Before the Olympics were postponed, Japan seemed to have contained coronavirus infections, despite the spread in neighboring countries. Now that the jousts were postponed to next year, cases in Tokyo have skyrocketed, and the city governor is asking the population to stay home, even hinting at possible confinement.
The sudden increase in the number of cases of the virus and the strong measures taken by the government immediately after the postponement of the Games have raised questions in parliament and by the citizens themselves about whether Japan had minimized the severity of the outbreak and delayed the application. of measures of social distancing by clinging to the hope that the Olympic event could begin on July 24 as planned.
With the Games off the immediate agenda, many give vent to suspicion that the increase is due to Japan no longer having a reason to hide them.
“To give the impression that the city had the coronavirus under control, Tokyo avoided taking strict action and made the number of patients less,” said former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Twitter. “The coronavirus has spread while they waited. (For Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike), the first thing was the Olympics, not Tokyo residents. “
Experts have found an increase in untraceable cases in Tokyo, Osaka and other urban areas, indications of an explosive spike in infections.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday that Japan was on the verge of a huge increase in cases by making it more difficult to locate and keep outbreaks under control.
“Once infections rise rapidly, our strategy … will instantly disintegrate,” Abe warned. “Under the current performance, we are barely resisting.” He added that declaring a state of emergency is not yet necessary, but that Japan at any time could face a situation as serious as that of the United States or Europe.
No such urgency arose in recent days when many people visited parks to see cherry trees emerge, and Abe was perhaps intimate the possibility of postponing the Olympics. But after speaking by phone with the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, last Tuesday, Abe agreed to postpone the Games until the middle of the summer of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The next day, Koike asked Tokyo residents to stay home for the weekends until mid-April, confirming that coronavirus cases had skyrocketed to 41 in a single day after 16 at the start of the week. On Saturday, Tokyo reported 63 new cases, another record number for one day. Koike said contagions in Tokyo were on the verge of explosive growth, and that stricter measures, such as confinement, might be necessary if the spread of the virus did not slow.
“Isn’t this a coincidence?” Said Maiko Tajima, a lawmaker with the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party during a session of Parliament on Wednesday, citing the sudden increase in Tokyo.
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said that “there is no relationship” between the postponement of the Games and the number of confirmed cases. Abe cited experts who noted that a major reason for the recent growth is the sustained increase in cases that cannot be tracked and the rise in infections from abroad. The Prime Minister urged the population to “prepare for a long battle.”
A day after Koike’s warning, the prime minister called a new task force under a recently enacted law that allows him to declare a state of emergency in specific areas, including those in Tokyo.
As of Sunday, Japan recorded 2,578 cases, including 712 from a cruise ship, with 64 deaths, according to the health ministry. About a thousand have been recovered.