First COVID-19 Case Found in Paralympic Village as Japan's Numbers Surge

The Paralympic Village in Tokyo has reported its first case of coronavirus just days before the Games open as Japan recorded a number of record cases of COVID-19.

The 2020 Paralympic Games are due to begin on August 24 and run until September 5, with approximately 4,400 athletes from 160 nations set to take part.

On Thursday, organizers reported the case in the Paralympic village involved a member of staff who was not resident in Japan.

Overall, 74 cases have so far been linked to the Paralympics, with the overwhelming majority linked to contractors and Paralympic Games staff who reside in Japan.

A further six cases have been reported in regions outside Tokyo which are currently hosting training camps for several different teams.

At the time of writing there have not been any COVID-19 cases recorded among athletes since the Paralympic Village opened on August 17.

News of the case within the village comes as the prefectures of Osaka and Hyogo both reported record cases on Wednesday.

According to Japanese public broadcaster NHK, the tally of daily infection in the country reached a record 23,917 people on Wednesday, the highest toll since the pandemic began.

Tokyo recorded 5,386 cases, marginally below the record high of 5,773 it reported last Friday. The Japanese capital and other parts of the country remain in a state of emergency, which covers 13 regions and approximately 60 percent of the Japanese population and will run until September 12.

The measures were originally scheduled to end on August 31 but the government opted to extend the state of emergency in an attempt to curb the spread of the Delta variant.

The Tokyo Olympics ended two weeks ago and organizers have repeatedly said they managed to keep the virus under control by implementing strict COVID-19 protocols.

The Olympics went ahead behind closed doors and the same scenario will apply to the Paralympic Games.

Japan's health ministry reported on Tuesday that the number of serious cases rose to record level in Tokyo and on a nationwide basis, with over 80 percent of critical beds in the Japanese capital currently occupied.

As of Thursday morning, Japan had reported just over 1.2 million cases of coronavirus and more than 15,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Approximately 50 percent of Japan's 125 million population has received at least one dose of vaccine, but just 33 percent have been fully vaccinated.

Paralympic Tokyo 2020
Signage for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games is seen on a countdown clock for the opening ceremony, outside Tokyo station in Tokyo on August 19. Philip Fong/AFP