World

Tokyo coronavirus cases surge ahead of opening ceremony

Tokyo: Tokyo’s coronavirus cases have jumped to their highest level in six months just over 24 hours out from the Olympics opening ceremony.

The city, which has a population of 14 million, recorded 1979 official cases on Thursday – up from 1387 on Wednesday – but the test-positivity rate of 10 per cent indicates the true infection rate could be much higher. Australia, which has its two largest cities Sydney and Melbourne under lockdown, has recorded a test-positivity rate of 0.1 per cent over the past week.

Japan is beset by the pandemic as it prepares its capital city for the Olympics. Credit:AP

The number of hospitalised patients per day has also been growing from 1500 at the beginning of July to 2466 on Wednesday as the Japanese government accelerates vaccinations in a bid to avoid pushing hospitals beyond their capacity.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s COVID-19 advisory panel on Wednesday said the city faced a “critical” coronavirus situation, warning that daily infection could hit 2,600 by the second week of the Olympics.

The cases are mostly being driven by younger Japanese residents in their 40s and 50s who have yet to receive the vaccine, according to Japan’s Institute of National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Toshio Nakagawa, president of the Japan Medical Association, told reporters on Wednesday that “the fifth wave is already underway”.

Thursday’s numbers have taken Tokyo’s cases back towards the winter peak of the second wave in January but vaccinations among the elderly are having their intended effect.

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The share of people aged 65 and over infected with COVID-19 was at just under 4 per cent last week, down from 22 per cent March.

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