'Severe' Covid-19 Cases Surge in Tokyo While New Tropical Storm Spares Olympics

Olympic host Tokyo hits record 2,848 COVID-19 cases, seeks more hospital beds while the Japanese Prime Minister said there were no plans to shut down the Games.
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'Severe' Covid-19 Cases Surge in Tokyo While New Tropical Storm Spares Olympics
A quiet street in Tokyo. Photo: Reuters

Tokyo's 2,848 COVID-19 infections on Tuesday were the Olympic host city's highest since the pandemic began, officials said, as media reported that authorities had asked hospitals to prepare more beds for patients as the Delta variant drives the surge.

The rise in cases threatens to further erode support for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, whose ratings have slid to their lowest level since he took office last September, in large part because of his haphazard handling of the pandemic, according to the reuters.

It also spells trouble for the Olympics, as many Japanese fear the influx of athletes and officials for the event could add to the surge. About 31% in a survey by the Nikkei daily on Monday said the Games should be cancelled or postponed again.

Japan's prime minister on Tuesday said there were no plans to shut down the ongoing Olympics Games after a record number of new Covid-19 cases were recorded in the country's capital.

“First of all, thanks to the restrictions on vehicles, and through measures such as remote-working, with the cooperation of the public, the flow of people has been decreasing," Yoshihide Suga said during a press conference. "Because the flow of people is decreasing, we’re not worried."

Suga blamed the increase on the spread of the delta variant and said "the government has secured a new drug that reduces the risk of serious illness by 70 percent, and we have confirmed that this drug will be used thoroughly from now on." He did not identify the drug.

"In any case, under these circumstances, I would like to ask the people to avoid going out unnecessarily and to watch the Olympics and Paralympics on TV," he said.

The Japanese government, which pushed ahead with the Games despite widespread opposition across the country, had been hoping that Olympic success would change public opinion.Yuichi Yamazaki / Getty Images
The Japanese government, which pushed ahead with the Games despite widespread opposition across the country, had been hoping that Olympic success would change public opinion.Yuichi Yamazaki / Getty Images

The rising number of "severe" cases is forcing local hospitals to add beds to treat new patients, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said earlier as new daily Covid cases hit 2,848 in Tokyo, exceeding 2,500 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, reported the nbcnews.

As Delta has spread, the number of severe COVID-19 cases in the city over the last month roughly doubled to 78 as of Monday, government data showed. Coronavirus hospitalisations have also jumped at a similar clip, reaching 2,717.

By Sunday, only 20.8% of the Japanese capital's 12,635 COVID-19 patients had been able to obtain hospital treatment, the data showed. A government advisory panel says that if the ratio falls below the threshold of 25%, a state of emergency should be triggered.

We are working to secure hospital beds,” she told reporters at a Tokyo metropolitan government meeting. “I am concerned about the gradual increase in the number of severe cases.”

More Covid infections have also been reported in the Olympic Village, the sealed-off section of Tokyo where most of the 11,000 athletes competing in the Olympic Games are staying, she added.

The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee reported earlier Tuesday that two of the seven people linked to the Olympics who recently tested positive are athletes. That raises the number of confirmed Olympics-related Covid cases to 155, officials said.

The Tokyo Olympics, which were delayed a year by the global Covid crisis, are set to run until Aug.10.

Tropical storm dumps rain on northern Japan, spares Olympics

'Severe' Covid-19 Cases Surge in Tokyo While New Tropical Storm Spares Olympics

A tropical storm brought strong winds and heavy rain to Japan’s northern coast Wednesday after moving away from the Tokyo region and relieving the Olympic host city of a feared disruption to the games.

So far, Nepartak has caused no damage, but the Japan Meteorological Agency urged residents to take caution against mudslides. The storm had winds of 65 kilometers per hour (40 mph) and was expected to weaken and move off the western coast of Akita by Wednesday night.

Nepartak, the season’s eighth typhoon for Japan, was near the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture on Wednesday morning, the agency said. Ishinomaki is about 400 kilometers (250 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

Nepartak was the first landfall in Miyagi prefecture since 1951 when the weather agency started compiling typhoon statistics. Miyagi was part of the northeastern region deeply devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The storm was moving northwest at about 30 kph (18 mph) and up to 10 centimeters (4 inches) of rain was forecast across the northern region in the next 24 hours, the apnews reported.

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