New COVID-19 cases surge in Olympic Village, across Tokyo

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New COVID-19 cases surge in Olympic Village, across Tokyo

New COVID-19 cases in Tokyo broke records on Thursday both in the Olympic Village and citywide as officials insist it has nothing to do with the Games and the influx of foreign travelers.

Twenty-four more COVID-19 cases were reported in the Olympic Village on Thursday, the highest daily case count seen since the event started, bringing the total number of infections within the compound to 193, data from the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee show.

Two people attending the event from overseas have been hospitalized with the virus but neither case is serious and a third person who’d been in the hospital has already been discharged, Games spokesperson Masa Takaya told reporters during a daily briefing. 

The new infections include three athletes and over a dozen Tokyo 2020 contractors, data show.

Medical care for the infected athletes is being provided by their own team doctors and a Village polyclinic, limiting any burden on the greater Tokyo healthcare system, Medical Director Richard Budgett said.

People wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, are seen inside the athletes' village for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The new case bring the total number of infections within the Olympic Village to 193.
REUTERS

Citywide, new cases across Tokyo, where pandemic restrictions are largely voluntary outside of the Olympic Village, reached a record high of 3,865 on Thursday — the third straight day the city broke case records.

On Wednesday, Tokyo tallied 3,177 new infections — the first time cases topped 3,000.

Experts say the new cases are largely driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant and there is no evidence showing the bug is coming from Olympic participants.

A few supporters of Canada and Fiji display national flags in the empty stands.
International Olympic Committee spokesperson Mark Adams said it’s highly unlikely the Games are a source of the infections.
AP

“More people have been staying at home as clearly shown by the rise in TV viewership,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said, denying any link between the surge in infections and the Games, Kyodo News reported.

International Olympic Committee spokesperson Mark Adams said it’s highly unlikely the Games are a source of the infections because participants are tested often and adhering to strict quarantine measures.

“They really are living in a different parallel world to all intents and purposes,” Adams explained.

People wearing masks for protection against the coronavirus walk in Tokyo's Shibuya area.
New cases across Tokyo, where pandemic restrictions are largely voluntary, reached a record high of 3,865.
Kyodo News via Getty Images

“As far as I’m aware, there is not a single case of infection spreading to Tokyo’s population from the athletes or Olympic movement.”

Amid the spike in cases seen this week, Japan’s top medical adviser Shigeru Omi urged a “stronger, clearer” message about the pandemic’s growing and myriad risks, including the strained hospital system.

As of Thursday evening local time, 60 percent of Tokyo’s hospital beds for serious cases were filled.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike meets the press in the capital on July 29, 2021, after attending a metropolitan government meeting to assess the capital's coronavirus situation.
Japan has urged a “stronger, clearer” message about the pandemic’s growing and myriad risks.
Kyodo News via Getty Images

“The biggest crisis is that society does not share a sense of risk,” Omi told a parliamentary panel Thursday.

“The numbers surpassed 3,000 and this may have some announcement effect. Without missing this chance, I want the government to send a stronger, clearer message.”

Experts are concerned that holding the Games to begin with sends a confusing message to the public, after it was repeatedly postponed over pandemic concerns.

Anti-Olympic protesters flock in front of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's office.
Demonstrators gathered to protest Tokyo going forward with the Olympics amid COVID-19 concerns.
REUTERS

Only 26.5 percent of Japan’s residents are fully vaccinated and testing is not widespread.

At the start of the Games last week, demonstrators gathered to protest the event, chanting “Go to hell, IOC” and “Go to hell, Olympics.”

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