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Japan Upping COVID Controls After Positive Tests

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With the Olympics still more than three weeks away, the first participants have tested positive for COVID-19. In an attempt to limit future positives, Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga pledged Monday to strengthen health controls at airports.

According to The Associated Press, a Ugandan Olympic team member tested positive on June 19 at Narita International Airport in Tokyo. The team member quarantined in Tokyo, while the rest of the Ugandan team made its way to Osaka for their pre-Olympics camp.

Another Ugandan team member tested positive on June 22, which led to seven town officials and drivers to be deemed close contacts and undergo self-isolation. Both of the team members had the delta variant of the coronavirus.

“Apparently the border controls are not adequate, even though there has been plenty of time to work on them,” Tokyo Medical Association chairman Haruo Ozaki said Sunday on NHK public television, while Osaka governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said the whole team should have quarantined at Narita.

Japanese Olympic Committee president Yashuhiro Yamashita said that strict border controls are extremely important, but “no matter what measures you take, infected people would come in and it is unavoidable.”

Suga pledged that the government will do its best to improve protocols. Following the Ugandan positives, Suga inspected virus testing and arrivals at Haneda International Airport. Chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said Monday Olympic athletes and other participants where the delta strain has been detected will undergo daily virus tests for seven days prior to departure to Japan, as well as up to 14 days after entry and isolated training for the first three days. The current protocol requires Olympic participants to undergo testing for four straight days before traveling to Japan.

According to The Associated Press, Tokyo reported 317 new cases Monday. The 2020 Tokyo Games, which were postponed last summer, are scheduled for July 23 through Aug. 8. The current plan is to allow 10,000 local fans into Olympic venues, with each indoor and outdoor venue holding 50 percent of its capacity.

Related content: Tokyo Olympic Committee Eyes Spectator-Free Games

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