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tv   Newsday  BBC News  December 20, 2021 11:00pm-11:31pm GMT

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welcome to newsday. reporting live from singapore, i'm karishma vaswani. the headlines: it's pretty good at evading immunity — the latest covid variant warning from the world health organization. it's more likely that people who have been vaccinated or have recovered for covid—19 could be infected or reinfected. the british prime minister says no new covid restrictions for now, but he doesn't rule out bringing them in. "a predator who knew exactly what she was doing" — the prosecution in the ghislaine maxwell trial sums up its case. and the chinese tennis star peng shuai appears to have retracted her claim of sexual assault, as concerns persist around her wellbeing.
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live from our studio in singapore, this is bbc news. it's newsday. hello and welcome to our viewers in the uk and around the world. it's 7am in the morning in singapore and midnight in geneva, where the world health organization has warned the omicron variant of coronavirus appears pretty good at evading immune responses. the who has said it's also causing an increase in infections, both in the vaccinated and those who've already had the disease. here's what the head of the organisation had to say. there is now consistent evidence that omicron is spreading significantly faster than the delta variant.
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and it's more likely that people who have been vaccinated or have recovered for covid—19 could be infected or reinfected. here are some of the other major developments in the coronavirus pandemic at this hour. switzerland has become the latest european country to introduce new covid restrictions, including a mandatory order to work from home. indonesia has added the united kingdom, norway and denmark to the list of people banned from entering the nation. the white house says president biden will issue a stark warning to unvaccinated people when he speaks to the nation on tuesday. omicron is now the common variant in the us. dr maria sundaram is an infectious disease epidemiologist who works as a research scientist at the marshfield clinic research institute. she joins us from wisconsin.
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it is wonderful to have you on newsday, dr sundaram. ijust want to start by asking you, how concerned are you from around these latest lines coming in from the who about the fact that omicron does appear to escape vaccine protection and is more transmissible than delta? it’s more transmissible than delta? it's ve , ve more transmissible than delta? it�*s very, very concerning on several different levels. the biggest one is that for people who are vaccinated, they may be used to taking other bit more risks and they may be used to going outside and doing things that they might have done before the pandemic, and unfortunately they no longer have the level of protection that there used to having with two doses, so that is very concerning, and of course the very fasters miss ability, hydrogen disability, and quick replication of this variant of concern are potentially devastating to medical and for structure —— high transmissibility. to medical and for structure -- high transmissibility.—
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transmissibility. indeed. dr sundaram. _ transmissibility. indeed. dr sundaram, i— transmissibility. indeed. dr sundaram, ijust_ transmissibility. indeed. dr sundaram, i just want - transmissibility. indeed. dr sundaram, i just want to i transmissibility. indeed. drl sundaram, i just want to put transmissibility. indeed. dr - sundaram, i just want to put you some of the early data coming in from south africa, and i want to copy that — it is indeed early data — but it seems to suggest that while infections are on the rise, hospitalisations are low. is that encouraging or impossible model we can use for other countries? i5 encouraging or impossible model we can use for other countries?- can use for other countries? is very helful can use for other countries? is very helpful information, _ can use for other countries? is very helpful information, but _ can use for other countries? is very helpful information, but it - can use for other countries? is very helpful information, but it has - can use for other countries? is very helpful information, but it has to i helpful information, but it has to be taken with several grains of salt. one thing to keep in mind is that the population of south africa may be of a different type than the population of another country will stub it may be a different average age. it may be a different average previous covid—i9 infection status. it may be a different covid—i9 vaccination status, we have to keep those in mind. there was also good to be the delay in the number of cases and hospitalisations —— there is also going to be a delay. but it is also going to be a delay. but it is also going to be a delay. but it is also really important to her memory have to decrease the severity of this outcome by a factor that is
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proportional to its increased transmissibility for that to be less of an impact on the health care system, and unfortunately the christmas ability is so high that we will wind up seeing an increase in hospitalisations, and that's even if the proportion of those cases is fewer than we have seen for other variants —— b transmissibility is so high. hih. , a, hih. ., a, , high. given what you said, what is the best way _ high. given what you said, what is the best way to — high. given what you said, what is the best way to decrease - high. given what you said, what is the best way to decrease the - the best way to decrease the transmissibility, as you've described, so we don't get to that situation? i described, so we don't get to that situation? ~ ., ., ., situation? i think we have to go back to the _ situation? i think we have to go back to the swiss _ situation? i think we have to go back to the swiss cheese - situation? i think we have to goi back to the swiss cheese model situation? i think we have to go i back to the swiss cheese model of preventing respiratory transmission of covid—i9, so one slice of the swiss cheese is vaccines. we need global equity now. and the longer that we wait, the more risk we have of other variance of concern like this when developing and causing her to all of us. another slice of the swiss cheese is wearing masks, high—quality ones. yet another slice
