The Japanese government is preparing this Friday to extend the state of health emergency in Tokyo and to reinstate it in four departments, as cases of Covid-19 multiply, including among participants in the Olympic Games which began there. a week ago.

The Japanese capital reported a record number of new infections on Thursday (3,865), as local media reported that the number of daily cases in Japan exceeded 10,000 for the first time.

On Friday, Games organizers reported 27 new cases linked to the event - the highest daily figure to date - although they do not relate to the sharply rising numbers in Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Thursday evening his government was acting "with a sense of urgency" and would announce decisions on Friday.

A "strong message" from the government

In the morning, Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said authorities wanted to send a "strong message" by extending the state of health emergency, as the Delta variant now represents "more than 50% of cases" in Tokyo . The current state of emergency in Tokyo, which cuts the opening hours of restaurants and bars and theoretically prohibits them from selling alcohol, will likely be extended until August 31 and extended to four more departments, three neighbors of the capital (Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa) and Osaka (west), according to media.

The state of emergency in Tokyo and Okinawa (south) was due to expire on August 22 and its extension until August 31 could jeopardize the presence of spectators at the Paralympic Games which are due to start on August 24.

The Tokyo Olympics, which began on July 23, are taking place almost behind closed doors and under very strict health rules, including regular tests for all participants.

An "indirect" impact of the Olympic Games

Haruo Ozaki, president of the Tokyo Medical Association, estimated that the Olympics had an "indirect impact" on the infection curve in Tokyo, because this sporting "party" would encourage people to lower their guard, according to him. Japan has so far been less affected by the pandemic than many other countries, with just over 15,000 deaths from the coronavirus recorded in the archipelago since its appearance. But vaccination got off to a slower start there than in other industrialized nations: 27% of the national population has received two doses to date.

The "high infectivity" of the Delta variant, the summer holidays and the Olympics are all factors that favor the increase in cases, said on Thursday Shigeru Omi, a former senior official at the World Health Organization ( WHO).

Among the 27 new cases reported by the organizers of the Olympic Games on Friday, there are three athletes.

That brings the total number of cases reported this month to 225, of which 98 have come from overseas.

According to the organizers of the Games, around 39,800 people in total arrived in Japan for the event.


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