this is bbc news with the latest headlines: the government says two cases of omicron, a new variant of covid—19, have been discovered in the uk, amid fears it has a higher re—infection risk. the two individuals concerned are self isolating alongside their whole household whilst further tests and sequencing is carried out and contact tracing. the two cases are linked. two men are killed by falling trees as storm arwen hits parts of the uk with high winds, rain and snow. one of the 27 people who drowned in the channel on wednesday is named as 24—year—old maryam nuri mohammed amin from iraq. the former england cricket captain michael vaughan says he's �*sorry for all the hurt�* azeem rafiq went through during the yorkshire racism scandal
# i like to be in america. # 0k by me in america... and the us composer and lyricist stephen sondheim, who was behind some of broadway's best known musicals has died, at the age of 91. two cases of the newly identified variant of coronavirus have been identified in the uk. the government is adding four more african countries to the red travel list. the world health organization says early evidence suggests the variant — named omicron — poses an increased re—infection risk. the health secretary, sajid javid, has been speaking to reporters in the past hour.
late last night i was contacted by the uk health security agency. i was informed they have detected two cases of this new variant in the united kingdom, one in chelmsford, the other in nottingham. the two individuals concerned are self isolating alongside their household while further tests and sequencing is carried out and contact tracing. the two cases are linked. we have always been clear that we won't hesitate to take further action if that is what is required and today i can announce one thing that we are doing immediately is carrying out targeted testing and sequencing of positive cases in the two areas that are affected. secondly, we are adding four more countries to the red list from 4am on sunday and those are angola, mozambique, malawi and zambia. if anyone has travelled to these four countries or any of the other
recently red listed countries in the last ten days, they must self isolate and take pcr tests. also, later today, the prime minister will be holding a press conference with the chief scientific adviser to the government and the chief medical officer to set out further measures. lastly, this is a real reminder to us all that this pandemic is far from over and if there's one thing that everyone can be doing right now is if they are eligible, please take your vaccine, whether it is your first shot, second shot or booster, please take your vaccine. are you concerned that this new variant is in the uk now? we were concerned from the moment we first identified this new variant. as i have said, it is a deeply concerning new variant and we do need to learn more about it, but the fact we now have these two cases in the united kingdom means we do need to take further measures and that is why i have set this up today. what impact will this have
on the current vaccine and booster roll—out? vaccines remain vitally important and if anything i think the importance of them, especially the booster vaccine, is now even more important. we know this new variant is out there, we don't know enough about it yet, but what we do know, we know the protections we have, especially the vaccines, are hugely important. now that we have two cases, what discussions are you having about any potential plan b, any potential change in restrictions as we head into christmas? how does this change things? we have always been really clear that we will do whatever is necessary to protect the progress that we have made as a country, we have come a long way, especially since the summer. we will keep all this under review and if we take need to take further action, we will. what can you tell us about the countries that the two people who have this variant, where have they been, where have they come from? what do you know about their
movements and do you expect to be able to contain it to the two individuals? this particular case, these two cases are linked and it has been traced to south africa. are you concerned at this point, given what we know about this variant, that we will be looking at potential changes to the status quo at the moment as we run into christmas? how should people view this, sitting at home, making their plans for christmas, thinking everything would be all right, what can you tell them about what you know about this variant and what might lie ahead in the next few weeks? everything we know, our international partners know. we have been very open and that is the right way, of course, to help people know why we are concerned and i made a statement in parliament yesterday to set out more of that information. but the one thing i would say again to anyone is we have made a lot of progress, we all want to see that
protected and if anyone is sitting at home thinking, what can i do? get vaccinated. that is the health secretary. paul hunter is a professor of medicine at the university of east anglia. good to have you with us. a lot of work to be done finding out what we can about this variant about how worried are you about it? the early evidence is — worried are you about it? the early evidence is that _ worried are you about it? the early evidence is that it _ worried are you about it? the early evidence is that it is _ worried are you about it? the early evidence is that it is actually - worried are you about it? the early evidence is that it is actually a - evidence is that it is actually a rather more transmissible than the delta variant. we have seen in south africa, although we have not got that many strains sequenced at the moment, there is an indication even in the initial test whether this is likely to be the mega variant and the indications are that is increasing quite rapidly in south africa. we don't know why it is spreading as rapidly as it seems to be. it could either be intrinsically
