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tv   BBC News  BBC News  December 18, 2021 3:00pm-3:31pm GMT

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government scientific advisors warn tougher covid restrictions may be needed "very soon" in england — to avoid a steep rise in hospital admissions as omicron cases surge. london's mayor declares a "major incident" — meaning the capital's nhs bodies, councils and emergency services can work closer together to limit the impact of the spread of omicron. it's really important londoners understand how serious things are. the best thing londoners can do is to get both vaccines and the booster, they provide extra layers of protection. football stadiums and shopping centres are among nearly 3000 venues in england offering booster jabs this weekend — some are open round—the—clock.
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a woman arrested following a fire at sutton in south london, in which four young boys died, has been bailed — the 27—year—old, who was arrested on suspicion of child neglect, will return to a south london police station in mid—january. the uk's top civil servant steps down from running an inquiry into downing street parties — because of an event in his own office. the british socialite, ghislaine maxwell, who denies sex—trafficking charges in the united states, has told the court she won't be giving evidence. and, aston villa's match against burnley is the latest premier league game to be postponed due to coronavirus. that leaves just one match due to take place in the premier league today — with leeds united facing arsenal.
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good afternoon and welcome to bbc news. as concern grows about the spread of the 0micron variant, in the past few minutes the mayor of london, sadiq khan, has declared a major incident in the capital. it means a greater pooling of resources between local authorities and emergency services. london is the epicentre of the uk's 0micron surge — where up to a third of the city's population is still unvaccinated. let's hear a little more of what sadiq khan has had to say. i've been meeting over the last few days on a daily basis with colleagues across the city, from the nhs to councils, from the fire service to the police. we are incredibly concerned by the huge surge in the 0micron variant.
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over the last 2a hors we have had the largest number of new cases since this pandemic began, more than 26,000, hospital admissions are going up, but also staff absences are going up by massive levels. so i've taken the decision, in consultation with our partners, to declare a major incident today. it's a statement of how serious things are, but also it means that rather than different public authorities working separately, we will be working together through both the london resilience forum, but also throughout the strategic coordination group. it's really important londoners understand how serious things are. the best thing londoners can do is to get both vaccines and the booster, they provide extra layers of protection. the really bad news is those in hospital, the vast, vast majority are unvaccinated. that's why it's so important to get both the vaccines and the
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booster jab. londoners will notice over the course of the next few days even more places across the city offering the vaccines and the booster. behind the scenes, what they won't see, is the coordination that is now going to have to take place a number of times during the course of a day between the nhs, the ambulance service, the fire service, the police service, city hall, our councils. what we can't afford to see it is even more of our crucial key workers going off sick because they have this virus. that's why it's so important to help us help you by getting the jabs that you need to, the vaccines and the booster. caroline russell is a green councillor and is chair of the london assembly's health committee. can't health committee. you just tell us, first of all, can't you just tell us, first of all, of course at this major incident that has been declared, sadiq khan did the same back in january. can you just explain what it entails? january. can you “ust explain what it entails? , ., ., �* , .,
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it entails? first of all, it's a sianal it entails? first of all, it's a signal of — it entails? first of all, it's a signal of how— it entails? first of all, it's a signal of how very - it entails? first of all, it's a signal of how very seriously situation that landing is facing is. we are seeing very high case rates, lambeth is the borough with the highest case rates in not the whole country. it is a signal that we really need all our emergency services, our hospitals, our borough is to work together to help get us through what is going to clearly be a tricky and difficult few weeks. just so people know, because of course it can sound potentially alarming to hear, in a practical sense, what will people notice? what differences will they see? we sense, what will people notice? what differences will they see?— differences will they see? we will see many more — differences will they see? we will see many more places _ differences will they see? we will see many more places coming . differences will they see? we will. see many more places coming open differences will they see? we will- see many more places coming open for people to get their vaccine. lots of people to get their vaccine. lots of people in london have not come forward for the first vaccine, some are due their second and many people are due their second and many people are still due to get there at best
