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Asia Minute: Non-Olympic Records in Tokyo

Coronavirus Outbreak Japan Olympics
Koji Sasahara/AP
A man wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walks past extra papers reporting the start of the Tokyo Olympics in Tokyo Saturday, July 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Not all the record breaking in Tokyo is being done by Olympic athletes.

New coronavirus cases in the city set a record for the second day in a row Wednesday, topping 3,100.

The last time the daily case count in Japan’s capital was in this range was the first full week of 2021.

Case counts are also shattering records around the country.

Compared to January’s wave of infections, this time the patients are younger, but health officials say fatalities are not as high as they were — and neither is the number of serious cases.

Even so, the government’s top adviser on COVID-19 told a parliamentary hearing “the medical system has already started becoming more strained.”

Tokyo’s governor is asking hospitals to set aside more beds for COVID-19 patients.

And the delta variant is spreading fast. The National Institute of Infectious Diseases says it’s now responsible for about 70% of the infections in the Tokyo area.

Vaccines continue, but slowly — especially among younger people.

The government says a little more than 26% of the national population has been fully vaccinated — that rate is lower in Tokyo.

While a much higher percentage of Olympic athletes and officials are vaccinated, many of the event’s drivers, hotel cleaners and other workers are not.

The Olympics are scheduled to continue through Aug. 8.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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