Japan is bracing for the worst after Tokyo reported a record number of new Covid-19 cases for two straight days even as the Olympic Games are being staged in full swing in the city.
“We have never experienced the expansion of infections of this magnitude,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters on Thursday.
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He said the new cases were soaring not only in the Tokyo area but across the country.
Tokyo reported 3,177 new cases on Wednesday, up from 2,848 on Tuesday. The number of cases per day has crossed the 3,000 mark for the first time in the capital.
Japan has kept the coronavirus cases and deaths under control for most part of the pandemic, and compared to many other countries, they are in a better spot. But its seven-day rolling average is growing and now stands at 28 per 100,000 people nationwide, and 88 in Tokyo, according to the Health Ministry. In comparison, in the US, the value is 18.5, it is 48 in Britain and 2.8 in India, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
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“While almost nothing is helping to slow the infections, there are many factors that can accelerate them,” said Dr Shigeru Omi, a top government medical adviser, hinting at effect of the Olympics and the summer vacation.
“The biggest risk is the lack of a sense of crisis and without it, the infections will further expand and put medical systems under severe strain.”
Tokyo has been under its fourth state of emergency since July 12, ahead of the Olympics, which began last Friday despite widespread public opposition and concern that they Games could worsen the outbreak.
Alarmed by the surge in Tokyo, the governors of three prefectures adjacent to the capital said they plan to ask Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to place their areas under a state of emergency too.
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Experts say Tokyo's surge is being propelled by the delta variant of the virus and there is no evidence of the disease being transmitted from the Games participants to the general public.
Nationwide, Japan reported more than 9,500 confirmed cases, a new record, on Wednesday for a total of about 892,000, with about 15,000 deaths.
(With inputs from PTI)
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