more infectious or it could be more that it more infectious or it could be more thatitis more infectious or it could be more that it is more resistant to immunity either from vaccines or not. orfrom natural infection. so most new variants still retain substantial protection from vaccines and the booster dose particularly gives you much greater antibodies, much greater protection than just if you've had two. so it's quite likely that with the booster dose you will still be highly protected from this variant but we don't know that for certain at the moment. but the secretary of state was right, the critical thing at the moment is to go and have your vaccine if you are eligible for the vaccines. by the time this thing, if it does end up spreading quite rapidly in the uk, it would be then too late to really get the full benefit of any additional vaccines because of
course are clearly vaccines take a week or two to have any value. we think it is more transmissible but we don't know if you get it if it is more dangerous in terms of causing serious illness or death.— serious illness or death. indeed not. and serious illness or death. indeed not- and at _ serious illness or death. indeed not. and at the _ serious illness or death. indeed not. and at the moment - serious illness or death. indeed not. and at the moment we - serious illness or death. indeed | not. and at the moment we have serious illness or death. indeed - not. and at the moment we have not seen enough cases to make that judgment properly. it is quite likely we have been seeing indications that with the a y 4.2 variant circulating in the uk that that seems to be associated with less severe disease than the other delta variant pool possibly because it is more likely to cause three �*s or breakthrough infections in people partly immune, and if that applies to omicron, hopefully the infection won't be as severe as we have seen in the past. but there is a proviso. and that is it won't, it will be less severe only if you have already had an infection or if you have been vaccinated, and we don't know even
now whether that is for certain. if we do need to tweak the vaccine that we do need to tweak the vaccine that we have already, to fight omicron, how quickly could that be done, do you think? how quickly could that be done, do ou think? . , ' ~ you think? that is difficult. i would be — you think? that is difficult. i would be very _ you think? that is difficult. i would be very surprised - you think? that is difficult. i would be very surprised if i you think? that is difficult. i l would be very surprised if that could be done in anything less than four months. but the vaccine manufacturers have been gearing up to do this sort of thing for well over a year now and may be, i would be pleasantly surprised but i wouldn't bank on it. the be pleasantly surprised but i wouldn't bank on it.- wouldn't bank on it. the last question. — wouldn't bank on it. the last question, this _ wouldn't bank on it. the last question, this originated, i wouldn't bank on it. the last| question, this originated, we certainly discovered it in southern africa, we don't know for sure that it originated there but gordon brown has been saying it is because there are not enough vaccines in africa, thatis are not enough vaccines in africa, that is partly responsible and he says the rich nations have been hoarding the vaccines. is there any truth to that? i hoarding the vaccines. is there any truth to that?— truth to that? i think there is. we don't know _ truth to that? i think there is. we don't know for _ truth to that? i think there is. we don't know for certain _ truth to that? i think there is. we don't know for certain whether i truth to that? i think there is. we don't know for certain whether or| don't know for certain whether or not that played out in this
particular circumstance and i don't think we will ever know for certain, but many people, myself included, have been pointing out that at the moment we are vaccinating relatively low risk people in the west whereas those who are at high risk of infection are still waiting for the first course throughout much of the world, and it is in that group that we are most likely to see these mutations that arrive that have so many, so many varieds that have these new mutations. gordon brown got it right in his article today. paul hunt said there, professor of medicine at the university of east anglia. joining me now is emma hodcroft, a molecular epidemiologist at the university of bern in switzerland. so two cases in the uk and in various other countries around the world. already, despite the fact there are travel restrictions with
southern africa, it has spread. irate southern africa, it has spread. we have southern africa, it has spread. - have seen with variants previously that it have seen with variants previously thatitis have seen with variants previously that it is hard to contain the spread so the fact we have seen two cases now in the uk and in europe and around the world, this is not surprising and we should read it ourselves formal cases detected over the coming days and weeks. what is critical here is not necessarily that this variant has moved before the travel restrictions were in place but identifying how many times it seems to be introduced into countries and whether we see any site it is transmitting locally, whether it is spreading in these countries or it is just introductions. countries or it is 'ust introductionsﬁ countries or it is 'ust introductions. ~ . ., countries or it is 'ust introductions. . ., ., ., ,, introductions. we have had variouss and mutations _ introductions. we have had variouss and mutations before _ introductions. we have had variouss and mutations before and _ introductions. we have had variouss and mutations before and of - introductions. we have had variouss and mutations before and of course | and mutations before and of course we will have them again, but is this of real concern in your view? i do think that — of real concern in your view? i do think that this _ of real concern in your view? i it think that this variant has a particular set of mutations which do argue for some concern. they are
