Olympic host city Tokyo has recorded the highest number of daily coronavirus infections since the outbreak of the pandemic amid the rapid spread of the Delta variant.
The city registered 4,166 new infections within 24 hours on Wednesday. Compared to the same day of the previous week, this means 989 more infections.
Tokyo and other prefectures are subject to a state of emergency until August 31, but the Japanese capital is struggling to get a grip on the wave of infections.
In order to prevent an imminent shortage of hospital beds, only patients with severe symptoms or those at risk of developing a serious illness will be allowed to go to hospital in areas with rising infection rates, following a highly controversial decision by the central government.
The government’s sudden change of course has caused a storm of outrage. There are fears that patients with mild symptoms who now have to stay at home will become seriously ill and then be left alone.
Omi Shigeru, the government’s top coronavirus adviser, said he had not been consulted by the government beforehand.
The Delta variant of the virus is an “extremely strong enemy,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said. She again appealed to citizens to stay at home despite the summer holidays and the upcoming Buddhist Obon festival.
However, the Olympic Games, which are strictly taking place without spectators, are to continue.
Critics complain that the Olympic Games, which are non-stop on all television channels, would contribute to younger Japanese in particular no longer taking the coronavirus so seriously.