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the biggest message for all london there is, so we can all play our part in helping to reduce the number of people who get seriously ill and need hospital help, is for all of us to play our part and to come forward for our vaccines. the assembly health committee, we have looked at the impact of coronavirus throughout the impact of coronavirus throughout the pandemic, we have seen very high rates of infection, hospitalisation, and sadly also test. what it seems right now is that we are seeing rising rates of sickness amongst our emergency services, the fire brigade are not able to help the ambulance service with drivers because so many of the fire brigade workers are off sick with coronavirus. the ambulance service is seeing high levels of sickness as well, and we are also seeing high levels of sickness amongst hospital staff. so there is
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amongst hospital staff. so there is a real stretch, and that's why we need everyone to do everything they can— wear a mask, keep washing your hands — do all of those things, a indoor social mixing where possible. just everyone do everything we can to reduce the transmission of what seems to be a very, very infectious virus. ~ , . ., u ., ., seems to be a very, very infectious virus. ~ , . ., ., ., , virus. why are the vaccination rates so much lower— virus. why are the vaccination rates so much lower in _ virus. why are the vaccination rates so much lower in london? - virus. why are the vaccination rates so much lower in london? i- virus. why are the vaccination rates so much lower in london? i think. so much lower in london? i think there is a — so much lower in london? i think there is a mixture _ so much lower in london? i think there is a mixture of _ so much lower in london? i think there is a mixture of reasons. - there is a mixture of reasons. london boroughs have been doing huge amounts of work to talk to people, explain why vaccines are important, and to reduce the hesitancy that people have to come forward. there is a massive campaign at the moment, making sure that there are lots of places where it is easy for people to come forward for a vaccine. walk
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in clinics, you don't have to have an appointment, you canjust in clinics, you don't have to have an appointment, you can just come and get yourjab, and that will give you more protection particularly against serious illness from the survivors. , ., , ., ., ., survivors. the previous time a ma'or incident was — survivors. the previous time a ma'or incident was declared d survivors. the previous time a ma'or incident was declared it i survivors. the previous time a ma'or incident was declared it was i incident was declared it was declared on january 8 incident was declared it was declared onjanuary 8 and was stood down on february 26. 0f declared onjanuary 8 and was stood down on february 26. of course, no crystal ball here, but what would things need to look like in order for this major incident to be stood down? i for this ma'or incident to be stood down? ~ ., ., ., down? i think we will get more of a icture of down? i think we will get more of a picture of that _ down? i think we will get more of a picture of that over _ down? i think we will get more of a picture of that over the _ down? i think we will get more of a picture of that over the next - down? i think we will get more of a picture of that over the next week i picture of that over the next week to ten days. we are about to see the hospitalisations due to the bit of 0micron come into our hospitals in the next week and going forward. this is a new virus, we don't know for certain, but certainly even if you get the best case scenario that it causes less serious illness than
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delta, it is still going to cause a lot of people to need hospital care. we really need to take this very seriously and do everything we can to reduce the spread, and to protect ourselves, and to talk to friends and family about the importance of getting vaccinated.— getting vaccinated. caroline, thank ou. meanwhile, there's a warning that tougher covid restrictions may need to be brought in "very soon" in england to avoid hospital admissions potentially peaking at around 3000 a day, as cases of the 0micron variant surge. the comments appear in leaked minutes from a meeting of the government's scientific advisory group for emergencies. leading infectious diseases expert professor neil ferguson says the situation looks precarious. here's our health correspondent, katharine da costa. there's no time to lose — jabs are now available 2a hours a day at this vaccine centre in north london, as nhs staff and volunteers across the country strive to reach i millionjabs a day.
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in london, where the 0micron variant is already driving currently around 800 covid patients are being admitted each day in england, but leaked minutes from government scientific advisers suggest that without further measures, we could see a surge of 1000 to 2000 admissions a day by the end of the year, and a possible peak of around 3000 a day. similar to levels in early january. to avoid significant pressure, sage advisers say... that is the major concern. and we will be able to be more certain about that scenario and exactly what we are heading into in the next few days, i think, with the increasing amount of data coming in. but it is a real concern we will be heading into something which has the risk of overrunning the health service. testing for the virus
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is also crucial. the vaccines minister was at a royal mail depot in derbyshire this morning. deliveries of pcr and lateral flow kits are being ramped up to 900,000 a day to make sure everyone who needs a test can get one. lateral flow devices are very effective at picking up the 0micron variant, as well as other variants, and it's the best way to make sure that they are free of the virus before they do visit friends and family this christmas or go to large events. the government at westminster has said current plan b measures in england are appropriate, but would go further if new data suggests that's needed. wales and scotland have already tightened some restrictions. representatives from all uk nations are expected to gather for an emergency cobra meeting this weekend. katharine da costa, bbc news. professor alan mcnally is director of institute of microbiology and infection at birmingham university.
