Tokyo logs record 5,042 COVID cases as infections surge during Games

Japan 2020

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk under a water mist in Tokyo Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. New cases surge in Tokyo to record levels during the Olympic Games. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo reported 5,042 new daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, hitting a record since the pandemic began as the infections surge in the Japanese capital hosting the Olympics.

The additional cases brought the total for Tokyo to 236,138. Nationwide, Japan reported more than 14,000 cases on Wednesday for a total of 970,000.

Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since mid-July, and four other areas have since been added and extended until Aug. 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.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has denied that the July 23-Aug. 8 Olympics have caused a rise in infections.

Alarmed by the pace of the spread, some experts have called for a 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, expanding the areas to 13 prefectures.

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.

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