U.S. limits non-essential travel from military bases in Japan, South Korea

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Jan. 9 (UPI) — The U.S. Defense Department has agreed to keep its troops on bases in Japan and limit activities off installations in Korea amid surging cases COVID-19 cases.

On Sunday, U.S. Forces Japan and the nation’s government announced the rule will take effect Monday and will last for 14 days.

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“The United States and Japan are committed to working together to protect the health of the Japanese people and U.S. service members,” U.S. Force Japan and Japan’s government said in a joint statement Sunday.

The means only essential travel off the military bases.

U.S. Forces in Japan is also requiring that all individuals must wear masks when outside their residences, both on and off base.

On Friday, U.S. Forces Korea raised its health protection alert on Friday to “Bravo Plus” peninsula-wide effective Saturday until further notice with off-installation activities seated dining at restaurants, indoor malls, bars, clubs, gyms, amusement parks, theaters, massage parlors, saunas, spas or festivals. Also pleasure travel to Seoul is banned.

South Korea’s cases rose 3,376 Sunday after a record 7,843 on Dec. 15 with 2020’s highest 1,237 on Dec. 25.

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Japan reported 8,249 cases Sunday, the highest since 8,480 Sept. 11. On Nov. 22 there were only 50 cases.

The nation set record of 25,492 cases on Aug. 21 after the Summer Olympics ended on Aug. 8.

Only seven deaths have been reeported in Japan. South Korea’s deaths rose 361.

More than half of the U.S. troops deployed overseas are stationed in Japan with 53,732 and South Korea with 26,416.

Most of the troops are in Okinawa, a southwestern group of islands, that is under renewed public health measures along with Yamaguchi and Hiroshima until Jan. 31.

There are no restrictions in Germany, with 43,911. That nation reported 9,367 cases Sunday and 42,422 Saturday. But Germany is under a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated, including nonessential services. Large events are all banned.