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COVID-19 state of emergency may be needed during Tokyo Olympics: study

A team of researchers warned Wednesday that another state of emergency may be needed during the Tokyo Olympics to curb a COVID-19 resurgence even if the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus has a small impact on infections.
The team also said the number of infections could increase by 10,000 cumulatively if the sports event from July 23 is held with spectators, compared with the case without spectators, according to a document shown at a meeting of an expert panel of the health ministry.
The panel expressed concern about "a rebound" in infections in the future even though areas where infections had expanded have seen numbers fall, as the speed of the decline has slowed in some places with more people going out.
The study by researchers at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Kyoto University and Tohoku University was based on the assumption that people would leave home more often after the current emergency ends next Sunday, causing coronavirus cases to rise again.
If Tokyo saw 1,000 or more new infections per day, then a return to a state of emergency would be warranted, they said.
Currently, 10 prefectures including the capital and Osaka are under a state of emergency, with restaurants being told to close by 8 p.m. and banned from serving alcohol.
According to their calculations, even if the Delta variant first detected in India has little impact and only around 10 percent more people are out and about, the number of infections would reach that threshold between late July and early August.
If the Delta variant, which is thought to be 1.8 times more transmissible than the original strain of the coronavirus, has a large impact, a state of emergency could become necessary again in early to mid-July.
A return to restrictions could be avoided under the most optimistic scenario in which the Delta variant has no impact and the increase in people leaving home remains below 15 percent, the researchers said.


© KYODO
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