© Reuters. File photo: The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games held in Tokyo, Japan on July 22 is postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Smokers wait in line while observing social distancing, 2021. REU
Via Makiko Yamazaki and Linda Sieg
TOKYO (Reuters)-Japan is scheduled to implement a state of emergency in three prefectures near Tokyo and western Osaka on August 31, as COVID-19 cases surge in the capital and across the country, casting a shadow over the summer.
Tokyo announced 3,300 new cases on Friday, up from a record 3,865 the day before. The surge is beginning to put pressure on the healthcare system. As of mid-week, 64% of Tokyo’s hospital beds could be used to treat severe COVID-19 cases.
The Minister of Economy, Minister of Economy, and Japan’s response to the pandemic, Yasutoshi Nishimura, told the panel that the existing state of emergency in Tokyo-the fourth time since the pandemic began-and southern Okinawa should also be extended to August 31. The panel The proposal was later approved.
Nishimura said that the increase in cases has not yet reached its peak.
“The situation is very serious,” he told the parliament.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to officially announce the move later on Friday.
Japan has avoided the devastating COVID-19 outbreak, but is now working to control the highly-spreading Delta variant. On Thursday, the country’s daily cases exceeded 10,000 for the first time, with 10,687 new cases.
Japan has implemented a series of “state of emergency” declarations, but unlike other countries that impose strict blockades, most of these orders are voluntary.
Many people are tired of the requirement to stay at home, some bars refuse to comply with service restrictions, and the promotion of vaccination in Japan is lagging behind.
Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Tamura said that although population movements have not increased, the country has entered a new “extremely scary” phase due to the rapid increase in cases, and the Delta variant is an important factor.
“I think people can’t see the front, worry about how long this situation will last, and they find that they can’t return to normal daily life,” he told the expert group.
The surge in COVID-19 cases is bad news for Suga. His approval rate is already at the lowest level since he took office in September last year, and he will face the ruling party leadership competition and general election later this year.
Yoshihide Suga and the Olympic organizers denied any connection between July 23 and August. 8 The Summer Olympics and the recent surge in cases.
Unlike voluntary restrictions and low vaccination rates elsewhere in Japan, the Tokyo Olympic Village provides more than 80% of vaccination for athletes and coaches, testing is mandatory, and movement is strictly restricted.
Athletes and other participants from all over the world must abide by strict rules to prevent the virus from spreading within the “Olympic Bubble” or to wider cities. Most venues prohibit spectators from entering.
Organizers reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 related to the Olympics on Friday, including three athletes, bringing the total since July 1 to 220.
But experts worry that hosting the Olympics will send a confusing message to the public about the need to restrict activities.
Less than 30% of residents in Japan are fully vaccinated. Nishimura reiterated that everyone who wants to vaccinate should be able to complete it before October or November.