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Tokyo hits 6-month high in pre-Olympics cases


TOKYO – Tokyo hit a new six-month record for new coronavirus cases, a day before the Olympics.

The 1,979 new cases Thursday are the highest since 2,044 were recorded on January 15.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and the International Olympic Committee are determined to hold the Olympics despite the pandemic. Suga placed Tokyo in a state of emergency on July 12, but daily cases have risen sharply.

Spectators are prohibited from all Olympic venues in the Tokyo area, with a limited audience allowed at a few peripheral venues.

The emergency measures, which largely involve a ban on the sale of alcohol and shorter hours for restaurants and bars, are to last until August 22, after the Olympics end on August 8.

About 23% of Japanese are fully immunized, well below the level deemed necessary to have a significant effect on reducing risk in the general population.

Japan has reported around 853,000 cases and 15,100 confirmed deaths, most this year.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

– Nearly 2,000 new cases of the virus in Tokyo, the day before the opening of the Olympic Games

– China rejects WHO conditions for further study on origins of COVID-19

– German Merkel cites increase in virus cases and calls for vaccination

– Guinea withdraws from Tokyo Olympics, citing coronavirus

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Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS:

CONAKRY, Guinea – The African country of Guinea has withdrawn from the Olympics, citing the coronavirus.

This decision will prevent five athletes from participating in the Tokyo Games. Sports Minister Sanoussy Bantama Sow made the announcement in a letter sent Wednesday to the president of the Guinean Olympic Committee. He blamed the virus and its variants.

The secretary general of the Guinean Olympic committee, Ben Daouda Nassoko, told The Associated Press just days before the statement that funds had just been released for the delegation to travel to Tokyo. The five athletes affected by the decision are a freestyle wrestler, swimmers and a participant in track and field and judo.

Guinea has participated in the Olympics 11 times but has never won a medal. North Korea is the only other country to have pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics, also citing concerns over the coronavirus.

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DELHI, India – The Indian government has rejected a recent study which estimated the excessive number of deaths in the country during the pandemic could be 10 times the official toll from COVID-19, calling it ‘misleading’ and ‘spurious’ .

New research from the Center for Global Development on Tuesday estimated excess deaths – the gap between those recorded and those that would have been expected – at 3.4 million to 4.7 million since the start of the pandemic. He said a precise figure could “prove elusive”, but that the true death toll “is likely to be an order of magnitude higher than the official number”.

On Thursday, the Department of Health released a statement claiming the study’s methodology was misleading and strongly cautioned against attributing all excessive deaths to COVID-19.

Most experts believe India’s official death toll of over 418,000 dead is a vast undercount, but the government has repeatedly dismissed these concerns as exaggerated. India recorded more than 41,000 new cases and more than 507 official deaths on Thursday. After a devastating outbreak earlier this year, confirmed infections in India are on the decline, but authorities have warned that another outbreak is likely to strike in the coming months.

Overall, India has the second highest number of cases in the world with over 31 million confirmed infections.

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NAIROBI, Kenya – African countries will start receiving the first of 400 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine themselves next week, according to the African Union special envoy for vaccine procurement.

Strive Masiyiwa told reporters that 6 million doses will start shipping next week and 45 African countries are expected to receive their first shipment by the end of August. Masiyiwa says all doses are expected to be delivered by September 2022.

The 400 million doses represent the collective effort of African countries to seek doses outside of the global COVAX project to provide vaccines to low and middle income countries. The COVAX effort has been delayed in deliveries because India has imposed export controls on vaccines.

Due to vaccine nationalism around the world, Masiyiwa says there is “no possibility” that the African continent can meet its goal of vaccinating 60% of its population of 1.3 billion by the end of this year. year. According to the World Health Organization, less than 2% of vaccines administered globally have been in Africa, while the African CDC says 29 of the continent’s 54 countries are currently experiencing a “serious third wave” of infections. .

