welcome to newsday. reporting live from singapore, i'm karishma vaswani. the headlines... more cases of the new coronavirus variant and more travel restrictions, but the us president urges people not to panic. this variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic. our medical editor will look at what's known so far about the variant. also in the programme... the trial of british socialite ghislaine maxwell gets under way in new york. she's accused of trafficking underage girls for former loverjeffrey epstein. on the eve of becoming a republic, barbados prepares to celebrate a new future without the queen as head of state.
live from our studio in singapore... this is bbc news. it's newsday. the omicron coronavirus variant poses a high risk of infection surges around the globe, and it requires "urgent action". that's the warning from the world health organisation. the us presidentjoe biden said the newly—identified variant is a cause for concern, but not a cause for panic. speaking at the white house, mr biden said the need now was to get the rest of the world vaccinated. our health correspondent, naomi grimley, has the latest. there's an eerie quiet atjohannesburg airport. south africa first raised the alarm about the omicron variant, but is now finding itself increasingly cut off
from the rest of the world. meanwhile, on the ground, there's a big push to get vaccines into arms. only 23% of the south african population is fully vaccinated. we still don't know yet whether this version of covid is more severe than previous ones. one of those on the front line is reassured by what she's seen so far in her patients. so, now, we are seeing patients, but we caught symptoms that we can treat at home, probably not requiring icu admission or hospital admission. amsterdam is one of the world's cities now discovering cases. 13 people were found to have it after flying in from south africa. the police even had to arrest a couple who tried to escape from a quarantine hotel. portugal has also announced it's got 13 cases.
all involve a local football club where one of its players had recently returned from a south african trip. in canada, they found two cases, the link to travel from another african country entirely — nigeria. in the us, so far, they haven't got any cases, but the president is mindful that people are worried. this variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic. we have the best vaccine in the world and the best medicines, the best scientists, and we're learning more everything will day. many countries don't want to take any chances at all. switzerland has toughened its quarantine requirements. britons entering the country must produce a negative test and quarantine for ten days. that's after 11 cases were found in the uk. morocco is stopping all international flights. and japan, where covid infections are low,
is doing something similar. translation: we will ban all entries of foreign - nationals from all over- the world as of november 30. there's no doubt that the world has reacted quicker than it did when the delta variant emerged in india earlier this year. g7 ministers have met online and agreed to share information from their surveillance systems, but the fact remains that large parts of the world do not have the technology they need to track this variant. naomi grimley, bbc news. scientists are now in a race to establish whether the new variant is more transmissible than the current delta variant and whether it causes more severe disease. they'll also be assessing its impact on the effectiveness of vaccines. our medical editor, fergus walsh, has more. afteralpha, beta, gamma, delta comes omicron, which scientists think could be
the worst variant yet. so, is omicron more transmissible? it appears to be driving a rise in infections in south africa, but it's too early to be certain what's happening as cases only started increasing ten days ago from a very low level. the world health organization said omicron shows why the world needs a new global agreement on how to prevent, prepare and respond to pandemics. we should all be wide awake to the threat of this virus. but omicron�*s very emergence is another reminder that, although many of us might think we are done with covid—i9, it's not done with us. another key unknown is whether omicron causes more severe illness. doctors in south africa say they've been dealing with mild
infections from the variant, but cases there are mostly in young adults. the real test will be when omicron starts moving into older and more vulnerable people. perhaps most crucial of all, will vaccines still work? current covid vaccines are based on the original wuhan strain of coronavirus, and train the immune system to recognise the spike protein on its surface. the virus has changed considerably, but the antibodies the vaccine creates still work. omicron has more mutations than any variant so far and there's concern it may be able to bypass our initial defences and cause infection. but even if it does, another part of the immune system, t cells, should give significant protection against severe disease. i do not want people to panic at this stage. if vaccine effectiveness is reduced, as seems pretty likely to some extent,
the biggest effects are likely to be in preventing infections and hopefully there will be smaller effects on preventing severe disease. can we test for it? omicron has a different genetic signature to delta, which often shows up on pcr tests. but only about half of uk labs can pick up this signal. gene sequencing will also help track the spread of the variant here. we all want to know how much of a threat omicron poses, but it will be two to three weeks before science gives us those answers. fergus walsh, bbc news. so, how worried should we be about the new variant? i've been speaking to dr william schaffner, medical director at national foundation for infectious diseases. this is a virus that knows how to spread. it's rather contagious,
but at the moment, the severity of disease that's being reported at the moment is less than i would have feared. so, given that, we're hopeful that this virus has less of an impact than we would have thought. but obviously, you need information. the investigators are working literally day and night. the nights are on and the laboratory that night, getting us the information so that we have a fuller understanding of this virus. it's reassuring to know that the lights are on in the labs at night. as you were saying, if this indeed is a more contagious variant, but hopefully less deadly or severe, then could this be an indication of the virus's evolutionary path, becoming more transmissible in order to survive? well, this virus will do...
