A sailor practices screening drivers for coronavirus symptoms at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, March 18, 2020.

A sailor practices screening drivers for coronavirus symptoms at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, March 18, 2020. (Taylor Curry/U.S. Navy)

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.

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — U.S. Naval Forces Japan has directed sailors to keep a daily log of their movements and people with whom they have close contact, according to a memorandum Stars and Stripes obtained Tuesday.

Sailors were also told to write out all contacts and movements they’d made in the 14 days prior to the memo. The aim is to track the potential coronavirus spread should a sailor later test positive, according to the memo issued Thursday.

“In the event of a positive COVID-19 test, one of the important actions taken by medical professionals is to conduct contact tracing,” Naval Forces Japan commander Adm. Brian Fort wrote in the memo. “This information is vitally important to understand whether other personnel need to be placed in quarantine.”

Sailors who had close contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus are placed under 14-day quarantines even if they do not present symptoms, 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Joe Keiley told Stars and Stripes in an email last month.

“Close contact” is defined as being within six feet for a prolonged period or having direct contact with someone, such as being sneezed or coughed on, according to Fort’s memo.

Further, sailors were advised to keep “no more than 10 close contacts to include family members,” the memo said.

Fort did not provide a specific form in which the information should be tracked, but told sailors they do not need to share their daily logs with their commands.

“This is your personal and private information. It is only intended to be shared with medical professionals if needed for contact-tracing purposes,” Fort wrote in the memo.

At least three active-duty sailors in Japan had tested positive for coronavirus by March 27. The Navy has since implemented a policy not to disclose the number of positive cases associated with individual installations. Instead, the numbers are lumped into the overall Navy tallies of sailors positive with the virus.

As of Monday, 436 sailors had tested positive across the service, according the Navy’s most recent coronavirus report.

Keeping the daily logs has a second purpose: to cause “each of us to think about our personal interactions and daily close contacts” and consider “how this virus impacts our daily norms until we have a vaccine and/or a cure,” Fort wrote in the memo.

“Everyone must recognize the incredible importance of the personal accountability role they individually play in defeating the virus,” Fort said in the memo. “Policies, procedures and protocols can abound, but all of that is naught without individual accountability.” Twitter: @CaitlinDoornbos

author picture
Caitlin Doornbos covers the Pentagon for Stars and Stripes after covering the Navy’s 7th Fleet as Stripes’ Indo-Pacific correspondent at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Previously, she worked as a crime reporter in Lawrence, Kan., and Orlando, Fla., where she was part of the Orlando Sentinel team that placed as finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. Caitlin has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas and master’s degree in defense and strategic studies from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now