27 new COVID-19 cases at Olympics; Japan extends restrictions
As Japan is witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Olympic Games host has extended the state of emergency in Tokyo and its surrounding areas. The organizers confirmed on Friday that the total number of infections at the Olympics has surged past 200 with 27 cases reported on the day. Notably, on Thursday, a third of Japan's daily infections were reported from Tokyo alone.
Record cases in Tokyo; hospital beds filling fast
While Japan had fought well against COVID-19, the present surge in cases is attributed to the more contagious Delta variant. Daily infections crossed 10,000 for the first time in the country on Thursday. Tokyo has been witnessing a record number of cases the last three days consecutively despite restrictions. In Tokyo, over 60% of the hospital beds reserved for serious cases have been filled.
Are the Olympics causing more infections?
Since the Tokyo Olympics have begun, cases have been increasing steadily in the Games village. However, organizers maintain that the event is not attributing to the rising cases, given that it is being held with strict restrictions such as a ban on spectators, quarantine rules for athletes. Experts believe holding the Games in the present situation sends a confusing message to the public.
What are the new restrictions?
Three regions of Japan, including Osaka, will see new restrictions from August 2 to August 31. In Tokyo, where measures are already in place, the curbs will now be extended till the end of the month. Under the state of emergency, the restrictions would mean bars and restaurants cannot serve alcohol and have to close early.
Japan facing 'extremely frightening' stage of pandemic: Health Minister
Japan's Health Minister Norihisa Tamura warned that the country has entered an "extremely frightening" stage of the pandemic. "I think that people cannot see ahead and, worrying how long this situation will last, they find it unbearable that they cannot return to normal daily life."
Critics posed questions over restriction measures
Tokyo's Governor has said that the key to controlling the pandemic is to vaccinate as many people as possible. However, critics pointed out that only 30% of the population has been vaccinated so far, given the non-availability of doses. Locals also informed the BBC that people are getting too used to the restrictions that they are skeptical about the effectiveness of the measures.