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US military puts marines in lockdown following coronavirus outbreak on Japan bases

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This image shows a view of US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station on Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa March 24, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

American military personnel in two US bases in Okinawa Prefecture in Japan have been put under lockdown after dozens of forces tested positive for COVID-19.

“[T]his week the Marine Corps experienced two localized clusters of individuals who tested positive for the [corona]virus,” the US Marine Corps Installations Pacific in Okinawa announced on its Facebook page on Saturday.

“All personnel who tested positive for COVID-19 are in isolation,” the statement said.

In the meantime, Okinawan officials have asked the Japanese government to demand that the US military take measures to stop the spread of the disease, provide full data on those infected, and seal off the Americans on the base to prevent contact with the local population.

A total of 61 cases, 38 of them at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and 23 more at Camp Hansen were reported by Okinawan officials on Sunday.

'Okinawans are shocked'

The governor of Japan’s Okinawa island has called for tougher prevention measures and more transparency by the US forces. “Okinawans are shocked by what we were told (by the US military),” Gov. Denny Tamaki told a news conference on Saturday.

“It is extremely regrettable that the infections are rapidly spreading among US personnel when we Okinawans are doing our utmost to contain the infections,” he said. “We now have strong doubts that the US military has taken adequate disease prevention measures.”

Okinawa, where more than half of about 50,000 American troops based in Japan are deployed, is the center of a dispute between the US forces and local residents.

Okinawans have long complained about the criminal activity, pollution and damage to the natural environment caused by US soldiers based in Okinawa.

Read more:
Okinawa governor renews demand to stop US base relocation plan



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