Tokyo COVID-19 cases at six-month high ahead of Olympics

Tokyo COVID-19 cases at six-month high ahead of Olympics
© Clive Rose/Getty Images

Tokyo’s coronavirus cases have hit a six-month high a little more than a week before the Olympics are slated to begin.

The cases hit 1,308 Thursday, the highest since Jan. 21 when cases were at 1,485, The Associated Press reported.

The city went under its fourth state of emergency this week to implement new coronavirus restrictions such as restaurants and bars closing early.

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Spectators have already been banned from the Olympics, set to start July 23, in an attempt to curb cases, but experts worry the country will still struggle to keep cases under control after a slow vaccine rollout.

The spike in cases is currently mostly among those who are 50 years old or younger as much of the elderly population has already received their vaccine. 

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike expressed the city needed to “stay on alert” as the medical system could potentially be strained, especially by people with the more contagious strain of the virus, according to the AP.

Previously, Koike said the medical system was ready for the Olympics and the games could be held in a “safe and secure” way.

"Very many people will be vaccinated in the coming 10 days and during the Olympics. The biggest change as a result of that will be a substantive fall in the ratio of deaths and severe cases among the elderly," Koike said.

There have been calls by medical professionals and Japanese citizens to not host the games for months due to the coronavirus and fear it would accelerate case numbers.

Only 19 percent of the country is fully vaccinated as athletes from around the world get ready to compete, the AP noted.