TOKYO (AP) – Tokyo reported 3,177 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, setting a record high to surpass 3,000 in the early days after the start of the Olympics.
The new cases have surpassed the previous record of 2,848 cases set the day before, bringing the total for the Japanese capital to 206,745 since the pandemic began early last year.
A fourth state of emergency has been in effect since July 12 in Tokyo ahead of the Olympics, which began last Friday, despite widespread public opposition and fears that they could further exacerbate the outbreak.
Experts say the rise in Tokyo is fueled by a new, more contagious delta variant of the virus, and there is no evidence that the disease is spreading from the Olympics to the general public.
Nationwide, Japan reported 7,630 cases on Tuesday, for a total of 882,823.
Japan has lower morbidity and mortality rates than many other countries, but its vaccination campaign began very late compared to other major countries, and there are fears that the rise in cases could overwhelm hospitals.
According to Johns Hopkins University, Japan has a seven-day average of about 3.57 per 100,000 people, compared with 17.3 in the US, 53.1 in the UK and 2.76 in India.
Japan’s Immunization Minister Taro Kono said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that there is no evidence that the coronavirus is spreading from Olympic Games participants to the Japanese population.
“I don’t think there was anything to do with the Olympics. So this issue does not bother us, ”he said.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike urged young people on Wednesday to work with measures to reduce infections and vaccinations, saying their activities are key to slowing growth during the Olympics.
Koike noted that most older people have been fully vaccinated and the number of infections among them has dropped significantly, while most of the new cases are dominated by unvaccinated young people.
“Being active among young people is key to slowing the spread of infections, and we need your cooperation,” Koike said. “Please avoid non-essential walks and follow basic infection control measures, and I would like young people to get vaccinated.”
As of Tuesday, 25.5% of Japan’s population has been fully vaccinated. The percentage of older people fully vaccinated is 68.2%, or 36 million.
Vaccination prospects for young people have improved, and some may arrange for vaccinations at work and college, while others are still waiting based on seniority. But there are also concerns about indecision among young people: polls show many have doubts, in part due to false rumors of side effects.
Young people have been accused of roaming around city centers after requested hours of closing eateries and shops, and of spreading the virus. The state of emergency, which will last until the Olympic Games, is mainly aimed at requiring establishments to stop selling alcohol and reduce their opening hours. Public action is just a request that is increasingly being ignored.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has also urged people to avoid non-essential outings and says there is no need to consider suspending the Fanless Games in Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama.
The governors of the three districts, alarmed by the rise in cases in Tokyo, said on Wednesday they plan to ask Suga to declare a state of emergency in their prefectures as well.
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