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i asked him earlier if pcr tests were more accurate and effective than lateral flows. i think this has been slightly dostorted. slightly distorted. lateral flow tests are excellent at detecting people with levels of virus that would equate to the infectious state, but pcr is very good at picking up very low levels of infection, so very early or very late stage infections. but actually lateral flow tests are good enough. if you have symptoms, a lateral flow test will be able to tell you whether you have covid or not. there is no argument about that, there is enough published data now to show that. my point about the pcr test, at the moment in some areas of the country the epidemic is now doubling every 1.5 days, and it takes two to three days to get a pcr result, so you have to question why we're doing all be pcr tests if it takes double
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the _ amount of time to get a result back than it does for the epidemic to be doubling. so you could switch to test sites delivering lateral flow tests there and then so the patient gets an immediate result and that can be registered and we can still keep track of numbers. then we can use the react study, the 0ns study, and we still have lots of positive covid cases from hospitals. the point i'm trying to make is that the lateral flows give a much quicker result and can still give us as much data than pcr tests currently do. do you think then that we do have the capacity to continue with meeting the demand? especially as cases are rising at the rate that you have just mentioned. do we have a enough to ensure that everybody is getting the testing that they need in order to see us through this winter? my own personal opinion, i think if we stay with this idea
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everyone needs pcr test... cases are doubling every 1.5—2 days. that means for the next ten days, two weeks, we have exponential growth and the number of cases we are going to see is now wired in, no intervention now is going to change what we are going to see over the next ten days, we are potentially looking at hundreds of thousands of new covid cases every day. that would put a enormous strain on pcr testing capacity, to the extent where i'm not actually sure we will be able to deliver it. as cases increase, things like the ability to staff pcr testing labs will be affected because you will have staff illnesses and capacity may actually be reduced. i have concerns we won't be able to do the number of pcr test that we have to, particular towards the end of this year and into january. in the past half hour, the uk health security agency has released the latest data on the 0micron variant. 10,059 additional cases have been confirmed across the uk
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in the past 2a hours. it brings the total number of 0micron cases in the uk to 24,968. and in the past few minutes, the agency has confirmed that 85 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected cases of 0micron, and seven people have died after contracting the variant. the world health organization says the omicron variant of the coronavirus has now been identified in at least 89 countries and is spreading significantly faster than the delta strain. the who says it's taking only three days at the most for cases of omicron to double. the rapid spread has seen a raft of new restrictions brought in across europe. lucy grey has this report. as countries across europe brace themselves for a sharp rise in cases due to the omicron variant, hospitality and travel are the main targets for the new restrictions. the omicron variant of the covid—19 virus is exploding throughout europe.
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it is here, it is in our country. and we are going to see a massive rise in infections. in ireland, all restaurants, bars, cinemas and theatres will have to close at 8pm from sunday, although weddings for up to 100 people will be allowed until midnight. the government is promising new financial support for companies after warnings that the new rules could cause up to 70,000 job losses. this was the scene at london's eurostar late on friday as brits rushed to try to get over to france before it closed its borders to uk passport holders. the french government has banned major public parties and fireworks displays on new year's eve and the army has been brought in to help with the boosterjabs and ministers have approved the use of vaccinations for children from the age of five. record numbers of new cases in denmark have brought restrictions on restaurant opening hours, too, and cinemas, theatres and concert halls are closing. in switzerland, from monday,
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you will have to show proof of vaccination or recovery from covid to be allowed into restaurants or a negative test result to get into bars or nightclubs. the german government is warning that the next wave will be a massive challenge for its hospitals and society as a whole and has banned unvaccinated people from restaurants and nonessential commerce. french and danish travellers who have not been vaccinated will now have to quarantine on arrival in germany. with health care systems across europe under strain, the head of the european commission says that vaccination is key. we know that our health care systems are overstretched right now and this is partly linked to the large number of unvaccinated patients, so in conclusion, the answer can only be to increase vaccination to include children over five years of age, boosting and protective measures, that has to be the answer that we give to this new variant. and in the netherlands, as the health care system deals with an influx of covid patients,
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routine care and all but urgent operations have been postponed. dutch ministers are meeting health advisers on saturday after they recommended that the country go into a strict lockdown. lucy grey, bbc news. the headlines on bbc news: government scientific advisors warn tougher covid restrictions may be needed "very soon" in england — to avoid a steep rise in hospital admissions as omicron cases surge. london's mayor declares a "major incident" — meaning the capital's nhs bodies, councils and emergency services can work closer together to limit the impact of the spread of omicron. football stadiums and shopping centres are among nearly 3000 venues in england offering booster jabs this weekend. some are open round—the—clock. sport — and for a full round—up from the bbc sport centre, here's ben.
