this is bbc world news, i'm ben brown. our top stories... mandatory mask—wearing in shops and on public transport is being reintroduced in england, after two confirmed cases of the omicron variant of coronavirus in the uk. the health secretary says the goverment acted as quickly as they could. what we do know is much more about our own country and i think the speed at which we acted that, it could not have been any faster. israel will ban the entry of all foreigners for two weeks to try to prevent the spread of the new omicron variant — one case has so far been confirmed in the country. dozens of people who arrived at amsterdam's schipol airport from south africa on friday have covid—i9. dutch health authorities are testing
to see if it's the omicron variant. european ministers — minus the uk home secretary priti patel — meet for talks in calais today about how to stop migrants crossing the channel. and weather warnings are still in place in parts of the uk — as the clean up from storm arwen continues. hello and welcome to bbc news. the uk health secretary, sajid javid, is due to give more details about the government's new covid measures aimed at combatting the omicron variant — that's the variant discovered in southern africa. it comes after two cases were detected in essex and nottingham. from tuesday — all international travellers arriving in the country must now take a pcr test within two days, and self—isolate, until they get a negative result.
all those who've been in contact with someone who has the omicron variant, will also have to self—isolate for ten days, regardless of whether they've been vaccinated. face coverings will once again become compulsory in shops and on public transport in england from next week. in scotland, wales and northern ireland they're already mandatory on public transport and in many indoor areas. katharine da costa reports. it is hard to believe just a week ago no—one had even heard of omicron, a highly mutated covid variant that may spread more rapidly and could make vaccines less effective. but with the confirmation of two cases of the variant here in the uk, concerns have escalated quickly. our scientists are learning more hour by hour and it does appear that omicron spreads very rapidly and can be spread between people who are double vaccinated.
there is also a very extensive mutation which means it diverges quite significantly from previous configurations of the virus and, as a result, it might at least in part reduce the protection of our vaccines over time. four more countries in southern africa have been added to the travel red list, bringing the total to ten. from next week there will be new targeted restrictions, all international arrivals must take a pcr test on day two and self isolate until they receive a negative result, all contacts of suspected omicron cases must self isolate regardless of their vaccine status and in england face coverings will be mandatory in shops and on public transport as is the case already in other uk nations. the point we have at the moment is there's a lot of uncertainty about the new omicron variant
and because of that uncertainty it is sensible to take a precautionary approach until we know which way things are going. the government had been criticised for being too slow to act with delta — this time they've moved quickly but the opposition thinks they could have gone further. the government's plan b has always been our plan a. - we think that mask wearing should be commonplace in public— spaces, especially indoors. we think that people should be able to work from home - where that is possible. i think we should have been doing all those things - already so of course we want them to be doing that now. _ the message is vaccines are still our best defence. mrjohnson said they plan to boost the booster campaign and would ask the jcvi whether they should be offered to all adults and if the gap should be shortened between the second and third doses. we don't yet exactly know how effective our vaccines will be against omicron, but we have good reasons for believing they will provide at least some measure of protection
and, if you are boosted, your response is likely to be stronger. so it is more vital than ever that people get theirjabs and we get those boosters into arms as fast as possible. the prime minister said he thought christmas would be better than last year. the new measures will be reviewed in three weeks, by which time we should know how big a threat omicron poses and whether ministers have done enough to limit its spread. katharine da costa, bbc news. our political correspondent, jonathan blake is with me. we jonathan blake is with me. have been hearing this from we have been hearing this morning from the health secretary, sajid javid, what else has he been saying? he has been outlining the government strategy as a whole, which she says is to act in a swift and proportionate way and to buy time
and learn more about the new variant of coronavirus. in the meantime, putting in place measures which the government hopes will mitigate the spread and impact of it. a couple of the pressing questions we are asking, how effective will vaccines be against it? he said they remained the first line of defence. the government is encouraging people to come forward, as ever, to get vaccine doses which they are eligible for. there will be new advice on whether to expand the boosterjabs, a third dose of the vaccine to more adults and they head sanskrit terry said he expected imminently, so within the next couple of days we could learn more about that. but he did say there is about that. but he did say there is a chance the vaccines may be effective against the new omicron variant. he was also asked about measures the government is taking to contain the spread in the first instance. we are in the early stages, it was found in south africa on wednesday and the government did act relatively quickly, as opposed
