December 2, Thursday, 2021 (1:30 p.m.) Newsline read by Ms. Keiko Kitagawa

1. Japan’s transport ministry has retracted a request it made to airlines. It had asked the carriers to temporarily suspend new reservations for all flights to the country. But it has instead asked them to fully address the needs of Japanese nationals who want to return home. The ministry asked the airlines on Monday to stop booking new reservations until the end of the year. The request was made in order to prevent the Omicron coronavirus variant from spreading.
2. Public health authorities in the US have reported their first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. They confirmed the case in California. They say the individual is a traveler who returned to the US from South Africa.
3. Russia has sharply criticized the upcoming “Summit for Democracy,” organized by the United States. US President Joe Biden is inviting the leaders of 110 countries and territories, including Japan and European nations. China and Russia, which the US classifies as autocracies, have not been invited.