this is bbc news — broadcasting to viewers in the uk and around the world. our top stories: covid infections set new records in the uk — where an estimated 1.7 million people had the virus last week. it's onlyjust now that the cases are starting to tip into the older population, particularly 60 and 70 plus year olds, and there are a number of different reasons why we need to continue to look at this data further. at least 39 people are killed after a packed ferry caught fire in southern bangladesh. the most powerful telescope to ever be launched into space is due to blast off on christmas day. and, the queen is expected to give a very personal christmas message this year — her first since the death of her husband prince philip.
hello and welcome. 1.74 million people in the uk had coronavirus on 19 december, according to a survey from the office for national statistics. that's up 368,000 on the figure three days earlier. overall, it equates to 1 in 35 people, or 2.7% of the population of the united kingdom. in london, the ratio is much higher — 1 in 20 people were likely to have tested positive for covid, the highest proportion of any region or nation in the uk. in fact, let me show you quickly the stats for the other nations. wales, it's around 1 in a5, scotland's rate, 1 in 65, and northern ireland's1 in a0. elswhere, thailand has
reported its first 0micron cluster — 21 infections, an outbreak traced to a belgian couple who had travelled to the country earlier in the month. in europe, italy has reintroduced mandatory face coverings outdoors, and greece is ordering people to wear facemasks both indoors and outdoors. here's our health correspondent, dominic hughes. that's it done. a christmas eve booster in basingstoke. here, they are getting jabs in arms up until christmas. it was good, it made sense to do it, doing my bit for the community and everybody else. in england, people will be able to get vaccinated throughout the festive break. 200,000 slots for first, second and boosterjabs are available, including on christmas day and boxing day. people are so keen to come in. there was a big rush at the beginning of the week, it's slowed down a little bit, but in fact people are really positive about having theirjabs. people in scotland, wales and northern ireland are being encouraged to get a jab today,
with vaccination centres closed over christmas until the 27th. even as the push on boosters continue, experts are mulling over the latest more hopeful research on the 0micron variant, indicating it could be less severe than delta. potentially this is good news, if 0micron really is less nasty, and it is certainly shaping up to look less nasty, that's fantastic, what better christmas present could we have? but at the moment the data is small, mainly across the younger population so we are holding our breath. so, it is a cautious welcome, there are still some big unknowns, particularly how older people might be affected. critically we are seeing omicron largely in young people and it's onlyjust now the cases are starting to tip into the older population, particularly in the 60 and 70 plus year olds. there are a number of different reasons why we need to continue to look at this data further. even if the virus causes less severe illness in most people, it is so contagious,
hundreds of thousands are likely to catch it, including health service workers, raising concerns about a staffing crisis. some have already noticed shifts are getting busier. there is the increasing absence rates, the queueing at hospital, hearing our control staff call out for any ambulances available, and there just are not any left. that is taking a toll on front line staff. so, the booster roll out forges on in all sorts of settings, here in an asian restaurant in bradford, an area where vaccine hesitancy has been higher than the rest of the country so they are trying to make the process as easy as possible. we are creating access where our communities are. a restaurant is the best place for this time of year, to come and bring the vaccines to make it as easy and as accessible as we can.
the latest estimate by the office for national statistics is that by last sunday more than 1.7 million people in the uk were infected with the virus, around 1 in 35. it may be less severe than first feared, but the numbers catching the virus mean there will still be tough weeks ahead. dominic hughes, bbc news. so, let us take a look the latest covid figures for the uk which have just been released by the government. near daily infections over the last 24 near daily infections over the last 2a hours, 122,186. that is near daily infections over the last 24 hours, 122,186. that is 707,306 about the last seven day period, an increase of 42.8% on the previous week. the rate per 100,000 people is currently 934.2. deaths were fine at the last 28 days, 137 in the last 24
hours. the committee figure for the last seven days, 810 deaths in the last seven days, 810 deaths in the last week. —— the cumulative figure. figure still going up. dr simon clarke is associate professor in cellular microbiology at the university of reading. when you put these figures that i just read out with the 0ns figures today from the survey, they really underline just how infectious variant is. underline 'ust how infectious variant is.— underline “ust how infectious variant is.— underline 'ust how infectious variant is.— variant is. absolutely. if we compare — variant is. absolutely. if we compare our— variant is. absolutely. if we compare our situation - variant is. absolutely. if we| compare our situation today variant is. absolutely. if we i compare our situation today to variant is. absolutely. if we - compare our situation today to work we weren't exactly a year ago, we are getting about three times as many cases diagnosed from then. of course, we have to remember that there the people that ended up causing the january wave of hospitalisations. even if we are only going to send one third the number of people per infection that we did this time last year into
