TOKYO (REUTERS) – Japan decided on Friday (July 30)to expand states of emergency to three prefectures near Olympic host Tokyo and the western prefecture of Osaka, as Covid-19 cases spike in the capital and around the country, overshadowing the Summer Games.

Tokyo, already under its fourth state of emergency since the pandemic began, on Friday announced 3,300 new cases, after a record 3,865 the day before. The surge is beginning to strain the medical system, with 64 per cent of Tokyo’s hospital beds available for serious Covid-19 cases already filled as of mid-week.

The new emergency measures will be in effect from Aug 2-Aug 31, while existing states of emergency for Tokyo and southern Okinawa island will be extended to Aug 31, said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who announced the latest measures.

Japan has avoided a devastating Covid-19 outbreak, but is now struggling to contain the highly transmissible Delta variant, with daily cases nationwide topping 10,000 for the first time on Thursday, with 10,687 new cases.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi, who is spearheading Japan’s Covid-19 response, said the rise in cases had not peaked.

“The situation is extremely severe,” he told parliament.

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