COVID-19 cases wane on US bases as Okinawa steers toward state of emergency
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TOKYO – U.S. commands on Okinawa reported four new cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus respiratory disease, as of 6 p.m. Thursday.
Kadena Air Base had three people test positive while still quarantined following travel outside Japan, according to a base Facebook post late Wednesday. Contact tracing was underway.
One person at Camp Foster contracted COVID-19, according to a post by Marine Corps Installations Pacific on Thursday.
Kadena has recorded 11 new coronavirus cases so far this month, while the Marine Corps on Okinawa has reported 27.
All U.S. military installations in Japan and South Korea have scheduled vaccine clinics this week for children ages 12-17 to receive the first of the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Scheduling and sign-up details were available on base and military hospital Facebook pages.
Okinawa prefecture reported 203 new infections on Wednesday, its highest one-day count during the pandemic, according to prefectural data online. Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki was expected to ask the national government to declare a state of emergency there to curb the virus’ spread, public broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday.
Approximately 30,000 U.S. service members of all branches are stationed on Okinawa, along with another 27,000 Defense Department civilian employees and family members.
Japan extended its state of emergency to nine prefectures on Sunday. Under the emergency, which includes Tokyo and Osaka, alcohol sales are curtailed, some business hours are shortened and employees are urged to telework. Train service on some lines was reduced.
Tokyo on Tokyo on Thursday reported 843 new coronavirus patients, a drop of 167 people from the same day last week, according to NHK.
Osaka prefecture, Japan’s second-largest metro area, on Thursday reported 477 more people had contracted COVID-19, a continuing decline in the worst coronavirus wave to strike the prefecture, according to prefectural data. However, Osaka continues to report its hospital beds reserved for severely ill patients are nearly at capacity.