to earlier on in the pandemic. but still he was pressed by andrew marr this morning on bbc one about what the government did in the first instance and whether it could have done more to stop passengers coming in from southern african countries spreading the new variant. all people coming from southern africa before _ people coming from southern africa before the _ people coming from southern africa before the red list was a legal requirement, first of all they have all been _ requirement, first of all they have all been contacted. notjust requirement, first of all they have all been contacted. not just all of them _ all been contacted. not just all of them but — all been contacted. not just all of them but all of those that arrived in the _ them but all of those that arrived in the test— them but all of those that arrived in the last ten days prior to that and they— in the last ten days prior to that and they have all been asked to take tests and _ and they have all been asked to take tests and isolate, of course, if they— tests and isolate, of course, if they are — tests and isolate, of course, if they are positive.— tests and isolate, of course, if they are positive. how did they get home from — they are positive. how did they get home from the _ they are positive. how did they get home from the airport? _ they are positive. how did they get home from the airport? they - they are positive. how did they get | home from the airport? they would have not home from the airport? they would have got home _ home from the airport? they would have got home in _ home from the airport? they would have got home in the _ home from the airport? they would have got home in the normal - home from the airport? they would have got home in the normal way. l have got home in the normal way. pubtic— have got home in the normal way. public transport? the speed reworked, it was not possible to go any faster— reworked, it was not possible to go any faster than that. you reworked, it was not possible to go any faster than that.— any faster than that. you didn't test them _ any faster than that. you didn't test them as — any faster than that. you didn't test them as they _ any faster than that. you didn't test them as they came - any faster than that. you didn't test them as they came into i any faster than that. you didn't - test them as they came into heathrow and then— test them as they came into heathrow and then they — test them as they came into heathrow and then they were _ test them as they came into heathrow and then they were allowed _ test them as they came into heathrow and then they were allowed to - and then they were allowed to disperse — and then they were allowed to disperse around _ and then they were allowed to disperse around the _ and then they were allowed to disperse around the country. and then they were allowed to - disperse around the country without being _ disperse around the country without being tested — disperse around the country without being tested and _ disperse around the country without being tested and if— disperse around the country without being tested and if the _ disperse around the country without being tested and if the dutch - being tested and if the dutch exrreriehce _ being tested and if the dutch experience is— being tested and if the dutch experience is anything - being tested and if the dutch experience is anything to - being tested and if the dutch experience is anything to goi being tested and if the dutch i experience is anything to go by, being tested and if the dutch - experience is anything to go by, 10% had the _
experience is anything to go by, 10% had the new— experience is anything to go by, 10% had the new variant _ experience is anything to go by, 10% had the new variant of _ experience is anything to go by, 10% had the new variant of coronavirus? i had the new variant of coronavirus? i don't _ had the new variant of coronavirus? i don't want — had the new variant of coronavirus? tdon't want to— had the new variant of coronavirus? i don't want to jump _ had the new variant of coronavirus? i don't want to jump to _ had the new variant of coronavirus? i don't want to jump to conclusion l idon't want to jump to conclusion about— i don't want to jump to conclusion about the — i don't want to jump to conclusion about the dutch experience, there is about the dutch experience, there is a lot about the dutch experience, there is a tot we _ about the dutch experience, there is a lot we don't know about what is happening — a lot we don't know about what is happening and what is happening in other— happening and what is happening in other countries. what we do know is much _ other countries. what we do know is much more — other countries. what we do know is much more about our own country and ithink— much more about our own country and ithink the _ much more about our own country and i think the speed at which we acted, it could _ i think the speed at which we acted, it could not — i think the speed at which we acted, it could not have been any faster. in terms— it could not have been any faster. in terms of— it could not have been any faster. in terms of those people that may have already arrived from southern africa _ have already arrived from southern africa before the rules change, i think— africa before the rules change, i think the — africa before the rules change, i think the appropriate and right thing _ think the appropriate and right thing to— think the appropriate and right thing to do was to contact them all and make — thing to do was to contact them all and make sure that they are taking tests— and make sure that they are taking tests and _ and make sure that they are taking tests and self isolating if necessary. that is exactly what we have _ necessary. that is exactly what we have done — necessary. that is exactly what we have done-— have done. the health secretary confirmed it _ have done. the health secretary confirmed it would _ have done. the health secretary confirmed it would be _ have done. the health secretary confirmed it would be a - have done. the health secretary confirmed it would be a legal- confirmed it would be a legal requirement to wear a face covering in england on public transport and in england on public transport and in shops. that brings it into line with the rest of the uk, where face coverings are a legal requirement in certain settings. and on whether the government might go further, asking more people to work from home or introducing other social distancing measures, sajid javid said he was not at that stage, that was not