speaking theologically, as though the virus has intent, this virus will do what it can in order to survive. and of course, there are so many places in the world where it can still spread — when it spreads it multiplies, and it mutates — and that's the genesis, that's the arena in which new variants occur. so, we must be alert globally, and we must direct continuously our attention to curving the pandemic around the world. and what is the best way to do that, dr schaffner? we just heard from president biden that the variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic. what's the best way to prevent this surge? so, a couple of thoughts. the first is that the virus that's actually causing disease now, 99% of the time, is the delta variant — and the vaccines do work against delta.
so, we must urge and encourage everyone who's eligible for the vaccine to receive it. the other is, by getting boosters and vaccines, we think that our current vaccines — this is my hope, as we say in the us, our "fingers are crossed" — our current vaccines will have some cross protection against omicron. we'll have to see how much of that there is. in the event that we do need another vaccine, the manufacturers can create one that might be ready sometime in 2022. one more development to bring you on the covid—i9 pandemic. china says it will donate one billion additional vaccine doses to africa. less than 7% of the continent's population is fully vaccinated so far.
and you can find much more about the pandemic on our website, including this look at how the new omicron variant has triggered a scramble among some passengers to fly home before restrictions are imposed. just log on to bbc.com/news or visit the bbc news app. let's take a look at some other stories in the headlines, starting in the us. the man who founded the social media site twitter, jack dorsey, is standing down as the ceo of the company. a replacement has already been announced, and users are unlikely to see any big change in their micro—blogging activities. mr dorsey is now expected to concentrate his efforts on another of his projects. documents seen by the bbc detail how henan, china's third most populous province, is creating a facial recognition system that will flag up what are termed as "people of concern". the documents reveal the system will scrape information from mobile phones,
social media, hotel stays, vehicle details, and photos. foreign journalists, international students, and migrant women are among those falling into the new traffic light system. sweden's first female prime minister has been reappointed after she resigned within hours of taking the post last week. mps backed social democratic party leader magdalena andersson by a narrow margin in a new vote on monday. she will attempt to lead a one—party government until an election in september next year. she stood down as pm last wednesday after her coalition collapsed. the trial of ghislaine maxwell has started in new york, with the prosecution saying the former girlfriend of convicted sex offender jeffrey epstein "preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them, and served them up to be sexually abused". maxwell, who's 59, faces eight charges of sex trafficking
and other offences. she has pleaded not guilty, and her defence says she's being made a scapegoat for epstein�*s crimes. the disgraced financier took his own life while injail in 2019. from new york, nada tawfik reports. over the next few weeks, what plays out in this courthouse will be a crucial chapter in the twisted saga ofjeffrey epstein�*s sex trafficking ring and ghislane maxwell's alleged role in it. as her highly awaited trial began, the world's eyes were trained on what the evidence presented here would reveal. and so, too, were epstein�*s accusers. some arrived to show solidarity with the alleged victims. in opening statements, the government said ghislane maxwell was a dangerous predator who provided a cover of respectability for epstein. prosecutors said she lured victims with the promise of a bright future, only to sexually abuse them. her defence attorney told the jury she was a convenient stand—in for epstein and that the government would not be able
to prove their case. he said the accusers' memories were corrupted and influenced by a desire for a big jackpot of money. there have been numerous investigations, documentaries, exploring ghislane maxwell's alleged crimes, but the allegations have never been aired in a criminal trial. the jury will be presented with a range of evidence, from flight logs to the testimony from epstein�*s former staff. the four underage girls on the indictment, now grown women, are expected to take the stand and other accusers from around the country could testify, too, those with stories similar to theresa helm. according to her, she thought she had landed a job as a professional masseuse, but instead walked right into a nightmare. i thought that her and i were making these connections and she did her role, played her role, beautifully. she was masterful at it. i walked myself to a predator's home. ghislane maxwell's brother, ian, says at least one sibling will be present every day
of the trial to support her. it is impossible for me to think that she would have been engaged in these really horrendous charges. if convicted, she faces up to 80 years in prison. nada tawfik, bbc news, new york. you're watching newsday on the bbc. still to come on the programme: it's kicking out time at britain's highest altitude pub. customers leave after being snowed in since friday. it's quite clear that the worst victims of this disaster are the poor people living in the slums which have sprung up around the factory. we feel so helpless. the children are dying in front of me and i can't do anything. charles manson is the mystical
leader of the hippie cult suspected of killing sharon tate and at least six other people in los angeles. at 11 o'clock this morning, just half a metre of- rock separated britain i from continental europe. it took the drills just i a few moments to cut through the final obstacle, - then philippe cossette, a miner from calais, was shaking hands and exchanging flags _ with his opposite . number from dover. this is newsday from the bbc. i'm karishma vaswani in singapore. our headlines... the us president urges people not to panic as more cases of the new firm run a virus
variant are discovered around the world. the trial a british socialite elaine maxwell gets under way —— ghislaine maxwell. the caribbean island nation of barbados is hours away from severing centuries—old ties to the british monarchy, ditching queen elizabeth ii as head of state and declaring itself the world's newest republic. the prince of wales will attend the ceremony in the capital bridgetown. the english claimed barbados more than 400 years ago and it became a focal point of the transatlantic slave trade. celestina olulode reports. gearing up for a moment in history. this island nation is making a strong statement about how it sees itself. the prime minister of barbados says the time has come. we believe that the unfinished business ought not to go past the 55th anniversary of independence.
