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Okinawa, hub for US military bases in Japan, reports record number of COVID-19 infections

The prefecture of Okinawa, which is home to the majority of United States military facilities located in Japan, hit record COVID-19 transmission Saturday, Reuters reported.

The prefecture on Sunday recorded 1,829 new cases of the virus, which continues to surge around the world as the highly transmissible omicron variant spreads.

NHK Japan reported Saturday that Japan had almost reached its highest daily COVID-19 infection tally of the pandemic and that the Osaka prefecture had also reported record daily case numbers, with 3,692 cases. According to the outlet, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 4,561 new cases in the city Friday, its highest daily total since August.

The surge in infections follows the implementation of stricter COVID-19 protocols last week within U.S. military facilities in Okinawa.

“The mitigation measures we have instituted throughout USFJ are intended to protect our force’s readiness, the well-being of our families, and the health of Japan’s citizens. We recognize we all have a part to play in keeping our communities safe,” U.S. Forces in Japan said of the new protocols.

A U.S. military base in southern Okinawa was tied to 180 coronavirus infections in December.

“The Japanese government is urging again the U.S. side to ensure all workers at the U.S. military bases in Japan abide by the instructions and take strong measures if there are any violations,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at the time.

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