Two US bases on Okinawa locked down over coronavirus spike

US Marine Corps servicemen salute while Japanese and US flags are being taken down at the evening colors ceremony at an American base in Okinawa on November 14, 2014. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 13 July 2020

Two US bases on Okinawa locked down over coronavirus spike

  • There are tens of thousands of US servicemen stationed on the southern Japanese island
  • Prefecture will also ask for incoming troops and their families to observe their arrival quarantine on-base

TOKYO: Two US Marine bases in Japan’s Okinawa have been put into lockdown after dozens of coronavirus infections, with local officials criticizing the American military’s containment efforts.
There are tens of thousands of US servicemen stationed on the southern Japanese island, which has recorded roughly 150 civilian COVID-19 infections.
Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Monday that 62 cases have been detected in recent days in US forces, most of them at US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and Camp Hansen.
The spike in infections has created tensions with local officials, including Okinawa governor Denny Tamaki.
In response to the outbreak, almost all off-base travel was halted from Sunday, according to guidelines posted on the Marine Corps Installation Pacific Facebook page.
Marine Corps service members, dependents, and civilians can move freely on the base but require permission to leave, including for medical appointments.
“Those orders are in place until further notice and limit base access and operations to essential personnel,” the force said in a separate post.
The post did not specify which bases were affected and US military officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
An Okinawa official said the prefecture had been informed that the order applied to only Futenma and Camp Hansen.
He added that the number of forces on the bases is not disclosed for “security reasons.”
US military presence on the island is a longstanding sore spot, with many in the region arguing they bear a disproportionate share of the burden of hosting American forces.
On Saturday, Tamaki said he was “shocked” by the number of cases on the bases.
“I can’t help but feel serious doubts about US measures against infections,” he told reporters.
Tamaki said he has asked US forces to halt the arrival of troops rotating into the country and to boost anti-infection measures.
It is unclear where the bases’ clusters of infections originated, but local media said there were concerns about incoming troops and their families who are being quarantined in local hotels off-base.
An Okinawa government official said the prefecture would ask the central government and US forces to share information about cases among the military more quickly.
The prefecture will also ask for incoming troops and their families to observe their arrival quarantine on-base, they said.


India coronavirus cases hit 2.5 million

Updated 40 sec ago

India coronavirus cases hit 2.5 million

  • India is behind the United States and Brazil in the number of cases
  • Subways, schools and movie theaters remain closed

MUMBAI: India’s confirmed coronavirus cases have crossed 2.5 million with another biggest single-day spike of 65,002 in the past 24 hours.
India is behind the United States and Brazil in the number of cases.
The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported another 996 deaths for a total of 49,036. The average daily reported cases jumped from around 15,000 in the first week of July to more than 50,000 at the beginning of August.
The Health Ministry said the rise shows the extent of testing with 800,000 carried out in a single day. But experts say India needs to pursue testing more vigorously.
India’s two-month lockdown imposed nationwide in late March kept infections low. But it has eased and is now largely being enforced in high-risk areas. The new cases spiked after India reopened shops and manufacturing and allowed hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to return to their homes from coronavirus-hit regions. Subways, schools and movie theaters remain closed.