Japanese officials warned on Wednesday that COVID-19 infections were surging at an unprecedented pace, but also insisted there was no connection to Tokyo playing host to the Olympic Games.
Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said the Delta variant was leading to a spread of infections “unseen in the past.” According to Reuters, Tamura asked that patients with milder symptoms isolate at home rather than going to the 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.
Tokyo reported a record 4,166 new cases on Wednesday. Nationwide, newly reported cases totaled a new record of over 14,200, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Polls have shown that many Japanese people opposed holding the Olympics while the country lagged in vaccination rates.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga insisted that there was no link between Tokyo’s hosting of the Olympic Games and the recent surge in infections.
Nevertheless, senior medical adviser Shigeru Omi told parliament that hosting the Games may have affected public sentiment and eroded the impact of government requests for people to stay home.