english.ahram.org.eg
Olympics: Japan looks to ease virus emergency ahead of Tokyo Games
AP , Wednesday 16 Jun 2021

Police officers and firefighters arrive to receive the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at a former Tsukiji fish market which was turned to be a temporary mass vaccination center site set up by Tokyo metropolitan government in Tokyo Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP)
Tweet
Japan is expected to ease a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and most other areas this weekend, with new daily cases falling just as the country begins making final preparations for the Olympics starting in just over a month.
Japan has been struggling since late March to slow a wave of infections propelled by more contagious variants, with new daily cases soaring above 7,000 at one point and seriously ill patients straining hospitals in Tokyo, Osaka and other metropolitan areas.
Daily cases have since subsided significantly and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to downgrade the state of emergency when it expires on Sunday to a less-stringent quasi-emergency for several weeks.
Despite concerns raised by medical experts and the public over the potential risks of holding the Olympics, Suga has said he is determined to hold a “safe and secure” games starting July 23.
Holding the Olympics before elections in the autumn is also a political gamble for Suga, whose support ratings have tumbled due to public dissatisfaction over his virus measures, a vaccination drive criticized as being too slow, and lack of a clear explanation of how he will ensure the virus doesn't spread during the Olympics.
Government-appointed experts met Wednesday to analyze the situation ahead of Suga’s decision on the emergency measures and expressed concern about the potential for infections to climb again after measures are eased. Suga is expected to make a final decision Thursday after more meetings.
Suga placed Tokyo, Osaka and two other areas under a state of emergency in late April and has since expanded the area to 10 prefectures and extended the measures twice. Japan does not enforce hard lockdowns and the state of emergency allows prefectural leaders to order closures or shorter hours for non-essential business in return for compensation to those who comply and fines for violators. Stay-at-home and other measures for the general population are only requests and are increasingly ignored.
Ryuji Wakita, the director-general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases who heads a government COVID-19 advisory board, said infections have decreased in many areas, but the slowing has bottomed out in the Tokyo region. He warned that infections could increase after an easing of the measures. He said signs of a rebound are already seen among younger people.
Even as more people are vaccinated and most of the country's 36 million senior citizens are expected to be fully inoculated by the end of July, younger people are largely unvaccinated and infections among them could quickly burden hospitals, Wakita said.
“In order to prevent another upsurge, it is crucial to prevent the people from roaming around during the Olympics and summer vacation,” he said.
Experts say it is crucial to accelerate the vaccine rollout to hold the Olympics safely in one of the world's least vaccinated developed countries, .
Suga has opened up mass inoculation centers and started vaccinations at major companies, while setting an ambition target of as many as 1 million doses per day.
As of Tuesday, only 5.6% of Japanese were fully vaccinated.
With vaccination rate still low, experts are concerned about the increased flow of the people in Tokyo despite the emergency. Many residents have become impatient and are less cooperative with social distancing requests, they say.
In hard-hit Osaka in western Japan, hospital capacity has improved and new infections dropped to 108 on Tuesday, significantly down from more than 1,200 a day in late April.
In Tokyo, new infections are down to around 500 per day from above 1,100 in mid-May. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has said effective virus measures need to be kept in place.
At a parliamentary health and labor committee last week, Dr. Shigeru Omi, head of a government COVID-19 panel, cautioned that holding the Olympics in the middle of the pandemic is “abnormal” and warned that it would increase the risk of infections.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)
 
Search Keywords:
Japan-
Olympics-
coronavirus-
Short link:
 
Related
Olympics-Tokyo tickets on the line in Adelaide swim-off
Olympics: Refugee team of 29 athletes picked for Tokyo 2020
Olympics: Tokyo 2020 may ask for further vaccine donations: CEO Muto
Olympics: Foreign reporters to be tracked by GPS at Tokyo Games
Latest
15:15 PHOTO GALLERY: Highlights of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Day 14
14:21 Egypt signs accord to host African Organisation for Housing Cooperatives’ HQ
14:12 PHOTO GALLERY: Highlights of Egypt's Olympic participation on Thursday; Handball.....
13:46 Spain's Sanchez wins karate gold
11:43 Airstrikes pummel Taliban in south; insurgents gain in north
11:36 Tokyo's Olympic legacy: forcing mental health centre stage
11:31 Leicester's Fofana suffers broken leg
11:27 Spurs boss Nuno yet to speak to stay-away Kane
11:14 More than 200 million coronavirus cases worldwide: AFP tally
10:04 Iran's new president calls for extensive ties with neighbors
07:00 Athletics: US relay woe strikes again after Olympic 4x100 flop
04:09 Olympics: Tunisian swimmer Mellouli looks ahead to Paris at 40
00:39 Ahly's Moroccan defender Benoun tests positive for COVID-19
23:22 Ahly move top of Egyptian league with 2-1 win over Degla
23:05 PHOTO GALLERY: Tokyo Olympics glory and sorrow moments on day 13
23:02 Match facts: Wadi Degla v Ahly (Egyptian Premier League)
23:00 Hotels become hospitals as Cuba battles soaring COVID cases
22:16 Israel talks Iran with envoys from Security Council states
21:37 Aston Villa sign forward Danny Ings from Southampton
21:24 Britain to expand vaccine to youths ages 16-17
19:35 5 simple tips for parents who will still be co-teachers when kids go back to.....
19:19 Cairo Int'l Festival for Experimental Theatre to introduce online ticketing.....
19:00 Liverpool keeper Alisson signs six-year contract extension
18:54 Turkey tries to save power plant from 'unprecedented' wildfires
17:52 EU signs initial deal with Novavax for 200ml doses of Covid-19 vaccine
16:47 US extends Iraq's sanction waiver for four months
15:03 Italy presses EU nations to open ports to rescued migrants
14:16 Wildfires burn for 8th day in coastal areas of Turkey
14:13 CineGouna extends submission deadline for films in post-production
13:35 'Lift Like a Girl' first Egyptian documentary released on Netflix
Readers Picks
Most Viewed
1. RELIVE: Egypt v France (Olympics handball semi-final)
2. Tokyo 2020 Day 14 summary: Egypt's El Sawy misses Karate semis, handball team lose to France
3. PHOTO GALLERY: Tokyo Olympics glory and sorrow moments on day 13
4. Olympics: Tunisian swimmer Mellouli looks ahead to Paris at 40
5. Preview: Egypt's handball team out to make history against France
6. Preview: Busy day as Egypt eyes medals in handball, karate
7. Athletics: US relay woe strikes again after Olympic 4x100 flop
8. Egyptian wrestler Kesho wants to follow in the footsteps of Gaber, says he was injured at Tokyo
Ahram online
© 2010 Ahram Online.
Find us on Google+Find us on facebookFind us on twitter
HomeEgyptBusinessOpinionWorldArts & CultureSportsLife & StyleHeritageBooksAnalysisFolkMultimedia