Sunday, December 5

Concern in Japan about the record spike in infections and the “Olympic effect”

  • Both the Japanese prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, like the governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, today they again appealed to citizens to avoid meeting to watch the Games and to follow them only from home for TV

The covid contagions have set again this Thursday a new record in Such, a boom that some experts attribute to the atmosphere of celebration around the Olympic Games and despite the fact that no infections have been detected among the local population directly related to the event.

The capital registered 3,865 daily infections this Thursday, the highest number since the start of the pandemic and practically double that of a week before, according to data from the regional government, while throughout the country the number of cases exceeds 10,000 for the first time, according to local media.

This rebound is mainly attributed to the spread of the new and more contagious virus variants, like the delta, and mainly affects people under 60 years of age, who have the lowest vaccination rates.

Olympic effect

Contagions show a clear upward trend in the capital since the beginning of July, and they have accelerated as the opening date of the Games approached – last day 23 – and despite the fact that the Government decided to apply a new state of health emergency coinciding with the dates of the sporting event.

The Japanese authorities affirm that the rise of the virus is not directly linked to the Games, which are taking place without spectators and in a bubble format that implies strong movement restrictions for all participants to prevent them from having contact with the local population.

But some experts speak of an “Olympic effect” that would make citizens go out of the house more and gather with family and friends to watch the Olympic competitions, in which Japanese athletes have so far 13 golds and are on their way to achieving a record number of these medals for the host country.

Both the Japanese prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, like the governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, today they again appealed to citizens to avoid meeting to watch the Games and to follow them only from home for TV.

The main adviser to the Government in the fight against the pandemic, Dr. Shigeru Omi, pointed out today that the rise of the virus is due to the fact that “people are already used” to living with it and that in this summer time they coincide with school holidays, dates traditional family reunions and the celebration of the Games.

“The biggest problem is that the sense of danger is not shared by all of society. If there is still no awareness, the spread of the virus will accelerate and will soon put greater pressure on the health system, “warned Omi.

The expert also called for “taking more measures” to reduce contact between citizens, and noted that the Government and the organizing committee of the Games “have the responsibility to do everything possible to avoid the collapse of the health system.”

Expansion of the health emergency

In this situation, the Government plans to extend the state of health emergency in force in the capital to the three neighboring prefectures (Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama), which also host Olympic competition venues and, like Tokyo, do not allow spectators in the steps.

The measure, practically the only one left to the central government to try to contain the virus, will not involve major changes in practice except for one greater limitation of schedules opening of bars and restaurants, something that is already applied in Tokyo with an uneven following among businesses.

The Tokyo Executive and other regional governments have called for acceleration of the national vaccination campaign, which due to supply and distribution problems is progressing more slowly than in other countries and for the moment has only covered 27% of the dose with the two doses. population, concentrating on those over 65 years of age.

Record of infections

The organizing committee of the Games, for its part, announced this Thursday 24 new contagions of covid from people involved in the Games, including three athletes, which represents the highest daily number of infections since these data began to be counted in early July.

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So far, 193 positives for covid have been detected in people participating in the Games, of which 20 affect athletes.

The organizers reaffirmed today that they have “tried to minimize the impact of the Games on the local health system”, in addition to applying “firm measures to prevent infections” and taking the decision to hold the competitions behind closed doors, according to the spokesman for Tokyo 2020, Masa Takaya.

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