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U.S. forces in South Korea, Japan confirm more than 50 new COVID-19 cases

U.S. forces in South Korea, Japan confirm more than 50 new COVID-19 cases
The U.S. Marine Corps credited a close relationship with the Okinawa Prefecture Government's Health Department for slowing the COVID-19 outbreak at its Okinawa bases. Photo by LCpl. Karis Mattingly/U.S. Marine Corps

Nov. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Forces Korea reported 22 positive COVID-19 tests among people arriving at South Korean bases between Nov. 5 and Nov. 20 in a statement on Monday.

Contractors, service members and their dependents were quarantined after they arrived at Osan Air Base and at Inchon International Airport.

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Despite the increase in cases, U.S. Forces Korea said that it remains "at a high level of readiness with less than one percent of its active duty service members currently confirmed positive."

The positive tests are among 54 new COVID-19 cases identified among U.S. forces in Asia, including 21 over the weekend at Yokota Air Base, near Tokyo.

RELATED USFK announces 21 COVID-19 cases among new arrivals to Korea

The base currently has 43 active cases, the base reported, during a weekend in which the city of Tokyo reported a record 500 or more new cases on three consecutive days.

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Okinawa Prefecture's Kadena Air Base and the Marines' Camp Foster, all in Japan, also reported an increase in COVID-19 cases.

The U.S. Marines said on Monday that despite the new cases, its bases in Okinawa have significantly reduced the spread of the pandemic since infections there increased dramatically in July.

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The Corps cited more thorough testing and contact tracing efforts at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and Camp Hansen, and a long working relationship between the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa and the Okinawa Prefecture Government Public Health Department.

"Because of the mutual trust built over more than five decades, the USNHO was able to coordinate tests for a few patients at the local hospitals in the early stage of the disease when the USNHO did not have the current testing capabilities," a Marine Corps statement on Monday reads inpart.

The Defense Department announced new restrictions on personnel in its Washington, D.C. headquarters on Monday, following an announcement that Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, the current Pentagon policy chief, tested positive and is currently in quarantine.

RELATED U.S. Forces Korea reports 13 new COVID-19 cases

The Pentagon will operate with only 40 percent maximum occupancy, beginning next week.

A statement cited the gradual rise in positive tests at the building, "as well as an increase in cases in the National Capital Region since the middle of September."

Gatherings will be limited to 25 people, and use of the building's athletic center and food court seating area will be limited.

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