Coronavirus maintains hold on Tokyo and Seoul; Yongsan Garrison lowers health-risk level
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TOKYO – The number of people newly infected with the coronavirus in Japan’s capital city rose Wednesday to 420, the highest one-day total since mid-February, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Tokyo’s daily patient tally has hovered between 200 and nearly 400 since Feb. 12, with three days above 400, according to metro government data. The city of 14 million has reported 118,461 infections during the pandemic.
U.S. Army Japan on Wednesday reported five new coronavirus patients over the previous week, all on Okinawa. Three were isolated with coronavirus symptoms before they were tested, and two were already quarantined as close contacts of a previously infected person, according to an Army news release.
No other U.S. bases in Japan had reported new coronavirus patients as of 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Residents of Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures in the greater metro area spent their third day Wednesday relieved of emergency measures in place since Jan. 7.
With the lifting of those restrictions, which included a request that restaurants close between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo on Wednesday removed its prohibition on indoor dining off-base during those hours, according to an order by base commander Col. Andrew Campbell. The ban applied to anyone with access to the installation.
However, the order continues bans on some nonessential services and activities, including bars, night clubs, karaoke clubs, social clubs “or any facility with a potential for crowds, close contact, or closed spaces where COVID prevention measures cannot be maintained.”
The same order outlines updated terms for restricted movement, the 14-day coronavirus quarantine, that applies to new arrivals to the base or returning travelers. Fully vaccinated personnel have some leeway to work, exercise outdoors or walk their dogs, provided they always wear a mask, maintain six feet of distance and adhere to other rules.
Yongsan returns to BravoU.S. Forces Korea had reported no new coronavirus cases as of 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The same day, the command lowered the coronavirus risk level at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul to moderate, or condition Bravo, from substantial, or condition Charlie. The remainder of the Army’s Area II-plus, which includes the Seoul metro area, remains under Charlie, which brings tighter movement and activity restrictions.
Only Yongsan and Seongnam city, site of the K-16 Army airfield, are under the looser restrictions. Leisure travel to Seongnam, however, is still prohibited except for personnel assigned to K-16.
“Bubble-to-bubble” travel and official travel between Yongsan and Seongnam are permitted. Saunas, bathhouses, off-installation gyms, karaoke rooms, bars or nightclubs remain off-limits.
South Korea reported 411 new COVID-19 patients on Tuesday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Seoul accounted for 135 new coronavirus cases and Gyeonggi province, where Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base are located, reported 150.
One-day case numbers in South Korea fluctuate between the mid-300s and mid-400s with occasional dips lower.
Stars and Stripes reporter Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.