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tv   Review 2021  BBC News  December 29, 2021 8:30pm-9:01pm GMT

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the uk has announced a record 183,000 new daily coronavirus cases, although figures have been affected by testing delays. it comes as doctors and pharmacists warn of a shortage of covid tests. record numbers of coronavirus infections have been recorded by several european countries, with the 0micron variant fuelling a surge in cases. the world health organization says the virus is straining health care systems and staff around the world. the european court of human rights has urged russia to suspend the shutdown of the country's oldest human rights group, memorial international. the court said it needed time to examined the case. and the life of archbishop desmond tutu has been celebrated at memorial services outside his home injohannesburg and at an interfaith ceremony in cape town.
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now on bbc news, review 2021 — the coronavirus pandemic. 0ur health editor hugh pym has the story of the coronavirus pandemic across the year and its impact on so many different aspects of people's lives. hospitals under pressure. loud and clear — covid is serious. some of the shifts that i have had are the toughtest i've ever had. and the race to vaccinate the public. i got the letter yesterday, and i'm booked in today. i three, two, one! welcome back, everyone! cheering. lockdown ends.
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i can literally not stress how much i missed being able to go out. but there's the threat of a new variant. there is a tidal wave of omicron coming. the year began with intensifying pressure on the nhs. covid infections were rising, and there was a worrying increase in hospital admissions. the second wave of the virus was going to prove more deadly than the first. with covid cases rising, the new school term began with confusion. some teachers and children stayed at home. there's 21 members of staff that have opted not come into school, because they would consider it to be an unsafe environment. in my school, that's led to nursery, year 3—4 not coming to school. the empty classrooms were a warning of what was coming. another lockdown announced in the uk's nations. the government is, once again,
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instructing you to stay at home. primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges across england must move to remote provision from tomorrow. as cases continued to rise, so did the number of sick patients admitted to hospital. in mid—january, i visited croydon university hospital in south london. this is a&e, but not as you know it. all staff are in full protective equipment. they know that most patients coming in have either tested positive or have symptoms. how are you feeling now? 0h... it's the breath that's the problem, and the cough. can i have a little listen, is that all right? shubra is a consultant here. sit forward for me a little, and take a nice, deep breath. and he's assessing hanifa, who's just arrived in an ambulance. she's a2.
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she tested positive a week before, and her condition steadily got worse. i felt i was dying. i've been healthy, have no illness, nothing. covid just struck me down, just like that. aftertreatment, hanifa began to recover. she was discharged from hospital soon afterwards. the sickest patients need to be in intensive care, and staff have to be on constant alert because patients can take a rapid turn for the worse. it's a very, very sudden thing, and you just have to respond and reassess. and that patient looks like whatever the problem was, we have sorted. staff have noticed that, compared to the first wave, the age of covid patients in intensive care is lower. for example, right here now, there are two people in their 30s with no underlying health conditions.
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the chances of someone under a0 needing intensive care for coronavirus are much smaller than for those who are older. the number of younger patients may be more noticeable because cases have risen across all age groups. doctors are clear no one is safe. and i think, you know, for someone who says it's a myth or, you know, "it won't affect me" can come and see the 30—40—year—olds in the intensive care — with no guarantee that we're going to be able to get them out. and that's the bottom line, that's how serious it is. you've seen some in that age group dying, have you? yes. as patient numbers in hospitals rose, so too did the numbers dying. 0n 26january, the uk reached 100,000 deaths — people who didn't survive within 28 days of getting covid. today, we're using candles to represent those who died. 0ne light for every life lost.
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something really precious has been taken away from me, and it's really hard. this is a life that's gone, and the impact is huge. i i'm left now with a young family, who've gotten older. my life is destroyed. everything is gone. by new year's eve, the death toll had reached 76,000. now it's taken just a few more weeks to get to 100,000. and this is not over yet. it's a loss that should never have happened. it should never have gotten to that scale. it's notjust 100,000 people. it's100,000 people whose families are going to miss them _ for the rest of their lives. as the second wave moved north... ..more hospitals were feeling the pressure. i visited kingsmill hospital in mansfield. every day in intensive care
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is a daunting challenge for staff as they strive to keep patients alive. some of the shifts i have had are the toughest i've ever had. in particular, one night shift i had last week was the worst i've ever had in 21 years of nursing. from experience, i can tell you that i'm seeing more sicker patients this time than i saw in the first wave. doctors are trained to deal with death, but nothing like this. 0uma has had to cope with the savage impact of covid both in hisjob and at home. my parents have got covid, my mother—in—law's in the icu at the moment. i have just lost very dear family, relatives of covid. so when you see these patients in the hospital, it just gives you that flashback, as well. but you've got to shut that down, and you've got to continue looking after your patients as best as you can. it'sjust so sad, you know? because for every person that dies, |we know there's a family that's not| being able to do the normal things
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that we'd do for that _ loved one who's died. edith is a hospital chaplain. she has to face up to grief most days, comforting the dying and their families, but also supporting staff who feel the losses intensely. whenever you've got lots of people dying on the ward, you know, - it comes at a huge cost to the staff, as well- as to the families. and at london's royal free hospital, staff spoke openly of the mental strain on the front line. families are upset. we shed tears for our patients, we do. when we met this nurse, she'd only started her nursing career a few months earlier. but already, she'd seen more deaths and bereavement than some who'd been nursing for many years. to protect her parents, she's moved out of the family home and is living on her own.
