this is bbc news. i'm rich preston. our top stories: a record 93,000 new coronavirus cases in the uk: scientists warn that tighter restrictions may be needed "very soon" to control hospital admissions in england. british socialite ghislaine maxwell, who's on trial on sex trafficking charges, tells the us court she won't be giving evidence. hello and welcome to bbc news. the 0micron strain of coronavirus is continuing to spread rapidly around the world. the headline figures are coming from europe — in particular, the uk.
over 93,000 cases have been recorded in the past 2a hours — a new record for a third consecutive day. documents from the government's scientific advisory group sage, seen by the bbc, suggest additional measures could be needed to slow the spread of the virus. 0ur health editor hugh pym has this report. it was a record day for boosters and unlike many other sites this week, there was no queueing at this walk—in centre in barnsley, set up yesterday. we've got a lot of vaccinators on site and a lot of admin support, so patients are getting a really good experience. they are in, they are out and away. but there is a warning that to slow the spread of the virus, the vaccination effort on its own may not be enough. papers from the expert sage committee seen by the bbc suggest that covid hospital admissions could double by the end of this
month. scotland's first minister, meanwhile, said her prediction of a tsunami of cases was now coming true with 0micron the dominant strain of the virus. she warned people again to limit social mixing. if what matters most to you is spending time with your loved ones on christmas day — and i think that's what matters right now to most or many of us — don't risk that by going out before then and possibly catching covid, because the reality is if you are mixing with others just now, getting this virus is a real and increasing risk. the spread of 0micron in the uk has led to a french government travel ban on british tourists from 11pm tonight. visitors will need a compelling reason to enter france. the virus is already putting pressure on the french health system with a new wave of cases. translation: the hospital icu is currently at full capacity - as patients have been coming in for the past 20 days. 70% of the icu patients are positive covid cases.
concerns are growing around europe. the uk's overall covid case rate relative to the population has gone up sharply but france is not that far behind, and denmark in recent days has seen a steep increase, and that's been linked to 0micron. the danish government is proposing new restrictions, including closing theatres and cinemas and limiting the numbers of people in shops. in ireland all restaurants and bars from sunday will have to close at 8pm and there will be a ban on evening indoor events. there were warnings, too, from the european commission president. we know that the 0micron variant is really threatening us. it is spreading at a ferocious pace and potentially has the risk of escaping our vaccines, at least partially. but on the question of vaccines, there is more positive news does make a preliminary uk study suggests they may be as much as 85%
effective in preventing people getting the new variant than needing hospital treatment. —— then. hugh pym, bbc news. cases are also rising sharply in the us, by over 40% to a 7—day average of 123,000 new recorded infections a day. hospitalisations due to covid have also jumped by 45% in the last month. the us infectious diseases expert dr anthony fauci says the high transmissibility of the 0micron variant means it could cause many additional deaths and he's leading calls for americans to get their booster shots. we are in the situation where we are now facing a very important delta surge and we're looking over our shoulder at an oncoming 0micron surge. clearly, unvaccinated individuals are really at a higher risk of serious involvement, including hospitalisation. the fully vaccinated are doing much better off. the optimum
protection is fully vaccinated plus a boost. so the bottom line of what we have been telling you all along, it is critical to get vaccinated. if you are vaccinated, it is critical for optimum protection to get boosted. the british socialite ghislaine maxwell, who's facing sex trafficking charges in the united states, has told the court she won't be giving evidence. ms maxwell said there was no need to testify because the prosecution hadn't proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. she denies grooming girls for the late convicted paedophilejeffrey epstein. 0ur correspondent nada tawfik has been outside the courthouse in new york. the defence has rested its case today and it comes after ghislaine maxwell decided not to take the stand in her own defence. as she stood up and addressed thejudge, she defence. as she stood up and addressed the judge, she said that there was no need for her to testify because the prosecution had not proved their case you want a reasonable doubt. so a very
