welcome to newsday. reporting live from singapore, i'm karishma vaswani. the headlines — president biden announces new measures to tackle the omicron variant, promising free testing and 10,000 new vaccination sites. let me say again and again and again and again, please get vaccinated. it's the only responsible thing to do. borisjohnson says there will be no new restrictions in england before christmas as the uk government also announces more than $1 billion for the hospitality industry. the high court in london orders the ruler of dubai to pay more than $700 million in a divorce settlement to his ex—wife, princess haya ofjordan. and we take you back to a time
when mobile phones looked like this to explain why the first ever text message has just been sold for $120,000. 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, ”pm at night in britain and 6pm in the evening in washington, where within the past few hours, president biden has been setting out his plans to step up the fight against the 0micron variant. the federal government will distribute 500 million free covid tests in the new year, something it's never done before. it's also draughting in military personnel to support hospitals which are already feeling the pressure as the 0micron
variant takes hold. separately, in the uk, borisjohnson has confirmed there will be no new covid restrictions before christmas, although his chancellor has announced a new package of support for businesses hit by the latest covid wave. we start tonight's coverage of covid in washington and this report from our correspondent gary 0'donoghue. more than 2 million people a day are travelling home for christmas through american�*s airports, and many of them are worried. the way i look at it is as long as we've been fully vaccinated and we're always masked up, we should be ok. but it's quite dangerous still. i don't think anything's100% safe unless you stay in your house the entire time, so, yeah. 0micron has exploded in the united states. in the space of two weeks, it's gone from less than 1% of new cases to almost three quarters. so, for a second time in less than a month, president biden has announced more measures, extra vaccine sites and, in a change of direction,
free home testing kits. i'm announcing today . the federal government will purchase one half billion — that's not million, _ billion with a b — _ additional at—home rapid tests with delivery starting in january. we'll be getting these tests to americans for free. - those free at—home tests won't be available until next month, so testing sites like this recreation centre are opening up all over the country. and 1000 military, nurses and doctors are being readied in case the hospitals get overwhelmed. while cases have been rising sharply, one encouraging sign is that hospitalisations haven't gone up anything like as much as they did earlier in the pandemic. but infections amongst the unvaccinated could change all that. we've first got to get the 50 million or so people who are eligible to be vaccinated who've not gotten vaccinated. that is critical. if you want to keep the level
of spread in the country as low as possible, which would get us back to some degree of normality, you've got to get those unvaccinated people vaccinated. in new york, they've seen record numbers of cases in the past few days, leading the mayor to offer a $100 incentive to those getting a boosterjab. it will not be a normal christmas once again. gary 0'donoghue, bbc news, washington. and now to the covid situation in the uk. prime minister borisjohnson has announced that there will be no new restrictions in england for now, though he says he cannot rule out any further measures as the situation is finely balanced. scotland has announced new restrictions from boxing day. wales and northern ireland will consider further measures tomorrow. 0ur health editor hugh pym reports. christmas has become clearer today in england. the message from the government was that people could go ahead with plans as there won't be any new measures which might affect them.
but given the threat of 0micron, nothing can be ruled out after that. speaking before the announcement, one minister suggested they weren't rushing tojudgment. we're looking very closely at the data. that's why the prime minister said we reserve the option of coming back with further measures, but we're not at that stage because obviously, there is very significant economic disruption should we do that. merry christmas! that still leaves uncertainty beyond christmas, and labour said more clarity was needed. families need to be able to plan their own activities, and crucially, business needs to be able to plan for their trading. and the problem with the dither and delay that we're seeing from borisjohnson, entirely as a result of wranglings within his own political party, is that that lack of grip is costing the country dear. with case numbers rising week on week, some experts argue there may need to be intervention soon, but it's reasonable to wait a little longer for more data.
