December 23, Thursday, 2021 (1:30 p.m.) Newsline

1. The head of the Japanese government’s coronavirus advisory panel worries the Omicron variant could spread rapidly through communities and put the health care system at risk. Government advisory panel chief Omi Shigeru said, “This strain is expected to infect many people in a short period. Some of them will likely develop severe symptoms. The medical system, which is being strengthened, could be overwhelmed.”
2. Japan’s health authorities confirmed 40 new cases of the coronavirus Omicron variant on Thursday, bringing the national tally to 200.
3. Japan’s Emperor Emeritus turned 88 on Thursday. He is the country’s longest-living monarch on record. An event to celebrate the birthday of the former Emperor Akihito was held with a limited number of participants, with measures in place against the coronavirus.