defiant response there from ghislaine maxwell, who has been very involved throughout this whole trial, passing notes to her lawyers during cross examination of the accusers and others who have testified and her stating there that she will not tell her side of the story on the stand. of course, that would have been a very risky strategy, opening her up to intense examination by prosecutors. but really, this trial is moving incredibly fast. we are now set to have closing statements from both sides on monday. the defence of my case, after initially saying they may all 35 witnesses, they rested after calling nine witnesses. and none really revealing too much more to help their case. it seems that the defence is really relying on their cross—examination that happened during the prosecution's case of the key four accusers, prosecution's case of the key fouraccusers, hoping prosecution's case of the key four accusers, hoping they have
sown enough doubt injuries's mines to avoid a conviction for their client, ghislaine maxwell. —— mines. —— minds. in the us, the fraud trial of a entrepreneur, once named america's richest woman, is drawing to a close. the case of elizabeth holmes has fascinated the us. ms holmes wasjust 19 when she founded her company theranos in 2003. it promised to develop a �*pinprick�* blood test that could diagnose over 200 different diseases. it raised over $400 million and had high—profile board members, including henry kissinger. but soon came claims of flawed technology after customers received inaccurate results and later, a whistleblower revealed some samples were actually outsourced to other medical companies. ms holmes denies charges of fraud. she could face 20 years in prison if convicted. robert weisberg is a professor of criminal law at stanford university. he told us the main argument
she was using in her defence. it is almost a as if she is asking thejury to pick almost a as if she is asking the jury to pick whichever one works and one of them is the silicon valley story, but laypeople that is to say people who are not experts — have to understand that great innovation occurs through trial and error and we have to tolerate some error and that statement she weighed have been denounced those lies were aspirational. —— she may have lied. 0ther aspirational. —— she may have lied. other statements, she did not have other control of the company and a lot of the bad acts attributed to her were really done by her then partner andindeed really done by her then partner and indeed her personal partner, who is himself on trial and taking matters that further, she put on evidence that she had been emotionally accused in a very deleterious relationship with sunny balwani so he had taken her mental autonomy away and things she apparently said she had no control over, she had essentially been brainwashed, and on some other matters she
actually did a strange manoeuvre by sort of confessing to the jury, yes, manoeuvre by sort of confessing to thejury, yes, i should not have done that but i feel really bad about it. as if she is making a plea for sympathy and not for innocence. you are watching _ and not for innocence. you are watching bbc— and not for innocence. you are watching bbc news. _ and not for innocence. you are watching bbc news. to - and not for innocence. you are watching bbc news. to the - and not for innocence. you are | watching bbc news. to the uk. questions over borisjohnson�*s leadership have increased after his conservative party lost a by—election in north shropshire. the liberal democrats overturned a huge majority to win by nearly 6,000 votes in the traditionally safe tory seat. the result follows a difficult week for the prime minister with a major commons rebellion over his tougher covid measures and criticism of downing street parties held in breach of lockdown rules. and now, the country's top civil servant — the cabinet secretary simon case — has stepped aside from leading the inquiry into those parties after it emerged an event had been held in his own office. 0ur political editor laura kuenssberg reports. all: three, two, one!
cheering. they might not do subtle... it turns out that if you take the people for granted, there is a price to pay. but there was nothing subtle about the lib dems' dramatic burst of the tory bubble in this by—election. thousands upon thousands of voters switched sides. anger with the conservatives means a new lib dem is on their way to the commons. i think this is a watershed moment and i think we brought new hope to the whole nation, who have been so worried and fed up with borisjohnson. we've now beaten the conservatives in two of their safest seats this year. cheering. at about 4:15am, the liberal democrats smashed what had been a tory majority of over 20,000 in north shropshire. tired but jubilant after weeks of claims of sleaze and misbehaviour in downing street. borisjohnson, the party is over. thank you very much. thank you. many of the prime minister's mps blame the result for the cows under his roof.