In addition, the United States announced this week that it has shipped 1 million doses of Johnson & Johnson to Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gambia and Senegal, and an additional 1.2 million doses this week to Cameroon, in Lesotho, Niger, Zambia and the Central African Republic. The deliveries are part of a US donation of some 25 million doses to African countries.

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BERLIN – Chancellor Angela Merkel said coronavirus infections in Germany were increasing at a worrying rate. She calls on citizens to get vaccinated and to persuade others to do so.

The infection rate in Germany remains low compared to other European countries, but has steadily increased since reaching 4.9 new weekly cases per 100,000 population on July 6. On Thursday, that rate stood at 12.2.

Just over 60% of the German population had received a first dose of the vaccine on Thursday, while 48% were fully vaccinated. But the vaccination campaign has slowed in recent weeks.

Merkel told reporters on Thursday that infections were increasing with “worrying momentum” and “we are growing exponentially”.

Merkel said that “we all want to get back to our normalcy” but “for that we need a lot more vaccine protection”. She said that every vaccination counts in bringing life back to normal for everyone.

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SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea reports 1,842 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours – setting a new single-day pandemic record for the second day in a row.

The cases announced Thursday brought the country’s total number of cases to 184,103, with 2,063 deaths from COVID-19.

The new cases include 270 sailors who were recently flown home after a large-scale outbreak on their destroyer embarking on an anti-piracy mission off East Africa.

South Korea has seen a spike in infections in recent weeks amid a slow vaccination campaign, lax public vigilance and the spread of more contagious delta variants. The country’s daily case count has exceeded 1,000 for 16 consecutive days.

Health officials say they are discussing whether to extend the most stringent distancing restrictions imposed on the densely populated metropolitan area of ​​Seoul.

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NEW ORLEANS – Officials in New Orleans have issued a notice “strongly recommending” that people resume wearing masks indoors amid an increase in coronavirus cases to levels not seen in months.

The city is hoping to avoid the type of pandemic-related closures that devastated its vital tourism economy in 2020, but Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Wednesday stopped requiring masks to be worn.

The mayor says the notice “puts the responsibility on the individuals themselves”, rather than asking the city to apply a warrant.

The announcement came as New Orleans released figures showing the seven-day average of new cases rose 117, the highest since early February. It had fallen as low as eight by mid-June, but started to climb sharply in early July.

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ATHENS, Greece – Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters who gathered in Athens on Wednesday to oppose coronavirus vaccination requirements proposed by the Greek government.

The protest outside parliament took place hours after the government introduced a law to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for workers in nursing homes and care facilities.

Under the bill, staff members could be suspended without pay from mid-August if they fail to comply.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons after protesters attempted to break a police cordon.

Several thousand people also joined a protest rally in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki.

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SALT LAKE CITY – Utah has recorded its highest number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in five months as the virus increases among those unvaccinated.

State health officials renewed their calls for immunizations as Utah’s intensive care units reached 81.5% of capacity. There are 295 people who are hospitalized with the virus in the state, the highest since February.

Utah has averaged about 622 confirmed cases per day over the past week, about triple the rate of cases the state was experiencing at its lowest point in early June.

State health data shows that the recent increase is almost entirely linked to unvaccinated people. About 66% of adults in Utah have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 60% are fully immunized.

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MISSION, Kan. – Coronavirus cases have tripled in the United States in two weeks amid a wave of misinformation about vaccines. The surge in infections is straining hospitals, frustrating doctors and pushing clergy into the fray.

In the United States, the seven-day moving average of daily new cases in the United States rose over the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, from less than 13,700 on July 6. This is according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Health officials blame the delta variant and flattening vaccination rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 56.2% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Dr James Williams is Clinical Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Texas Tech and says he has treated more COVID-19 patients. He says patients are younger – many in their 20s, 30s and 40s – and largely unvaccinated.

Williams says, “It’s like seeing the wreckage of the car before it happens.”

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