something that was of interest to him. so clear indication that at least the government certainly doesn't want to go and isn't expecting to go any further in terms of restrictions in the near future. and apparently, we can all still look forward to christmas. i think he said it was _ look forward to christmas. i think he said it was going _ look forward to christmas. i think he said it was going to _ look forward to christmas. i think he said it was going to be - look forward to christmas. i think he said it was going to be a - look forward to christmas. i think he said it was going to be a greatj he said it was going to be a great christmas. what about political support for these measures, broadly, are the other parties in support? labour said the government should be going further. they have said mandatory face coverings should be part of the government's plan a, which is set out early and then there, —— early in the year. and encouraging more people to work from home and covid passports which are part of the government's plan b, which has not been fully implemented, should be in place. they are asking questions about the detail, particularly around the pcr tests, which will be a requirement for travellers coming into the uk, how they will be managed, how they
will be enforced and to what extent they will be effective if people are left to their own judgment and responsibility to do them. jonathan, thank ou responsibility to do them. jonathan, thank you very _ responsibility to do them. jonathan, thank you very much _ responsibility to do them. jonathan, thank you very much indeed. - israel is to ban the entry of all foreigners for two weeks to try to prevent the spread of the new omicron variant, first detected in south africa. one case has so far been confirmed in the country — with seven more people suspected of being infected. sophisticated anti—terrorism technology will be used to track the phones of those with the variant. mark lobel reports. with the christmas season launched here in bethlehem, omicron's arrival is the news nobody wished for. translation: the coronavirus will not be a reason _ to stop life in bethlehem, palestine and the world. israel begins its festival of lights with the proposal to ban all foreigners entering for at least two weeks. we are raising a red flag.
we understand that we are on the verge of a state of emergency. and now is the time to act fast early, hard and strong. switzerland's response — a ten day quarantine for travellers from countries with known cases of the highly transmissible variant. first detected in south africa, there have been at least four cases of omicron in botswana, two in hong kong and one in belgium. there have been at least two cases in southern germany, one in italy and two in the uk. a suspected case in the czech republic and dozens of these arrivals from south africa to the netherlands tested positive and are suspected of having omicron. and now australia has confirmed its first cases of omicron in passengers from southern africa. with cases spreading around the world fast, there's anger at the many travel
bans singling out south africa and its neighbours. why are we locking away africa when this virus is already on three continents? nobody is locking away belgium, nobody is locking away israel. african leaders need to sit up in this moment, our presidents needs to wake up in this moment and realise it is not business as usual, their continent is at stake, our lives are at stake. as preparations for christmas get under way the uk, us... france, romania... and lithuania, the next four weeks should determine whether this extremely transmissible variant will spike the vaccine progress made so far, or whether scenes like these can continue into the christmas season. mark lobel, bbc news. joining me now is caroline davies,
our business correspondent. in terms of the uk government's response, we heard from the health secretary sajid javid in a lot of detail and they are relying on pcr testing to catch this variant? brute testing to catch this variant? we know pcr testing to catch this variant? - know pcr testing will come in for all international arrivals into the uk from next week. there is a bit of confusion about exactly which state it will come in from. there has been previous suggestions from sajid javid that they are planning for it to be around tuesday, but nothing is absolutely confirmed. earlier today, the government website did put a warning, an important message across people filling in the passenger locator forms, people filling in the passenger locatorforms, the people filling in the passenger locator forms, the form that everyone who comes into the country has to fill in, which said it will be coming in from 4am on tuesday. we haven't had official government recognition that is the exact date it will come in on, but we will give you more information when we find that out. but yes, pcr testing
