Tokyo virus cases hit 6-month high 2 days before Games open

Tokyo’s COVID-19 infections have surged to a six-month high with the Olympic host city logging 1,832 new cases just two days before the Games open

TOKYO -- Tokyo's COVID-19 infections surged to a six-month high Wednesday with the Olympic host city logging 1,832 new cases just two days before the Games open.

Experts noted that cases among younger, unvaccinated people are sharply rising as Japan’s inoculation drive loses steam due to supply uncertainty. Many of the serious cases are those in their 50s.

Japan's vaccinations began late and slowly, but the pace picked up dramatically in May for several weeks as the supply of imported jabs stabilized and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government desperately pushed to accelerate the drive before the Olympics.

About 23% of Japanese are fully vaccinated, still way short of the levels believed to have any meaningful effect to reduce risks on the general population.

Japan has had about 84,800 infections and more than 15,000 deaths since the pandemic began, most of them since the latest wave in January.

Experts on Wednesday warned that Tokyo's infections would only worsen in coming weeks. Dr. Norio Ohmagari, the Tokyo metropolitan government's expert panel member, said that Tokyo’s average daily cases could hit around 2,600 in two weeks if they continue at the current pace.

Dr. Shigeru Omi, the government's top medical adviser, last week urged authorities to step up virus measures and asked people to avoid out-of-town trips.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who is in Japan, expressed hope that fans would be allowed if the situation improves, but Omi said that would be impossible.

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Associated Press writer Kantaro Komiya contributed to this report.