1 Week Before Olympics Begin, Tokyo Reports Over 1,300 New COVID Cases

Just a week before the Olympics begin, Tokyo reported 1,308 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, its highest number in six months, the Associated Press reported. Fears have risen of a potential startling increase that could flood hospitals during the Games.

The tally was the highest since January 21, when 1,485 cases were recorded, and is a jump from Wednesday's report of 1,149 cases.

Tokyo was put under a fourth state of emergency on Monday that requires restaurants and bars to close early and not serve alcohol through the Olympics.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Tokyo COVID Cases Hit 6-month High
Tokyo hit a six-month high in reported COVID-19 cases on Thursday, eight days before the Olympics are scheduled to start. Above, a worker wearing a face mask works under a logo of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo on July 15, 2021. Behrouz Mehri/Getty Images

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike noted that the largest increase in serious cases and hospitalizations was among people in their 50s and younger who are largely unvaccinated. She expressed concern about the impact on the medical system as infections are propelled by the more contagious delta strain of the virus.

"We need to stay on alert," Koike said, urging people to minimize outings and stick to basic anti-infection measures "to overcome this very difficult situation."

New daily cases have been steadily climbing since mid-June and experts say they could hit several thousand during the games.

Japan's slow vaccination rollout has improved dramatically since May as the government desperately pushes to improve the inoculation rate before the Olympics, but is slowing again due to shortages of imported vaccines. The latest government data show just 19.7 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Due to the state of emergency in Tokyo and a fear of infections accelerating during the games, organizers last week decided to bar fans for most events, except for limited numbers at outlying locations.

Overall, Japan has had about 828,000 confirmed cases and 15,000 deaths.

Dr. Masataka Inokuchi, a medical adviser for a Tokyo metropolitan government panel, said Thursday he is worried that younger people may celebrate and party because of the Olympics, further accelerating infections.

Tokyo COVID-19 Cases hit 6-month High
Tokyo entered a fourth state of emergency on Monday in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. Above, people wearing face masks ride bicycles as they cross an intersection in Tokyo on July 15, 2021. Hiro Komae/Associated Press