hospital, the number of infections has wiped out our gain, or seemingly decrease... while it is good news if you get the common infection because you get the common infection because you are less likely to be hospitalised, overall for society, for the nhs, hospitalised, overall for society, forthe nhs, it hospitalised, overall for society, for the nhs, it is much the same as it was last year perhaps.— it was last year perhaps. when you look at hospitalisations _ it was last year perhaps. when you look at hospitalisations for - it was last year perhaps. when you | look at hospitalisations for london, which clearly is the test case for the uk government at least, it is not an exponential rise in hospitalisations, but obviously we have to put some caution with that because there is a lag, but it is not rising at the rate anywhere near the level of infections. irate not rising at the rate anywhere near the level of infections.— the level of infections. we are still in the _ the level of infections. we are still in the early _ the level of infections. we are still in the early days - the level of infections. we are still in the early days of- the level of infections. we are still in the early days of this . still in the early days of this outbreak. you have got to remember that right at the start of this nearly two years ago, it took five weeks to get from the first knowing
infection in the uk, which probably wasn't the first infection, to the first death. we are only a month into this globally, it was only a month ago that south africa flagged it up. so it is still very early days, and the fact that the figures aren't rising exponentially over such a short time frame shouldn't be a surprise. such a short time frame shouldn't be a sur-rise. ., ,., a surprise. there are some interesting _ a surprise. there are some interesting things - a surprise. there are some interesting things from - a surprise. there are some interesting things from the j a surprise. there are some - interesting things from the study from the uk have security agency, first of all, about mr protection. there is a concern that it wanes with 0micron much more rapidly than delta. why would that be the case? because delta is closer in terms of its structure. the spike protein given to you to make... the vaccines are against the spike protein on the
surface of the wuhan variant. delta is different from that, but 0micron is different from that, but 0micron is more different still. therefore the antibodies and t cells that are generated directed towards 0micron will be less relevant, if you like. so in your duties at men at a fourth the start? in so in your duties at men at a fourth the start? ., so in your duties at men at a fourth the start? . ., , the start? in a time, that might be retuired. the start? in a time, that might be required- the _ the start? in a time, that might be required. the government - the start? in a time, that might be required. the government has - the start? in a time, that might be | required. the government has tens the start? in a time, that might be i required. the government has tens of mounds of vaccines on order, certainly throughout the second half of next year, possibly many in the first—half as well. i think all along that something that has been knowing that we might end up doing. is there an open question about reinfection? so, if you have had 0micron, could you be reinfected with 0micron in the weeks to come? i with omicron in the weeks to come? i think that is less likely, but it's always possible. the infections do occur. i think if you have generated
a two an immune response specifically against omicron it should give you decent protection. of should give you decent protection. of course, there's still a lot of delta are circulating as well. the outer immunity doesn't give great protection against omicron. some people seem to be taking it read, mistakenly, that omicron will give you protection against delta. i think that is unlikely. let mejust let me just recap those daily figure just announced by the government. 122,000 is the daily new cases, new cases in the last 24 hours. underneath that, you will see the figure for the seven day figure. 707,306 cumulative cases over the last week, an increase of 48.2% on the previous week. deaths are on the rise as well, within 28 days 137 and
at the last 24 hours. the committee figure for the last seven days, there have been 810 deaths lets talk to the bbc�*s head of statistics, robert carr. interesting to hear from statistics, robert carr. interesting to hearfrom doctor clark statistics, robert carr. interesting to hear from doctor clark learned about these figures and how they are rising quite significantly in the last week. what do you see particular from the ons today? the ons particular from the ons today? iie: ons figures particular from the ons today? tie: ons figures tell particular from the ons today? ti2 ons figures tell a story that we have been hearing about cases for some days, but really help us to understand just how spreadable omicron is. you read out case numbers there, they are at levels we haven't seen before. they do not include the reinfections. those case
figures are probably a bit of an underestimate. the figures out from the oas ella today said 1.7 million people in the uk are infected with coronavirus at the moment, a number that has gone up by about a quarter over three days. it shows you that no matter how you look at it omicron is splitting very quickly, and we see the pressure that is putting on society. even if it doesn't cause any sickness at all, we had yesterday that about 1.5% of nhs staff were off work due to coronavirus, that has gone up and the last week. if that rate of growth and spread of omicron goes on, that will put pressure on much as hospitals, but schools and businesses to stop this is going to burn very fast indeed. my my reading of the oas figures is
