TOKYO: Tokyo reported 716 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday (Jul 3), its highest in more than five weeks, as Japan considers extending pandemic restrictions in the capital just weeks before it is to host the Olympics.
Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures are among areas under a “quasi” state of emergency set to run through Jul 11, but Japan may extend the measures by two weeks or more due to a recent uptick in infections.
The coronavirus surge comes as Olympic organisers struggle to decide whether to allow spectators at the Games, which start on Jul 23.
READ: Japan likely to extend COVID-19 curbs in Tokyo as infections rise: Sources
Having decided to ban overseas spectators, the organisers have capped the number of domestic spectators at 10,000 per venue for the Games, or 50 per cent of capacity, despite medical experts saying no spectators would be the “least risky” option.
Prime Minister Yoshihide said on Thursday that having no spectators remained a “possibility”. And on Friday, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, at her first news conference after leaving hospital, where she was treated for exhaustion, also said having no spectators was an option if the pandemic worsened.
A decision on spectators will be made at five-way talks that will include the Tokyo governor and head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), officials said. Kyodo news agency said those talks would be held on July 8.
Saturday’s COVID-19 number is the highest since May 26, when Tokyo had 743 new infections.
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