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we don't have time, you know? if a patient dies, i have seven other patients to take care of. i have to cry and wipe my tears and go to my next patient and say, "hi, are you ready for your evening meds?" and be happy because they won't know. but when you go home and there's silence and there's no family, that's when it hits. when people die and when we can't actually make them better, i think the feeling is so awful and so overwhelming, and so devastating. claire is head chaplain at royal free london. her role involves visiting patients in the wards and comforting their families. and she supports staff, and understands the immense emotional strain on them. when you're in the middle of that trauma and seeing patients dying and also in very traumatic circumstances, often alone, i think for staff, that's just incredibly heartbreaking. and things that might happen once a year, or once in a while,
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are happening every day. hello, good morning! i've got your lunches. a different kind of support is offered by debbie. we are testing people's resilience to the nth degree. she's a psychologist working with intensive care staff. here, she organises an informal listening session. when everyone's not having time to rest and recover because it's been nonstop for us in intensive care. and it's a lot of- nightmares about work. you wake up in a cold sweat- and you can't get back to sleep, because you've got to be at work in the next four hours. _ it has been probably one of the most challenging experiences of my career. i think we are very concerned about the years ahead. i don't think it's just about now, and about staff retention. i think it's actually about how are people emotionally, going to come back from this? in particular, as you can see from young people,
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this has really scarred them. the best defence against the virus was vaccination. the race was on to getjabs in as many arms as possible — and that was a huge logistical exercise. some sports stadiums opened their doors. second doses for some... thank you for coming in today. the jab will be the pfizerjab. ..while younger people were encouraged to get their firstjab. churches and cathedrals were also turned into vaccine hubs. but some concerns emerged about rare blood clots linked to the 0xford—astrazeneca vaccine. fergus walsh: business as usual in northeast london. headlines about blood clots didn't put people off getting the astrazeneca vaccine.
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the thought of catching covid is more severe than having a blood clot. taking any medicine, there's always a side effect. so i wasn't really unduly concerned about having the jab. 79 rare blood clots have been identified out of 20 million doses of the astrazeneca vaccine. the link isn't proven, but in future, the under—30s will be offered a different vaccine. the government says there'll be enough pfiizer and moderna doses for 8.5 million 18—29—year—olds yet to be vaccinated. the message from ministers, one of reassurance. we know the roll—out�*s working. we know the safety system's working, and we're on track to meet the goal of offering to all adults by the end ofjuly. and the speed of the roll—out won't be affected by these decisions. so, you know, when you get the call, get the jab. scientists tracking the epidemic
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in england say vaccines are weakening the link between cases and deaths. there are now far fewer fatalities per infection because so many of us are protected, a reminder why all this really matters. hugh pym: by the spring, infections were falling steadily. some hospitality venues were opening with seating outside. restrictions could be eased in gradual, cautious stages with each uk nation setting out its own road map. we're setting out on what i hope and believe is a one—way road to freedom. and this journey is made possible by the pace of the vaccination programme. talk of lifting the lockdown, as if it's a flick—of—a—switch moment, is misguided. 0ur steps, when we take them will need to be careful, gradual, incremental, and probably quite small to start with. this is a significant. package of measures.
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| a series of steps forward in our| journey back towards normality. we will not be driven by hard dates. we recognise that everyone will be looking for certainty, but we do not want to set set potentially unachievable dates that will only disappoint. but as things were improving here in the uk, the situation in india was getting much worse. a new variant, which became known as delta, was taking hold and it was spreading much more quickly than previous variants. the impact was deadly. the front line. an emergency room in a covid hospital, just about standing under the weight of an unfolding disaster. to get past the shortage of beds, they've packed in stretchers, wheelchairs, as many as they can. but the first line of treatment against covid—19 is oxygen. and they've almost run out.
