Okinawa declares state of emergency as spike in Covid-19 cases traced to US military bases

Japan's Okinawa Prefecture has declared a state of emergency and urged residents to stay home after the region experienced an uptick in coronavirus cases, most of them linked to US military facilities. The guidelines, which will remain in place for two weeks but are non-compulsory, ask people to avoid non-essential activities in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. The measures including restricting operating hours for restaurants and discouraging people from unnecessary travel. 

Okinawa registered 71 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, bringing its total to 395. US military personnel stationed on the island account for 248 of those cases. Last week the US military began ramping up testing for Japanese civilians who work at two US bases in Okinawa. 

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki said that the region had reached a “critical stage” and that “a collapse of the health care system must be prevented at all costs.”

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