Japan’s prime minister is adamant that the Olympics Games will continue even as the city records its highest daily count of COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic.
Tokyo recorded 2,848 daily coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the Olympic host city’s highest since the pandemic began, officials say. By Sunday, nearly 21 per cent of the Japanese capital’s 12,365 COVID-19 patients had been hospitalized, prompting hospitals to secure more beds for patients.
Games organizers say 155 cases have been associated with the Olympics.
However, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he was not worried, thanks to restrictions curbing outside movements. “First of all, thanks to the restrictions on vehicles, and through measures such as remote-working, with the cooperation of the public, the flow of people has been decreasing,” Suga said during a press conference. “Because the flow of people is decreasing, we’re not worried.”
Last week, the first COVID-19 case among athletes in the Olympic village, a section sealed off from the rest of Tokyo, was reported, breaking the COVID-19 bubble most of 11,000 athletes competing in the Games were living in.
“It’s obvious that the bubble system is kind of broken,” Kenji Shibuya, the former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London, told Global News.
“My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people.”
Since then, more COVID-19 infections have been reported in the Olympic village, said Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, half of whom are from Japan.
On Tuesday, the Games organizing committee reported that two of the seven people who tested positive and are linked to the Olympics are athletes.
The city is also aiming to add more beds to its hospitals to accommodate the growing number of patients received in hospitals, broadcaster TBS said on Sunday.
With hospitals admitting growing numbers of COVID patients, Tokyo aims to increase the number of beds to 6,406 by early next month from 5,967 now, TBS said.
Hospitals should look at pushing back planned surgery and scaling down other treatment, the broadcaster said, citing a notice to medical institutions from city authorities.
It’s obvious that the bubble system is kind of broken
Daily infections in the capital, which has seen an influx of overseas visitors for the Tokyo Games, doubled to 1,429 on Monday from a week earlier.
While a vaccination drive is boosting protection for the oldest citizens most likely to need emergency care if they fall ill, just 36 per cent of the population has received least one shot.
“So I think it’s important for young people and all of you to get vaccinated,” Koike told reporters.
The Tokyo Olympics had been delayed since last year by the global Covid crisis, and now are set to run until Aug.10.