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good afternoon. australia are firmly in command on the second ashes test match in adelaide. england started brightly on day three, but another batting collapse means australia are 282 runs ahead with 9 second innings wickets in hand — almost out of sight. patrick gearey reports. don't look down. the view ahead of day three were that england were on a precipice. perhaps the series on an edge. joe root came out dancing. these were conditions ideal for batting. no wickets in the first session. englishmen in adelaide out of hiding. just as those at home woke up and check their founder of... joe root left the conversation. that touch move the match. australia had officially dismissed the best batter in the world. the rest would not be a
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problem. this was all the pope prodding at nathan at laggan on five. whenjos buttler met his own start end, england had lost 19 runs and we are watching another repeat. when it ended, england were so 237 runs behind. australia's attack was supposed to be weakened. the aussies didn't have to bat again, but chose to, sensing it wouldn't be as difficult as it was made to look. they finish 45—1. this might have been the day the music stopped. england look to be heading 2—0 down in the series then. unsurprisingly, contrasting moods in the adelaide dressing rooms. i guess in terms of where it sits now, i think we hold all the cards with when we want to bawl, how big a lead we want to have. obviously
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late—night sessions are a big one, we certainly see it as a big one with a strike in sections, if you like, with a new ball and conditions. certainly we have got a few options on the table with a batting. few options on the table with a battina. , , ., ., batting. pretty frustrating and disappointing _ batting. pretty frustrating and disappointing to _ batting. pretty frustrating and disappointing to have - batting. pretty frustrating and disappointing to have lost - batting. pretty frustrating and disappointing to have lost too | disappointing to have lost too because — disappointing to have lost too because like we did last night and to get— because like we did last night and to get ourselves back in a position where _ to get ourselves back in a position where we — to get ourselves back in a position where we could get sort of within touching — where we could get sort of within touching distance of them. it is disappointing. but we can talk about the guys _ disappointing. but we can talk about the guys that failed, but ultimately rick and _ the guys that failed, but ultimately rick and myself should have gotten a bil rick and myself should have gotten a big 100 _ rick and myself should have gotten a big 100 and taken the pressure of the guys — big 100 and taken the pressure of the guys. yeah, a bit disappointing. there isjust one match in the premier league today after the other five games were all called off due to covid. aston villa versus burnley was postponed just a couple of hours before the scheduled 3pm kick—off. it's after villa returned more positive cases in their squad. that leaves arsenal's trip to leeds as the only match that goes ahead, and manager mikel arteta understands why other clubs are concerned
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at potential fixture pileups. we always want to play when we have the right conditions to do so, 100%. we have been here on the other side of the table, when we had all the elements to play a football match and we ended up playing it. that's what i'm saying, we need clarity. the results of the competition can be altered and that wouldn't be fair. the scottish premiership is unaffected today — four games kicking off at 3:00. rangers can go seven points clear at the top if they beat fourth placed dundee united — who themselves have had a covid outbreak. their manager said it was an achievementjust to field a team. four teenagers starting. elsewhere, it's dundee 0, hearts 0, livingston ross county is 0—0, whilst bottom side stjohnstone currently 0—1 at motherwell. five games in the championship today, five games off. bournemouth missed the chance to go top in the early kick—off after they lost 1—0 at middlesborough. isiahjones was brought down byjaiden anthony early into the second half,
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and andraz sporar slotted home the penalty to lift boro up to eighth. bournemouth have now gone six games without a win. all european rugby games involving french and british sides are off this weekend, due to french travel restrictions. that's left three matches today. cardiff were without 42 players due to covid quarantine and injuries against harlequins. it was 17—17 at half time, but quins ran away with it in the second half withjoe marchant going over to clinch the bonus point. that's all the sport for now. you can find more on all those stories on the bbc sport website — that's bbc.co.uk/sport. a woman who was arrested after a fire which killed four young children in south london has been bailed. although formal identification is yet to take place, police say they are confident the children were twins leyton and logan hoath, aged three, and kyson and bryson hoath, aged four.
