Already ‘broken’ athlete village COVID-19 infection bubble – health expert

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TOKYO, July 20 (Reuters) – The so-called bubble to control COVID-19 infections in the Olympic athletes’ village in Tokyo is already “broken” and poses a risk of spreading infections to the general population, said a prominent public health expert on Tuesday.

Games officials on Sunday reported the first case of COVID-19 among competitors in the village of Tokyo where 11,000 athletes are expected to stay. There have been 67 cases detected among those accredited for the Games since July 1, organizers said on Tuesday. Read more

“It’s obvious the bubble system is sort of broken,” said Kenji Shibuya, former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London.

“My biggest concern is, of course, that there will be a cluster of infections in the village or in some housing and interactions with the local population.”

Insufficient testing at the border and the inability to control the movement of people mean the Games could exacerbate the spread of the infectious Delta variant of the virus, he added.

The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said last week that testing and quarantine protocols would leave “zero” risk of Games participants infecting residents in Japan. Read more

Such statements only serve to confuse and anger people, said Shibuya, as the real conditions on the ground are “totally opposite”.

In April, Shibuya co-wrote a comment in the British Medical Journal that the Olympics must be “reconsidered” due to Japan’s inability to contain cases of the coronavirus. Read more

New cases of COVID-19 in Tokyo hit 1,410 on Saturday, a record high for nearly six months, while the Games are due to start in just three days.

Public health experts have warned that seasonal factors, increased mobility and the spread of the Delta variant could lead to an increase of over 2,000 cases per day in Tokyo by next month, levels that could drive the medical system. of the city to a breaking point. Read more

Only 33% of people in Japan have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, among the lowest rates among wealthy countries, according to a Reuters tracker. The vaccination campaign has gained momentum since last month, but has recently ebbed due to supply and logistics issues.

In contrast, Soma City in northern Fukushima prefecture, where Shibuya has directed its vaccination efforts, recently completed most of its vaccinations, far ahead of most of Japan. Read more

Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Michael Perry

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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