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at this point, there was just one hour of supply left. the staff knows how many lives hang in the balance. but in the uk, the mood was very different. the lifting of restrictions continued. by the summer, night clubs were allowed to open their doors once more. crowd: three, two, one! welcome back, everyone! for some, this is what freedom looks like — no social distancing, very few masks. # everybody�*s free to feel good... many nightclubs across england reopened at midnight, 16 months since they were shut in the first lockdown. it's felt like a dream, like, we've all waited for this
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moment for a long time. i can literally not stress how much i've missed being able _ to go out and just dance, and have a life. - however, the delta variant was quickly spreading. infections began to rise again, as well as hospitalisations. there's been no summer let—up. and now another covid surge is developing. king's college hospital in london, like many others, is treating more covid patients and they're younger. one of them is henry, who's 28. he became ill a few days before he was due to have a first vaccine dose. i felt like i was dying. you feel your heads full of glass, you've got horrendous headache. youi’ eyes are sore. so, every time you're breathing in, you're expecting to be able to breathe in so much more. you just can't, and there's nothing there to get back to it. so, before the ambulance arrived, it was terrifying because you didn't know when your last breath was going to be. in this covid ward, there's
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a range of different ages. 80% of the patients here have not had a first dose of the vaccine. of the rest, some have immune conditions which might make the vaccines less effective. doctors here say the pressure is different this time round. in general, the patients are younger and tend not to be as sick as they did in the first two waves. so, on average, the number of days they're staying in hospital is fewer. also, there are fewer number of patients needing the admission to the intensive care unit. but for staff who've worked through the pandemic, another surge is the last thing they wanted. with the nhs understandably devoting so much time and resource to treating covid patients, there was an impact on other parts of the health service. waiting lists for non—urgent operations and procedures hit record levels. gail is struggling to walk and needs spinal surgery. she has two collapsed
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discs in her neck. she's been waiting for an operation for nearly a year, and she doesn't know when it might happen. if i had a date for my surgery, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. with no date, there's no light at the end of the tunnel. it isjust a long, dark tunnel of pain medication and sofa—sitting, and... ..that�*s my life. as the autumn progressed, daily cases continued to be high. older people and clinically—vulnerable groups began to be invited for a third vaccine, the booster. it means that i'm at less risk of infecting others and spreading the disease, so it's really important to me. the third dose is very important. the booster programme i is there for the people that need the third dose - and need the immunity in the coming season. so, we've got no beds on trauma, no medical beds, no surgical beds.
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the pressure on hospitals continued. how many patients in the department currently waiting for beds? i visited the royal victoria infirmary in newcastle. at the moment, we've got about eight patients waiting for admission. my concern is not only that we have high levels of bed—waits, waits to be seen, the risk of clinical incidents goes up by the day. but my bigger concern is that i'm not sure what we can do about it. and that's what worries me the most. the ambulances keep on coming, but beds are hard to find because patients in the hospital are staying longer. it really breaks my heart to see some elderly- people lying on trolleys, - because they're really vulnerable. and, you know, they might have been |waiting a long time for an ambulance| before they came in. this ward is where the uk's first covid patients were treated early last year. few would've imagined then that, nearly two years on, covid patients would still need to be cared for in hospitals like this one.
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numbers aren't nearly as high as injanuary, but everyone needs a dedicated specialist. it was tough, very tough. tariq has been seriously ill with covid. now getting better, he praised the nurses. beautiful angels, beautiful. so kind. jade, who's the senior sister on this ward, says the stress of the pandemic is beginning to tell. i'd be lying if i said that it hadn't affected me mentally. i think everyone is tired, everyone's lethargic, and everyone... it's difficult because i don't think anybody can see an end to this. so it's difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel. then, just as people were being told christmas parties could go ahead, events took a sudden turn. a new variant, omicron,
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was detected in south africa. after months of opening up, a new coronavirus variant means travel restrictions are back. at heathrow, the last flights from south africa arrived this morning. i feel extremely relieved, because, yeah, who knows how long this is going to last? we've been told we have to isolate at home. - so, that shouldn't be too bad. from sunday, only uk and irish residents will be allowed in from six southern african countries, and they'll have to pay to quarantine in a hotel. testing for the new omicron variant was increased, cases were spreading quickly, and the warnings got much more serious. i need to speak to you this evening because i'm afraid we're now facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant, omicron. and we must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection to keep our friends
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and loved ones safe. to be blunt, because of the much greater and faster transmissibility of this new variant, we may be facing, indeed, we may be starting to experience a potential tsunami of infections. the sheer speed at which the variant moves means that it has— the potential to infect large numbers of people. - this variant is much more transmissible, around two—and—a—half times more so than delta. and you will have a larger number of people in our population contracting the virus. high—level concern about the new variant is increasing, and the rapid roll—out of booster jabs is seen as a vital part of the official response. there was no shortage of people queuing for boosters in bristol today, though finding staff to do them hasn't been easy. it is difficult to recruit enough staff, both vaccinators and admin people. and they've all been
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working in this programme since the beginning of the year. and in swindon, a long queue as well, and a wait of several hours. i've been here since 9am, and i'm supposed to have work at 2pm. but they told me that the queue will be till 3.30pm. | not happy, i've got better things| to do than stand here in a queue. just under five hours. and when we got in there, there were only two people jabbing. long lines had built up after the acceleration of the booster offer to more adults. since the system in england was opened up to people aged 30 and over early on monday morning, around a million people have booked their boosters, and that doesn't include walk—ins. the question now, can that momentum be maintained? at some vaccine centres, deliveries fell behind, and there were temporary closures. all this as the chief medical officer, chris whitty, warned the cabinet of a likely increase in covid hospital numbers, a view echoed by other senior officials.