there is great uncertainty at the moment. my personal view is that i think we can wait, at the moment, until there are more restrictions formally placed, but each of us can do a lot of things today that would make the chances of further restrictions lighter. and more data will be available tomorrow. getting more people jabbed is seen as vital, and one of the fears about 0micron is that it will spread rapidly among those who haven't been vaccinated. there's an understandable focus on boosters, but progress still needs to be made with second doses. in scotland and wales, followed by england and northern ireland, it's onlyjust over 80% who've had that second dose. that's expressed as a share of all those aged 12 and over, though the roll—out for younger teenagers has only just got underway. within england, measured slightly differently, there's a lot of variation. in london, for example, just 62% have had that
second jab, though it does have a younger population. the booster programme, meanwhile, is aimed towards ha rd—to—reach groups. here in cornwall, fishing boats have come into port and the crews are able to getjabbed when they come ashore. they want everybody to get their boosters, and if you're trying to do your own surgery, and they're telling you it's going to be a long time, it's good. it's good, it's the best way of protection. - analysing data and assessing omicron, there is still a lot for ministers and officials to focus on right up to christmas and beyond. hugh pym, bbc news. let's take a look at some of the other global developments in the pandemic for you. israel is to start offering a fourth covid vaccination. people over the age of 60 or working in medical teams will be eligible for the jabs. israel has seen a rise in covid infections recently despite being one of the first
countries in the world to offer third vaccine doses. germany has become the latest european country to tighten its coronavirus restrictions, although the new measures won't come into force until after christmas. private gatherings will be limited to ten people from the 28th of december, nightclubs will be closed and large organised events, including the bundesliga football matches, will take place behind closed doors. it's being reported that the national hockey league, which has teams based in canada and the us, will not send its players to compete in the men's tournament at the beijing winter olympics. it's understood that the causes are disruption caused to the nhl season by the pandemic, meaning games have to be rescheduled, and concerns over infections and quarantines. i'm joined now by professor peter chin hong of the university of california in san francisco.
he is an expert in treating infectious diseases, particularly infections that develop in patients who have suppressed immune systems. wonderful to have you on the programme with us. let's just start with those new measures that president biden has announced in the usjust a couple president biden has announced in the us just a couple of hours or so ago. how effective do you think they will be in this fight against the new variant? i be in this fight against the new variant? ~ ., , , ., , be in this fight against the new variant? ~ ., , , ., variant? i think many people are worried that _ variant? i think many people are worried that too _ variant? i think many people are worried that too little, _ variant? i think many people are worried that too little, too - variant? i think many people are worried that too little, too late l variant? i think many people are | worried that too little, too late is the theme of the speech. suddenly things that will be good for stopgap measures like 1000 medics and nurses, increased ppe like gloves and masks will help workers, but some of them would be a little bit too late. it will be injanuary. i
think 0micron will probably have gone through the east coast by then with half a million tests and when he realised the country has 330 million people so that does not go very far. an increasing vaccination sites would be beneficial, but again if much of it is coming injanuary, many people are worried that it will not be in time for the surge that's upon us right now.— not be in time for the surge that's upon us right now. professor i know there is a lag _ upon us right now. professor i know there is a lag in _ upon us right now. professor i know there is a lag in data _ upon us right now. professor i know there is a lag in data between - there is a lag in data between infections, hospitalisations and more severe cases, but what are the early indications telling you about the severity of omicron? early indications telling you about the severity of 0micron? the early indications telling you about the severity of omicron? the data is mixed. if the severity of omicron? the data is mixed- if you _ the severity of omicron? the data is mixed. if you look _ the severity of omicron? the data is mixed. if you look at _ the severity of omicron? the data is mixed. if you look at some - the severity of omicron? the data is mixed. if you look at some african l mixed. if you look at some african data, it turns of the maybe in contrast to delta when about 20% of folks get hospitalised, even if you say 2% of 0micron cases get hospitalised, that is still 2% of a larger group of people who may become infected. plus some of you may not be like other countries, and
