TOKYO — COVID-19 infections in Tokyo reached a six-month high on Wednesday, with 1832 new cases reported only two days before the Games began.
Tokyo is presently under its fourth state of emergency, which will remain until August 22 and will span the whole of the Olympics, which begin on Friday and finish on August 8. Fans are prohibited from entering all venues in the Tokyo region, with the exception of a few outlying locations with small crowds.
At a weekly press conference, Japan Medical Association President Toshio Nakagawa remarked, “What we have worried about is now truly happening.” “Whether we have the Olympics or not, the increase in cases is predicted, and we are worried that there will be an exponential spike in cases regardless of the Olympics.”
Experts have noticed that instances among younger, unvaccinated persons are significantly increasing as Japan’s vaccination campaign loses steam owing to supply uncertainties, with many serious cases occurring in adults in their 50s.
Japan’s vaccination campaign started late and slowly but ramped up substantially in May for several weeks as the supply of imported vaccines stabilized and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s cabinet sought to speed up the campaign before the Olympics.
About 23% of Japanese people are completely vaccinated, which is still far below the threshold thought to have any substantial impact on reducing risks in the broader population.
Experts cautioned on Wednesday that Tokyo’s illnesses will only become worse in the coming weeks, with Dr. Norio Ohmagari, a member of the Tokyo metropolitan government’s expert panel, estimating that the city’s average daily cases may reach 2,600 in two weeks if the present trend continues.
Suga’s administration has been chastised for putting the Olympics ahead of the nation’s health, and his approval ratings have dropped to roughly 30% in recent media polls, with the little festive spirit in the run-up to the Games.
Last week, the government’s top medical adviser, Dr. Shigeru Omi, urged authorities to tighten virus controls and advised citizens to stay away from out-of-town travels.