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Virus Cases in Tokyo Leap to New Record of 2,848 Amid Olympics

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 7/27/2021 Isabel Reynolds

(Bloomberg) -- Daily coronavirus infections in Tokyo surged to a record 2,848 cases, about double the number found a week earlier, just as the Japanese capital hosts tens of thousands for the Olympics.

Tuesday’s figure eclipses a previous peak of 2,520 set in January. Serious cases rose to 82 from 78 a day earlier, and the seven-day average of new infections climbed to about 1,763, figures released by the city showed. Experts had earlier expressed fears that Tokyo infections could reach their worst-ever levels during the games, due to the spread of the delta variant.

chart, histogram: Record Cases © Bloomberg Record Cases

Neighboring Saitama prefecture also reported a record 593 cases, Kyodo News said, while Chiba prefecture was set to ask the government to declare a state of emergency, according to a report by TBS.

A four-day weekend to celebrate the opening of the sports spectacle is also likely to have led to a backlog of testing, which may be reflected in the record case count. Only about a quarter of Japan’s population is fully vaccinated. Within the Olympics itself, new cases associated directly with the games fell to seven, including two athletes, one of them a tennis player from the Netherlands, organizers said.

The report brings to 155 the total number of Olympics-related cases confirmed through an extensive testing program being implemented to try to maintain safety during the unprecedented pandemic-era games.

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Many Japanese had opposed the staging of the delayed Olympics, out of concern the gathering of athletes and others from around the world could make for a superspreader event. Japan has so far suffered far fewer deaths from the virus than other major industrialized nations and its borders remain largely closed to non-Olympics visitors.

Asked whether the rise in cases could prompt the cancellation of the games, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said there was “no such concern.” He urged the public to avoid going out unnecessarily and to watch the Olympics on television.

logo, company name: Tokyo Olympics Medals Tracker © via Bloomberg Tokyo Olympics Medals Tracker

Four of those connected with the games who tested positive were staying in the athletes’ village, and five of the total were non-residents of Japan, including the two athletes. No details were given of the nationality or sport of the second athlete. The two Japan residents were a Tokyo 2020 contractor and an employee of the organizers, the report said.

The Olympics, which opened on July 23, run through Aug. 8. Tokyo, which is under a state of emergency, recorded 1,387 cases on Tuesday last week.

(Updates with comments from Prime Minister Suga in seventh paragraph.)

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