does he? i am responsible for everything the government does and of course i take a personal responsibility. what people have been hearing is just a constant litany of stuff about politics and politicians — and stuff that isn't about them. but it keeps coming. it emerged that this man's team — simon case, the most senior civil servant in the country — �*a christmas party�* in lockdown. he is the one investigating the whitehall parties. tonight, miraculously, he stepped aside. another revered perhaps even feared civil servant sue grey will ask the questions instead. 232. jeering. it is the latest in a series of missteps and mistakes for number ten, missteps and mistakes for numberten, beginning missteps and mistakes for number ten, beginning when the government tried to change the rules on mps's behaviour on a tory was found to have broken
them. forgive my absence by some of the morning... it unleashed a torrent of claims about big money for second jobs. then the cringeworthy footage of number 10 staffjoking about their christmas party. then on tuesday, the biggest rebellion against this government so far. about half of tory members voted against covid passports. the prime minister simply cannot count on their support anymore. borisjohnson is no stranger to drama, to epic highs and chaotic lows, but the political danger to him right now is real and intense, being pounded by voters in what should be the safest of tory seats is the finale of a terrible month brought about in part by a series of mistakes and misjudgements in number 10 itself. there are strong, public and fierce private calls for him to change how he does business, and warnings tonight of what might happen if he does not or cannot.
the prime minister is now in last orders time. two strikes already — one earlier this week in the vote in the commons, now this. one more strike and he's out. the prime minister has always had enemies inside but a former leader who backs him warns he has to change. he is our leader and he will lead us to the next election. he will? are you sure of that? well, as long as he wishes to do it, he has the right to do it. the party has to get behind him and he has to deliver on the basis that downing street and the departments are themselves structured and disciplined. that will be the key litmus test. you are essentially saying he has to change and he has to make sure that the way his government operates has to change, or else? well, that is always the signal sent by the public when they feel that things have gone wrong and the answer to that is very simple — it's not more of the same. number 10 may take some comfort from the fact
that this by—election was a lib dem, not a labour breakthrough, but the cold reality — it's the prime minister who is being put on notice. laura kuenssberg, bbc news, downing street. you are watching bbc news. the headlines: as the uk records another record number of covid infections, scientists are warning that tougher restrictions will be needed in england "very soon" to control hospital admissions. and the british socialite ghislaine maxwell, who's on trial in new york on sex trafficking charges, has told the court she won't be giving evidence. the united states has called for an end to ethiopia's civil war, after the un voted for an independent investigation into atrocities by all sides. the conflict is ongoing between tigrayan rebels and the government. a state department spokesman
said he was concerned by reports of mass detentions and killings of ethnic tigrayans. the united states is home to a large, and very vocal, ethiopian ex pat community, which is divided along the same ethnic lines that fuel the conflict. barbara plett usher sent this report from washington. ethiopia's civil war is 7000 miles, away and it's right here in this kitchen, on this canvas. gabrielle's family is from the northern region of tigray, the epicentre of the conflict, the theme that consumes her art. it's like opening up a channel and a passageway taking us all back there. but what better way to create than with painting? there's so many other things i could do with that, i could destroy myself with it. for more than a year, the ethiopian army had been battling rebels from tigray and their allies. thousands are dead. human rights abuses committed on both side. parts of the country pushed into famine. tigrayans in the us
are desperate. the ethiopian government has blocked most aid and communication to the north. many have lost contact with their relatives. i can't sleep at night because i'm thinking about all of them. who's starving, which were the starving? what you think about what the us is doing? the us has not stepped in, the international community has not stepped in. they've allowed us to just suffer and suffer. so what is it that we are supposed to do, what other options do we have other than to fight back? outside the state department a chance to personally plead their case. we are not ignoring you. we want to listen to you. don't think that were not thinking of ways to be supportive of all sides of these conflict come of all the communities. what you see here in washington is a reflection of what's happening in ethiopia. the fighting is taking place between ethnic groups and the demonstrations here also showcase those ethnic divisions. across town, supporters of the ethiopian government insist that the west as got it wrong. the americans are calling for a cease—fire and negotiations with
the rebels, who are advancing on the capital. we can't negotiate with terrorists! would you negotiate with isis? no. you wouldn't. so it's not — we cannot — they are not equal partners. they kill, they rape, people die. my aunt, my uncle, my family is there. i don't know if they die or are still alive. the rebel leaders, known as the tplf, once governed the country with a heavy hand and are deeply resented by many ethiopians. the us is treading a fine line. the americans are talking to the ethiopian government. that's not the engagement that ethiopian people want. what do they want? they want support. they don't want support that's demonising the government and supporting the cause of the tplf. ethiopians in america where their identities with passion. but they have different views of what
