US military announces six new coronavirus infections at bases across Japan
By JOSEPH DITZLER AND AYA ICHIHASHI | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 9, 2020
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TOKYO — The U.S. military reported six new coronavirus cases in Japan as of 6 p.m. Monday, including three community-based infections at a Marine Corps base.
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in western Japan discovered those cases, Maj. Joshua Diddams told Stars and Stripes on Monday. He said further details would be released later.
The other three patients recently entered the country from the United States.
Two returning travelers tested positive at Yokota Air Base, the headquarters in western Tokyo of U.S. Forces Japan, according to a base Facebook post Monday. Both were already in a 14-day quarantine required by the U.S. military and Japanese government.
U.S. Army Japan reported one new case, a new arrival to Japan who tested negative Thursday prior to traveling but turned up positive in a test administered Saturday by Japanese officials at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, according to a Facebook post. The individual was not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, the Army said.
The three patients remain isolated and under medical supervision, according to the Army and Air Force. All were isolated from their base communities, so the risk of further infection is low, according to both posts.
In Tokyo, the metropolitan government reported 157 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the seventh consecutive day of more than 100 new infections, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Although the greater metro area is home to a handful of U.S. bases, central Tokyo is off-limits to U.S. personnel for anything other than official business.
At MCAS Iwakuni, base commander Col. Lance Lewis over the weekend reduced the permitted travel limits for off-duty Marines, sailors and civilians by putting Hokkaido prefecture, the northernmost island of Japan, off-limits starting Monday, according to a base Facebook post Saturday.
The post did not elaborate further, but Japanese media reports indicate Hokkaido reported 187 new coronavirus cases Sunday, the third straight day of 100-plus new cases. The Hokkaido prefectural government asked bars and restaurants in Sapporo city, a popular tourist destination, to reduce their business hours in response, according to The Mainchi newspaper on Sunday.
On Okinawa, the prefecture over the weekend received reports of two new coronavirus cases, one each at the Marine Corps’ Camp Hansen and Camp Kinser, according to a prefectural public health official who spoke to Stars and Stripes by phone Monday. He declined further comment.
Since Oct. 30, Marine Corps Installations Pacific has declined to publicly report new coronavirus cases within Marine ranks on Okinawa, citing “operational security.” The U.S. military in Japan typically does not specify whether its new cases involve service members, civilian employees or family members.
Okinawa reported 18 new cases Monday, the health official said, which brings the pandemic total to 3,537 cases.
Japan on Monday reported 1,172 cases for a pandemic total of 107,086 and 1,812 deaths as of Monday, according to the World Health Organization.
Stars and Stripes reporter James Bolinger contributed to this report.