Cases of the coronavirus in Tokyo have doubled this week, causing concern amongst health officials in the Japanese capital city while Olympic events continue to be held there.
A total of 3,865 cases of the coronavirus were recorded in Tokyo on Thursday, a record-high number of cases in the city.
The figure also amounts to 688 more cases of the virus than the 3,177 instances recorded in the city on the day before.
The number of infections recorded on Thursday were double the number of those identified in Tokyo just the week before, which could point to the Olympic Games, which kicked off late last week, as a factor in the increase in transmission.
Katsunobu Kato, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, told reporters on Thursday that the country has “never experienced the expansion of the infections of this magnitude.”
Kato also stressed that the number of infections had been rising across the country, not only around the capital. On Wednesday, over 9,500 cases of the virus had been detected in the country, which marks another record for Japan.
Coronavirus spreads in Tokyo, around the country
Although Japan has managed to keep the number of cases and deaths low compared to other countries throughout the pandemic, transmission of the virus began to pick up ahead of the Olympic Games.
The country enacted a state of emergency on July 12, which brought with it movement restrictions and other anti-virus measures.
Health officials in Japan argue, however, that a range of factors, including a lack of adherence to the country’s strict measures by the public, is to blame for the increase in transmission, and not the Olympic Games.
Experts have stressed that a lack of concern over increasing cases has pushed the country to the brink of a coronavirus crisis.
“The biggest risk is the lack of a sense of crisis, and without it the infections will further expand and put medical systems under severe strain,” Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top health official in Japan, stated to the Associated Press.
According to reports, a large portion of the Japanese public is flouting the country’s restrictions, particularly its requests to stay at home unless absolutely necessary.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga may extend the anti-virus restrictions in the country through to the end of August, and expand them to the areas surrounding Tokyo.
The public has increasingly expressed disapproval for the Olympic Games, which they blame for the worsening epidemiological situation in the city.
In a poll conducted by Japanese newspaper Asahi, before the Games began, 68% of those who participated doubted that the Olympic organizers could control Covid-19 infections, and 55% of respondents stated that they did not believe that the Games should go ahead as planned.
At the moment, less than 30% of the country’s population has received the vaccine against the coronavirus. The lagging vaccination rate was a point of contention for members of the Japanese public who disapproved of the country hosting the Olympic Games.
Greek artistic swimming team quarantined
The Greek artistic swimming team has been quarantined in a hotel after traveling with an assistant who tested positive for COVID-19. The Hellenic Olympic Committee announced that the assistant, who had tested positive after arriving at the airport in Tokyo, is currently quarantined in a separate hotel from the artistic swimming team.
Evangelia Platanioti was the first member of the team to test positive. Platanioti, who received her result before ever arriving in Tokyo, has since dropped out of the games.
All of Platanioti’s other team members tested negative for the virus. While Platanioti has a mild case of the virus and there is little concern about her physical health, the athlete has lost her shot at a spot in the Olympics for which she has trained for so long, alongside her team members.
Despite the strict anti-virus measures in place at the Olympic Village in Tokyo, nearly 200 people have now tested positive for the coronavirus there since the Games began.
A total of 193 people, including athletes, trainers, staff, media, and volunteers, have been infected with the virus at the international event.