Japan's daily total of COVID-19 cases topped 10,000 for the first time on Thursday with Tokyo experiencing surging infections, but Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga denied a link between the Olympics being held in the capital and the resurgence.
The nationwide tally of 10,693 cases included 3,865 in Tokyo, which logged a record figure for the third straight day, putting pressure on Suga's government to take stronger countermeasures.
"Since we have imposed virus-curbing measures, such as cutting the flow of people (in public) and stricter border controls to prevent the spread of the virus by foreign visitors, I think there is none," Suga told reporters when asked if there are any indications that the holding of the Games is a factor behind the spike in new daily infection cases.
The new nationwide record came just a day after Japan surpassed 9,000 new daily cases for the first time. The cumulative tally across the country has now topped 900,000.
The capital's seven-day rolling average of cases has risen to 2,224.1 per day, up 61.9 percent from the previous week.
At a metropolitan government monitoring meeting Thursday, it was estimated that the seven-day rolling average would hit 4,532 on Aug. 11, three days after the Tokyo Olympics end.
Infections were on a downward trend until around June 20 when the state of emergency was lifted across the country except Okinawa with the daily tally declining to around 1,300, but soon reversed and topped 2,000 in early July.
Although foot traffic in downtown areas has slightly decreased, the surge in infections comes amid the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.
The government has placed Tokyo under a fourth state of emergency, mostly relying on a cooperative public and not imposing a hard lockdown as in some countries, from July 12 until Aug. 22.
But infections topped 3,000 two days after the emergency started, and 5,000 on July 22. The number of severe cases, which had been on a downward trend since late May, also slowly started to reverse from mid-July.
According to data released by the government Wednesday, hospital bed occupancy rates for severe cases have hit 61 percent in Tokyo and 71 percent in Okinawa. The two prefectures, along with Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa and Osaka have also reached Stage 4, the worst on the government's four-level scale, for treated COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.