CAMP BUTLER, Japan --
U.S. Navy health professionals and Marines have been working around the clock to effectively trace and stop the spread of COVID-19 here, keeping service members ready to support the United States’ allies and partners throughout the Indo-Pacific.
U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa has taken the lead on contact tracing with support from the Joint Service COVID-19 Response Cell. The JCRC was established to provide a central hub of COVID-19 information for the joint force on Okinawa. Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who may have come into close contact with an infected person.
“As you know, we have two clusters of the virus on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and Camp Hansen. However, these have been largely confined within those specific base populations," said Motoko Bennett, the public health specialist liaison with U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. “That is due to the hard work and collaboration between military and Okinawa public health officials through intense training, contact tracing, and development of public health policies.”
Contact tracing has played a large role in keeping the COVID-19 positive cases strictly within the groups already identified, and along with current Marine Forces Japan policies and close coordination with local health officials, has enabled commands to find and properly quarantine those infected.
“Both the U.S. military and OPG health officials acknowledge that we have to combat the pandemic together as a human-kind team.” Motoko Bennett, U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa public health specialist liaison
“Our current contact tracing efforts have been incredibly effective,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Alexander Huynh, the contact tracing team lead for U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. “What this virus needs to spread, more than anything else, is close contact between people. When we can quickly move confirmed cases into isolation and their close contacts into quarantine, the disease cannot spread to the general population. That is how you extinguish an outbreak. By doing this, we have confined the current outbreak to localized clusters, keeping the Marines healthy and in the fight.”
While the hospital takes the lead on contact tracing, the JCRC supports the naval hospital by finding key information; such as, phone numbers, points of contact, maps of bases, etc., and then relaying their key findings to commanders. The contact tracing is conducted by medical professionals, which is important for privacy reasons.
Throughout the pandemic, U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa has coordinated closely with Okinawa Prefectural Government health officials to fight the spread of the virus and contain the cases already on island. That strong relationship has been vital in the battle against COVID-19.
“Keeping the information about infectious disease situations transparent to each other enables us to predict the trajectory of the infection expansion, and increase our readiness. We will work to keep expanding this effort,” said Bennett. “Both the U.S. military and OPG health officials acknowledge that we have to combat the pandemic together as a human-kind team.”
For any COVID questions or concerns please visit: https://www.iiimef.marines.mil/Coronavirus/
or Call: On base: 646-9691 or Cell: 098-971-9691.