Records are made to be broken — a great slogan for the Olympics, but not such a great slogan for Japan’s current COVID-19 outbreaks. Still, The Olympic host city and host country broke previous outbreak records for the last few days, reported CBS News.
- Regionally, Tokyo recorded 3,865 new infections on Thursday, up from 3,177 cases the day before and breaking records for the third consecutive day, reported The Associated Press.
- Nationally, Japan recorded more than 9,500 new infections on Wednesday a record-breaking high for the second consecutive day, per the AP.
Leading up to the Games, many Japanese citizens worried that the Olympics and thousands of international arrivals would drive virus outbreaks. As the Games unfold and case numbers climb, the reality is a bit more complicated, reported The Washington Post.
What’s happening with COVID-19 in Tokyo?
Tokyo is currently under its fourth state of emergency, urging residents to stay home. For the last three days, the city experienced a record number of new daily COVID-19 infections, reported the AP. The Olympic host city has become a hot spot for the fifth wave of outbreaks in Japan, per NPR.
- But the Olympics may not be to blame, according to The Washington Post.
- So far, there has been no evidence of coronavirus spreading from Olympic participants to the general public, reported the AP.
Tokyo’s worsening outbreaks have been partially driven by the delta variant and have begun putting pressure on the city’s health care system. Doctors have warned that hospitals may be overwhelmed if cases continue to rise, per CBS News.
- Nationally, only 26.3% of Japan’s population has been fully vaccinated, per the AP.
- Recently, cases have been rising sharply among younger, unvaccinated populations, reported Al Jazeera.
- Tokyo currently has a 30% positivity rate for COVID-19 tests, per The Washington Post.
Tokyo is “heading toward an explosive expansion we have never experienced before,” said Dr. Norio Ohmagari, director of the Disease Control and Prevention Center, on Thursday, per the AP.
Inside the Olympic bubble, the COVID-19 situation looks quite different, reported The Washington Post.
What’s COVID-19 like at the Olympics?
Since July 1, Tokyo officials have recorded 169 COVID-19 cases related to the Olympics. Of these, 17 cases have come from competitors, reported NPR.
- The Olympic bubble has a 0.08% positivity rate for COVID-19 tests, reported The Washington Post.
So far, the Olympic bubble seems to be holding. The strict regulations, ongoing surveillance, constant testing and high vaccination rates have all contributed to containing the virus’ spread inside the Olympics, reported The Washington Post.
Have the Olympics made Tokyo outbreaks worse?
The Olympics have not directly contributed to Tokyo’s worsening outbreaks as many feared, reported NBC News. However, the Games may have indirectly contributed by sending mixed messages to the public.
- “The government has sent signals that people are supposed to stay home, at the same time they celebrate the Games,” said Kenji Shibuya, a former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London, per Al Jazeera.
- “It’s a totally inconsistent message,” Shibuya said, per Al Jazeera.
According to NBC News, “some experts say the government decision to go ahead with the Olympics sent a confusing message about the need to stay home, posing a greater risk than any direct spread from Olympic participants.”
- Cases are expected to continue rising in Tokyo over the coming days, reported NBC News.