that in the last few days of last week we were seeing probably closer to 200,000 infections every day. there are only so many more dumplings you can go through before you are infecting the entire population of the uk every few hours. the figures of people going into hospital, that is kind of peaking injanuary, february, peaking in january, february, probably peaking injanuary, february, probably the worst time for it to do so. ~ ., �* ., ,, probably the worst time for it to do so. ~ .,�* ., ,, so. we don't talk about herd immunity — so. we don't talk about herd immunity any _ so. we don't talk about herd immunity any more, - so. we don't talk about herd immunity any more, it - so. we don't talk about herd immunity any more, it was l so. we don't talk about herd - immunity any more, it was used in the early part of the pandemic when vaccines were not available. but do you think policymakers will look at this figure and think there will be a point where, actually, the virus will itself out?— will itself out? that is a point that we get — will itself out? that is a point that we get there, _ will itself out? that is a point that we get there, but - will itself out? that is a point that we get there, but i - will itself out? that is a point that we get there, but i thinkj will itself out? that is a point - that we get there, but i think the question occupying everybody is what is the price of getting that over the next few weeks? i think we got more data on that yesterday from
london. 5—6% of people are estimated to have coronavirus at the moment, that's a huge number. that puts two pressures on hospitals. firstly, an increase in the numbers of people going into hospitalfor whatever, but they have coronavirus, and that put some pressure on them because both you could spread out in the hospitals. secondly, we are also seeing an increase in the number of people who get sick and end up in hospital. even though we have got great data, great news in the last few days that omicron is less severe, it still does put people in hospital. in london we are still seeing an increase in the number of people going into hospital because of coronavirus. it is just exactly how much less of your omicron is that tells us how long it is going to take and what will be the pressure on the health system before you get to that herd immunity threshold, where nine people have had it that it is spreading down
this wave of the spread of on the four coronavirus was up all the christmas messages about going out and getting your booster. some clinics are _ and getting your booster. some clinics are staying _ and getting your booster. some clinics are staying open - and getting your booster. some clinics are staying open for - and getting your booster. some clinics are staying open for mr. and getting your booster. some clinics are staying open for mrjobs during the christmas break. what are the statistics about which there is telling us? how quickly and we get into a tipping point? hat telling us? how quickly and we get into a tipping point?— telling us? how quickly and we get into a tipping point? not great news trobabl into a tipping point? not great news probably today- _ into a tipping point? not great news probably today. about _ into a tipping point? not great news probably today. about 600,000 - probably today. about 600,000 boosters went into arms yesterday, thatis boosters went into arms yesterday, that is still remarkable about the standard of any other month and at the history of the pandemic. to be hitting an average and at the 800,000 a day in the last week or so it is a very fast rate. 600,000 boosters in arms, they are not really going to take effect for a week or a fortnight, so the prediction they give takes a while to kick in. and at that time, we can expect to see many more people getting infected with omicron. that
is what the government said that mr campaign will be enormously his fall, but probably not to adjust the infections were seen around the christmas period and how many people the current wave of omicron puts into hospital and the pressures on the health surface generally. robert cuff they had _ the health surface generally. robert cuff they had with _ the health surface generally. robert cuff they had with the _ the health surface generally. robert cuff they had with the statistics - the health surface generally. robert cuff they had with the statistics we | cuff they had with the statistics we have been telling you about, thank you for that. at least 39 people have been killed after a packed ferry caught fire in southern bangladesh. at the time, the ferry was near the town othalakati. it had sailed from the capital, dhaka, and was bound for the southern town of barguna with hundreds of passengers on board. bbc�*s akbar hossein reports from dhaka. the fire is believed to have started in the engine room at around three o'clock in the morning, when most of the passengers were sleeping. it spread quickly as the ferry travelled along the sugandha river in the early hours of friday. the fire went on for hours before it was doused. as many as 500 people were reportedly on board. some of the victims drowned afterjumping into the water.
translation: my father, | myself, my six-month-old nephew and my sister were travelling together. when the fire broke out, i gave the baby to a man, he was trying to save the baby, but now we can't find them. please, let us know if you learn their whereabouts. i was on the first floor of the ferry. suddenly, the rear side caught fire. the engine had problems earlier. the ferry's windows had curtains, and these curtains trapped the smoke, which killed most of the people. ferry accidents are not uncommon in bangladesh, with mishaps blamed on poor maintenance, lax safety standards and overcrowding. the accident was the latest in a string of similar incidents in the delta country — hundreds have drowned in the country's rivers in the past ten years — but the fire that engulfed this ferry adds a new layer of horror to the story.
