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Airmen demonstrate coronavirus gate-screening procedures at Yokota Air Base, Japan, in this screenshot from a video created last month by the 374th Airlift Wing.
Airmen demonstrate coronavirus gate-screening procedures at Yokota Air Base, Japan, in this screenshot from a video created last month by the 374th Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air Force)

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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — An undisclosed number of support staff accompanying sequestered Navy sailors at the home of U.S. Forces Japan have tested positive for the coronavirus, the base commander said Thursday in a Facebook post.

A “small number of individuals who are part of the support team were confirmed positive for COVID-19,” the disease caused by the coronavirus, wrote 374th Airlift Wing commander Col. Otis Jones.

Last month, the Navy sent an undisclosed number of sailors to sequester at Yokota and other U.S. bases in Japan before boarding USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group vessels for an upcoming patrol. The Reagan left Yokosuka Naval Base for sea trials this week.

The support team tended to the needs of the sequestered sailors, who lived away from the base population during the quarantine period and were restricted to their quarters.

Once screened and cleared, those quarantined sailors were permitted to board their vessels. However, an undisclosed number of those sailors tested positive for the virus, Jones reported last week.

The support personnel were not sequestered while tending to the ships’ crews. Jones said he decided “out of an abundance of caution” to test the support team, as well.

“Our public health experts are working closely with the Navy to ensure both communities are being protected through recommended isolation and quarantine measures,” he wrote Thursday afternoon.

His message provided no other details.

“Your safety remains my absolute highest priority,” Jones wrote. “My team and I will continue to keep our community aware of any future concerns.”

ditzler.joseph@stripes.com 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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