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is physical distancing as much as possible, and so hopefully we can combine these measures that we do no work, so that we can reduce transmissibility little bit, but it is good to be a very telling time —— going to be a very challenging time. dr sundaram, are you encouraged by the fact that some boosters at least two appear to work? and what is the medical advice around that? i am very encouraged _ medical advice around that? i am very encouraged by _ medical advice around that? i —n very encouraged by that. so the idea is that when you boost the amount of antibodies that you have with a third dose, for example, after two mrna doses of a covid—i9 vaccine, that increase in antibody plus the increase in t cell activity could potentially protect you more than your first two doses. that's really great news, but always on my mind is, who has access to that third dose? unfortunately, farke min people have stood on had access to their first dose, so people have stood on had access to theirfirst dose, so i think people have stood on had access to their first dose, so i think this people have stood on had access to theirfirst dose, so i think this is another reason why we really need global vaccine equity and we
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believed a plan for global vaccine equity —— far too many people have still got access. equity -- far too many people have still got access.— still got access. indeed. thank you so much, still got access. indeed. thank you so much. dr_ still got access. indeed. thank you so much, dr maria _ still got access. indeed. thank you so much, dr maria sundaram, - still got access. indeed. thank you so much, dr maria sundaram, for. so much, dr maria sundaram, for joining us on newsday. the british prime minister, borisjohnson, has ruled out bringing in new covid restrictions in england for now but said the government wouldn't hesitate to take further action to protect the public if needed. he was speaking after chairing an emergency cabinet meeting amid reports of splits among senior ministers. here's our deputy political editor vicki young. the decorations are up, celebrations in full swing. there was no shortage of christmas cheer in bristol this evening. some are too young to remember last year, when festive plans were thrown into disarray. everyone would welcome some certainty. after a two—hour meeting with his cabinet, borisjohnson said the arguments were finely balanced. we agreed that we should keep the data from now on under constant review,
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keep following it hour by hour, and, unfortunately, i must say to people we will have to reserve the possibility of taking further action to, to protect the public, and to protect public health and protect our nhs, and we won't hesitate to take that action. the government insists it's not sitting back doing nothing. manchester city's football stadium among the sites helping get vaccinations up to a record one million on saturday. people have already been told to work from home, use covid passes and take tests before socialising — that's not enough, says labour. instead of being hamstrung by his own cabinet and hiding from his own backbenchers, it's time borisjohnson stopped putting the politics of the conservative party ahead of public health and levelled with the country. last week, more than 100 conservatives refused to back mrjohnson�*s plan for covid passports. then, at the weekend, his ally lord frost resigned
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as brexit minister, blaming the government's pandemic response. i don't support coercive policies on covid. the prime minister's got very difficult decisions to take and i'm sure he'll be thinking very hard about them. in scotland, nicola sturgeon has issued new guidance but offered reassurance about the christmas weekend. between now and the end of the week, i'm asking people to reduce their contacts with those in other households as much as possible — effectively, to stay at home as much as is feasible. over the weekend, christmas day, boxing day, we're not asking people to cancel or change their plans. wales has put guidance in place for the run—up to christmas, and will introduce tougher legal restrictions on the 27th of december. it's still unclear what borisjohnson wants to do. his tone suggested it's a matter of when, not if, new measures will come in. but during their meeting, several cabinet ministers made it clear they're more reluctant to go
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down that road again. several aren't convinced the data yetjustifies the economic hit that any new restrictions bring. when it comes to rules, critics say downing street lacks moral authority. in this photo, taken during lockdown, the prime minister, his wife and staff are drinking wine in the garden. these were people at work talking about work, according to boris johnson. tonight, the queen is among those scaling back their plans. she has cancelled her traditional christmas in sandringham — a personal decision reflecting a cautionary approach, says buckingham palace. and as borisjohnson weighs up his options, the uncertainty continues. vicki young, bbc news, westminster. as always, you can get more detail about the coronavirus situation on our website. you'll find lots of detail, including the latest on the effectiveness of the vaccines. just go to for all that.
