2 Days Before Games, Tokyo COVID Cases Hit a High

Worst count the city has seen in 6 months
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 21, 2021 7:51 AM CDT
2 Days Before Games, Tokyo COVID Cases Hit a High
A bus driver is reflected in the mirror, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Tokyo. The pandemic-delayed 2020 Summer Olympics are schedule to open on July 23 with spectators banned from most Olympic events due to COVID-19 surge.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Tokyo's COVID-19 infections surged to a six-month high Wednesday with the Olympic host city logging 1,832 new cases just two days before the Games open. Tokyo is currently under its fourth state of emergency, which will last until Aug. 22, covering the entire duration of the Olympics that start Friday and end Aug. 8. Fans are banned from all venues in the Tokyo area, with limited audiences at a few outlying sites. "What we have worried about is now actually happening," Japan Medical Association President Toshio Nakagawa said at a weekly news conference. "The surge in cases has been expected whether we have the Olympics or not, and we are afraid that there will be an explosive increase in cases regardless of the Olympics."

Experts noted that cases among younger, unvaccinated people are sharply rising as Japan’s inoculation drive loses steam due to supply uncertainty. About 23% of Japanese are fully vaccinated, still way short of the levels believed to have any meaningful effect to reduce risks on the general population. Experts on Wednesday warned that Tokyo's infections would only worsen in coming weeks. Dr. Norio Ohmagari, the Tokyo metropolitan government's expert panel member, said that Tokyo’s average daily cases could hit around 2,600 in two weeks if they continue at the current pace. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who is in Japan, expressed hope that fans would be allowed if the situation improves, but Dr. Shigeru Omi, the government's top medical adviser, said that would be impossible.

(Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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