Japan expands COVID state of emergency

Japan said on Friday (July 30) it will expand states of emergency to three prefectures around Tokyo and in Osaka, as COVID-19 cases spike during the Olympic Games.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a news conference the virus is spreading at an unprecedented speed largely because of Delta variant:

He advised that people watch the Olympics on TV at home, and also said he is worried the country's hospital beds could become stretched.

64% of Tokyo's hospital beds available for serious COVID cases were already filled as of mid-week.

Tokyo is already under its fourth state of emergency since the pandemic began.

Suga also declared five other prefectures as coming under "quasi-emergency," meaning that more than a half of the country now lives under some restrictions.

The new emergency measures will be in effect from Aug. 2-Aug. 31.

Suga and Olympics organizers have denied there is any link between the Summer Games and the recent sharp spike in cases.

Organizers on Friday reported 27 new Games-related COVID-19 cases including three athletes, bringing the total since July 1 to 220.

Experts worry holding the Games has sent a confusing message to the public about the need to limit activities when less than 30% of the residents of Japan are fully vaccinated.

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