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: british socialite ghislaine maxwell goes on trial in new york — she's accused of trafficking under—age girls for former loverjeffrey epstein. barbados counts down the hours to becoming a republic when it loses the queen as head of state.
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 its 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. 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 the national foundation for infectious diseases. this is a virus that apparently 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 in the laboratories at 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, doctor. 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, so to speak, 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, my "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 of course, 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 seven percent of the continent's population is fully vaccinated so far. (gfx ff)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 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. there had been a lot of criticism about him being the
ceo of two companies. the belief was that twitter needs its own ceo. now we see he has decided to step aside on his own part of it is to do with the fact he feels very confident in the team that he has replacing him. confident in the team that he has replacing him. 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. foreignjournalists, international students, and migrant women are among those falling into the new traffic light system. a memorial service has been held for matt ratana the new zealand born police officer who was shot dead in a custody centre in london last year. sergeant ratana's funeral took place last november —— two months after he was killed —— but numbers had to be restricted due to the pandemic. around 200 officers in ceremonial uniform lined the route in central london
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 8 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. we live in barbados is the
country can�*t stand the hours to swearing in a new head of state. to swearing in a new head of state. 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 on the bbc. in singapore. our headlines: the us president urges people not to panic as more cases of the new coronavirus variant are discovered around the world. the trial of british socialite ghislaine maxwell gets underway in new york — she�*s accused of trafficking under—age girls for former loverjeffrey epstein. let�*s bring you these live pictures now from caribbean island nation of barbados. a cultural event is underway to mark its transition into the world�*s newest republic. this is the national heroes�* square in the capital, bridgetown. lots of colour and fanfare.
in a few hours time, the country will sever centuries—old ties to the british monarchy, ditching queen elizabeth ii as head of state. the english claimed barbados more than four hundred years ago and it became a focal point of the transatlantic slave trade. celestina olu—lode met with locals to talk about the significance of today and sent this report. 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
let�*s take you back to these live pictures from the capital. a real display of dance, music and a way for many there to commemorate this immensely important event in their history. after this cultural event there will be a military parade and the inauguration of the new president of barbados, current governor general sandra mason. the prince of wales is attending this ceremony. he�*s expected to give a speech in a few hours of time about forging a friendship between barbados and britain. and at midnight local time, we�*ll see the royal standard flag that represents the queen lowered officially completing barbados�* transition into the world�*s newest republic.
it�*s been just over two weeks since the un climate summit wrapped up in glasgow. despite mixed reactions, the cop26 conference concluded with some of the boldest pledges on climate change in the last 30 years. but what has it realistically achieved for the small island states which are particularly at risk? small island nations are already seeing the effects of climate change.they are grappling with more extreme weather events such as flooding, hurricanes and droughts.they are also battling with rising sea levels. and in worst case scenarios, the islands can simply submerge underwater and completely disappear. and all this comes while they account for less than i% of global greenhouse gas emissions.now the federated states of micronesia is one of the island states in the pacific made up of more than 600 islands.
the country�*s president, david panuelo says cop26 resulted in some positive movement but it is not enough to help his country in fight against climate change. cop 26 in my view represented the crossroads of our communities. the chance to fight and tackle climate change and the last best chance to finalise our game plan to save humanity. you know, the extinction of species and our planet�*s life—support system. i believe if left unchecked climate change will result in total civilisational collapse, as i said before, with agricultural yields depleting. and countries, citizens either migrate from their homes or become xenophobic, totalitarian in stopping or keeping
foreigners away. climate change, as i have said many times, is an existential threat. well, 26 resulted in some positive movement we are still concerned that our global community is not quite tackling the steps that we need to take. one of the things that was discussed at the conference was the amount of money that developed countries are supposed to be giving or helping out with for developing countries in their battle against climate change. is that many enough? is it coming fast enough? my reaction is no. we know that the total commitment was 100 million from our developed countries that pledge this amount. micronesia was fortunate to receive an award from the climate fund and that
is twice this year with very minimal amount is twice this year with very minimalamount of is twice this year with very minimal amount of maybe ten or $20 million to help with adaptation and mitigation measures in our country to be implemented but what we know in terms of climate financing is that 100 million is like pulling teeth. it is not quite forthcoming so invite the industrialised countries to come through with their commitment and climate financing because we are at the front lines of feeling the impact on climate change. it is already causing problems with salt water in our communities and outer islands and so the local community need to really speed up climate financing to begin implementation as quickly as possible. the president of
the federated states of micronesia speaking to me a little earlier. that is all the time we have for you. thank you so much for watching. 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 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 lerwick. 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 will have the hour straight after this programme. hello and welcome to this week�*s edition of the media show. and this time around, we are going to try and understand why some political stories have long—lasting impact and others — even those which feel hugely important at the time — do not. to help us look at this, we are going to speak to the bbc�*s steve rosenberg. he�*s our moscow correspondent and he�*s just recorded a remarkable interview with the president of belarus,