coming in for international arrivals. that was only phased out at the end of last month, the 24th of october for england and the 31st of october for england and the 31st of scotland, wales and northern ireland. so it is a recent change to move away from pcr testing to lateral flow tests. lateral flow test, they cannot be sequenced to be able to identify variants. they were originally phased out and month or so ago because the suggestion was that there variant of concern we knew were circulating, there wasn't a need to be able to identify it. so some epidemiologists said this was too early, the point of having these pcr tests on entry was that you are able to identify these variants as they come in, there is essentially, it waves a red flag as soon as someone arrives in the country. but other people said without any variance of concern currently circulating around the world, there was no need for it and they were very expensive and people were taken a lateral flow test and if they
tested positive with that, they will take a pcr test. we are going back to pcr tests to make sure the government can keep an eye on any variance that come into the country as soon as they arrive. in variance that come into the country as soon as they arrive.— as soon as they arrive. in terms of business and _ as soon as they arrive. in terms of business and the _ as soon as they arrive. in terms of business and the hospitality - as soon as they arrive. in terms of| business and the hospitality sector and the retail sector, they will be worried about christmas, the run—up to christmas? how is all this going to christmas? how is all this going to impact christmas? we have heard from sajid javid saying it will be a great christmas and borisjohnson said it would be better than last christmas. but there will be concerned this new variant is going to knock things off track? edi to knock things off track? of course, at this stage it is mostly about a crisis of confidence, that if people feel like things are changing and they may not make the same plans they would have done if they felt more confident, that the virus, their life is getting back to some level of normality. that is a major concern for a lot of industries, a lot of hospitality. they want people to make plans, they want people to be out enjoying their
services. if people feel a lack of confidence, they may change their behaviour at this crucial and important time in the run—up to christmas. that is what the going through a lot of business' mines, people's behaviour in the run—up to christmas. the more information we get about the variance in how it is spreading, how much of a risk of this particular new variant will be and how people are feeling about it. caroline, thank you very much indeed. well, as has been mentioned, 61 people who arrived in amsterdam on two flights from south africa on friday are infected with covid—i9 and have been placed into isolation.
they were among 600 passengers who were held for several hours after arrival while they were tested for the virus. the dutch health authorities are conducting further testing to see if any of them are carrying the recently discovered �*omicron' variant — now classed as a variant of concern. the bbc�*s anna holligan is outside schipol airport airport in amsterdam, with the latest. those passengers are being held in isolation in a hotel or at home not farfrom here. the ministry of health last night confirmed it suspected some of those passengers are indeed carrying the new variant, omicron. we are expecting confirmation later today, further sequencing tests are taking place. but flights are continuing to land, one due in from johannesburg in about an hour and another from cape town. i spoke to the airport earlier today and they said as soon as those passengers land, they will be subjected to pcr tests right away. these arrivals are causing a lot of concern in the netherlands, facing record—breaking infection rates and, of course, today new messages are coming into place to try to stop the hospitals here from becoming overwhelmed. those people, when they arrived, there was quite a lot of consternation wasn't there? they didn't know what was going on,
they didn't feel like they were being properly informed? precisely. the airport told us this was an extraordinary situation and they are evaluating how it is being handled. today, a lot of the places people are hoping to visit will be closing early because under these new measures bars, restaurants, cafes, nonessential shops will all have to close at five o'clock in the afternoon until five o'clock in the morning. amateur sports, too. this is the time of year when so many businesses were hoping to recover some of the costs lost during the pandemic, but these measures are considered to be critical. because record—breaking infection rates, another 22,000 new cases diagnosed yesterday, icus overwhelmed and now looking at this new variant possibly running wild. ministers from belgium, germany and the netherlands are expected in calais today, to discuss the growing risks
of migration across the channel. the meeting comes after at least 27 people died trying to reach uk shores on wednesday. the home secretary, priti patel, was due to join the meeting but was disinvited amid growing diplomatic tensions, as our france correspondent lucy williamson reports. they say that people smugglers are the enemy but the fight is pushing london and paris apart. this is not really a bilateral issue, france says. the uk must talk to the eu as a whole. but today the eu will be talking together while london has been left out into the cold. more than half the people in migrant camps here have come from belgium, the government says, in search of the shortest route across the channel to british shores. a few miles from these sodden tents, france's interior minister will meat colleagues from belgium, germany, the netherlands and the eu today to discuss how to tackle the people smuggling networks.
