president biden has welcomed a senate vote to approve his covid recovery plan. the bill worth nearly $2 trillion will return to the house of representatives for approval within days. republican senators were united in opposing the draft legislation, dismissing the bill as an unaffordable wish list. the visit of pope francis to iraq has continued with a public mass at a cathedral in baghdad. francis praised the resilience of iraq's remaining christians, whose numbers have plummeted in the past two decades. earlier, the pontiff held an unprecedented meeting with iraq's senior shia religious leader. in myanmar, there have been further allegations of police brutality, after security forces used stun grenades and tear gas against anti—coup protesters, who have again taken to the streets. the un's special envoy on myanmar has told the security council
that there is "urgency for collective action". concerns are being raised that thousands of pupils and their households may wrongly be told to isolate because of inaccurate rapid covid test results. secondary school pupils in england are being offered lateral flow tests as schools return next week. these tests are less accurate than the ones carried out at official testing centres which are analysed in labs. our health correspondent, katharine da costa, reports. like all secondary schools in england, these pupils in london are getting three rapid covid tests in school followed by two home tests a week, but while tests taken at home could be backed up with a standard lab—based pcr test, under government policy that won't be happening in schools. but lateral flow tests aren't as accurate. public health england suggests that for every thousand carried out, between one and three will give a an incorrect positive result, a so—called false positive. and with around 3.4 million state secondary school pupils in england, the number of inaccurate tests could run into many thousands.
richard patton's son had a positive lateral flow test result on wednesday. his school told him to take a pcr test, which came back negative, but richard says nhs test and trace said the family still needed to isolate for 10 days. it has affected my two kids — they can't go to school. it has affected my wife and myself — i can't work from home. my wife can work from home, but it's very difficult. it's incredibly frustrating that we know this is a false positive and yet we can't do anything about it. the government says one in three people with covid don't have any symptoms, and that a quick, on the spot test like this could help identify asymptomatic cases and help stop the virus from being passed on. false positives... but some question the government's decision not
to recommend a backup pcr test following a positive result in school. we're currently at a time when the infection rate is low and so it is essential that positive lateral flow tests for secondary school pupils, as for adults, are subject to confirmation by pcr, or by some other means. but i'm shocked to think that is not being done. the department of health says it will keep rapid tests under review. while no test is 100% accurate, many will be reassured by mass testing in schools. others warn the way they are being used risks undermining public confidence. katharine da costa, bbc news. now on bbc news: our world. ischgl has long been known as the ibiza of the alps. but this time last year, the austrian ski resort became famous for something else. you always think the worst, especially when you get a positive result for covid.
i even got people last day coming in, like coughing and spluttering and, like, saying... coughing sound .."covid. " the authorities were slow to lockdown, with disastrous results. there was a whiff of the old jaws film and the mayor standing up in front of the tv cameras saying, "there's no shark here." ischgl became known as europe's covid ground zero. more than 6,000 people believe they were infected here in a matter of days. tourists returning home exported the virus around the world. now, the families of those affected are demanding justice. their allegation, that local authorities put wealth over health, keeping peak ski season going, even as the virus spread. one year on, what lessons can be learned from the unhappy story of ischgl?
we need to be expecting all kinds of different viruses. this is going to happen again, i can assure you. is carefree mass tourism as we know it in europe a thing of the past? the ski season in ischgl in early 2020 seemed pretty much perfect. haraldur was one of the thousands enjoying the slopes. we actually had a really good week. ischgl is one of the best ski resorts in europe. it has good variety of slopes and good restaurants. afterskiing, he and his friends grabbed a beer at the kitzloch — one of ischgl�*s famous apres ski bars.
singing hundreds of people just having fun, drinking and singing. there were a lot of different people from all over the world coming to ischgl. here in the kitzloch especially, a lot of danish, norwegian. of course a lot of german people are coming, also a lot from the united kingdom. but last february, ski hire workers spotted something strange. what we started to notice was that more and more customers who were bringing their skis back into the ski hire shop mid week, returning them early. it was more of a case of, well, this is weird, this is not normal, why is this? then you think well, my god, this is a pretty rough flu season now. come and check this out with me today, it's beautiful. but it wasn't the flu, it was covid. the virus had already been detected in the italian alps and elsewhere in austria. and it was now in ischgl.
at that time, there was no coronavirus testing in the resort. for weeks, the authorities had closed their eyes to the spread of the virus. gunther zangerl is a leading local businessmen. he owns ischgl�*s cable car company. haraldur�*s friend arnie was one of those who became unwell in late february. he started feeling ill on wednesday. he thought he had the flu. we were not associating his illness with covid. on their return to iceland, both haraldur and arnie tested positive.
