COVID-19 Infections Reach Record High in Tokyo
By VOA News July 31, 2021
Tokyo's metropolitan government said new coronavirus infections surged to a record high Saturday as the city hosts the Olympic Games.
The government reported 4,058 new cases, topping 4,000 for the first time.
The new record was set one day after Japan, with a population of more than 126 million, extended a state of emergency for Tokyo through the end of August to contain the spread. The extension also applies to three prefectures near Tokyo and the western prefecture of Osaka.
A new record for infections also was set nationwide Saturday. Public broadcaster NHK reported 12,341 new cases, 15% higher than the day before.
Since the start of the pandemic, Japan has reported 914,718 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and 15,197 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Protests related to the coronavirus pandemic occurred Saturday in countries including France, Italy and Israel.
In France, more than 200,000 people protested around the country to voice opposition to President Emmanuel Macron's recent COVID-19 measures, media reported.
While most protests were peaceful, in Paris, where more than 14,000 people gathered, three police officers were injured in clashes with demonstrators, according to Reuters.
The French government has instituted a mandatory coronavirus health pass in an effort to control the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. It has pushed the number of COVID-19 cases in the country from a few thousand each day in early July to 24,000 new cases on Friday, health officials said.
The health pass will be needed for people to be able to enter most public spaces, such as restaurants, museums and movie theaters. The pass, which takes effect Aug. 9, requires a vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of a recent recovery from COVID-19 and mandates vaccine shots for all health care workers by mid-September, the AP reported.
France, a country of 67 million, was hit hard in the early stages of the pandemic and has recorded 6.1 million confirmed cases of the disease and 112,011 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
For a second week, thousands of protesters in Italy, also opposed to the use of a vaccine pass, demonstrated in cities including Rome, Milan and Naples.
In Tel Aviv, several hundred Israelis protested against new coronavirus restrictions and vaccines as the country sees a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases because of the delta variant.
On Saturday, the health ministry recorded 2,435 new COVID-19 cases, the highest number since March.
To battle the outbreak, Israel rolled out a booster shot for older citizens, reimposed mask requirements indoors and restored "green pass" restrictions requiring vaccine certificates for entering enclosed spaces such as gyms, restaurants and hotels, according to Agence France-Presse.
Nearly 60% of Israel's 9.3 million people have gotten two shots, mostly with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to AFP, but about 1 million Israelis still refuse to be vaccinated.
Israel has had 871,343 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 6,469 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
Vietnam said Saturday it would extend travel restrictions in Ho Chi Minh City and 18 other southern cities and provinces for another two weeks to contain its worst outbreak to date, according to Reuters.
The extension begins Monday in a country that contained the virus for much of the pandemic but reports a total of 141,000 cases and more than 1,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins, 85% of which were reported in the last month.
The White House announced on Friday that U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris would travel in August to Singapore and Vietnam.
Symone Sanders, a White House senior adviser and chief spokesperson, said in a statement released Friday that Harris would engage with the leaders of both countries on issues of mutual interest, including the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The White House did not give specific dates for the trip.
A weekend lockdown has been imposed in India's southern state of Kerala as it grapples with about 20,000 new cases daily, Reuters reported. Federal authorities sent experts to the area to monitor developments in the state that accounts for more than 37% of the nearly 32 million cases reported by India's health ministry.
Australia's third-largest city of Brisbane said it would begin a COVID-19 lockdown on Saturday, amid rising case numbers. Neighboring areas will also be subject to the stay-at-home orders.
In London, a four-day "vaccine music festival" was under way Saturday. The event was to encourage people to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Already, more than 72% of people older than 18 in the United Kingdom have received two doses of vaccine, according to government figures reported by the AP.
Great Britain, which recently lifted most of its COVID-19 restrictions, said starting Monday, fully vaccinated visitors from the European Union or the United States would no longer need to quarantine upon arrival.
As of Saturday, there were 197.7 million cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and 4.2 million deaths globally, according to Johns Hopkins. The U.S. leads the world in number of COVID-19 cases, nearly 35 million cases, and 613,113 deaths, according to the university.
Some information for this report comes from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.
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