TOKYO (NEWS 1130) – Days into the Olympics and COVID-19 concerns continue to weigh heavy on Tokyo 2020.
Japan’s capital city is reporting its highest-ever increase in cases since the pandemic began, with more than 2,848 new infections Tuesday.
That surpasses a previous daily record of 2,520 in early January.
Tokyo is now into its fourth coronavirus state of emergency, which is set to last until the Olympics end. While some parts of the country have struggled to keep their COVID-19 numbers under control, Japan as a whole has been able to keep its case counts and deaths much lower than other countries.
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Japan’s vaccination efforts began late, and have been slow. However, they have picked up in recent months, though only about a quarter of Japanese have been fully inoculated so far, according to the government.
With cases continuing to rise, the delta variant is also posing a serious concern.
Despite loud protest, the Olympics went on as planned — after being delayed by a year due to the health crisis. Earlier this month, the World Health Organization said eliminating risk of COVID-19 spread at the Olympics was impossible, and that how infections are handled is what matters most.
“The mark of success is making sure that any cases are identified, isolated, traced and cared for as quickly as possible and onward transmission is interrupted,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Tens of thousands of athletes, officials, games staff, and media will have arrived in Japan by the end of the Olympics and Paralympics.
Japan declared the latest state of emergency on July 8, just hours before the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers announced fans would not be allowed to spectate events in-person.
The state of emergency will last through Aug. 22, well past the closing of the Olympics, which open on July 23 and end Aug. 8. The Paralympics do not begin until Aug. 24.