i was not feeling ill or anything, so it was quite a shock because the news from italy wasn't great. a lot of people dying there, so you always think the worst, especially when you get a positive result from covid. in reykjavik, the test results landed on the desk of iceland's chief epidemiologist. for weeks, he'd been watching the spread of coronavirus from china, and now he knew he needed to act fast. i was excited, actually, because we had been preparing for this for many, many years. dr gudnason began to spot a pattern. the majority of iceland's positive cases had been on holiday in ischgl. austria appeared to have a much bigger covid problem than it realised. it was kind of strange to me at the time, that officially they were only a few cases reported from austria, the whole country, so something really didn't...didn't match, actually.
doctor gudnason raised the alarm. he reported the covid cases to the european union and sent a direct message to his austrian counterparts. iceland's government then put ischgl in the same travel category as wuhan. it's what happens next that's still so hotly contested. the regional government in austria's tyrol province now faced a major crisis which would end up costing both lives and money. for years, they'd marketed ischgl as a good time ski resort. many local businesses rely on the ski season for their annual income. covid threatened all that. rather than lock ischgl down, the authorities issued a press release saying the icelandic tourists had probably caught covid on the plane home.
i mean, that'sjust total nonsense. my friend was already sick while we were in ischgl, and there is no way that all of us got infected on the flight because we were not all travelling together. an e—mail sent at the time showed that local tyrol politicians hoped the plane theory would be enough to get ischgl "out of the firing line", as they wrote. the recipient of the e—mail subsequently leaked, but not denied, was herbert forster. so, ischgl wasn't shut down, and no warnings were issued to skiers. saturday the 7th of march was changeover day.
thousands of tourists were going home, thousands more arriving. perfect conditions for a highly contagious virus to spread. british couple david mills and christine harris were amongst the new arrivals. the place was great, it was buzzing, it was like benidorm on steroids. when we got there we thought, whoa, this was so busy, wasn't it? yeah. it was absolutely jam—packed. all of the bars were on, like, a strip, and we went to several of them. one of them was kitzloch. you couldn't get a drink. you couldn't get a drink, we walked right round the bar. that evening, the manager of the kitzloch bar, bernhard zangerl, got a phone call. hours before, one of his staff had had a covid test after feeling ill.
i was not watching on the phone and in the evening at about nine or ten o'clock, i had about maybe ten phone calls on my phone and i was thinking, 0k, what is going on? the test was positive. it meant the authorities could no longer put off taking action. yeah, of course it was a shock, we were sitting after this information with my colleagues at the bar, and we were yes, talking about the topic and everybody was kind of shocked. the kitzloch bar closed, but only for 2h hours. they were told they could reopen once they'd disinfected the venue and changed over the staff. meanwhile, all the other bars in ischgl stayed open. the regional government put out another press release, stating the virus was unlikely to spread in bars. their actions had fatal consequences.
she's joined a class action lawsuit on behalf of those who believe they got covid in ischgl, and the relatives of those who died. that's what peter kolba believes. he's a consumer rights lawyer leading efforts to hold the austrian government to account for what happened last year in ischgl and, he says, to try and prevent anything like this from happening again.
it's one of many cases being brought against governments worldwide for the way they've handled the pandemic. had the authorities closed a week earlier, after the icelandic tourists fell ill, thousands of people who arrived afterwards might have avoided infection. take nigel mallander. i did actually check the foreign office travel
advice before going. the foreign office said, you know, it's ok to travel, so i thought, well, why not? i'll go and spend a few days skiing. the bars in ischgl were still wide open for business. it was chock—a—block full of people. there was no indication at all that there was any problem in the town, as far as coronavirus was concerned. it was just business as usual. on friday the 13th of march, eight days after the alarm had been raised by iceland, austria's chancellor sebastian kurz suddenly decided to bypass the local authorities in tyrol and take action himself.
he announced that tourists had just one hour to leave ischgl. anyone left in the resort would be put in quarantine. what followed was utter chaos. i got a phone call about 2:00 in the afternoon from the young lady at my hotel, and she said, "you must get back here. you must leave the valley. the valley is being put into quarantine so you must get back here and leave." and i thought, "well, that's novel!" i was walking back towards the shop and a friend of mine came screeching up in his car. it was like a die hard, bruce willis—like handbrake turn, almost. "they're closing the whole valley in an hour.
if you don't get out now, you're not getting out at all. we need to get out, mate!" throw everything in a suitcase... l and it literally was throwing everything in a suitcase for you. and everybody was like, "what's happening? what's going on?" so you imagine people screaming off in their cars, like, driving at crowds, and just going for the main road. and that was the thing that got me. i thought, "my god, this is people seriously panicking now. they're seriously frightened. " and then i had the whole chaos of the shop to deal with. people were just coming in, they didn't want to wait, they were just chucking their skis, like, one after the — into the shop. didn't care what was happening. chucking their boots in, chucking their skis in. i was like, oh, my god. we had, like, 200 skis or so coming back that day, so i had no idea what was going on. i even got people on that last day coming in, like, coughing and spluttering, and, like, saying "covid". it wasn't just the tourists who were blindsided by the announcement. gunther sangherl was on the local covid management board.