a study from the imperial college show that hospitalisations may not be that different. nevertheless, we are worried notjust about people coming in but of having enough health care workers to take care of the folks. think about somebody, evenif the folks. think about somebody, even if they make it a mild infection, they are on a prison sentence of covid isolation for ten days taking them out of the workforce. so hospital is notjust a physical being, is people taking care of people coming in. that's really good _ care of people coming in. that's really good point. _ care of people coming in. that's really good point. just _ care of people coming in. that's really good point. just to - care of people coming in. that's really good point. just to say . care of people coming in. that's. really good point. just to say that israel never commends a fourth vaccine for some people. does that mean that we are going to be in this sort of endless loop of vaccines every months and are you concerned people mightjust end up losing interest or the will to get vaccinated?— interest or the will to get vaccinated? ., �*, , . ., ., vaccinated? that's such a great oint vaccinated? that's such a great point also _ vaccinated? that's such a great point also i _ vaccinated? that's such a great point also i think _ vaccinated? that's such a great point also i think it _ vaccinated? that's such a great point also i think it depends - vaccinated? that's such a great point also i think it depends on | point also i think it depends on what your goalpost is. if your goalpost is prevention of infection and i dare say we are moving towards maybe accepting a mild infection
case more and more. versus preventing somebody from getting severely ill, using hospital resources. if you think about the latter, i think with two doses, we are mainly there as a society. three doses as a booster definitely there even for the older and immune compromised individuals. but to think about prevention of infection, it will be in this endless and probably getting a booster every so often. so it all depends on where we are. i think if 0micron squeaks through the world, the vaccinated get breakthrough in fashion, that resulting hybrid immunity may be enough of a superpower to fend off additional variance.— additional variance. certainly hope so there. thank you so _ so there. thank you so much for joining us in my profession are. thank you for your thoughts on the programme. much more on the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic online. just go through to the special section on the bbc news website or download the bbc app.
what's thought to be the largest divorce settlement in british legal history has been agreed. a high courtjudge has awarded around $725 million to princess haya ofjordan in a long—running dispute with herformer husband, the ruler of dubai. the princess, who is a7, is the sixth and youngest wife of sheikh mohammed. she fled to the uk from dubai with her children in 2019, claiming she was in fear of her life. last year, the high court in london ruled that the sheikh had illegally hacked his estranged wife's mobile phone as well as those of her bodyguards and legal team. he has denied ever having an intention of harming the princess. 0ur security correspondent frank gardner told us more about the settlement. this is pretty much the culmination of every long—running court battle
between one of the world's richest men, sheikh mohammed bin rashid al maktoum, a huge figure in horse racing and the prime minister of dubai, and the youngest of his six wives, princess haya ofjordan, daughter of king hussein ofjordan. as you said earlier, she fled to britain in early 2019 with her children, saying she was placed in her room with a bullet in it. a helicopter landed on the lawn of her palace with somebody saying that he had orders to take to a prison in the middle the desert. all because she said she discovered what had happened to other daughters of the ruler of dubai who had been abducted. he has denied this, but the high court here in britain stood this up. it didn't probably help her case that she had an affair with her bodyguard,
and when that was discovered, he was understandably very angry, wrote a poem that went public, and she interpreted that as a death threat. she fled to britain where she continued to get threats from anonymous people saying we can reach you wherever. she took the case to court to try to safeguard, to put in place, which she has now got today, a huge financial settlement to safeguard her security and that of her two children, because she worries that harm will come to her and that they will be abducted. he has issued a statement saying he has only ever wished to provide the best for his children and he has nothing more to say about this case. you're watching newsday on the bbc. still to come on the programme, making all the right moves — the story of how chess helped adeoye fawaz get off lagos streets. 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. 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 - when a plane eight storeys high, a football pitch wide, i 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. 0ur headlines — president biden announces new measures to tackle the 0micron variant, promising to open 10,000 new vaccination sites. borisjohnson says there will be no new restrictions in england before christmas as the uk government also announces more than a $1 billion in grants for hospitality. more on our top story now. experts say the official covid data in the next few days and weeks will be crucial. london is being monitored closely. it's been at the centre of the outbreak in the uk, with surging cases in some areas driven largely by people in their 20s. hospital admissions have been rising, too. 0ur health correspondent sophie hutchinson reports from lambeth in south london, which has seen the highest covid rates in the uk. brixton high street in lambeth, currently the borough
