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tv   BBC News  BBC News  December 29, 2020 7:00pm-7:31pm GMT

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this is bbc news, with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. as the uk reports a second day of record covid data, a warning of "unprecendented pressure" on hospital services in many areas, with ambulances in long queues, and experts warning that more action is needed. if the virus is allowed to continue to transmit and increase, particularly with the new strain of virus, there could be catastrophic consequences in terms of the numbers of hospitalisations and deaths. croatia is hit by its strongest earthquake for decades. a local major says half his town has been destroyed. the uk brexit deal gets the backing of the senior tory eurosceptic mps, but some labour mps threaten to rebel. more calls to delay the start of term in england's schools, us lawmakers vote for a big increase
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in government covid payouts, but will the republican—controlled senate back it? hello. as coronavirus surges worldwide, the united kingdom has set another new daily record, with more than 50,000 new cases reported in the past 2a hours. 0ne senior medical officer has expressed "extreme concern" at the situation. this comes ahead of any changes to england's tier restrictions that could be announced tomorrow. this report from our health correspondent catherine burns includes flash photography. we all wanted to have a few days off over christmas, but instead we have been asked to come back to work. this time, it's a wave.
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this time, we've seen a massive increase. if we continue with the current rate of admissions, we are very close to being overwhelmed. it is affecting everyone. people are just exhausted, it's been such a long year. doctors and nurses from the nhs front line telling what it is like to deal with a pandemic that, after months of hard work is getting worse. queens hospital in romford in essex today, 20 ambulances waiting outside. some on double yellow lines because the parking bays were full. at one stage, you can see staff bring hot drinks out to patients waiting in the ambulances. the hospital says that they were being cared for safely, but that it is under considerable pressure and is asking staff to take extra shifts. the pressure is intense across london and the south—east. i would say this is the most challenging extended period that i have ever seen, and i would like to just take
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the opportunity to pay tribute to the staff who have worked phenomenally hard and well. more than 21,000 people are being treated in hospital for ten across uk. in wales, they are dealing with the highest level of patience now. the patients coming now to intensive are a degree sicker and many of them desperately and well. and we have seen a real reflection of that in the amount of patients that have died. in northern ireland, hospitals say they are under pressure but coping. in scotland, people are being asked to stay at home over a new year as cases hit a record high. this new surge in cases could not come at a worse time of year for the nhs. winter always brings extra pressures, with more illnesses as well as trips and falls in icy weather. this year, on top of that and the pandemic, social distancing means hospitals need to keep patients further apart. and the nhs in england is operating with around
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10% fewer beds than usual. in england, 2a million people are already living under tier 4 restrictions — the highest level. the government is about to decide if that is enough and this morning from a scientific adviser — "act now to avoid catastrophe in the new year." in my view, if we do not introduce tougher restrictions in areas in the north and areas not currently in tier 4, they will rise to very high levels of disease and hospitalisations similar to those seen in london. the nhs chief executives annual thank—you message to staff acknowledges that this year has been the toughest that most can remember. but there is hope, too. by late spring, we think that with vaccine supply continuing to come on stream, we will be offering all vulnerable people across the country this covid vaccination. three weeks ago, margaret keenan became the first person
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to have a covid vaccine outside of clinical trials. today, she's had her second booster dose. catherine burns, bbc news. the latest uk government figures show there were 53,135 new infections recorded in the latest 2a hours. but not all of the four nations reported full data over the christmas period. the average number of new cases reported per day in the last week is now 38,936. and a14 deaths were reported — that's people who died within 28 days of a positive covid—19 test. it means on average in the past week, 466 deaths were announced every day. it takes the total number of deaths so far across the uk to 71,567. 0ur health correspondent, cath burns, put those numbers in to context. that 53,000 is a record. now there will be some element
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of a lag over christmas because a lot of data didn't come in quickly. but public health england is very clear that this is a real increase. now one thing we don't have at the minute is an accurate picture of how many people are in hospital. so that figure we spoke about earlier, of 21,000 people, is a week old. now we don't have all the nations updating the data since then, but we do know since then, england has added an extra 1,000, just over 1,300 hospital patients — which means for the first time we can say, we are now, in terms of hospital patients, at a higher level than we ever were in the first peak across the uk. so the question now is, what will the government do about this? well, right now, the prime minister is chairing a meeting of cabinet to look at the tier system in england. so we know thatjust over 40% of the population are already in tier 4, the highest level. but there are some places that are only in, for example, tiers 2—3 that have got really high cases. so one example for you is eden in cumbria — their average is about 500 cases per 100,000 people. the uk average is 400 —
