Japan sends teams to Okinawa for coronavirus fight as US military cases shrink
Stars and Stripes August 18, 2020
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TOKYO — Japan’s capital city reported 207 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, three dozen more than the previous day but far short of the city’s one-day record of 472, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Still, the number of patients hospitalized in serious condition with COVID-19 reached 31 for the first time since May 30, according to Tokyo newspaper Asahi Shimbun. COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
On Okinawa, the prefectural governor took up an offer from the Ministry of Defense Joint Staff for medical support to help contain the virus’ spread. In response, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force in Naha deployed medical teams from the 15th Brigade to support the island.
Monday, the ministry offered Gov. Denny Tamaki doctors and nurses, patient transportation and supplies, along with public health education teams to help stem a viral surge.
The island prefecture reported 33 new cases Tuesday, a public health official told Stars and Stripes by phone. As of Monday, 19 patients were in critical condition and 202 were waiting on a room or hospital bed in which to recover, according to the prefecture’s website.
U.S. military bases on Okinawa and close to Tokyo, with seven new cases reported, were quiet by comparison Tuesday. Most patients were already in isolation when they were tested prior to possible release.
Naval Air Facility Atsugi reported one new case, an individual already in quarantine after arriving in Japan. The patient remains isolated under medical attention, according to a post on the base’s Facebook page.
On Okinawa, the Marines reported three new cases, one at Camp Courtney and two at Camp Hansen, according to a Facebook post by Marine Corps Installations Pacific. All three were tested prior to leaving quarantine and will remain there.
Kadena Air Base reported three new cases Tuesday, one a food-service worker already in quarantine as a close contact of another infected person, according to a Facebook post by Kadena.
“This person exhibited no symptoms and had no customer contact, solely working in food preparation,” the post stated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says “there is no evidence that people can get COVID-19 from the food they eat.”
The affected facility, which was not identified, was “deep cleaned” while public health authorities were on hand, the post stated.
The other two Kadena patients worked in close proximity to previously identified positive cases, according to the post. The base did not provide further information on those cases.
Stars and Stripes reporters Matthew M. Burke, Aya Ichihashi and Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.