the uk's absence highlights the tension this issue is causing. british politicians used to remind their european counterparts during brexit negotiations that the uk was not leaving europe, just leaving the eu. what that distinction means for managing cross channel migration is still being hammered out. lucy williamson, bbc news, calais. people in honduras are going to the polls in a general election to elect a president and members of the national congress. there's instability in the central american nation, after the current president, juan orlando hernandez, was named as part of a drug trafficking ring by the us justice department. many analysts fear a repeat of the events of four years ago, when accusations of voter fraud led to violent street protests. our central america correspondent, will grant, reports.
it is one of the most closely watched and eagerly anticipated elections in honduras in decades. voters in the impoverished central american nation have the chance to make their voices heard after some of the toughest years they've ever been through and many expect them to call for change. that could again open the door to the presidential palace to the former first lady, xiomara castro. standing on a platform of democratic socialism, she plans to decriminalise abortion, bring down soaring utility bills and create an anti—corruption commission. "come on, people, let's go together," she said to her supporters as she closed her campaign. urging people to overthrow the dictatorship. specifically she was referring to the country's controversial president, juan orlando hernandez, and his powerful national party. mr hernandez, who many accuse of stealing the last election has been embroiled in a series of corruption scandals, with his brother serving life imprisonment in the united states on drug trafficking charges.
although he denies any wrongdoing himself, president hernandez may need a national party win to protect him from extradition. however, his party's candidate, the mayor of tegucigalpa, nasry asfura, has distanced himself from the tainted leader. translation: | am different | because of my work, my effort, my way of doing things, of doing politics. hondurans have been hit especially hard by the economic downturn from covid and from extreme weather events like the powerful storms eta and iota, which battered the nation last year. as a result, migration to the us has skyrocketed. the vote will be held against that backdrop of deep poverty and exhaustion with the political classes. amid the high security and tension, most hondurans simply hope the vote count is transparent and the result respected by all sides. will grant, bbc news, tegucigalpa.
a popular indian stand—up comedian has indicated he won't perform any more after hindu fundamentalists forced organisers to cancel several of his shows. munawar faruqui says 12 shows have been cancelled in the past two months following threats by vigilante groups to the artist and the promoters. mr faruqui — who is one of only a few muslim comics in india — says hate has won and the artist has lost. earlier this year he spent a month in jail on charges of insulting hindu gods during a rehearsal. his lawyers say he was arrested forjokes he didn't make. the women's tennis association says it remains concerned about chinese tennis star, peng shuai's ability to communicate freely, openly, and directly. ms peng disappeared from public view for three weeks after accusing a top government official of sexual assault.