akbar hossein, bbc news, dhaka. let's get some of the day's other news. two more universities in hong kong have removed memorials to the victims of the tiananmen square massacre from their grounds. following the replacement of the pillar of shame on thursday, art works at the chinese university of hong kong and the lingnan university disappeared overnight. japan will not send government officials to the beijing winter olympics in february, but it's notjoining the diplomatic boycott of the games initiated by the united states. a government spokesman said it's important that china respects basic human rights. rail passengers in parts of the uk are facing major disruption, as some staff on trains run by cross country take strike action. cross country say routes are affected from northern scotland to south—west england, and are advising passengers to check theirjourneys before travelling. the queen is expected to give a very personal christmas message tomorrow — her first since the death of her husband, prince philip.
she will speak beside a framed photograph of the couple taken during their diamond wedding anniversary in 2007, and will wear the same sapphire brooch that she wore on her honeymoon. our royal correspondent, nicholas witchell, reports. for the queen, forced for a second year by covid to spend christmas at windsor rather than hosting herfamily at sandringham, this will be a moment to reflect on a year marked by sadness. her christmas broadcast, a still from which has been issued by buckingham palace, is expected to be a very personal one. prominently on the desk beside her, a photograph of her and prince philip taken in 2007 when they celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary. philip's death last april, two months short of his 100th birthday and after 73 years of marriage, was the emotional low point of the year for the monarch. apart from a reference to him in her address to the cop26 conference,
the queen has not so far spoken publicly about how much he meant to her. her broadcast may be an opportunity for her to do so. within the royal family, mindful that this will be the queen's first christmas without her husband, arrangements have been changed so that she won't be alone. clarence house has confirmed that the prince of wales and the duchess of cornwall willjoin her at windsor on christmas day. other members of the family may also be there. but absent, of course, will be the duke and duchess of sussex. from their home in california, they've issued this photograph wishing their supporters happy holidays. it shows harry and meghan with their son archie and their daughter lilibet, pictured for the first time. and so, at the end of a year touched by personal sadness, and some family tensions, thoughts will start to look ahead to next year and the celebrations to mark the queen's 70 years on the throne. uppermost in the minds of the palace planners, of course,
will be the question of the queen's health. it's always a sensitive matter. it has particular significance after the recent concerns, and given that next year is the year of her platinum jubilee. the queen will certainly want to be involved in thejubilee as fully as possible, and there will be another event of special significance to her — a service of thanksgiving for the life of the duke of edinburgh, which it has been announced will take place at westminster abbey in the spring. nicholas witchell, bbc news. the final preparations are underway for the launch of a space telescope that could transform our understanding of the universe. a rocket carrying the james webb space telescope will take off from french guiana on christmas day. it's the successor to the hubble space telescope, and it's designed to look deeper into the universe than ever before. doctor hannah wakeford is a lecturer in astrophysics
at the university of bristol. she's been researching how the james webb telescope might help with our understanding of the exoplanets — the planets that orbit a star outside the solar system. welcome to the programme. i guess that this is a very tense moment? everyone is so looking forward to what this telescope will bring us, but first of all we have got to get up but first of all we have got to get up there. but first of all we have got to get u- there. , , ., ., up there. this is one of the most tense moments _ up there. this is one of the most tense moments when _ up there. this is one of the most tense moments when it - up there. this is one of the most tense moments when it comes i up there. this is one of the most | tense moments when it comes to emission of the size, just getting it into space and at the first place. this has been decades in the making set we are all very excited and waiting to see what happens tomorrow. over the coming months, and waiting to see what happens tomorrow. overthe coming months, it is actually going to take over a month to get1 million miles away from the earth and slowly unfold. it is folded up like origami inside the spaceship. so it has got a lot of work to do before we start taking observations.— work to do before we start taking observations. ~ , , observations. when it gets up there, where are they _ observations. when it gets up there, where are they going _ observations. when it gets up there, where are they going to _ observations. when it gets up there, where are they going to park- observations. when it gets up there, where are they going to park it? - where are they going to park it? they are parking at a place called el two, a gravitationally stable
