Olympics fears Covid outbreak as Japan sees 20% rise in the past week

Fears are growing over a Covid outbreak during the Summer Olympics, with Japan seeing cases rise by 20 percent in the past week and officials are warning a health crisis is “very possible”.

The country registered 4,204 new infections on Friday – up from 785 on the same day the previous week, with 3,419 cases reported, according to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

The number of infections in Tokyo is also on the rise, with the seven-day average daily test positivity rate rising by 42 percent, data from the capital’s metropolitan government shows.

Referring to the numbers, the authority said it is “very possible” that the health system will face a crisis, and is pushing for a “robust plan and system” amid the increased spread of the Delta variant.

Only 23 percent of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, in Britain, 69.5 percent of adults have received both shots, according to UK government data as of July 22.

Experts are concerned that the Games, which started yesterday in Tokyo, could accelerate already rising case numbers in the city and across the country.

The country registered 4,204 new infections on Friday – up from 785 on the same day the previous week, with 3,419 cases reported, according to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

In a statement, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said: “The rapid increase in confirmed cases makes it very possible for the health care system to enter a crisis.

“There is an urgent need for the robust plan and system to be put in place in case the high-risk group for severe Covid19 increases as the spread of the Delta variant increases.”

It added: “The increased number of confirmed cases has gotten higher since June.

“The infection can spread more quickly and the number of confirmed cases can be much greater than that in the third wave within two weeks as the Delta variant and others become much more dominant and the rate increases further.”

The 2021 Summer Olympics were postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic, but even when the Games opened on Friday without spectators and intense precautions for athletes, concerns about Covid were far from allayed.

The opening game of the women’s beach volleyball tournament was canceled on Saturday due to the corona virus.

People walk along the Takeshita shopping street in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday.  Despite draconian restrictions on athletes and delegations attending the Tokyo Olympics, life outside the quarantine bubble continues with a degree of relative normalcy

People walk along the Takeshita shopping street in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday. Despite draconian restrictions on athletes and delegations attending the Tokyo Olympics, life outside the quarantine bubble continues with a degree of relative normalcy

People walk through a busy shopping street in Tokyo, Japan on July 24.  Only 23 percent of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated.  Meanwhile, in Britain, 69.5 percent of adults have received both shots, according to UK government data up to July 22

People walk through a busy shopping street in Tokyo, Japan on July 24. Only 23 percent of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, in Britain, 69.5 percent of adults have received both shots, according to UK government data up to July 22

People film and photograph an animated billboard in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday afternoon

People film and photograph an animated billboard in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday afternoon

And on July 8, the city declared a state of emergency due to the increasing number of Covid cases.

Czech star Marketa Nausch-Slukova tested positive earlier this week, forcing her and her partner Barbora Hermannova to withdraw from the game and give their Japanese opponents a 2-0 win.

Six members of the Czech Olympic team have tested positive so far and the country’s Olympic Committee had launched an investigation into a charter flight taking athletes to Tokyo.

Slukova, who finished fifth at the London Olympics in 2012, and Hermannova are the 16th pair in the world.

Czech star Marketa Nausch-Slukova tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week

Czech star Marketa Nausch-Slukova tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week

Fireworks explode during the opening ceremony of Tokyo's Games on Friday at the city's Olympic Stadium on Friday

Fireworks explode during the opening ceremony of Tokyo’s Games on Friday at the city’s Olympic Stadium on Friday

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka poses with the torch in her hand after lighting the Olympic flame during Friday's ceremony

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka poses with the torch in her hand after lighting the Olympic flame during Friday’s ceremony

Slukova’s husband and coach Simon Nausch, and men’s beach volleyball player Ondrej Perusic, have also tested positive.

The Olympic Games organizers confirmed on Saturday that another athlete at the Tokyo Games had tested positive for Covid-19.

Olympics-related cases rose by 17, organizers said, bringing the total number of cases disclosed to 123.

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