TOKYO, Japan — Japan is expected to ease a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and most other areas this weekend, with the Olympics starting in just over a month.
Daily cases have since significantly declined and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to downgrade the state of emergency when it expires on Sunday to a less-stringent quasi-emergency for several weeks.
Despite concerns raised by medical experts and the public over the potential risks of holding the Olympics, Suga has said he is determined to hold a “safe and secure” games on July 23.
Japan since late March has struggled to slow a wave of infections propelled by more contagious variants, with daily cases soaring above 7,000 and serious patients overwhelming hospitals in Tokyo, Osaka and other metro areas.
In Tokyo, infections are now down to around 500 per day from above 1,100 in mid-May. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has said effective coronavirus measures need to be kept in place.
Health experts say it is crucial to accelerate the vaccine rollout to hold the Olympics safely in one of the world’s least vaccinated developed countries. As of Tuesday, only 5.6% of Japanese were fully vaccinated.