To curb COVID, the Tokyo Olympics collected a large amount of spit

Tokyo (Associated Press)-They spit. They wait. They hope.

About 30,000 people from dozens of countries are spitting on small plastic bottles Olympic According to the organizers, this daily life becomes more and more important during the Olympic Games during the pandemic.

If you calculate the duration of two weeks OlympicA total of 500,000 saliva samples have been collected for athletes. They are tested with other venues every day to make extraordinary efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 infection. Each sample is about 1 ml, that would be… well, a lot of saliva.

In contrast, it has been difficult for the Japanese public to find such a test for a long time. Japan It is unique among developed countries in discouraging widespread testing for coronavirus.

Thousands of saliva samples collected are stored in test tubes and identified by barcodes, and then all pass preliminary tests. According to the “script” of the Olympic organizers, those with suspicious results outlining the anti-COVID-19 measures will be subjected to another round of testing.

The test was conducted in a facility called Fever Clinic, which also cares for and isolates infected people in the so-called “Olympic Bubble.” Once COVID-19 is discovered or suspected, “close contacts” will be tested to identify other people who may be sick—a process of “punching moles” completed under controlled conditions. The organizer will not comment on the number of clinic staff or specific arrangements.

These tests do not require the swab to be glued to the nose, which is another widely used coronavirus test method.

Medical experts say that testing of athletes, team officials, media, and other Olympic-related personnel is free, although the cost of each test is estimated to be about 10,000 yen (100 US dollars). Tests conducted on the Japanese public usually cost about that much, sometimes even more.

Some medical experts expressed concern Olympic It became a “super communicator” event.Daily coronavirus cases surge Tokyo A record high, with more than 3,000 people this week.

Takanori Teshima, a professor at Hokkaido University, who helped develop the Japan, Including those at the airport, said that the continuous and careful testing of Olympians means that the risk lies mainly in the public who make the athletes sick, not the other way around.

“As you know, not everyone listens and stays isolated. Therefore, testing in the test is the best way,” he said. “But it is possible because it is Olympic. It is unrealistic to think that this method can continue as a routine. “

Shosuke Takeuchi, a doctor and director of Take Clinic Shimbashi, he is a TokyoAs the largest coronavirus testing site, acknowledging that voluntary testing may be restricted in preventing the spread of the disease, because their lifestyle habits make them the most contagious precisely the people who will not seek testing.

The frenetic test is in Olympic As a result of shortages, some national teams have recently complained that their test kits have not arrived. Organizers scrambled to provide additional toolkits.

So far, as of Friday, a total of 23 athletes and other people working at the Olympics, including Japanese residents such as security officials, have tested positive, totaling 225.But the rate of testing positive is Olympic It is still relatively low, 0.02% in July, as more than 340,000 tests have been conducted so far. Tokyo organizer.

The places where COVID-19 seems to spread the most are crowded streets Tokyo, Is not an Olympic venue that is enthusiastic about testing, Teshima and other medical experts said.

Masaharu Isobe, a professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory at the University of Toyama who developed the rapid COVID antigen test, said that regular testing may eventually become more common for everyone.

He said: “The key is to find the infected as soon as possible to prevent them from spreading everywhere.”

The economist and professor emeritus of Keio University, Kaneko Kaneko, reflected the prevailing opinion. He said that such a test is unfair. Olympians are given such a test every day, but it is still difficult for ordinary people to obtain.

Kaneko said on his Twitter account that Japanese Olympians and staff are also given priority vaccination, while vaccination for ordinary people is lagging behind. So far, about a quarter of the population has been vaccinated.

“Equality in the right to life is Japan,” He says.

Testing someone every day is a cumbersome and costly job, and, in OlympicThis is a special effort supported by the government, Teshima said.

“This is a big contradiction,” he said. “Why are there only athletes?”

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