i am one of the biggest respecters of her majesty, but equally, i need to know that my people can also do the same thing and respect the same thing. a nation with a complex past, slave ships once docked here, africans brought and exploited by the british. and it's the sugarcane fields where many were forced to work, cutting down the crop before it was processed. the backbreaking labour led many to die young. after slavery came to an end in 183a, barbados remained a british colony. despite gaining its independence in 1966, the queen has remained the island's head of state, but that's about to change. the transition comes at a time of uncertainty. the pandemic has had a sharp impact on this island's economy, which relies heavily on tourism. we need to be free. but people here still have strong views about becoming a republic.
it changes nothing. is life going to be| better tomorrow? ok, we are going to be a republic. i is it going to be better? are the people still. going to be living from paycheque to paycheque ? but sharon's daughter leshawna sees things differently. for me, becoming a republic means the end of subservience to england and the monarchy and so on. signs of this island's colonial past are dotted throughout, but there are plans to introduce new symbols of national pride. but the most crucial part of the story of a nation that's fought hard to stand tall on its own is how young barbadians view themselves and look back at this moment in the future. celestina olulode, bbc news, bridgetown, barbados. these are live pictures from national heroes' square
in the barbados capital, bridgetown. we understand the ceremony is under way right now. the ceremony to mark the inauguration of the president of barbados, current governor general, sandra mason, is getting under way. lots of pomp and festivities and live bands getting ready for this big moment. the talk us there all of this... our correspondent daniela relph is in bridgetown, barbados. wonderful to have you on the programme. i want to start by asking you, the ceremony as we understand it is getting under way as we speak. talk us through some of the main events expected. through some of the main events exected. ~ , , expected. well, this is where the main _ expected. well, this is where the main event _ expected. well, this is where the main event will _ expected. well, this is where the main event will be. - expected. well, this is where| the main event will be. things are already kicking off. what
you should hear is the national steel band of more than 100 players. they're kicking off the night's events, but it is very much going to be a show of national pride. as barbados becomes the world's newest republic. its reason for becoming a republic was about shedding its colonial past. a flavour of tonight's ceremony will be very much about that. but at its heart will also be a transition and a handover, where the prince of wales will be here, the queen's son, to see his mother removed as head of state. for him, this will be a moment for sadness. he will watch a final military march, he will receive the final salute, and then he will stand here behind where i am now to watch as the royal standard is lowered for the very last time
and the presidential flag lowered for the very last time and the presidentialflag is raised in its place. so, clearly emotive movements. and the prince of wales would also make a speech here. the mood of that speech will largely be about enduring friendships and moving forward, but he will also touch on the shared history of these two countries and on slavery. he will say that the darkest days of our past are now behind us. until the appalling prosody of slavery stays off == the appalling prosody of slavery stays off -- atrocity. buckingham _ slavery stays off -- atrocity. buckingham palace - slavery stays off -- atrocity. buckingham palace is - slavery stays off -- atrocity. buckingham palace is that i slavery stays off -- atrocity. buckingham palace is that itj buckingham palace is that it expects this decision, but beneath the public statements, is there some unease? i beneath the public statements, is there some unease?- is there some unease? i think they feel _ is there some unease? i think they feel it's _ is there some unease? i think they feel it's down _ is there some unease? i think they feel it's down to - they feel it's down to individual countries and they cannot get involved and who a country wants as its head of
state. the move from the prince of wales and the queen is that it is their decision, they understand that they want to do something different, but they don't want the queen of head of state. that is the movement music in the way they want to move forward.— music in the way they want to move forward. ., ~ i. ,., . move forward. thank you so much for “oininu move forward. thank you so much forjoining us— move forward. thank you so much forjoining us on _ move forward. thank you so much forjoining us on newsday, - forjoining us on newsday, daniela. you'll remember 2a hours ago, we brought you the story of the 60 customers and staff marooned by snow in britain's highest altitude pub — the tan hill inn in the yorkshire dales in england. well, today we bring you the news that they have finally been able to leave. danny savage reports. welcome to what many people this weekend saw as the most enviable location in the land. at the tan hill inn, they sorted their priorities, by digging through the snowdrifts to the front door and then locking it. they'd come to see an oasis tribute band, who —