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we are concerned with the large volume of individuals who are being infected every day in the population, that we're going to have a very difficult four weeks ahead with cases in the community. their key message is "get yourjab", with military personnel helping in taunton and at other centres. they'll hope they can keep up with the spread of the virus. then, starting in scotland, appeals for people to reduce mixing indoors with other households, and to think carefully about who they socialise with. the warnings were stark. i am not asking you to cancel or change your plans for christmas day, boxing day, or whenever you have your main festive celebration. but, in the run—up to and in the aftermath of christmas, i am asking, i am appealing to everyone to cut down, as far as possible, our contacts with people in other households. my key request to all of you today
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is, as far as you can, please minimize your indoor social interactions with other households at this time. this is a really serious| threat at the moment. how big a threat? there are several things we don't know, but all the things - that we do know are bad. and the principal one being - the speed at which this is moving — it is moving at an absolutely phenomenal pace. - the national covid memorial wall by the river thames, in london, where families have commemorated their loved ones, is a reminder of the terrible toll taken by the virus. the heartfelt tributes show how cruel covid—19 is. the optimism offered by the vaccines knocked back by the speed at which the virus changes. so, the year ends as it began, with the nhs under intense pressure, and with more families losing those they love.
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but the hope for the year ahead is that science offers a way out of the pandemic with new drugs and therapies, and continued take—up of the boosters. hello there. earlier today, we saw temperatures reaching 16 degrees in southampton, and also here in exeter in devon. it's very mild air that's come our way today that's followed a band of rain that's been sweeping away towards the northeast. it remains unsettled in the next few days, some rain at times, some stronger winds too, the main feature of the weatherjust how mild it's going to be as we head into the new year. now, we could be at 17 celsius across some parts of england in the next few days, bear in mind the average is near eight celsius at this time of the year.
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it could be the warmest new year's eve and new year's day on record. there is still some rain in the forecast, and after a brief respite, we are going to find wetter weather developing overnight as the cloud thickens, especially in western areas, and it turns wetter here. we've still got these brisk south—south—westerly wind, and temperatures aren't going to drop very much at all tonight, very mild. much milder than last night in the northeast of scotland. but tomorrow does start cloudy, we've got some rain around first thing. it pushes eastwards, but there won't be much rain for the eastern side of the uk. we will see the cloud thickening to bring some rain back into the south west into wales, perhaps the west midlands. ahead of that, though, could be some sunshine for eastern scotland and the northeast of england. quite a windy day again during tomorrow, very mild, of course, much milder than today across northern scotland where it's also going to be drier than it's been today as well. we will see rain pushing northwards and eastwards overnight. that should be tending to move away during friday. could lingerfor a while in southern scotland and the northeast of england, but the trend is for it to become drier and brighter on friday, and the winds will start to ease down as well.
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still very mild, not quite as mild, perhaps, in scotland on friday, but 16—17 celsius towards the southeast and east anglia. why is it so mild? it's because the air is coming all the way from the tropics, these southerly winds bringing in higher temperatures, a lot of cloud, ahead of these weather fronts, an area of low pressure that's focusing the wet weather more towards the northwest of the uk. you are going to be seeing in the new year, away from here, there's a good chance it's going to be dry, and all areas will be exceptionally mild. we've still got some wet weather to come on new year's day. more towards northern ireland, northwest england and scotland, that is pushing away towards the northeast. it's brightening up during the day with some sunshine, a few showers coming in. quite a windy day, i think, on saturday, but, of course, it will be very mild everywhere, 1a celsius in glasgow, 16 celsius in london.
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this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. borisjohnson says 90% of people in intensive care with covid have not had their boosterjab, as cases in the uk hit a pandemic high ofjust over 183,000. i think it is worrying seeing so many cases that we know even though it is a small percentage of those people that will become seriously ill, that will be a large number thatis ill, that will be a large number that is still going to be admitted to the hospital over the coming week. as record infections rates are also reported across europe and the us, the world health organization warns of a huge strain on global health services. i'm highly concerned that omicron, being more transmissible, circulating at the same time
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as delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases.


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