ethiopia is — and that is deepening. a 27—year—old woman has been arrested on suspicion of child neglect after four children died in a house fire in south london. it's been confirmed that two sets of twin boys, aged three and four, were the only people in the property when fire crews arrived. an investigation is underway to find out how the blaze started. helena wilkinson reports from the scene. the four little boys who were killed in the fire named locally as kyson, bryson, layton and logan. they were found alone inside the house when crews arrived. richard doores is a neighbour. the fire brigade had came out on the roof, they broke the window, smoke came out. came through the back of my house into the front. by that time, the fire brigade had gone into the front door and started to run. they had a look around and they pulled four children out. the scale of the emergency
response was huge. 60 fire fighters tackled the intense flames. they ripped through the entire ground floor. the children were taken to hospital. it is there where they died. emergency services are used to dealing with difficult incidents. this, though, has been felt deeply. 0ur london fire brigade colleagues acted heroically in recovering the children, and i want to pay particular tribute to them. i know this incident will have a lasting impact on them and on the police officers and paramedics who were involved. flowers, teddies and messages of sympathy have been left here. two of the boys' nursery teachers were among those who came. they said the children's christmas presents had been waiting for them. the primary school attended by the four—year—old twins said:. —— at the scene, investigations continue tonight into how the fire started as this community comes to terms with such a tragic
loss of four little boys days before christmas. helena wilkinson, bbc news, sutton. in japan at least 27 people are feared to have died after a fire broke out in the city of osaka. police say they're investigating whether the fire was started deliberately. officials were alerted to the blaze on friday morning, with footage showing blackened windows on the fourth floor after it was extinguished. 12 people are now confirmed to have died in the philippines due to super typhoon rai. but authorities are still trying to reach some badly affected areas, and say the death toll could rise. the typhoon made landfall on the tourist island of siargao on friday, levelling homes and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. the united nations says some 13 million people may have been affected. sara monetta reports. after a the storm,
the devastation is everywhere. on friday, super typhoon rai pummeled the southern and central regions of the philippines. tearing roofs off buildings, uprooting trees. toppling power poles and flooding villages. these paradise islands, popular tourist destinations, are now cut off from the world. local airports are damaged and communications are down. more than 300,000 people had to flee their homes, and now they are in dire need for help. we had to bring ready—to—eat meals because people are on roofs and flooded areas and they waited to be assisted. we've already fed 30,000 people hot meals and we are looking at not only the evacuation service but those who have stayed in their homes. they have lost their
homes completely. it's a really bad situation. search teams are working to reach all those stranded by the floods. several people are still missing. rescuers fear the death toll might rise. the philippines is often affected by such huge typhoons. but the effects of climate change may be making them more frequent and more powerful. meaning scenes like these may become increasingly common in the years to come. it's the strictly come dancing final on saturday, but it's sad news for aj 0dudu and her partner kai widdrington, who have pulled out of the show. the tv presenter has torn a ligament in her right ankle. she says she's deeply upset she can't perform. it means there are just two couples left in the competition — they include rose ayling—ellis, the first deaf contestant to take part in the series, and john whaite, the first man to dance in a same—sex couple. nikki fox has this report. making history as the first deaf contestant on strictly
come dancing, rose ayling—ellis has changed the game. music stops. moments like this, dancing in silence, has busted myths about what it's really like to be deaf. you know that being deaf is nothing wrong — it's such a joy to be deaf. rose has introduced millions to british sign language and, just by being on the show, made it more accessible on and off camera. i feel really proud of that and i did that while enjoying myself and that is so lovely. i didn't have to fight for it, itjust happened, and that's what it should be like for all other disabilities. what are you doing? but for deaf and disabled actors like rose, there are many barriers in the way to achieving success. i've been to auditions in a property that is not accessible. this film has been made by a group of people who all work in the industry, and they're
fed up. having a disabled loo as my green room because the green room is up two flights of stairs, so "we thought we would put you a mat down on the floor here in the toilet." jack, what is the state of the industry for deaf and disabled talent? it's pretty abysmal, right now. there is exclusion everywhere. the efforts being made to solve that exclusion are pitiful. is seeing somebody like rose on strictly — is that enough? it's not enough, but it is glorious. rose isn't the only contestant this year breaking down barriers. john and johannes are strictly�*s first all—male couple. i was wondering how you both feel about being part of what is definitely the most diverse strictly final that there has ever been. it's an honour, you know? to be part of this — we've got rose representing the deaf community, aj is a proud black woman.