at the epicentre of the uk's 0micron outbreak. infections here are rocketing. we've got more cases than anywhere in the whole country in lambeth. no way! u nfortu nately. do you know people who've got the infection? yeah, a lot of them. yeah, my cousin, my brother, ourfriends. i don't get frightened easy by stuff, and i know it's i ridiculous, but i feel kind of immune. - i'm probably not. so, just how bad are things? in england last week, there were more than 700 infections per 100,000 people. compare that to london, where the rate was almost 1300 infections, but here in the borough of lambeth in south—west london, that rate was 2500 infections, almost four times as high as the average area in england. and the surge seems to be driven by younger age groups,
with people in their 20s making up a third of all cases. we think it's to do with having a young and very mobile and diverse population and a busy and active nightlife in the borough. one in five people who are testing in the borough are testing are testing positive, which is a higher rate than at any stage in the pandemic. just what the increase in infections will mean for the nhs is a major concern. in london, hospital admissions have been rising since the end of november. a number of trusts are warning that planned operations might need to be cancelled in the ney year. the immediate impact felt in london on emergency departments is staff sickness rates, and they are higher, and that's making it difficult to run emergency departments. it's not the first time london has been at the front
of a coronavirus wave. as an international hub, it's perhaps more vulnerable to changing patterns of infection. what happens here in the next week or so may be an indicator of the impact of 0micron on the rest of the uk. sophie hutchinson, bbc news. let's take a look at some of the stories in the headlines in the uk. scotland's first minister, nicola sturgeon, has introduced new coronavirus restrictions. all outdoor events will be limited to 500 people, and indoor events like concerts to a maximum of 200. the changes come into place on the 26th of december and will be in place for at least three weeks. spectators will be banned from all indoor, outdoor, professional or community sports in wales from the 26th of december. and from next week, workers and their employers will be fined if they are not working from home unless they have a good reason. an inspirational story for you now of a life transformed. adeoye fawaz�*s life has changed since he recently won the chess in slums tournament in lagos.
the 19—year—old bus conductor, who was living under a bridge in oshodi, a surburb in lagos, has now become a popular face in the country after winning the chess competition. the bbc�*s daniel henry picks up adeoye's story about the competition that's transfomed his life and others like him. translation: i want to use chess i to change my life and become a star. i want people to know me. adeoye fawaz is 19 years old, and he's a chess champion in nigeria's largest city, lagos. translation: i learned tailoring hard living with my parents, - but i later came to lagos to seek a better life. i became a bus conductor and started living under the 0shodi bridge. adeoye and many of his friends learned to play the game from a group called chess in slums. tunde daniel organised the chess tournament. i started thinking about them, about those boys that have been neglected on the streets and left to fend for themselves and are evolving to criminals,
con artists and drugs. chess in slums have trained 500 children and helped 100 of them to go back to school in nigeria and burkina faso. translation: the first time they came, we thought - they came for something else, but as time went by, we understood they had good plans for us. i want people to understand that there is no one born without a talent. since adeoye won the tournament, his story has been trending on social media. many nigerians are contributing to the group to sustain their project. around $58,000 has been donated so far. we don't just want to stop here. there's still so much more to do. we still need to get all of them off the streets and, you know, get them back to school. translation: i don't want to live under the bridge any more. - i want to live in a decent place. i don't want to join louts any more. what a great story there with a life
transformed by chess with him i don't know about you but i have certainly tried it and i play sometimes with my daughter who i must admit at 11 is far more proficient than me. i should have learned earlier, i suppose what you know what they say, it's never too late to learn. anyway i would like to move onto a different story for you now and talk to you about text messages. they may seem a little old—fashioned these days, but when they first pinged onto our phones, text messages were the last word in cool. now the first text ever sent has been sold for more than $120,000. it was auctioned in paris as a non—fungible token. nina nanji reports. text messaging, it's hard to imagine a world without it, but do you know when people first started texting each other? it was almost 30 years ago, in december1992. and that first message simply said, "merry christmas."
