First Case of COVID-19 Reported by US Marines Deployed to Okinawa

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In the wake of a US Marine being reprimanded for violating social distancing rules on Okinawa, the family member of another Marine has been recorded as the service’s first COVID-19 infection on the island.

A Thursday statement from Marine Forces Japan detailed that the family member case of the novel coronavirus was the first on the island prefecture since April 30.

The release went on to detail that the family member had returned from the US on June 19 and authorities and Navy health officials are now performing contact tracing “to determine whether anyone else may have been exposed,” reported Stars and Stripes.

“It is believed the individual contracted the virus from recent travel to the United States,” the Marine statement said. “They have only had minimal contact with [U.S. Forces Japan] personnel and have not had any contact at all with anyone off base.”

The individual has been quarantined since their June 19 arrival.

This comes as the fourth COVID-19 associated with the US military on Okinawa. According to Stars and Stripes, most of the estimated 30,000 US Marines stationed in Japan are housed in Okinawa at seven different bases.

Air Force Magazine reported in March that two airmen belonging to two separate units tested positive for COVID-19 and became the first and second troops to contract the disease on Okinawa. Air Force officials have since confirmed that both airmen have recovered, Stars and Stripes reported.

According to an Okinawa government website, the city has reported 142 positive cases of COVID-19 and 7 deaths related to the contagious disease. However, data reported by Stars and Stripes detailed 146 cases and seven deaths – with the last positive COVID-19 case reported on April 30.

Okinawa-based Marine Cpl. John William Thomas III was recently arrested by police on Sunday after he allegedly violated novel coronavirus restrictions and punched a 21-year-old college student in the jaw.

US Marines have been prohibited from attending bars and nightclubs in Japan, per anti-COVID-19 orders. Military.com reported that a public health emergency declared by US Forces Japan, Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider has been extended through July 14.

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