Coronavirus | COVID-19 Updates

First service member in Japan tests positive for COVID-19, after returning from US

A sailor at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan has tested positive for COVID-19, according to U.S. Forces Japan.

U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka’s commanding officer Navy Capt. Michael Jarrett Jr. said Thursday the sailor returned to Japan from the U.S. on March 15 and was subsequently placed under Restriction of Movement status for 14 days — meaning the sailor was not permitted to interact with individuals outside of his or her assigned quarters.

“Based on the profile of the patient’s symptoms, the period of infection is believed to have begun when the sailor was in the United States,” Jarrett said in a video posted on CFAY’s Facebook page.

“Currently, the sailor is in isolation on the installation, and public health professionals have performed contact tracing to identify people who may have been exposed,” Jarrett said. “Those individuals have been notified and screened.”

It’s unclear which command the sailor is assigned to, and CFAY did not disclose the sailor’s identity.

The case marks the first time a service member in Japan has contracted the virus.

“We have been very fortunate with our ability to prevent exposure up to this point,” Jarrett said. “We must continue to be vigilant by following Restriction of Movement procedures, abiding by the current liberty policy, and observing good personal hygiene.”

U.S. Forces Japan first adopted a Restriction of Movement policy on March 11 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The overall risk to individual USFJ members in Japan remains moderate and the command encourages strict hygiene measures to reduce the risk of transmission,” U.S. Forces Japan said in a news release. “Anyone who believes they are ill should coordinate with their organizations in order to stay home and avoid exposing others to infection.”

Japan has just over 1,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

The sailor’s diagnosis comes a day after U.S. Naval Forces Japan issued liberty restrictions to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19. Under the new guidance, liberty for service members is limited only to activities on U.S. installations. Those who live off-base are only permitted to travel between work and home, although some exceptions apply for official business and medical appointments.

Likewise, all off-base restaurants, bars, and other facilities are barred for service members, although take-out from off-base restaurants is acceptable.

“The health and well-being of our Navy community in Yokosuka is our foremost mission with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Jarrett said.

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