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Japan’s daily COVID-19 cases top 8,000 for 1st time

28 July 2021 15:39

TOKYO. KAZINFORM - Japan's daily total of COVID-19 cases topped 8,000 for the first time on Wednesday, with a surge in infections in Tokyo casting a pall over the Olympics and putting pressure on the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to take stronger countermeasures, Kyodo reports.

The nationwide figure topped the 7,958 marked on Jan. 8, with the capital confirming 3,177 COVID-19 cases, setting a record high for the second consecutive day as hospitals come under increasing strain.

The surge in infections comes as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads and people in Tokyo tire of restrictions under a state of emergency.

Suga met with members of his Cabinet including health minister Norihisa Tamura to discuss the current situation.

The record high comes just a day after Tokyo logged 2,848 daily COVID-19 cases, exceeding the previous record of 2,520 cases on Jan. 7.

With the virus also spreading rapidly elsewhere, the nationwide tally of daily infections reported on Tuesday eclipsed 7,000 for the first time since May 12, nearing its all-time high of about 8,000 marked in early January.

Olympic organizers have pledged to implement adequate COVID-19 countermeasures for a «safe and secure» games, and stressed that the number of infections among athletes and others associated with the sporting extravaganza is very low.

Suga on Tuesday denied the possibility of canceling the Olympics, which opened Friday without spectators at almost all venues.

The government has placed Tokyo under a fourth state of emergency, which mostly relies on a cooperative public and does not entail a hard lockdown like some countries have imposed, from July 12 to Aug. 22.

But some restaurants and bars have ignored calls to stop serving alcohol and close early as the government has lagged in handing out «cooperation money» meant to help them cover lost revenue.

Many people, especially younger ones less likely to be vaccinated, have grown weary of the restrictions and begun going outside more.

«How young people behave is key,» Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike told the press on Wednesday, advising them to get their shots.

«The medical system has already started becoming more strained,» Shigeru Omi, Suga's top COVID-19 adviser, said in a parliamentary hearing, calling on the government to «send out a message that gets across the sense of crisis they should be feeling and take countermeasures fitting of the current infection situation.»

The governors of three prefectures surrounding the capital -- Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa -- are considering asking to be placed under the same state of emergency

The government will «promptly consider such requests and make a decision,» Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a press conference Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Olympics organizing committee said 16 more people linked to the games, none of them athletes, have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total since the start of this month to 169.

It is the first time in four days that the organizers have reported no COVID-19 positive cases of Olympic athletes.