Athletes’ village COVID-19 infection bubble already ‘broken’ – health expert

TOKYO, July 20 (Reuters) – The so-called COVID-19 infection control bubble in the Olympic Athletes Village in Tokyo has already “broken” and risks spreading infections to the general population, a prominent public health expert said on Tuesday.

On Sunday, game officials reported the first COVID-19 case among competitors in the Tokyo village, where 11,000 athletes are expected to stay. Among the people accredited for the games, 67 cases have been found since July 1, the organizers announced on Tuesday. Continue reading

“It’s obvious that the bladder system is somehow broken,” said Kenji Shibuya, the former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London.

“My biggest concern, of course, is that there will be an accumulation of infections in the village or in some of the accommodations and interactions with locals.”

Inadequate testing at the border and the inability to control people’s movements meant the games could exacerbate the spread of the infectious Delta variant of the virus, he added.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said last week that testing and quarantine protocols would leave “zero” risk of game participants infecting residents in Japan. Continue reading

Such statements are only intended to confuse and anger people, Shibuya said, as the actual conditions on the ground are “completely opposite”.

In April, Shibuya co-authored a comment in the British Medical Journal that the Olympic Games need to be “reconsidered” due to Japan’s inability to contain coronavirus cases. Continue reading

New COVID-19 cases in Tokyo hit 1,410 on Saturday, a nearly six-month high, while the Games are set to begin in just three days.

Public health experts have warned that seasonal factors, increased mobility, and the spread of the Delta variant could lead to an increase of over 2,000 cases per day in Tokyo by next month, a level that is disrupting the city’s medical system could bring. Continue reading

According to a Reuters tracker, only 33% of people in Japan have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, which is among the lowest among affluent countries. The vaccination spurt has been picking up pace since last month but has recently subsided due to delivery and logistics issues.

In contrast, Soma City in northern Fukushima Prefecture, where Shibuya led its vaccination efforts, recently completed the majority of its vaccinations, well ahead of most of Japan’s. Continue reading

Reporting from Rocky Swift; Arrangement by Michael Perry

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