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but they're only in tier 2 at the minute. now obviously the government doesn't just look at case numbers, but also the pressure on the local health system and other things. but it would be quite hard not to expect places like that to see extra restrictions coming up which will be announced tomorrow. for most of us, though, the real thing we can do right now is stick to social distancing, stick to the restrictions in our level, and bring those restrictions down. in scotland, the public have been urged to stay at home on new year's eve and not celebrate hogmanay with other households. the advice from the first minister, nicola sturgeon, follows a record number of covid cases reported on a single day in scotland. my main message to people really is to make sure that you are not visiting other people's houses right now. that is the most important thing of all. and unfortunately, that includes hogmanay and new year. this year, i know we are all desperate to kick 2020 into touch, but we must do that safely and the safest way to do that this year is to be in our own homes
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with their own households. an earthquake in croatia has killed five people. seismologists say the tremor — of magnitude 6.4 — had its epicentre about 50 kilometres from the capital, zagreb. here's our balkans correspondent, guy de launey. it was croatia's strongest earthquake in decades, and it reduced much of petrinja to rubble. this town was devastated in croatia's war of independence. now its residents are facing another rebuilding project. but right now, the priority is accounting for all their people, helpers arrived from all over croatia — they include teams from the military and mountain rescue services. the country's president was also quickly on the scene. zoran milanovic described the destruction as a "horror", while local people pressed him to provide support for theirfamilies. translation: i think it's the biggest blow to people, the fear you feel, shaking above you and around you. what has been destroyed
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and damaged will be rebuilt. it's a problem, but it's a minor problem in fact. this nearby city was also affected. the main hospital and municipal headquarters were among the buildings which suffered significant damage. the government has promised its support. translation: we came to give support to citizens of these municipalities and other cities affected by this earthquake. unfortunately, the way the year started, it's kind of ends the same way. people in the capital, zagreb, can sympathise. they still haven't finished reconstruction after an earthquake in march, and this latest tremor caused power cuts and further damage to buildings. hundreds of kilometres away, mps in neighbouring slovenia also felt the force of the quake. they abruptly aborted a session in the national assembly as the debating chamber vibrated. but petrinja has undoubtedly
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suffered the most. its people will be evacuated, and it's not clear when they will be able to return. it marks a catastrophic end to a difficult year. guy de launey, bbc news. now to brexit — and the opposition labour leader here in the uk, sir keir starmer, is facing a rebellion by some of his mps over his decision to support the new trade agreement struck with the european union. he's instructing labour mps to vote for the deal at westminster on wednesday, because he says that, although it's not what boris johnson promised, it's better than no deal at all. here's our political correspondentjessica parker. it's important to point out — borisjohnson is likely to get his trade deal through parliament tomorrow. he has a majority, he today won the backing of a group of eurosceptic conservative mps in parliament. but things are looking a bit more complicated, as you say, for the labour party. sir keir starmer has ordered his mps to back the agreement. he describes that agreement as thin, but says it's better than a no—deal outcome, and he doesn't feel that labour
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should be, as he put it, "sitting on the sidelines by abstaining". but at least a handful of his own mps do look set to defy him. some of them argue the deal will pass anyway, they shouldn't put their names, they say, to an agreement they think is bad for the country. but regardless, a deal does look set to race through parliament as parliament is recalled here tomorrow. now of course, the uk did actually leave the eu back injanuary, but it's in two days' time that it actually extracts itself from the european union at the end of the transition period. so on issues of trade and immigration, that is when the relationship fundamentally changes — that's when we begin to find out what brexit really means. ed davey is the leader of the liberal democrats in the uk, and hejoins me now. the liberal democrats, the scottish nationalists, the greens are all voting against this deal. what good does that do? well, the liberal
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democrats have studied this deal in the last few days, and we've had to conclude that it's a very bad deal. it's the first trade deal in history to make trade more difficult. to put up to make trade more difficult. to put up barriers to trade, to put up red tape. and when it comes to keeping people safe, tackling crime, it makes that job people safe, tackling crime, it makes thatjob by our police more difficult. so a deal that makes it more difficult to create jobs and keepjobs, and more difficult to create jobs and keep jobs, and to more difficult to create jobs and keepjobs, and to keep up people's safety is a bad deal. that's why the lib dems will vote against it. but it's the only deal on offer and we are three minutes to midnight. the lib dems always voted against no deal, and will continue to lead the campaign against no deal. but i really feel the british people deserve a better choice than between the frying pan and the fryer. but is there another choice? of course there another choice? of course there could be another choice. the prime minister could easily ask for an extension to the transition, which the lib dems have called on him to do many times. the reality is
