Tokyo has been hit hard with a surge of new coronavirus cases since the Olympics kicked off last week, with Japan’s capital recording the highest number of cases since the pandemic began last year.
Fears that the Games could possibly lead to another outbreak were supported on Tuesday after officials announced 2,848 news cases in Tokyo, exceeding the previous record set in early January of 2,520 daily cases.
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“Refrain from going out unnecessarily and I want you to watch the Olympics and Paralympics on TV,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, via Reuters. When asked if Japan would have to consider suspending the Olympics, Suga replied: “There is no worry about that.”
Health Minister Norihisa Tamura partly attributed the rising rate of infection to the new delta variant.
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“Taking into consideration the global acceleration of infections because of the delta strain, which is taking over earlier variants, it was quite possible,” he said.
As a result of the rise of new cases, authorities reportedly plan to ask medical institutions to increase their capacity to about 6,000 beds for COVID-19 patients.
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Officials are also pushing people to be vaccinated as a way to decrease the risk. The government says that around 25% of Japan is vaccinated. In Tokyo, about 60% of the elderly are vaccinated, Gov. Yuriko Koike said. He noted that that age group only makes up 2% of the new cases.
“It is crucial to promptly vaccinate younger people,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.