on wednesday, wta chairman and ceo steve simon, said he would not engage in further email communications with her because it was �*clear her responses were influenced by others.�* in a statement regarding the comments, the wta said: yaqiu wang is a senior researcher on china for human rights watch, she gave us her assessment of the situation. i agree with the wta, i don't think she is free even though she appeared on those pictures. china's history of silencing critics and then disappearing them, and the making them reappear on videos. this fits into the history of doing that. if
the government really wants to show that she is free, why not let her talk to whoever, hold a press conference or let her leave china so she can speak to whoever she wants to speak. everybody knows, this must involve some kind of state surveillance or coercion. what i also envision is a government orchestrated narrative of peng shuai is just shameful. orchestrated narrative of peng shuai isjust shameful. i orchestrated narrative of peng shuai is just shameful. i am very encouraged to see the w to a's referred —— the wta's response. international business and sports organisations usually cower to the chinese government and to see this is very encouraging and hopefully other international organisations will follow suit.
hundreds of environmental protesters in serbia have blocked roads in the capital, belgrade, and several other towns. they're angry about government plans to offer the mining giant, rio tinto, the rights to extract lithium in the town of loznitza. you are watching bbc news. several weather warnings remain in place across much of scotland and northern england this morning, as the effects of storm arwen continue to disrupt transport networks and power supplies. three people are now known to have died after gale force winds brought down trees and damaged buildings, with heavy snowfall leaving hundreds of drivers stranded. greg mckenzie has more. a winter wonderland for many across large parts of northern britain but for others, a day of disruption, with road and rail travel affected, power lines brought down in swaledale, in the yorkshire dales, leaving many without electricity. the situation made worse in some places by heavy snow. a lot of the people are reasonably
well—prepared because they live here and it is sort of a thing that happens occasionally during the winter but we do have people like our neighbour, patricia, who they do struggle quite a lot �*cause they do not have heating, they do not have the sort of flexibility to cope. across the uk, falling trees have killed three people. one man in aberdeenshire, another in cumbria and a third in antrim. francis lagan died when galeforce winds brought a large branch down to his car. he was travelling with his wife and two of his children at the time. scotland and the north—east of england felt storm arwen's full force, battered by strong winds of nearly 100 mph. i had two kids in here as well and they were freaking out.
they were like, is that a thunderstorm? but i think it was the roof coming apart and it sounded a bit like thunderstorm. scotrail says several of its routes will be suspended until the end of today. network rail scotland saying the situation was one of the most challenging in recent memory. announcement: we have no metro services operating systemwide. .. - in newcastle upon tyne, the metro network was brought to a standstill when it should have been heaving with christmas shoppers. this is certainly one of the worse winter storms we have seen in the entire history of the metro, which goes back 41 years, certainly in terms of the scale and the speed of the damage that was caused by the galeforce winds. it has been horrendous for us, it has wiped out the entire system. lner says its customers should not travel north of york today because they are not able to run trains between newcastle and edinburgh. and at gwryck castle in north wales, all the celebrities are out and back in covid isolation. while they wait for technical
problems to be repaired. storm arwen knocked out the show�*s production base, forcing cancellation of this weekend's planned episodes. as for today, a yellow warning for ice will remain in place until 11 o'clock this morning. it has been issued for northern and eastern scotland, along with much of the north of england. the uk health security agency has issued a coldweather alert until monday afternoon and is advising people to check—in on older neighbours or relatives, especially those who live alone. greg mckenzie, bbc news. hello there. after the damage and disruption caused by storm arwen yesterday, today is going to be a much calmer affair with lighter winds but it will stay cold, and despite some autumn sunshine there will also be
some wintry showers. one or two showers across scotland and northern ireland and mainly dry and northern ireland and mainly dry and bright afternoon here. temperatures between two and 8 degrees in most places. tonight we will continue to see some of those wintry showers affecting eastern part of england but this band of cloud and patchy rain moves into northern ireland and western scotland. a bit of snow on the leading edge as it runs into cold air. most of the starting monday with a frost but northern ireland and western scotland starting monday on a milder note and as this band of cloud and patchy rain sinks south—eastward through the day lee will introduce westerly winds and mild air. temperatures in belfast and glasgow 10 degrees tomorrow afternoon, compare with that with five in hull and five in norwich. now a bbc news, it is time for political thinking with nick robinson.