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for parliament tomorrow, mps must decide whether this very bad deal which will smother our business and red tape is the biggest increase in red tape is the biggest increase in red tape is the biggest increase in red tape in britain's history — whether that is really good for jobs. let's remember we are in the midst of a huge recession as a result of covid—19. 0ur midst of a huge recession as a result of covid—19. our economy declined by the greatest amount in 300 years this year because of covid—19. the last thing our businesses and people need for their jobsis businesses and people need for their jobs is a deal which will make it more difficult to trade. and therefore, that's why the lib dems wanting to support jobs therefore, that's why the lib dems wanting to supportjobs and keep people safe will vote against the deal. let's look at the future, because given the arithmetic at westminster and what's your keir starmer is saying, it looks quite likely the deal will go through. what would you say? there so pro—european about how the root —— the uk can reset its relationship with the rest of europe? the lib
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dems are probably european, and we believe our future is dems are probably european, and we believe ourfuture is in dems are probably european, and we believe our future is in cooperating with other countries. whether it's on fighting international crime, fighting climate change or improving oui’ fighting climate change or improving our prosperity. and i believe we'll have to look at this deal deal —— with all its many flaws, and build back that economic cooperation, that trade which and everybody‘s interests. so this deal, if it does go through, and as i think are right that it will, we have to try to turn it around. and the lib dems will be working with businesses to find ways to improve this deal over months on end. there is no doubt my mind, as the leader of a proudly pro—european party, that tearing down these trade barriers thatjohnson is creating is the way forward. sir ed davey, thank you very much forjoining us. the us senate has begun debating
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whether to increase payments to americans reeling from the covid—19 pandemic. it's the latest stage in a bitter political battle that's dominating the final weeks of donald trump's presidency. congress has already passed a $900 billion relief package, just signed into law by donald trump. he was reluctant because the bill only gave lower paid americans $600 each. mr trump says he wants the hand—out to be $2,000 — this put him into rare alliance with the democrats. and the us house voted to raise the pay—out figure on monday. now we'll see if the us senate decides to vote the same way. julia manchester is a reporter for the hill, and has been following all this — shejoins me now. the key figure here has to be the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. what are the indications? well we already know that mitch mcconnell today essentially blocked an effort from senate democrats bernie sanders and chuck schumer to
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bring forth an up or down vote on that $2000 stimulus check. mitch mcconnell did not indicate exactly why he voted to block that initiative, however he did say that donald trump in calling for the $2000 stimulus check also called on a greater regulation on tech companies, as well as other initiatives in terms of investigating the 2020 presidential election, with donald trump saying without evidence that there was evidence of voterfraud. without evidence that there was evidence of voter fraud. so we know thatis evidence of voter fraud. so we know that is playing into mitch mcconnell‘s decision today. however, lots of drama on capitol hill because we know senator bernie sanders, the progressive senator from vermont, said he will block the senate's moved to override a defence spending bill from that veto that donald trump put forth on that spending bill in the senate if they do not vote on a $2000 stimulus check. let's ask the question that
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many americans will be thinking — if it's $600, how quickly will they get it? well, we are expecting americans will start to get them by the very end of the year, so in the next couple of days and next month. we know the government will definitely be hastily trying to get that to americans, considering we're starting off the year in a very dire economic stage. some americans over the holiday season did not have the normal holiday season that they normally have due to this economic downturn. so there will definitely bea downturn. so there will definitely be a rush, but we are seeing that lawmakers on capitol hill, as this congress wraps up, is really trying to get that $2000 stimulus check out to get that $2000 stimulus check out to americans. next week is all changed, there's a new congress? there's a new congress and, in addition to a new congress, you also have a major election happening in georgia, those two senate runoffs happening where two republican incumbents are up for reelection —
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again, they are facing off against two democrats. we do know that kelly loeffler and david perdue were among the republicans today who signalled their support for that $2000 stimulus check after very much going against it until donald trump came out in favour of it last week. so it kind of shows how all of these events in american politics are really coming together around the stimulus checks and georgia's senate runoffs. julia, thank you very much. the political excitement never stops. thanks. thanks. 1,500 military personnel are to help with mass covid testing in schools in england next month. they'll offer advice to staff and students, although children will mostly carry out the tests themselves. 0ur political correspondent damian grammaticas reports. empty classrooms now. but will it be safe if millions of children start filling them next week? or could these become incubators for the new, more infectious strain of covid—19? the current plan is for a staggered return with most testing of secondary pupils and staff.
