Yokota reports first coronavirus case in local military community

Airmen demonstrate coronavirus gate-screening procedures at Yokota Air Base, Japan, in this screenshot from a video created last month by the 374th Airlift Wing.


By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 15, 2020

Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See other free reports here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo reported its first coronavirus case Monday, three days after the military relaxed its health protection condition in the country.

“A member of the Yokota community who returned from the US to Japan on 12 June has tested positive for COVID-19,” Yokota officials said in a Facebook post.

The person was placed in quarantine when they arrived, officials said.

“While the member does not exhibit any symptoms, the individual has now been placed in isolation on base in accordance with strict Center for Disease Control guidelines,” said officials at the base, which is home to some 12,000 personnel. “Persons who had any close interaction with the individual have been identified and quarantined to ensure the safety of our Airmen, families and the local community. There are no indications of additional risk to Team Yokota.”

On Friday, USFJ commander Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider announced that U.S. forces would lower their health protection condition from Charlie to Bravo, but extend a public health emergency declared April 6 through July 14. Under Bravo condition, the Defense Department advises personnel to continue to practice social distancing and avoid unnecessary travel.

New coronavirus cases in Japan dropped sharply from the start of the month and have remained low. However, Tokyo reported 47 new cases Sunday, the most since May 5.

The latest case at Yokota is the first among local base personnel, but an undisclosed number of Navy sailors tested positive for coronavirus in late April, after having been sequestered at the installation before boarding USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group vessels for an upcoming patrol.

Last month, the Air Force revealed that an undisclosed number of support staff accompanying the sequestered sailors had also tested positive.

On Facebook, Air Force officials assured the base community that Yokota would remain one of the most effective locations to safely and securely house personnel as airmen and their families arrive in Japan.

Twitter: @SethRobson1