New COVID-19 Cases at 2 Okinawa Marine Bases Prompt Shelter-in-Place Orders

Marines fire M240B medium machine guns at Camp Hansen
U.S. Marines fire M240B medium machine guns at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, June 24, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Andrew R. Bray)

The Marine Corps abruptly shuttered two bases in Japan this week after several people assigned to the installations tested positive for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Marine Corps Installations Pacific on Wednesday closed off Camp Hansen in Okinawa, restricting entrance to anyone not assigned to the installation and ordering personnel there to stay in their residences. The move followed a similar lockdown a day earlier at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, where several more people tested positive for COVID-19.

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The people who tested positive at both locations were moved into isolation, Marine officials said in news releases. Camp Hansen's closure is meant to "allow health professionals to facilitate contact tracing and cleaning teams," one adds.

"These measures are put in place to ensure the safety and well-being of our forces, families, and our Okinawa neighbors," a release states. "... We are taking all prudent measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19."

The closures at Camp Hansen and Futenma have since been lifted.

Marine officials in Japan declined to answer questions about how many people assigned to the two locations have tested positive, citing privacy concerns for those infected and Defense Department guidance on operational security guidelines during the global coronavirus pandemic.

"MCIPAC will not be releasing further statements about new COVID cases to the media," the command said in a statement.

Any Marines arriving in Japan, and those who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or have extended contact with anyone suspected of having the illness, are put in a restriction-of-movement status, said 1st Lt. Ryan Bruce, a III Marine Expeditionary Force spokesman.

Marine Forces-Japan is in health protection condition "Bravo," he added, which includes social distancing and face covering requirements and limited off-base activities.

The command continues to work closely with members of the Okinawan government, Bruce said, providing information about any new cases through official medical channels.

"The Marine Corps recognizes our place in the local community and [is] taking all prudent measures to protect our forces, families, and the Okinawan community," he said.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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