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in many cases, children themselves would be carrying out the tests under supervision. it's not going to be easy. it will be difficult, we are in a national emergency but it will make a huge difference to teachers and children and hopefully mean that schools will remain open. the government wants children back. home schooling for many isn't viable, lacking the support and the space, the computers and ipads to make it work. but scientists, unions and head teachers are all urging a delay. for now, the idea is that the military who have already been running testing, will help. not in schools, but remotely, giving guidance online or over the phone. and the plan envisages less than one soldier per school. we are educationists, we can support the government. it is good we are going to have some members of the army. but for 3500 secondary schools, 1,500 troops through webinars probably isn't the government response that we were looking for. in some parts of the uk,
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the return to school is already happening later. in england and northern ireland, children are due to start next week. in wales, most should be back by the 11th of january. in scotland, it won't be before the 18th. many head teachers want more time to prepare. things have just come through to schools very late and i think it has certainly led to a lot of stress and a lot of panic over the christmas holidays to try to get people recruited. our community have been excellent since we've had press coverage, we've talked to our community, we had some volunteers but we still have nowhere near enough. schools have stepped up right away from march delivering online learning, turning things at the turn of the coin. we are very used to being adaptable. we really want this to work but we don't know where we're to get the volunteers from. if there is a delay, primary schools and children of key workers may not be affected but in secondaries, it might mean online learning or even an extension
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to the holidays for a week or 2, then those taking exams back first. an announcement could come as soon as tomorrow. damian grammaticas, bbc news. the argentine senate is preparing to debate a bill legalising abortion, despite objections from the country's influential roman catholic church. the bill would allow women to end pregnancies up to the 14th week. the vote has polarised the country and, if it does pass, it's expected only to do so by a slim majority. activists on both sides of the debate are holding rallies today. two years ago a similar bill was approved by the lower house but was narrowly rejected by the more conservative senate. drjulieta is from the network of health professionals for the right to decide, and joins me now from buenos aires. thank you for being with us. what is your expectation about today? well, we are your expectation about today? well,
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we a re really your expectation about today? well, we are really hopeful that the senate will vote in favour for this law. we are really hopeful for that, we are law. we are really hopeful for that, we a re really law. we are really hopeful for that, we are really anxious and this is a day of fight and ofjoey, we say here. what has the effect of the band been for women with unwanted pregnancies? well, what happens is that when the senate in 2018 rejected the bill, on that year, 35 people, 35 women died from abortion —related causes. and what happens is that, as we don't have official statistics because we don't have a law — what we have is that in 40,000 women have been committed into hospitals related to dangerous and u nsafe hospitals related to dangerous and unsafe abortion complications. and this is an issue that everybody is
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watching in argentina. tell me about what it was like when the bill went through the lower house. well, it was a great day, we were all on the streets and there were many people with all the safe care, because we are in the pandemic. but it was great. but we are hopeful that this time, the senate will vote in favour because we don't want to be disappointed like 2018. and yet there are many conservative voices in the senate who say they oppose this, and they speak for the moral majority in argentina. yes, but we haveis majority in argentina. yes, but we have is that in our country and the senate, i want to say the majority — there is a high percentage of legislators with conservative
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thoughts and perspectives, and their arguments against women's rights and pregnant people's rights are more or less moral and religious. so we hope this year will be the time to reject it again. when you say rejected again, this is the ninth time that i bill to legalise abortion has been presented to congress. so you're used to this fight. if you win this time, do you think it will have an impact elsewhere in south america? yes, of course, and we are hopeful that happens. because you know in latin america, there are only a few countries that have legal abortion. most of them are restricted or have restrictions, or they are even prohibited. so we hope that this will be a nice example in latin america and the other countries. and do you think that this particular battle over abortion, a woman's
