Nearly 3,000 new infections have been registered in the Japanese capital, and the total number has exceeded 200,000 since the beginning of the pandemic.
A few days after the opening of the Olympics, Tokyo reported the highest number of new coronavirus infections.
The Japanese capital confirmed 2,848 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, surpassing the early record of 2,520 set on January 7, and bringing the city’s total to more than 200,000 since the beginning of the pandemic last year.
Tokyo is in its fourth state of emergency, which will last until the Olympics and until the Paralympic Games at the end of August.
Experts warn that the more contagious delta variant may cause a surge during the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday.
They pointed out that Japan’s vaccination efforts have lost momentum due to supply uncertainties, so the number of unvaccinated young people is rising sharply. Many serious cases involve people in their 50s. They now control nearly 3,000 hospitalized patients in Tokyo and are gradually filling up the available beds.
Al Jazeera reporter Andy Richardson from Tokyo said that the organizers of the Olympics are keen to separate the event from the latest number of cases.
They said they were in an “independent bubble, and what happened in the metropolitan area was [Games],” Richardson said.
Kenji Shibuya, the former director of the Institute of Population Health at King’s College London, said that it is impossible to quantify the extent to which the Olympics contributed to the surge, but blamed the global sports exhibition as “one of the main drivers”.
“The government has signaled that people should stay at home while celebrating the Olympics. This is a completely inconsistent message,” said Shibuya, who is now promoting vaccines in a town in northern Japan.
Due to the stabilization of the supply of imported vaccines and the government of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s promotion of vaccinating more people before the Olympics, vaccination activities in Japan started late and slowly, but quickly picked up within a few weeks.
The government stated that 25.5% of Japanese people have been fully vaccinated, which is still below the level believed to have any meaningful impact on reducing the risk of the general population.
However, the number of cases and deaths in Japan is much lower than in many other countries. As of Monday, nationwide, it had reported 870,445 cases and 15,129 deaths.
Richardson said: “People are frustrated… because they made sacrifices, not because of government policy-they received these mixed messages.”
The government has been criticized for what some people say is putting the Olympics above the health of the country. In a recent media survey, Yoshihide Suga’s public support rate has dropped to about 30%, and there is almost no festive atmosphere for the Olympics.
Yoshihide Suga’s term as chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will expire in September, and his Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition faces a strong parliamentary election for the lower house, which must be held in November.