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officers say the woman will return to a south london police station in mid—january. a man has appeared in court charged with murder and arson after a fire left a person dead in reading. hakeem kigundu is accused of starting the fire at around 3:00 in the morning on wednesday. the building was so badly damaged, it's become unstable. kigundu was remanded in custody and will appear at reading crown court on tuesday. the uk's top civil servant has stepped down from leading an inquiry into downing street lockdown parties, after it emerged an event was held in his own office last year. simon case's investigation was supposed to clear up whether rules had been broken — but instead it's another damaging step for the prime minister after a bruising couple of weeks. our political correspondent, nick eardley, reports. westminster has packed up for christmas, but it's events from this time last year that are continuing to cause controversy. simon case is the man the prime minister asked to look
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at allegations of rule breaking at parties — but yesterday it emerged there had been an event at his own private office. emails had invited people to a christmas party, which it emerged yesterday was a quiz. the cabinet secretary didn't attend, but he did speak to staff as he left — and last night it was announced he would stand back from the enquiry, and another top civil servant, sue grey, would complete the probe. it's incredibly hard to believe nobody in government knew these parties were happening, and there's a huge amount of evidence now, so i do believe that the investigation sue grey is going to be leading up, there is evidence there, they need to carry that investigation out very swiftly to restore the public trust and then hand over that evidence to the police, because nobody�*s above the law. it's another damaging episode after a damaging few weeks for the government, from accusations of not taking sleaze seriously, to big rebellions in parliament, to this... cheering and applause.
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..the remarkable result in north shropshire, where the liberal democrats overturned a 26,000 majority for the conservatives, and they think burst the prime minister's bubble in the process. that is always the signal sent by the public when they feel things have gone wrong. and the answer to that is very simple. it's not more of the same, it's the reality that if we want to get the vote back, then we have to be able to show that we deserve that support. the past few weeks have led to questions over borisjohnson's authority and his politicalfuture. many conservatives think things need to change in here if he's going to steady the ship. nick eardley, bbc news. 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
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to testify because the prosecution had failed to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. she denies grooming girls for the late convicted paedophile, jeffrey epstein. our correspondent, nada tawfik, is 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 said that there was no need to testify because the prosecution had not proved their case beyond 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, stating 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 cross—examination by prosecutors. but, really, this trial
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is moving incredibly fast. we are now set to have closing statements from both sides on monday. the defence's case, after initially saying they might call 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, hoping that they have sewn enough doubt injurors minds to avoid a conviction for their client, ghislaine maxwell. nada tawfik there. sir rod stewart and his son, sean, have admitted punching a security guard when they were barred from entering a party in palm beach in florida, two years ago. the judge decided not to adjudicate, which means they won't be formally convicted and they won't face jail
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or a fine. the singer's lawyer said he'd struck a plea deal to avoid the inconvenience and cost of a high—profile trial. it's the strictly come dancing final tonight, but it's sad news for aj odudu and her partner, kai widdington, who've had to pull out of the show. the tv presenter has torn a ligament in her right ankle which means only two couples will compete for the glitterball. earlier, i spoke to kim winston, presenter and producer of the bbc�*s strictly come dancing official podcast, who told me it was disappointing for aj and kai to miss out tonight. so gutted, they are absolutely devastated, it essentially not how you would want yourjourney to end. she came in as the superfan and was literally living her dream and to end this way is so gutting. she said herself, she is a finalist, she made it to the final, she is taking
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all the positives away from it. that leaves us with just two couples in the finalfor the first time since 2009. it is really an unusual situation for the final. how do you think it will affect how it goes? will it change the dynamic of voting and who people are supporting? that was the first year i started, 2009. i don't think it will affect the show in any way, they are two incredible finalist. i don't think we have had a series like this in so long, the standard is so high. if anything, more people might be voting. starting with rose and giovanni, what do you make of how they have been? you look back to rose on week one and she actually only got 22, so she has not been consistently high every single week. but both of the couples really have gone on one.

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