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US bases in Yokosuka, Misawa announce new coronavirus cases as Tokyo’s numbers remain steady

A woman wears a mask to protect against the coronavirus while taking a walk near Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, Aug. 27, 2020.

AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

By JOSEPH DITZLER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 18, 2020

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TOKYO — The U.S. military in Japan reported two new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, both of them patients already in quarantine.

Yokosuka Naval Base, the home of the 7th Fleet south of Tokyo, announced that a recent arrival has tested positive for the virus. The base did not specify when the patient tested positive, only that the test had taken place ‘since Tuesday,’ according to a post Friday on the base Facebook page.

That person is still in isolation and being monitored by Navy medical professionals, according to the post.

Yokosuka has four active cases, according to the post.

Misawa Air Base, 400 miles north of Tokyo, also reported that one person returned from travel outside Japan and tested positive before exiting the 14-day isolation period. The patient is the only active case on base and shows no symptoms of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, according to a post on the base Facebook page.

The new patient’s roommate was also placed in isolation starting Friday, the post said.

U.S. Forces Japan requires new arrivals and anyone returning to Japan to test clear of the virus before exiting quarantine.

U.S. military bases in Japan routinely report new case numbers but do not specify whether the patient is a service member, Defense Department civilian employee, contractor or family member.

Tokyo on Friday reported another 220 people infected with the coronavirus, according to public broadcaster NHK. The city has exceeded 100 new cases every day since Tuesday. It last reported more than 200 patients in one day, 226, on Sept. 12, according to data from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Several U.S. bases are in or close to Tokyo, but U.S. personnel are generally prohibited from visiting the city center because of the virus.

Tokyo has recorded 23,828 cases during the pandemic, according to metro data. Japan has had 77,009 cases and 1,473 deaths due to coronavirus, as of Thursday, according to the World Health Organization.

Also Thursday, the commander of Naval Forces Japan, in a video message posted on Facebook, said sailors, Navy civilian employees and families in Japan may soon reach a reduced state of risk of coronavirus, in military terms Health Protection Condition-Alpha.

Alpha represents a “limited health alert,” one step higher than no outstanding risks.

“We have the chance to chart the course for the entire Navy,” Rear Adm. Brian Fort said in the video.

Standing in the way of achieving condition Alpha are the 1% who don’t comply with coronavirus restrictions, he said. “There is still no room for the 1%.”

By way of example, Fort cited viral clusters that arose at Marine Corps bases in Okinawa and at Yokosuka. The clusters prompted those commands to increase their risk levels from moderate to substantial after a period of relative calm in June.

All Navy installations in the region, from Misawa to Diego Garcia, and all Marine, Army and Air Force bases on Okinawa are now under a moderate risk of coronavirus, or condition Bravo.

Fort said Navy personnel in Japan should continue to wash their hands frequently, wear masks, stay at home if sick, minimize close contact with others and maintain a contact log.

“There is no room for complacency,” he said.

ditzler.joseph@stripes.com
Twitter: @JosephDitzler