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COVID 19: PANIC AS CASES REACH A 6-MONTH HIGH IN TOKYO A WEEK TO OLYMPICS

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Farouq Oduola A.

On Thursday, the number of new coronavirus cases in Tokyo reached 1,308, a six-month high, raising worries of a significant spike that may overwhelm hospitals during the Olympics, which begin in eight days.

Tokyo is in the middle of its fourth state of emergency, which began Monday and forces restaurants and bars to close early and stop serving alcohol until after the Olympics, which begin on July 23.

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Thursday’s figure is the biggest since 1,485 people were recorded on Jan. 21, when Japan was still under martial law, and it’s up from 1,149 on Wednesday.

The greatest increase in serious cases and hospitalizations, according to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, was among persons in their 50s and younger, who are mostly unvaccinated. Because infections are spread by the more infectious delta form of the virus, she expressed worry about the impact on the medical system.

“We must be vigilant,” Koike added, asking people to limit their trips and follow basic anti-infection precautions in order to “overcome this really tough situation.”

Since mid-June, the number of new daily cases has been gradually increasing, and experts predict that during the Games, the number might reach several thousand.

Japan’s sluggish vaccination rollout has improved considerably since May, as the government desperately tries to raise the inoculation rate in time for the Olympics, but is now slowing again due to vaccine shortages. 

Dr. Masataka Inokuchi, a medical advisor to a Tokyo metropolitan government panel, expressed concern on Thursday that the Olympics may drive younger people to rejoice and party, speeding up the spread of diseases.

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