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right to choose, has energised women politically and abroad ? right to choose, has energised women politically and abroad? yes, the trans— feminist movement here in argentina and latin america is historical. yes, the fight to choose, the abortion fight is a particular one because it means that women and pregnant people can choose our lives and our own health. so it is really important. doctor, thank you so much forjoining us, and we will watch to see what happens with the vote on the bill in the coming hours. thank you very much. of course, thanks to you. australia says it could deport british backpackers who flout covid rules, after hundreds were seen partying at a sydney beach on christmas day. videos of the gathering showed crowds of young people at bronte beach. local health officials called it
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"absolutely appalling" behaviour. thank you for being with us on bbc news. hello there. parts of the uk have seen quite a bit of snowfall over the last few days, mainly north and west parts of england into wales, northern scotland and parts of northern ireland. the southeast corner, though, still hasn't seen that much, you could see some over the next few days, and likely to see further bouts of rain, sleet and snow. of course, ice will be an issue pretty much wherever you are over the coming few days. this cold northerly wind blowing right down across the country will be with us for the rest of this week and into the start of 2021. it'll be pushing in lots of showers around coastal areas overnight, but through the night, looks we could see winds turning a little bit more northwesterly via the showers into western coasts of scotland, northern ireland, into western england and wales. could see some lengthy clear spells further east. it'll be a cold night wherever you are, could see temperatures
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of —8—9 celsius in some of the snowy glens of scotland. so for wednesday, then, we continue with the coastal wintry showers. this feature running into the southwest could bring cloud and outbreaks of rain as it bumps into the cold air into southern england in south wales, it could turn into sleet and snow, certainly over the high ground, with rain closer to the coast. but there's still some uncertainty to the northwards or southwards extent of this. a cold day for many, but there will be some sunshine particularly across central and eastern areas. now it could be through wednesday night, this feature runs across southern england into the southeast to bring some rain, sleet and snow over the high ground — again, this is one system to watch. and this feature running south across the central and southern scotland, northern england could bring some substantial snow certainly to the high ground here, so we could be looking at some disruption to start new year's eve here. and a cold night to come, again, subzero values for most of us. now this is the pressure chart for new year's eve — for thursday, low pressure over the north sea, higher pressure out west, fairly breezy conditions out west, a strong northerly here, that will just accentuate the cold. it does look like new year's eve
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could be quite disruptive across central and southern scotland, northern england, this mixture of rain, sleet and a hill snow will push southwards into western england, perhaps wales as we head through the day. could start to weaken, though, as it moves southwards — there's some uncertainty on this, you'll have to stay tuned to the forecast. there will be some sunshine around again, but it won't do much for the temperatures, it'll stay cold. and then for new year's day and the first weekend of january 2021, it looks cold with further rain, sleet and snow in places.
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this is bbc world news, the headlines... as the uk reports a second day
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of record covid data — a warning of "unprecendented pressure" on hospital services in many areas — with ambulances in long queues and experts warning that more action is needed. five people have been killed and 20 others injured in croatia after an earthquake of magnitude 6.4. rescue efforts have focused on the central town of petrinja where many buildings were destroyed. the british prime minister, borisjohnson, has secured the support of brexiteer members of parliament for his trade deal with the eu, which is due to come into effect injanuary. it's now expected to get parliamentary approval tomorrow. the us senate majority leader mitch mcconnell has blocked initial attempts to increase aid to individuals under the latest covis stimulus package. the raise, from $600 to $2000 was approved by the house of representatives yesterday. and there are further calls
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to delay the start of term


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