Inside Tokyo’s Olympic “bubble” where athletes and others involved in the Games have spent the past two weeks, a total of 430 COVID-19 cases had been reported as of Sunday.
Just prior to the closing ceremony held at Toyko’s Olympic Stadium, organizers reported 26 new cases among people with accreditation for the Games.
While organizers have touted what they say is a low infection rate among the world’s “most tested community,” the Games have coincided with a surge in cases in the host city.
Fuelled by the delta variant of the coronavirus, daily infections spiked to more than 5,000 for the first time in Tokyo during the Games, threatening to overwhelm hospitals.
The city has reported record daily case numbers in the past week and the number of infections in Japan has increased by more than 140,000 since the Olympics began on July 23. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Games organizers have reiterated that the event had not contributed to rising infections.
From the left, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, Japan’s Prince Akishino and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga wear face masks for the Games closing ceremony in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium. (CBC)
But senior medical adviser Shigeru Omi told Japan’s parliament that hosting the Games may have affected public sentiment and eroded the impact of government requests for people to stay home.
Outside of the Olympic bubble, Japan has defended a new policy of asking patients with milder symptoms to isolate at home rather than going to hospital.
The number of serious cases have continued to increase in Tokyo, with the number of seriously ill patients rising to 150 as of Saturday.
Both foreign and domestic spectators were mostly absent from the Games, a decision taken by organizers to reduce the potential risks of virus transmission.
The state of emergency imposed on Tokyo because of rising new infections will not end when the Paralympics are scheduled to begin on Aug. 24.
While most of the Japanese public remained opposed to the Games leading up to its opening, there have not been more recent polls since the start of the Olympics to compare public sentiment.
There were intermittent protests at the Games, including outside the National Stadium during the opening ceremony, but none large enough to significantly disrupt any of the events.
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As of Sunday, more than 202.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to the coronavirus tracker maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.3 million.
In the Middle East, Iran is grappling with its most severe surge of COVID-19 to date. It reported more new infections and deaths on Sunday than on any other single day since the pandemic began.
Health authorities logged over 39,600 new cases and 542 deaths from the virus. The fatality count shatters the previous record set during Iran’s deadliest coronavirus surge that gripped the country last November, signalling the current wave will likely get worse.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week ordered officials to discuss the possibility of a total national shutdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 cases. He’s seen here receiving a vaccine against COVID-19 in Tehran on June 21. (Office of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei/The Associated Press)
In Asia, Cambodia began offering a third-dose booster shot against COVID-19 on Sunday in an effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Switching between the AstraZeneca and Chinese COVID-19 vaccines, 500,000 to one million front-line workers and their family members in seven provinces bordering Thailand will be among the first to receive the vaccine.
In Africa, officials in Zimbabwe are trying to promote Victoria Falls as a safe destination for tourists. They’re making vaccines available to all 35,000 residents of the town that shares a name with its famous waterfall.
Restaurants in Victoria Falls are allowed to serve sit-in customers, something that is forbidden in the rest of Zimbabwe, which still has tight restrictions as a result of the current surge driven by the delta variant of the coronavirus.
In Europe, Germany’s disease control centre estimates that COVID-19 vaccines have saved the lives of more than 38,000 people in the country.
The Robert Koch Institute said Saturday that according to a model calculation, mass vaccinations in the last 6½ months also kept 76,000 COVID-19 patients out of hospitals and almost 20,000 people out of intensive care units. Germany’s vaccine drive also prevented more than 706,000 confirmed cases this year, the institute said.
“The high effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign shows in an impressive way that vaccinations pave the way out of the pandemic,” the institute said in a statement.
People arrive to undergo rapid testing for COVID-19 outside the KiKat Club prior to taking part in an experimental, limited opening of nightclubs in Berlin, Germany during the pandemic on Aug. 6. Six clubs are participating in the pilot project. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Germany started vaccinating residents against the virus in late 2020, and more than 45 million people have been fully vaccinated, or 54.5 per cent of the population. Some 51.8 million, or 62. per cent, have received at least one shot, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Saturday.
In the Americas, with low demand for COVID-19 vaccinations in Alabama, the state saw more than 65,000 doses wasted because health providers couldn’t find people to take them before they expired, according to State Health Officer Scott Harris.
Alabama is one of the least vaccinated states in the U.S. The state ranks last — at 34 per cent — for the percentage of people fully vaccinated.
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