ones we have seen in previous variant pin or in lab work where we know they can have an impact on things like how well your body recognises the virus but it is also important to keep in mind that at this point there is a lot more we don't know than that we know with certainty. even though we know many of these mutations individually we don't know what the impact is when they are together. they might interfere with each other, it's also really critical to keep in mind that even though this may have an impact on things like vaccines, we have no idea if this is to a degree that might be concerning or if it might be smaller and something that isn't so worrying. we have to wait and see what more data and more lab work will turn up. do what more data and more lab work will turn urn-— will turn up. do these travel restrictions _ will turn up. do these travel restrictions that _ will turn up. do these travel restrictions that have - will turn up. do these travel restrictions that have been l will turn up. do these travel- restrictions that have been imposed on southern african nations, ten of them by the uk government, but other countries also imposing travel restrictions, does that make sense if it has already spread around the world? , , ., ., , ., .,
world? this is a tough question and one argument _ world? this is a tough question and one argument against _ world? this is a tough question and one argument against travel- one argument against travel restrictions is that by the time we put them in, it is too late and the variant has spread. there is in many countries have put them in to the south of africa is because we think this is likely what this originated or at least where it is most widespread and so the tactic is to try and buy time, we probably won't manage to stop it spreading completely. we might be able to delay that, then the really important question is what you do with that time? do you increase vaccination, do you find out more about the virus, do you decide to introduce restrictions? but once we see this spreading more broadly, it is a question that at that point travel restrictions are not helping and any economic problems they incur are probably not worth it. good and any economic problems they incur are probably not worth it.— are probably not worth it. good to talk to you- _ are probably not worth it. good to talk to you. let _ are probably not worth it. good to talk to you. let me _ are probably not worth it. good to talk to you. let me just _ are probably not worth it. good to talk to you. let me just update i are probably not worth it. good to l talk to you. let me just update you on those two cases in the uk that
have emerged. we havejust on those two cases in the uk that have emerged. we have just heard from a spokesperson for essex county council saying, we can confirm that a single case involving the new covid variant of concern omicron has been identified in brentwood. it is linked to a single case from nottingham involving international travel to south africa. we are working with regional or local public health officers who are assessing the situation. all close contacts of these individuals will be followed up and request to isolate and get tested. the individuals who so far who have tested positive as well as all members of their household have been retested and told to self isolate. while this work takes place, it is important everybody take sensible precautions, get a pcr test if you have symptoms, isolate one ask, where a face covering when in crowded and enclosed spaces. please note the case concerned is in
brentwood, essex not chelmsford. that case in essex is actually in brentwood, linked to the single case in nottingham. that is the latest update on those two cases of omicron here in the uk. we will be getting more information from the prime minister who is holding a corona virus briefing at downing street later this afternoon. he will be joined by england's chief medical officer, professor chris whitty and the uk government's chief scientific adviser, sir patrick vallance. full coverage here on the bbc news channel from 5pm. at least two men have been killed by falling trees as storm arwen hit parts of the uk with high winds, rain and snow. the storm caused damage across scotland, northern england, the midlands and wales — with winds of nearly 100 miles an hour leaving more than 100,000 homes without power. there are further weather warnings across the uk today, as emily unia reports.
storm arwen brought winds of more than 90 miles an hour to pummel the coast of north—east scotland. the met office issued a rare red weather warning, meaning there was a potential risk to life. i can barely stand up. sean, a storm chaser, filmed treacherous conditions near edinburgh for social media. pushing through. i've been hit by falling debris. that is brutal. this is portobello beach in edinburgh. i have never in all my life seen a storm like this. passengers travelling from inverness to aberdeen ended up spending the night on a train. i got on the train at elgin around three yesterday afternoon, and about five o'clock, we hit huntly and we stayed there for about 17 hours. trees blew down across the north—east of england and like the rest of the country, there was major disruption on the rail network.
near rochdale, 120 lorries got stuck in snow on the m62, and there were power cuts across the north west. we've had a very high number of incidents on the network, a high volume of faults. about 7a,000 customers have had their power supply interrupted at some time, but we've restored supplies to 43,000 of those customers already. on this farm near st asaph in north wales, a shed roof blew down, damaging cars. and the bad weather also affected itv�*s i'm a celebrity, which had to be pre—recorded. a yellow weather warning for high winds across central england, scotland, wales and northern ireland remains in place until six o'clock this evening. emily unia, bbc news. sport and for a full round up, from the bbc sport centre, here's katherine downes.
