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Tokyo logs record 5,042 coronavirus cases as infections surge during Olympics

Masked pedestrians walk outside in Tokyo.
Pedestrians walk under a mist in Tokyo on Thursday.
(Associated Press)

Tokyo reported 5,042 new daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, hitting a record since the pandemic began as the infections surge in the Japanese capital hosting the Olympics.

The additional cases brought the total for Tokyo to 236,138. Nationwide, Japan reported more than 14,000 cases on Wednesday for a total of 970,000.

Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since mid-July, and four other areas have since been added. But the measures, basically a ban on alcohol in restaurants and bars and their shorter hours, are increasingly ignored by the public, which has become tired of restrictions.

“We need to tackle the situation as we now have a stronger sense of urgency,” Prime Minister Yosihide Suga told reporters, referring to Tokyo’s new record exceeding 5,000 cases for the first time. “The infections are expanding at the pace we have never experienced before.”

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Suga, who has been criticized for insisting on hosting the Olympics despite the coronavirus spreading, says there is no evidence linking the surge in cases to the Summer Games, which began July 23 and end Sunday. He urged people to firmly stick to the emergency conditions and stay home despite the summer vacation.

Alarmed by the pace of the spread, some experts have called for a current state of emergency in Tokyo and five other areas to be expanded nationwide.

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Instead, Suga on Thursday announced a milder version of the emergency measures in eight prefectures, including Fukushima in the east and Kumamoto in the south, expanding the areas to 13 prefectures.

Experts at a Tokyo metropolitan government panel cautioned that infections propelled by the more contagious Delta variant have become “explosive” and could exceed 10,000 cases a day in two weeks.


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