translation: engineering teams were workin: in translation: engineering teams were working in the — translation: engineering teams were working in the 1990s _ translation: engineering teams were working in the 1990s to _ translation: engineering teams were working in the 1990s to develop - translation: engineering teams were working in the 1990s to develop the - working in the 19905 to develop the technology to transmit sms messages and on december the 3rd ne5t 92, neil pat werth, part of this engineering team, seen from his computer the sms merry christmas to a vodafone manager in the uk. now that piece of digital history has gone under the hammer. it was sold by vodafone for $120,600 in the form of a non—fungible token, or nft. nfts are a type of digital asset that has surged in popularity this year, with nft artwork selling for millions of dollars. the buyer, whose identity was not disclosed, will receive the replica of the original communication protocol that transmitted the sms. vodafone says it plans to donate its proceeds from the sale to the united nations refugee agency. nina nanji, bbc news.
just before we go, an amazing survival story to bring you now from madagascar, where a government minister managed to swim to shore when his helicopter cra5hed after spending 12 hours in the water. serge gelle, the secretary of state for police, was one of two survivors from the crash, which happened during a mission to inspect the site of a shipwreck. he apparently used one of the helicopter�*s 5eat5 a5 a flotation device. he said in this video, posted on twitter, that he managed to keep going because he told himself that his time to die hadn't come yet. a really remarkable tale of survival and the spirit to keep going. a lesson for all of us i suppose in
these pandemic time5. that's all for now. stay with bbc world news. hello again. well, we're going to see some changes in our weather pattern through wednesday as this area of cloud that's just out in the atlantic starts to encroach. that will eventually bring some rain, particularly into we5tern areas, with milder 5outherly wind5 spreading in as well. before we get there, though, it's a chilly start to the day with some patches of frost for central and eastern areas of the country. in some of the deeper valleys in scotland, we're seeing temperatures of, what, —9, —10 degrees, so a very cold start here. now, through wednesday, as i say, this area of rain is on the way, and it's going to be arriving pretty quickly in northern ireland accompanied by those strengthening 5outherly wind5. so, it will be turning progressively milder here pretty quickly through the day. elsewhere, a few brighter spell5 across central and eastern england, perhaps for northern scotland, too, but generally a lot of cloud further west with that rain continuing to push its way
northwards and eastwards through the day. top temperatures around about 4—7 for many, but as that rain bumps into that colder air, well, some of those valleys could still have temperatures below freezing. so, there is a risk, and quite a significant risk i think, of seeing icy conditions out on the roads through wednesday evening, either due to freezing rain or rain falling on frozen surfaces. now, for thursday, we've got another weather front that's set to move its way in. now, i think it may well start off with rather murky conditions acro55 much of the country, a few mist and fog patches over the hills, and rain. well, that rain'5 going to be heavier, particularly swinging acro55 northern ireland, northern england, into parts of scotland as well. very mild in the south, 13 degrees, but we're starting to get some colder air spreading into the far north of the uk. and for christmas eve, we'll continue to have those kind of temperature contra5t5. another weather front, this one concentrating rain acro55 northern ireland, wales and the south west of england, still with mild air here. further north, we've got those chillier conditions with wintry showers beginning to spread in across the northern isles.
and for saturday, which of course is christmas day, we're going to have this battle zone somewhere across the uk. now, this is not set in stone. it could move a little bit further southwards perhaps over the next few days. for the north of the uk, we may well see a few snow showers, that is a possibility. the south west more likely to see cloudy skies, grey conditions, rain and mild weather. and there's a small chance we could see something a little bit more disruptive, but itjust depends where this boundary ends up being. at the moment, it's here. cold air to the north, milder in the south west, but watch this space.
president biden has announced new measures to tackle the surge in covid infections in the us fuelled by the new omicron variant. he's announced a significant increase in the vaccination effort with 10,000 new vaccination sites opening. borisjohnson says there will be no new restrictions in england before christmas. the uk government has also announced a billion dollar grant — for the hospitality sector. large scale events, including new year celebrations, in scotland have been cancelled. rescuers reaching islands in the philippines cut off by last week's super typhoon have discovered scores more dead bodies and villages that have been flattened. the number of people killed has risen to more than 375. and the high court in london has ordered the ruler of dubai to pay more than 700 million dollars in a divorce settlement to his ex—wife — princess higher ofjordan.