i gather you are leaving us! my voice has _ i gather you are leaving us! ii voice has already checked i gather you are leaving us! ii1 voice has already checked out. i gather you are leaving us! i1 voice has already checked out. just clinging on to it with my fingertips and trying to get through my last day. eddie howe's first match in the dugout as newcastle united manager ended in disappointment. his side lost 2—0 to arsenal in the premier league's early kick off at the emirates. it means newcastle are still bottom of the table and without a win. austin halewood reports. the latest instalment of newcastle's new starts. after overcoming coronavirus eddie howe was ready for his debut on the touchline but few stadiums strike fear in the hearts of newcastle fans like a trip to the emirates. they have lost all of their last ten matches at arsenal and right from the start, the home side were on the front foot. martin odegaard forcing an impressive save
from an early free kick. but for all of their attacking prowess, arsenal are pretty solid at the back these days. aaron ramsdale with another outstanding save to keep it level. i mentioned that attacking prowess, it wasn't on display here. obama yang missing from all of a yard. hard to believe. after the break, arsenal finally took the lead though. bukayo saka five across the goal and into the corner. newcastle fans thought they had a way back into it when callum wilson went down in the box, called for a penalty which was waved away and moments later, arsenal were in again. gabrielle martinelli with a perfectly —weighted volley to seal the three points for the gunners. so not quite the perfect start for eddie howe is they wait for that first league win of the season goes on for newcastle. elsewhere in the premier
league, the three, 3pm kick offs are under way — aston villa looking for back—to—back wins under their new manager steven gerrard. they're at crystal palace. they are going pretty well, 1—0 there to villa. norwich hoping to make it three wins in a row against wolves. still goalless. and liverpool can go second in the table if they beat southampton. currently 1—0 up. four matches in the scottish premiership today. the latest scores on your screen there. not many girls out there at the moment. we will keep you updated. ellen white marked her 100th appearance for england by scoring as they beat austria 1—0 in a world cup qualifier in sunderland. white is just one goal away from equalling the lionesses�* scoring record. england top their group with five wins out of five, and are yet to concede. in tennis, great britain have an unassailable 2—0 lead over france in their first tie at this year's davis cup finals.
dan evans was up against adrian mannrino in the first rubber and he enjoyed a relatively straightfoward victory. winning in straight sets 7—5, 6—4. so that left british number one, cameron norrie, knowing that the tie would effectively be over if he managed to beat arthur rinderknech. it was another straight sets victory for great britain. they're a set down in the doubles though — which could prove important later in the round robin stages. history was going to be made at twickenham this afternoon. for the first time the barbarians men's and women's rugby teams were playing a double bill on the same day — at the same ground. the men's side were due to take on samoa but that match has been cancelled — due to six confirmed covid cases in the barbarians team. but the women's match against south africa is going ahead. it's half time at the moment and 38 nil to the babas ,who've run in 6 tries so far.
a massive crowd for the women's barbarians match. that's all the sport for now. don't forget it's the second round of the uk snooker championship in york. ronnie o'sulivan is currenly taking on robbie williams and it's williams who has the advantage. he leads four frames to two and needs just two more for victory, it's live on bbc two and the website. that's bbc.co.uk/sport i will be back with more in an hour. you are watching bbc news. as officials in france continue to try and identify the victims of this week's mass drownings in the channel, the bbc has been hearing from the family and friends of the first person known to have died. maryam nuri mohamed amin was a 24—year—old kurdish woman from northern iraq and was trying to reach the uk to be with her partner.
