Two US bases in Japan clear their remaining coronavirus cases as winter surge tapers off
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TOKYO – Japan’s capital city reported just over 300 people were confirmed positive for the coronavirus Friday, the lowest count on a Friday in more than three months.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced 307 new infections, according to public broadcaster NHK. That’s the lowest number on a Friday since Nov. 6, when the metro government reported 242 new cases.
The winter coronavirus surge appears to be tapering off, although the greater metro area and parts of central Honshu, including Osaka and Kyoto, remain in a state of emergency until March 7.
Japan reported 1,826 new coronavirus cases Friday, according to the World Health Organization. Nearly 6,700 people have died in Japan of COVID-19 complications during the pandemic.
Tokyo reached its pandemic high Jan. 7, when it reported 2,447 people had tested positive for the coronavirus.
A U.S. military base in Japan on Friday reported three new cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus respiratory disease. Two installations announced they cleared their last known patients and currently have no known cases.
Yokosuka Naval Base, 35 miles south of central Tokyo, had three people test positive for COVID-19 since Tuesday, according to a Facebook post.
One individual came down with symptoms of the disease and that person’s contacts are being traced; one person was discovered by contact tracing; the third individual, a base employee, tested positive on a medical screening.
“This is our lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since the first week of December,” the base said.
In the interim, Yokosuka wrestled with an eruption of new cases that came in waves, attributed first to individuals breaking coronavirus restrictions by visiting off-limits areas or patronizing bars and other prohibited establishments.
Public health experts at the base were unable to explain the origin of a subsequent cluster in early January. The base commander, Capt. Rich Jarrett, imposed a curfew to stem the virus’ spread.
“The next month will be difficult, probably our most difficult period of COVID-19 response,” he said in a Facebook video Jan. 6.
On Jan. 22, the base reported 166 coronavirus patients – its highest reported total for the month – under observation by the naval hospital. On Friday, it reported 47 patients being monitored.
Elsewhere, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, 26 miles southwest of central Tokyo, and Sasebo Naval Base, on the southern island of Kyushu, announced on Facebook they released their last coronavirus patients.
“I can’t begin to properly describe how happy I am,” Atsugi base commander Capt. Manning Montagnet said Friday on American Forces Network Radio. “Hats off to anyone who calls NAF Atsugi home.”
Yokota Air Base, the headquarters of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo, has one coronavirus patient still being monitored, according to a Facebook post.