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let's take a look at some of the stories in the headlines in the uk. the english premier league and football league have chosen to fulfil festive fixtures, despite ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic. 90 players tested positive in england top tier last week, leading to a number of postponements. fa cup third and fourth round replays have, however, been scrapped. a man has been sentenced to an indefinite hospital order after he was found responsible for the death of a 93—year—old fellow resident at a care home in south—east london. alexander rawson, who was suffering from mental health issues, beat eileen dean to death. the court heard rawson will be detained in a secure psychiatric unit, possibly for the rest of his life. police in the philippines say the number of people who've died after a super typhoon hit last week has risen to more than 375. the red cross says it's
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"carnage" in many areas, with no power, no communications and very little water. thousands of military, coast guard and fire service personnel have been deployed to help in the relief operation. with the latest from the capital manila, here's howard johnson. four days on from super typhoon rai's first landfall in the philippines, the extent of the damage it caused is finally becoming clear. nine different islands separated by a distance of more than 800 kilometres all experienced sustained ferocious winds and heavy rain, flattening thousands of homes and flooding vast tracts of land. translation: we appeal for at least some small help to come to us. - now is the time we need a government, a government that is ready to help us in our current situation. we are waiting for whoever has a kind heart. i hope they will help us.
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the breadth of the destruction and the lack of communication lines is causing logistical delays in humanitarian support. food, water, fuel and electricity are in limited supply on numerous islands. today, the british government committed nearly $1 million to an appeal by the international federation of the red cross to help the relief effort. the ifrc are hoping to raise a total of more than $20 million. howard johnson, bbc news, manila. the jury in the trial of ghislaine maxwell have begun their deliberations in herfederal sex trafficking trial. in the closing arguments, prosecutors called her a sophisticated predator. ms maxwell has denied grooming underage girls for abuse by the late paedophilejeffrey epstein between 1994 and 200a. barbara plett usher is following developments. they recapped their argument, i suppose, that ghislaine maxwell was absolutely crucial for this
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operation, that her demeanour, as you mentioned, she was age—appropriate, smiling, posh, made the girls comfortable, and so she provided a cover to what the prosecution called the creepy behaviour ofjeffrey epstein. he never could have done it without her. and they talked about the fact, or they said she had a playbook of how to lure these girls in, getting to know them, offering them gifts, spending time with them, making them feel comfortable, and ultimately introducing sexual contact withjeffrey epstein in a... if it was just normal behaviour, and that is what the prosecution argued, her grooming them for him. and they also said that she had been paid by him $30 million, over the period that this trial is looking at, something that one lawyer said, "that's $30 million of �*we did this
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together, we did this crime together�* money." so those are the arguments they made — ghislaine maxwell knowing what she was doing and being very involved in this operation of mr epstein�*s sex crimes. that's one of the core issues the jurors will have to decide, how much miss maxwell actually knew? and the defence said she did not know that much because her partner, her long—time partner, kept secrets from her, and now that he has died, he committed suicide, the prosecution is going after her as a sort of substitute. they're scapegoating her because somebody needs to pay for his crimes. they also argue that the witnesses are not credible. and this is the other core issue, whether the four women are telling the truth. the defence says no, they're not. they're mis—remembering, they're inserting ghislaine maxwell into their memories now because they have the prospect of a payout from a compensation fund, and the details are, you know, not consistent. and again, the prosecution has come back and said, "well, if they are mis—remembering,
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they're all mis—remembering the same thing," and actually money isn't an issue because that payout was for civil suits, and that's done. there's no money involved in what happens in this trial. so those are the two issues — how credible the jurors see the accusers and what they think about how much ghislaine maxwell actually knew about what was going on. barbara plett usher porting on that story for us there. you're watching newsday on the bbc. still to come on the programme: with tensions rising as russian forces mass on the border with ukraine, we ask the kremlin just how serious is the threat of conflict with nato. the world of music's been paying tribute to george michael, who's died from suspected heart failure at the age of 53. he sold well over 100 million albums in a career spanning more than three decades. the united states troops have been trying to overthrow the dictatorship of general manuel noriega.
