Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Officials in Tokyo alarmed as virus cases hit record highs

Published:Thursday | July 29, 2021 | 9:29 AM
People walk across a crossing near Shimbashi Station in Tokyo Thursday, July 29, 2021, a day after the record-high coronavirus cases were found in the Olympics host city. (AP Photo/Kantaro Komiya)

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese officials sounded the alarm Thursday as Tokyo reported record-breaking coronavirus cases for the third-straight day with the Olympics well underway.

Tokyo reported 3,865 new cases Thursday, up from 3,177 on Wednesday and double the numbers a week ago.

“We have never experienced the expansion of the infections of this magnitude,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters.

He said the new cases were soaring not only in the Tokyo area but across the country.

Nationwide, Japan reported more than 9,500 confirmed cases on Wednesday, also a record, for a total of about 892,000 infections and about 15,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

Japan has kept its cases and deaths lower than many other countries, but its seven-day rolling average is growing and now stands at 28 per 100,000 people nationwide and 88 per 100,000 in Tokyo, according to the Health Ministry.

This compares to 18.5 in the United States, 48 in Britain and 2.8 in India, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“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, noting the Olympics and 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 could worsen the outbreak.

People are still roaming the streets despite stay-at-home requests, making the emergency measures largely ineffective at a time the more infectious delta strain is spreading.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said his government will decide Friday whether to expand the emergency measures.

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