point, which means you can still there for a long time without using much fuel. it is 1 there for a long time without using much fuel. it is1 million miles away from the earth because the earth emits a lot of heat and this telescope is specifically designed to look at the feet of our universe, the infrared, so we need it to keep away as much as possible. it has a tennis court size san shou to stop the heat from interfering with its instruments.— instruments. how is it different from the hubble _ instruments. how is it different from the hubble telescope? . instruments. how is it different | from the hubble telescope? the instruments. how is it different - from the hubble telescope? the james webb telesc0pe _ from the hubble telescope? the james webb telescope is _ from the hubble telescope? the james webb telescope is different _ from the hubble telescope? the james webb telescope is different in - from the hubble telescope? the james webb telescope is different in so - webb telescope is different in so many ways, it is 6.5 metres wide compared to hubbell�*s two metres. it is looking at the infrared. unlike the mirrors which you have in your bathroom, which are silvery and shiny, the james webb telescope are plated in a very thin layer of gold, allowing it to reflect more heat, this infrared light, so we can see better in the infrared. it has also
got much longer wavelength coverage so we can see a much longer spectrum of the stars and it is more sensitive. these two telescopes, the hubble telescope and the james webb telescope, they will be working together. i telescope, they will be working to t ether. ., . telescope, they will be working totether. ., . , ., , together. i mentioned excel planets, what will it bring _ together. i mentioned excel planets, what will it bring others _ together. i mentioned excel planets, what will it bring others in _ together. i mentioned excel planets, what will it bring others in terms - what will it bring others in terms of new information about those planets and the success of the universe? it planets and the success of the universe?— planets and the success of the universe? , ., ., , universe? it is going to give us the first opportunity — universe? it is going to give us the first opportunity to _ universe? it is going to give us the first opportunity to look _ universe? it is going to give us the first opportunity to look at - universe? it is going to give us the first opportunity to look at small. first opportunity to look at small planets, rocky whirls around very small stars, very unlike other son, but these planets are in their habitable zone, temperatures cold enough for water to exist. it will look at these x0 planets and see if they have atmosphere. we will look at what makes up these planets, and this is the best way to do that. essentially, if they are so far away, we are looking back at time aren't we? this is the light now
arriving without the telescope is. telescopes are an amazing time machines, they take is a huge way back into the universe's past. james webb telescope is going to take us even further. it is actually going to show us the first light formed after the big bang, we are looking back billions of billions of years here. it will tell us what galaxies just to look like and see the formation of galaxies, stars in our own galaxies which are hidden behind huge clouds of dust and planets. so we are looking at all the astronomical sizes, from our small rocky planets around small stars, all the way up to galaxies across the entire universe. 2m the entire universe. an extraordinary - the entire universe. an extraordinary thing to stop the best of luck watching that tomorrow, we hope it gets up there safely. do stay with us. plenty more on the bbc up. plenty more on the bbc app, and don't forget you can always get
in touch with me and the team on twitter — i'm @cfraserbbc. not a huge amount of snow in the forecast. crisp, winter sunshine is going to be on offer in the scotland, we seen some today in northern scotland, more widespread tomorrow for christmas day. it is a battle throughout the christmas weekend between the mountain air and at the far south—west and at the colder towards the north—east. let's see how things are playing out through tonight. some rain now across parts of england, wales and northern ireland, containing two feed further north, major see something wintry at the tops of the
pennines before it fizzles out later in the night. the clear skies will be in scotland. a hard frost in places in the highlands, but quite mild into the far south—west. for christmas day after that coach that in scotland, for england, wales and 11 i was a good deal of cloud, misty and foggy to begin with. outlets have a rain deal of cloud, misty and foggy to begin with. i'll be covering edging north. major see some snow into snowdonia at the peak district later in the day. it is mild again in the south—west, cold despite the sunshine in scotland, rather chilly elsewhere. it does get very windy over the weekend around the coast of south—west scotland and northern ireland. boxing day, this is about the chance of snow increases as we see the wet weather pushing into the cold air across northern england and southern scotland, especially to the higher ground. it could be relatively low level snow first thing on boxing
day, in terms of the higher compilations that is likely to be in at the pennines, the southern uplands. an outbreak of sleet and snow pushing for the north across scotland on boxing day. a lot of cloud around elsewhere, the chance of catching a shower. it still feels rather chilly elsewhere. going on through the week ahead, there is no battle between cold and mild heirs, it is clearly the mild air not that is going to wind out, many mountain places. but along with that we are going to see some wet and windy weather at times as well. that is how your christmas focus is shaping up. keep up—to—date with their own line and
the headlines: latest data show that covid infections have reached a record high in the uk. an estimated 1—point—7 million people had the virus last week. at least 39 people have been killed after a packed ferry caught fire in southern bangladesh. the number of casualties is likely to increase as many of the passengers have severe burns. the former south korean president park goon—hay, is to be granted a pardon by the government. ms park was impeached and removed from office in 2017, and jailed for twenty— two years on corruption charges. final preparations are under way ahead of the launch of the world's most powerful telescope. the james webb space telescope is due to blast off on christmas day. now on bbc news: becoming andi. transgender teen andi bernabe documented his life