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the pentagon said it's failed in its principal objective, to capture noriega and take him to the united states to face drugs charges. the hammer and sickle was hastily taken away. in its place, the russian flag was hoisted over what is now no longer the soviet union but the commonwealth of independent states. day broke slowly over lockerbie, over the cockpit of pan am's - maid of the seas nose down in the soft earth. _ you could see what happens i when a plane eight stories high and a football pitch wide falls from 30,000 feet. | christmas has returned to albania after a communist ban lasting more than 20 years. thousands went to midnight mass in the town of shkodra, where there were anti—communist riots ten days ago. this is newsday on the bbc. i'm karishma vaswani in singapore. our headlines: the world health organization says the omicron variant of covid is spreading more quickly than the delta and is causing
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infections in people who have already had covid or been vaccinated. the british prime minister says no new covid restrictions for now, but he doesn't rule out bringing them in. ukraine has called for more western sanctions against russia as it feels increasingly threatened by the build—up of russian troops on its border. ukraine today issued a joint statement with poland and lithuania, calling on nato to do more to tackle russian aggression. it's been fighting pro—russia separatists in the east of the country since 2014, with the kremlin repeatedly denying it's supporting them. here's our moscow correspondent, steve rosenberg. in russia, too, it is the season of goodwill. but peace on earth is in short supply. russian armour is massing near the border with ukraine.
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at the same time, moscow is demanding an end to nato enlargement and nato military activity in eastern europe. what is russia signalling? i asked the deputy foreign minister, has moscow decided to reverse the results of the cold war? translation: we are not re-examining the results of the cold war, _ we're reassessing the expansion the west has carried out in recent years against russian interests with hostile intent. enough is enough. state tv has been echoing vladimir putin's claim that nato activity close to russia threatens russia's security, and moscow has this warning. translation: if ukraine joined nato, or if nato develops military _ infrastructure there,
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we will hold a gun to america's head. russia has the world's best weapons, hypersonic. you'd get the cuban missile crisis all over again, but with a shorter flight time for missiles. we propose trying to avoid this situation. otherwise everyone will be turned into radioactive ash. critics of the kremlin say this isn't about genuine security threats, it's about moscow trying to restore a sphere of influence. we don't know what the kremlin is planning, but what is clear from what president putin has been saying is that — 30 years after the fall of the soviet union — russia's leader remains deeply resentful of how the cold war ended, with russia losing territory, influence and empire. and if vladimir putin has decided that now is the moment to try to reverse that, that will be a huge
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right now, most russians are focused on celebration, not confrontation. if there is a full—scale war with ukraine or a clash with the west, the kremlin may be skating on thin ice in terms of public support. "i don't want any war," irina says, "any killing." "slavic people are like a family," says roslan. "i can't bear the idea of fighting with ukraine." ultimately, it's the president who will decide whether russia takes the path of compromise or confrontation. steve rosenberg, bbc news, moscow. let's take a look at some other stories in the headlines. the chilean currency, the peso, has fallen by li% to a record low against the us dollar following the victory of the left—wing candidate gabriel boric in sunday's presidential election. mr boric won 56% of the vote, beating the far—right
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candidatejose antonio kast. rebel tigrayan forces fighting the ethiopian government say they are withdrawing immediately from neighbouring regions. it comes after pro—government forces made significant military gains. the rebels say they are hoping there will now be a ceasefire. the new spider—man film made nearly $590 million worldwide in its opening weekend. it sets the record for the most profitable film to come out during the pandemic and it's the third biggest cinematic debut in hollywood history. the chinese tennis star peng shuai appears to have retracted an accusation of sexual assault that she made against a former chinese vice premier. in a video interview, filmed by singaporean chinese language newspaper lianhe zaobao, she said the comments she'd made on social media had been misunderstood.
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translation: first and foremost, j i must emphasise i have never said or wrote about anyone sexually assaulting me. that's a very important point. the weibo post is my own personal issue. i know there are many misunderstandings, but there is no distorted interpretation. peng shuai speaking to the singaporean chinese language newspaper lianhe zaobao there. the women's tennis association has said it's still concerned that ms peng is still being censored by the state — and although it welcomes her apperance
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in a public setting, it doesn't alleviate or address the concerns about her wellbeing. staying with china, a top chinese live—streamer has been fined $210 million for tax evasion. huang wei, known as viya, is famous for her ability to sell anything by livestreaming on the taobao live platform — from noodles to a commercial rocket launch. viya has more than 80 million followers on taobao and another 18 million on weibo. she was fined for hiding personal income and other offences in 2019 and 2020. our china analyst kerry allen explains what we can read into this. well, if you think in general in china, it's a communist country, and live streaming is this new lucrative way of being able to influence how people spend their money. so someone like viya, who's got this huge following and literally can attract young audiences and encourage them how to spend their money, it puts companies in certain positive lights. and then there might be, obviously, the kind of influence that comes off the back of that that the government isn't too impressed with. and it wants to make sure that stars like this, across the whole celebrity industry as a whole, are socially responsible. so some people are asking, "was she getting too popular and too influential?" and "could that be a problem?" she could settle the bill.
