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People wear masks earlier this spring while strolling around Yamashita Pier in Yokohama, Japan.
People wear masks earlier this spring while strolling around Yamashita Pier in Yokohama, Japan. (Akifumi Ishikawa/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – The U.S. State Department has relaxed an advisory that warned Americans not to travel to Japan as coronavirus numbers continue to decline ahead of the Tokyo Olympics next month.

Meanwhile, U.S. military bases in the country reported four new COVID-19 infections, two with the Air Force on Okinawa and two with U.S. Army Japan.

The State Department’s move on Tuesday changes the advisory from level four, or “do not travel,” to level three, which urges people to “reconsider” going to Japan.

The update comes on the heels of one by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that lowered Japan’s COVID-19 risk level from “very high,” meaning people should avoid all travel to the country, to “high,” which urges travelers to ensure they are fully vaccinated before heading there.

Unvaccinated individuals are asked to avoid nonessential travel under the “high” advisory.

Japan has lagged other developed nations in vaccinating its population but is ramping up those efforts ahead of the start of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23.

The country reported 2,242 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, 175 fewer than the same day last week, according to public broadcaster NHK and the World Health Organization. The government has counted 760,000 cases during the pandemic and more than 13,500 deaths, the WHO said.

Tokyo on Wednesday reported another 440 coronavirus infections and seven deaths, according to NHK. That’s 47 fewer infections than the same day last week.

Osaka prefecture, the nation’s second-largest metro area, reported 153 new cases and 27 deaths Wednesday, NHK said.

Okinawa prefecture, now experiencing its worst phase of the pandemic, reported another 174 new infections Wednesday and two deaths, according to NHK. However, that’s 123 fewer cases than the same day last week.

Kadena Air Base had two people test positive for the coronavirus respiratory disease on Tuesday, according to a base Facebook post that evening. Both became ill with COVID-19 symptoms and self-isolated. Contact tracing is ongoing.

Two people with U.S. Army Japan tested positive between June 2 and Wednesday, according to an Army news release Wednesday. One of the individuals was in quarantine after recently arriving in Japan and the other tested positive after developing symptoms.

Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.

Twitter: @MatthewMBurke1

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