we were on that coach, it crawled down the mountain. it's absolutely guaranteed that anybody that wasn't infected with the virus when they left ischgl was probably absolutely drenched in it by the time they got down the valley. the botched evacuation was the last in a string of costly mistakes by the austrian authorities, local and national. it's thought that skiers returning home from ischgl and surrounding resorts exported covid to as many as 45 countries, as far—flung as brazil and australia. more than 6000 people believe they were infected, and at least 16 people died. within a week of getting back to britain, david, christine and nigel all had covid. nigel was taken to hospital. the girls were standing in the hallway and there was — there was a real feeling, in my own mind. i thought...
"i'm walking out of my house now" and, i... i didn't know whether i'd be coming back on my feet or in a box. one year on, many of those caught up in the scarring events are still searching for answers. an independent enquiry details what it called "momentous miscalculations" in how the local authorities dealt with the virus at the time. some of those involved now face a criminal investigation. so did the authorities intentionally put wealth over health? the apparent lack of common sense in how they went about doing what they did, there was a whiff of the old jaws film and the mayor of amity island standing up in front of the tv cameras saying, "there's no shark here".
already lost more than $1 trillion so far as a result of the pandemic. in europe, austria has been one of the countries hardest hit. ischgl now lies deserted, but some here believe better times will soon return. even after this pandemic ends, will travel and tourism ever return to what we once thought was normal? tourism and travel of people from one place to another has been very open, and easy, within europe. and in my mind, that's probably played a big role. and the free movement of people from one area to another is going to be probably much more restrictive, i would think.
from here, we need to be expecting all kinds of different viruses. this is going to happen again, i can assure you. if it does happen again, europe will need to have a strategy and a better early warning system in place. otherwise, the risk is more pain and more grief. the human tragedy of ischgl highlights dilemmas posed by covid to governments the world over. one year on, many of us are still left wondering, if calamity strikes again, can we now trust those in power to make tough decisions fast and put our welfare first?
hello there. saturday was a disappointingly cold and cloudy day for many of us, and disappointing temperatures for early march. we did have a bit of sunshine, though, across western areas, but it's looking like sunday is going to be a bit of a repeat performance. it is going to stay chilly with limited sunny breaks and quite a bit of cloud around. now, the settled conditions are because of this area of high pressure which will continue to bring settled weather through sunday, but it's slowly going to lose its grip on our weather as we head on to the start of next week.
so, early for sunday, it's going to be cold and under clear skies. we will see some frost and mist and fog about, but there will be some patchy rain for northern and western scotland, a little bit of snow over the higher ground, too, but where we have the cloud, 4—6 degrees here versus sub—zero further south, so a cold start to sunday. there will be some early sunshine around, mind you, with the frost and a bit of mist and fog, but then it looks like the clouds will tend to build up again into the afternoon, so turning grey and cold for many. we'll have further rain for the north and west of scotland. i think temperatures here a degree or so up, 9 or 10 degrees, but elsewhere, 7 or 8 celsius. and then for sunday night, it will turn cold again for central and southern areas under clear skies, some further frost here but less cold further north — that's because we will have more cloud. some showery bursts of rain, which will also affect parts of the north into monday. so for northern ireland, parts of scotland, northern england, a bit of sunshine around too. after a cold start further south, there should be a bit of brightness around, but also cloud here and there.
i think temperatures a degree or so up across the board — nine or ten degrees will be the high. now into tuesday, the first of the weather fronts start to move in. this one's a weak feature, though, and it brings no more than a band of cloud with just a little bit of light rain on it. so it'll bring cloudier skies to northern and western areas initially. sunnier skies central, southern and eastern areas after a cool start. and the winds will start to pick up from the south—west. so temperatures again 9, 10, maybe 11 degrees. but cast your eyes out west. this massive rain tied in with a deep area of low pressure — something that we haven't seen in a while — that's going to sweep through tuesday night into wednesday and we could see another even deeper area of low pressure potentially move in wednesday into thursday. now, these areas of low pressure will also bring up some milder airfrom the south—west, certainly for england and wales, but it's certainly looking pretty stormy from mid—week onwards with some heavy rain, the potential of severe gales, and slightly less cold airfor some of us.
this is bbc news. welcome, if you're watching here in the uk or around the globe. i'mjames i'm james reynolds. our top stories: the yeas are 50. the nays are 49. the bill as amended is passed. applause by a single vote the us senate passes president biden�*s $1.9 trillion covid relief plan. pope francis holds an unprecedented meeting with iraq's top shia religious leader before going onto celebrate mass at a cathedral in baghdad. allegations of police brutality as security forces in myanmar use stun grenades and tear gas against anti—coup protesters.