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she's got a deadline to be able to do so. but at the same time, i mean, for example, her weibel account, where she had 80 million followers, has now gone off—line. and, yeah, hertaobao account has been suspended. and china does have a very big cancel culture. so, literally, if there's one scandal behind a celebrity, it means that they could very quickly fall out of the limelight. but she is such a big star. i mean, she's almost china's equivalent of someone like, i don't know, kyliejenner, for example, or kim kardashian. kerry allen on that story for us there. well, here's something to cheer us all up as we go into what for many is the festive season. french champagne houses say they expect record sales this year after lockdowns and closures drove them down. the owner of this bar in paris says things have been going crazy since september. the surge is so unexpected that it's created shortages in the supply chain. so if you're lucky enough to find any, do raise a glass to 2022 and hope that,
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eventually, things do get better. well, from all of us at newsday, thanks so much for watching. do hope to see you on bbc news again. hello there. it's been a cloudy and chilly start to the week. things will change. from midweek, we'll start to see atlantic air coming our way. that means temperatures will be rising, but we're also going to find some rain. but what about christmas? well, i'll try and answer that question later on. we start, though, cold in many places on tuesday morning, particularly in the clearer skies in scotland, with a frost in the north. we could see some pockets of frost across some western parts of england and wales, but the prospects of some sunshine during tuesday, which will be good news on what is the shortest day of the year. it's the winter solstice. these are the sunrise and sunset times, but, of course, after tuesday, the days do get longer. we do have some sunshine across northern parts of scotland, some sunshine at times coming through across wales and western england, but more cloud further east.
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still that blanket of cloud in northern ireland, southern scotland that will push its way into the central belt and make it feel quite chilly here. temperatures on the whole similar to what we had on monday, near—normal, really, for this time of the year. but it's from wednesday that the weather starts to change because high pressure that's kept it quiet for so long is moving away. and instead, we've got a big low out in the atlantic. that's going to push bands of rain our way. we start wednesday with a widespread frost in scotland, england and wales. some early sunshine, but it clouds over from the west. the wind starts to pick up. we've got this band of rain mainly affecting northern ireland, pushing into wales and southwest england and then into parts of scotland later on, bringing in some milder air for western areas. but for many parts of the country, it's still another chilly day. that band of wet weather moves northwards and eastwards overnight, and then with low pressure still out to the west, another band of rain sweeps around that as well. so we're going to find some wet weather moving northwards and eastwards again during thursday. could stay wet for most of the day across the northern half of scotland. elsewhere, that rain
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does clear through. we get some sunshine following on behind. and with a south—westerly wind, just look at what it does to the temperatures. widely in double figures across northern ireland, england and wales. as the winds fall light, though, overnight, and if you're going to be travelling into christmas eve, it could be misty with some patches of fog around in the morning. and then we have that battle between the milder air and colder air that's in the north. now, for many, it looks like we'll stay in the milder airfor christmas day, but if there is going to be a white christmas, at the moment, it only looks like it will be in northern parts of scotland.
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this is bbc news, the headlines...
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the world health organisation says the omicron variant of covid is spreading more quickly than the delta — and is causing infections in people who have already had covid or been vaccinated. the uk's prime minister boris johnson says his government is not introducing any new measures to stop the spread of omicron covid. but — he said he was reserving the possibility of taking more action, if the number of infections and hospitalisationsjustified it. the jury in in ghislaine maxwell's trial on sex trafficking charges in new york has begun its deliberations. her defence says the women who accused her are not credible — the prosecution said she was a predator who knew what she was doing. the chinese tennis star pung shwy has told a reporter that she never claimed a former leading official in beijing sexually assaulted her. the womens' tennis association says it is still concerned she is being censored by the state.


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