Okinawa, home to U.S. military bases, logs record COVID cases

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Jan 15 (Reuters) – Japan’s southern prefecture of Okinawa reported record daily numbers of COVID-19 cases on Saturday, fueled by the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Okinawa, which hosts 70% of U.S. military facilities in Japan, said it recorded 1,829 new coronavirus cases on Saturday.

The governor of the prefecture, Denny Tamaki, previously said he was “furious” about what he called inadequate infection controls at U.S. bases that allowed the variant to spread to the public.

Japan has since stepped up coronavirus restrictions in three regions that host U.S. military facilities, which have also announced stricter infection controls.

Though Japan halted the entry of almost all foreign travellers into the country last November, the U.S. military moves staff in and out of the country under a separate testing and quarantine regime.

Public broadcaster NHK said the western prefecture of Osaka was likely to also see record daily cases on Saturday exceeding 3,000 cases.

(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by William Mallard & Simon Cameron-Moore)

Photo – (FILE) – US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft sit on the tarmac at US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma surrounded by overcrowded residential areas in Ginowan on Okinawa Island, southwestern Japan. EPA-EFE/HITOSHI MAESHIRO

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