lucy williamson reports. it is a face that will haunt both sides of the channel. 24—year—old maryam nuri mohamed amin from northern iraq was crossing to the uk to meet her fiance. he told the bbc she had been messaging him when the boat began to lose air. in her last message she tried to reassure him that help was coming. in iraqi kurdistan herfamily�*s anger showed through their grief. translation: going to britain is very difficult. l she tried to go legally twice, she went to the embassy but the process was delayed. she was forced to go the way she did. one of her friends has also been speaking about her death. her humanity was so good, always advising me. she was like someone i looked up to for advice, so no one should try this, no one, no one deserves
to die this way. this disaster has changed little in the minds of people living in migrant camps here. they are just waiting for the right weather conditions to make the same journey. take the same risks. there's been lots of finger pointing across the channel over who is to blame for the growing crisis, european interior ministers are due to meet here tomorrow to discuss the problem but at the british home secretary has been disinvited in the middle of a diplomatic feud between borisjohnson and emmanuel macron. investigations have begun to identify those who died and find out why help never arrived. harder to explain after all the diplomacy, all the deterrents, the loss of 27 lives in a narrow stretch of sea. lucy williamson, bbc news, calais. the former england cricket captain michael vaughan, has spoken publicly for the first
time since being accused of racism, by his yorkshire teammate azeem rafiq. speaking to dan walker before the england and wales cricket board released a new action plan to tackle racism and discrimination, he apologised for any hurt he may have caused. michael vaughan leading england to the ashes in 2005. now he's fighting for his reputation after being accused by three asian players of making a racist comment ahead of a game for yorkshire. "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it." do you in any way remember or recognise those words? i don't. my recollection from that day — as i've said, i was a yorkshire player for 18 years. i was the first player to sign for that club that was not born in the county, so for 18 years we've gone from me being the first to sign for the club, to sachin tendulkar to be the first from overseas, to players being able to sign from other clubs. and it was my last few games,
and ijust remember it clearly that i was proud as punch that we had four asian players representing yorkshire county cricket club. it was azeem rafiq, the yorkshire whistleblower, who made the initial allegation. he has said that michael vaughan might not remember the alleged remarks because they didn't mean anything to him. yeah, that hurts. that hurts, because i've always felt that every single team that i've been involved in — the biggest praise i ever got as the england captain for six years was that i was the kind of person that really galvanised the group, got the team working together as one. i always felt that i was the person in the dressing room that really wanted everyone to feel included. michael, you said you wanted to sit down with azeem and hear his story. the chances are he could be watching you this morning. he could be watching this now. what would be your message to him? i'm sorry for the hurt
that he's gone through. yorkshire county cricket club, i believe, is me. you know, that's been my life. whether i'm a player or not, i'm a senior ex—player and ex—england captain, and i believe that once you've played for yorkshire you're always a yorkshire player. i'm sorry for all the hurt that he's gone through. hopefully — time, i don't think, can ever be a healer in the situation that he's gone through. but hopefully time can be a way of us making sure that yorkshire county cricket club never goes through this situation again and never puts themselves in a position of denial that they treated a player so badly. vaughan says he wants to work with azeem rafiq to repair the damage done to cricket. he also says he regrets and is embarrassed by several posts he made on social media between 2010 and 2018, insisting he wouldn't post them now. when i look back on my 12 years on social media,
i regret many tweets. i regret the tweets that you've just read out. i apologise deeply to anyone that i offended with those tweets. since retirement, michael vaughan has covered cricket for bbc radio, but earlier this week it was revealed that he has been stood down from his role at the ashes in australia this winter. yeah, i won't be doing the ashes, which i understand. editorial at the minute, the story is all about azeem rafiq and racism in the game of cricket. i get that. ijust hope, in time, i get that chance to come back, and the one thing that i've loved more than anything since i retired is talking cricket. i love being on test match special, and hopefully in time i'll get that chance to do it again. michael vaughan's hopes for a return to the airwaves rest with his employers. it's his hope that he will have a role in helping to repair the damage done to cricket by this racism scandal. dan walker, bbc news.
we put the remarks made by michael vaughan in that interview to azeem rafiq, but he declined to comment. one of musical theatre's most revered composers and lyricists, stephen sondheim, has died at the age of 91. in a career that spanned more than six decades, he created some of broadway's best known musicals — and wrote the lyrics for west side story. daniela relph has been looking back at his life. # isn't it bliss? # don't you approve? # one who keeps tearing around, one who can't move... send in the clowns, from the musical a little night music. # send in the clowns... it was stephen sondheim's only hit song — remarkably, because this was the man who revolutionised the american musical.
as a young man he learned his trade from oscar hammerstein, the lyricist who wrote shows like oklahoma and the sound of music. sondheim, too, started by doing the words — notably for leonard bernstein's music in west side story. # i like to be in america! # ok by me in america! soon he was writing his own music as well. # for a small fee in america... most of the shows that followed were hits. and then in 1970 he came up with a new idea — a musical that didn't follow an obvious plot. # phone rings, door chimes, in comes company... company was a series of vignettes featuring a dozen central characters. no two sondheim musicals were the same. i don't want to get bored writing. and you know, it's — when you hit a chord that you've hit before or a technique of using a song that you've done before — or when i do, i get very nervous. and i think "i've written that, i mustn't do that again." somebody will catch me up on it, so to speak. it's as if somebody�*s saying, "wait a minute, you did that