some might say — had a good weekend. but there's worse places to be stuck, you know what i mean? and everyone was just brilliant. staff were brilliant, the customers were brilliant... yeah, yeah. they looked after everyone. and it's been almost like blitz spirit again, you know? it's magical, really. lifetime of memories as well. we'll do a reunion, but we'll do it in the summer next time! yeah. take care! it's been lovely! nicola, the pub manager, was sorry to see them go. she realised late on friday night that this was going to be a weekend like no other. so, the drifts were causing most of the issues, more i than anything, ratherthanjust there being the snow. - and i thought, "yeah, these| people are not going home." we've been doing karaoke, watching movies, playing l board games, pub quizzes, chilling out. _ today, the road outjust about became passable and a fourth night at the inn was avoided.
lots of people saying this must have been the best weekend of your life, locked into a pub for three nights. has it been? heaven. it's something i'll never ever forget. what was it like with a load of strangers, stuck in a remote pub? it wasjust fantastic community spirit, honestly. really good. that talk about having a reunion, i'm not- sure i'll be back! and so they dispersed, three days later than planned, but what a weekend they had. danny savage, bbc news, tan hill. what a weekend! something they will not forget for some time. 30 endangered white rhinos have arrived in rwanda after a long journey from south africa. conservationists say it's the largest single transfer of the species ever undertaken. the animals, which can weight up to two tonnes, will live in eastern rwanda's akagera national park. that's all the time we have for
you on newsday. thanks so much forjoining us. do stay with bbc news. hello there. it certainly has been a cold few days across the uk. but in recent hours, things have been changing — more cloud has been rolling its way in from the west, and with that, we've seen some milderair pushing in, these westerly winds bringing those milder conditions for most of us, away from the far north of scotland. so for the majority, tuesday morning is starting with a very different feel — temperatures in liverpool, in plymouth, around 11 celsius. but with that, we have more in the way of cloud, and we have some outbreaks of patchy rain and drizzle. now through the day, that cloud should thin now, through the day, that cloud should thin and break a little bit to give some sunny spells, particularly across england and wales. and then through the afternoon, we'll see a band of heavier rain pushing in from the west, getting into parts of northern
ireland and western scotland with strengthening winds. but top temperatures 10—12 celsius in most places — it will stay quite chilly in the far north of scotland, just three there in loic. now, through tuesday night, we're watching this area of low pressure — it's likely to deepen a little as it slides across the uk. so, as well as outbreaks of rain, we do have the potential for some quite strong winds. now, it certainly doesn't look like we'll see anything as windy as we have over the weekend, but still, the potential for some really strong winds for western coasts, perhaps for parts of eastern scotland and northeast england, those gusts could touch gale force in places. temperatures between 5—9 celsius, so starting to drop away again, you'll notice, and that is a sign of things to come on wednesday because the winds will be coming down from the north. and that will reintroduce some relatively cold air — probably not as cold as it has been, but yes, a chillier day to come on wednesday. we'll see areas of showers, or longer spells of rain pushing southwards, wintery showers even to quite low levels across the northern half of scotland, so some more snow likely to settle here.
temperatures by the afternoon between 3—10 celsius, an increasingly cold feel as we go through the day. now, we have those northerly winds, they will ease a little as we get into thursday. as this ridge of high pressure builds in, some dry weatherfor a time. and then, this frontal system pushes in from the west, briefly maybe some snow — but, as milder air works in, that will tend to turn back to rain. so, temperatures really up and down this week, quite a chilly day to come on thursday, a slightly milder one likely on friday.
this is bbc news. we'll have the headlines and all the main news stories for you at the top of the hour, as newsday continues — straight after hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. if money is power, then one of the world's most powerful institutions is probably one you've never heard of. located in oslo and worth more than a trillion dollars, norway's sovereign wealth fund owes its existence to the country's vast reserves of oil and gas. it claims to be an ethical investor, so there was some