Japan warned on Wednesday that coronavirus infections are surging at an unprecedented pace as new cases hit a record high in Tokyo, overshadowing the Olympics and adding to doubts over the government’s handling of the pandemic.
The metropolitan government in Tokyo on Wednesday reported 4,166 new cases of COVID-19, surpassing the previous single-day high of 4,058 new cases set on Saturday. A website maintained by the regional government said the health-care system is “under strain” as infections spread. Health officials in Tokyo on Wednesday listed 115 cases as serious.
The delta variant was leading to a spread of infections “unseen in the past,” Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said as he defended a new policy of asking patients with milder symptoms to isolate at home rather than going to hospital.
“The pandemic has entered a new phase…. Unless we have enough beds, we can’t bring people to hospital. We’re acting pre-emptively on this front,” Tamura told parliament.
In Tokyo, more than 14,000 patients with mild symptoms are isolating at home — more than a 10-fold increase from a month ago — and about 8,400 others are waiting for beds in hospitals or special hotels.
— From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:30 a.m. ET
What’s happening in Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of early Wednesday morning, more than 199.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking cases of the novel coronavirus. The reported death toll stood at more than 4.2 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, China reported on Wednesday the highest number of new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases since January as some cities stepped up restrictions, cut flights and increased testing to try to control an outbreak driven by the delta variant.
The gambling hub of Macau will begin testing its 600,000 people and close some entertainment spots after the Chinese-ruled city confirmed four new coronavirus cases, its government said on Wednesday
In Africa, South Africa’s mass vaccination drive gave jabs to 220,000 people a day last week and is accelerating toward the goal of 300,000 per day. With large deliveries of doses arriving and some vaccines being assembled here, South Africa appears on track to inoculate about 35 million of its 60 million people by the end of the year and 40 million by February.
More than 7.7 million South Africans have received at least one dose, with more than 100,000 fully vaccinated, representing 1.6 per cent of the population, according to official figures. Across Africa, less than 1.5 per cent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people have been fully vaccinated, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the Middle East, Israel warned against travel to the United States and other countries and said it would tighten quarantine measures for inbound travellers from more than a dozen countries.
In hard-hit Iran, health officials reported another 39,019 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — once again setting a new single-day high. The country also reported 378 deaths, bringing the reported COVID-19 related death toll in Iran to 91,785, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In the Americas, Louisiana was dealing with one of the worst outbreaks in the United States, prompting Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, to order residents to wear masks again indoors.
“It has never been more clear that we are in an unchecked COVID surge that, in addition to threatening the health and wellbeing of many Louisianans, also threatens the capacity of our hospitals and medical facilities to deliver care to their patients,” he said in a statement earlier this week.
In Europe, England’s COVID-19 mobile phone app will be tweaked so that fewer contacts of asymptomatic people who test positive for the disease will need to self-isolate.
— From Reuters, CBC News and The Associated Press, last updated at 7:25 a.m. ET
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