Tokyo has reported 5,042 new daily coronavirus cases, hitting a record since the pandemic began as COVID-19 infections surge in the Japanese capital hosting the Olympics.
The additional cases announced yesterday brought the total for Tokyo to 236,138. Nationwide, Japan has so far registered a total of 980,728 cases and 15,247 deaths.
Al Jazeera’s Andy Richardson, reporting from Tokyo, said the nearly double numbers since last week show how quickly the situation was escalating in the city.
“There is a growing sense of frustration among many people we have spoken to here. The vaccination rollout was slow … That’s having an impact now with the new Delta variant of the coronavirus surging all over the country,” he said.
Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since mid-July, and four other areas have since been added and extended until August 31.
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.
“The state of emergency in itself is a bit of an oxymoron because it’s not a law or an order. It’s a request for people to perhaps stay at home, work from home if they can,” Richardson said.
“Perhaps not surprisingly, people are not adhering to those requests when the same government is also carrying on with the Olympics.”
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has denied that the July 23-August 8 Olympics have caused a rise in infections.
Alarmed by the pace of the spread, some experts have called for the current state of emergency in Tokyo and five other areas to be expanded nationwide.
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.
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.