and we — we're a same—sex couple, but an interracial couple. itjust goes to show how far society has come. 10. even though aj has had to pull out of the final due to injury, all three couples have shown that by expressing themselves through dance every single week, celebrating what makes them who they are is what's got them to this point. nikki fox, bbc news. let's end with a story from south america. in colombia, an n60 is using pedal power to tackle exclusion in society. te llevamos — "we take you" — ensures that people with disabilities, and the elderly, can enjoy a bike ride round envigado, near the city of medellin. the n60 custom—makes the bikes to accomodate wheelchairs and walkers, and volunteers accompany the cyclists round the bicycle lanes on a sunday evening. this one a special christmas event.
much more of those stories on the bbc news website and the bbc news app. you can reach me on twitter. i'm @richpreston. you next time. hello. scotland and northern ireland have the lion's share of friday's sunshine, even these areas are likely to turn cloudier as we go on through the weekend. a weekend which will for most places, bring plenty of cloud. despite that, it will be dry, it will gradually turn cooler as that weekend goes on, as well. there is an area of high pressure right across the united kingdom giving plenty of settled weather as we go through the weekend. but trapped underneath that, there is a lot of cloud. now, where there have been clear spells overnight and into the morning, in scotland and northern england in particular, this is where we will wake up
to the lowest temperatures and there will be frost in places too. but there will also be some sunny spells and fog across the eastern side of england in particular, dense in places, some patches lingering all day in a few spots and thick enough to be affecting travel. in terms of where we see some sunny spells, scotland, northern england, westernmost parts of wales, far south of england, maybe a few brighter breaks in northern ireland at times. temperatures mainly around six or 10 celsius, but there it will be colder, fog lingers and there will be parts of scotland that stay just above freezing all day long. as we go on through saturday night, again, its way out for all those breaks in the cloud, particularly into parts of northern england and scotland, you'll find the lowest temperatures that create the risk of seeing a frost going into sunday, picking up the areas in blue here. the cloud, temperatures will not fall too far from where we've been during the day. but that cloud will be back again on sunday and again, there's a risk of seeing some dense fog patches in places to begin the day. in terms of any sunshine on sunday, notjust the higher ground in scotland, northern england and wales venturing into the hills you're most likely to see some sunshine through the valleys below, may well be stuck underneath cloud. and overall, it is trending cooler on sunday and getting colder still as we go
into the new week. now, high pressure will eventually give way as we go deeper through the week. but then the big question mark about how quickly these weather systems from the atlantic, or indeed if they will at all, move—in and provide a change to more unsettled weather in time for christmas. so, colderfor a time next week, more widespread overnight frost. but if you're looking at your app and the forecast online, yes, it may look as the returns and settled just before christmas. but there's still a lot to play for in the details.
advisers say more stringent restrictions will be need to be implemented "very soon" in england to prevent covid hospital admissions reaching 3,000 a day. ghislaine maxwell, who's on trial in the us on sex trafficking charges, has told the court she won't be giving evidence. ms maxwell said there was no need to testify because the prosecution hadn't proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. she denies grooming girls for the late convicted paedophilejeffrey epstein. borisjohnson says he takes "personal responsibility" for the conservatives' by—election defeat in north shropshire. he said there had been too much focus on the conduct of politicians, rather than measures which could improve people's lives. some of his mps have urged him to make changes. the chancellor rishi sunak has held talks with business leaders about the impact of 0micron, after cutting short a trip to the united states. many businesses are calling for urgent help from the government. retail sales have been hit,