Tokyo struck another six-month hike in new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, one day before the Olympics commence, as worries grow of a worsening of contamination during the Games.
Thursdays 1,979 fresh cases are the highest since 2,044 were detailed on Jan. 15.
PM Yoshihide Suga, who is decided to chair the Olympics, placed Tokyo under a state of emergency on July 12, but daily cases have sharply escalated since then.
The emergency actions, which largely involve a bar on alcohol sales and shorter hours for restaurants and bars, are to last until Aug. 22, after the Olympics finish on Aug. 8.
Japan has detailed about 853,000 cases and 15,100 demises since the pandemic outbreak, most of them this year. Still, the number of cases and demises as a share of the populace are much lower than in many other nations.
The Olympics, delayed for a year by the pandemic, commence Friday. Spectators are barred from all venues in the Tokyo region, with limited audiences permitted at a few outlying sites.
Sugas’ government has been condemned for what some say is prioritizing the Olympics over the nations welfare. His public support ratings have dropped to around 30% in recent media surveys, and there has been little festivity ahead of the Games. On Thursday, the director of the opening ceremony, Kentaro Kobayashi, was replaced over a past Holocaust joke.
In Olympics-related diplomacy, Suga is to meet with U.S. first lady Jill Biden on Thursday and have dinner at the state guest house. Previously in the day, he was visited by World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Also Thursday, Emperor Naruhito received a courtesy visit from International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at the Imperial Palace.
Experts said virus contamination among uninoculated people younger than age 50 is increasing sharply.
Japan’s immunization drive began late and slowly, but the pace accelerated in May as the government pushed to accelerate the drive before the Olympics, though the pace has since slowed due to a shortage of imported antibodies.
About 23% of Japanese are fully immunised, way short of the level believed necessary to have any meaningful effect on diminishing the risk in the general population.
Experts vigilled on Wednesday that viruses in Tokyo are likely to worsen in the coming weeks.