Pedestrians in coronavirus masks walk past Fujisawa Station in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, April 27, 2021.

Pedestrians in coronavirus masks walk past Fujisawa Station in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, April 27, 2021. (Akifumi Ishikawa/Stars and Stripes)

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TOKYO — U.S. military commands in Japan and South Korea on Thursday reported eight new coronavirus infections going back to mid-April.

Meanwhile, Tokyo announced another 591 infections, continuing a trend of declining case numbers, according to public broadcaster NHK. However, the number of people stricken severely by COVID-19, the coronavirus respiratory disease, rose to 72 on Wednesday, the first time that number has exceeded 70 since February.

Osaka prefecture, Japan’s second-largest metropolitan area and coping with its worst phase of the pandemic, reported 747 new coronavirus cases and 28 deaths Thursday, according to NHK.

Speaking on American Forces Network Radio on Wednesday, the commander of Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Kanagawa prefecture southeast of Tokyo said inoculations are responsible for the low or non-existent number of new COVID-19 patients on his installation.

“We combat this thing by getting the vaccine,” Capt. Manning Montagnet said. “And we’ve got it. We’ve got it for any and all SOFA members, and it works.”

SOFA refers to the status of forces agreement that governs rights and responsibilities of U.S. military personnel, Defense Department civilian employees and their families in Japan.

Kadena Air Base on Okinawa had three people test positive for coronavirus, according to a base Facebook post Thursday. Two were already quarantined as close contacts of a previously infected person; the third fell ill with COVID-19 symptoms and self-isolated. An unspecified number of individuals were also quarantined as close contacts.

Five people affiliated with U.S. Forces Korea tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving on the peninsula between April 18 and Saturday, according to a USFK news release.

One service member arrived at Osan Air Base aboard the Patriot Express, a government-chartered air service, on April 30; three service members and a dependent arrived aboard commercial flights at Incheon International Airport on April 18, April 30 and Saturday, according to USFK.

Four were positive on their first mandatory COVID-19 test prior to entering quarantine, and one came up positive on a test required to exit quarantine. All five are quarantined at either Osan or Camp Humphreys.

South Korea reported 574 new COVID-19 patients Wednesday, 211 in Seoul and 142 in Gyeonggi prefecture, where Humphreys and Osan are located, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Twitter: @JosephDitzler

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Joseph Ditzler is a Marine Corps veteran and the Pacific editor for Stars and Stripes. He’s a native of Pennsylvania and has written for newspapers and websites in Alaska, California, Florida, New Mexico, Oregon and Pennsylvania. He studied journalism at Penn State and international relations at the University of Oklahoma.

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