemic. The prefecture has reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for four consecutive days and on 10 of the past 11 days.

Hospital beds in Osaka designated for severely afflicted COVID-19 patients are full, and those for less severe cases are 80% full, according to the prefecture’s COVID-19 tracking website.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was expected to finalize an emergency declaration Friday for Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto prefectures to take effect Sunday and last to May 11, Japan’s Kyodo News reported.

Some businesses serving alcohol may be closed, spectators are likely to be banned from large events, and train and bus services may end early on weekdays with reduced service on weekends and holidays, according to the report.

Golden Week, one of Japan’s most significant holidays, begins Thursday and concludes May 5. The Tokyo Olympics are three months away.

Twitter: @JosephDitzler

Navy Lt. Lachean Kimbrough delivers a dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, April 21, 2021.