tv BBC World News America PBS December 2, 2021 2:30pm-3:01pm PST
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covid-19. the shadow of a shutdown looms over washington. lawmakers scramble to agree on how, or even if, to fund the federal government. finding inspiration from an eruption. how an icelandic artist turned the sights and smells of the volcano into an exhibit. ♪ >> welcome to world news america on pbs and around the globe. health officials in south rica say the new covid variant has become the dominant strain there. cases spiking in the country. infections have jumped four fold in the last week. authorities say the current vaccines may not be as effective against omicron. our africa correspondent has more. >> it is summertime in south africa.
but a shadow looms over the beaches and holiday season. a fourth wave of covid infections is spreading fast, driven by the new variant. >> are you worried about this new variant? >> i'm worried. i'm worried. >> we don't know what the new variant is like. >> what the symptoms are. >> we don' know how it would affect us now. it makes you really scared. >> the liberatory -- the laboratory where the scientists first found the variant, racing to unlock the secrets. now the first hints are emerging about what the mutations in the virus mean. >> i think the epidemiological evidence is we think it is more likely to get reinfected if you had covid before. that is because of the mutations of the spike protein. we don't know much about transmissibility, but i think looking at the mutation or formation, we think it may be
more transmissible than delta. in terms of clinical problems, we have no evidence this is a more severe virus than, let's say delta or beta. >> that bears repeating. although hospital admissions are rising sharply, it won't be at all clear whether the omicron variant is more severe, more dangerous. in the meantime, above all in rural south africa, another problem lurks. vaccine hesitancy. this builder tells a visiting health care worker he won't get a jab, even with the new wave of infections. do you find it frustrating? >> it is, it is very frustrating. we believe if all of us have already been vaccinated, we would be safe. >> as this virus spreads fast across south africa, the real problem is not lack of vaccines, it is the fact younger people
seem very reluctant to get a jab, which is where these activists come in. >> trying to persuade the public in a country where so far, only one third of adults are fully vaccinated. >> the guys said they would like to go into their vaccination after we hit a talk -- had a talk. we thanked them by clapping hands. >> one small victory, but south africa has a fight on his hands. andrew harding, bbc news, durbin. >> germany has introduced sweeping new restrictions on people who haven't been vaccinated. only those who have been jabbed or recently recovered from covid will be allowed in restaurants, cinemas, and many shops. angela merkel called the measures an act of national solidarity. in addition, lawmakers could decide in february whether to make vaccination mandatory nationwide. germany is going through a fourth wave of covid, with 388
deaths recorded in a single day. in the u.s., president biden is promising to fight the new variant with science and speed. omicron has now been found in a third american state. there's a plan for the winter months, including a booster shot for all adults, free at home covid tests covered by private insurance companies, and tougher testing requirements for international travelers. those coming to the u.s. will have to get tested within 24 hours of boarding their planes. joining us for more is dr. krishna or daya kumar, founding director of the duke university global health innovation center. welcome back to the program. the white house is leaning heavily on booster shots to combat this new variant. in africa, about 10% have even had one dose of the vaccine. is this the way to end the pandemic? >> eventually, vaccinations will
play a critical role at the end of this pandemic. we will not get there just by focusing on boosters in high income countries. we need to really vaccinate e world, which means a real focus on places like many countries in sub-saharan africa, where the vaccination rate is about 7%. we are talking hundreds of millions of doses needed to increase. at the same time, even though we have more vaccines than we are using, even in u.s., less than 60% of the population fully vaccinated. we are still at risk. >> scientists in south africa say they are seeing a rise in re-infections with omicron. what do you make of that? >> the mutations we see in omicron are potentially concerning. it will take a few weeks before we know the clinical and epidemiological implications. it is not clear whether there is
greater transmissibility or more severity of infection, or potentially immune evasion. we have seen with prior variants that people that had been infected in the past and recovered were more prone to reinfection. that might be what we see with omicron. but we don't know enough yet. >> france's top scientific advisor warned the surge in cases in that country is being driven by the delta variant, so we should not forget about delta, should we? >> that is exactly right. exactly what we see in the u.s. the great majority of cases are still the delta variant. the omicron variant is in the horizon, but not dominant by any means yet. we know there are other variants we should watch for overtime. right now it is still delta that is dominant in the u.s., france,
and most of the world. >> do you think it will help the u.s. requiring international travelers to get a negative covid test within 24 hours of boarding a plane? >> i think it is a small step relative to where we were, having mandates for travelers coming to the u.s. is a positive sign. aching sure we have tests prior to boarding. we are not looking to replace the more onerous types of restrictions we see in other countries, including quarantines and mandatory testing on arrival. it is not a foolproof means at all, but it is better than the prior version. >> thanks as always for your analysis. >> thank you. >> the pandemic is putting a strain on health care systems worldwide. for countries in crisis, it is even worse. take venezuela, where there is hyperinflation and political turmoil. hospitals crumbling. many doctors and nurses have
paid so poorly they cannot eat. katy watson reports from maracaibo, which has seen more health care professionals die than anywhere else in venezuela. >> [speaking spanish] >> ready for battle. a clip as he waits for his lift to the hospital. every day is just that. a fight to survive. >> when the pandemic hit, there was no transport, no fuel, nothing. >> making the thrice weekly journey to hospital for kidney dialysis. with constant power cuts, these streets are often plunged into the darkness. and with no working lifts,
there's only one way to the treatment center on the ninth floor. the very same stairs are used to remove the hospital's dead. when the system is crumbling, there is little room for dignity. dolores, not her real name, took us into the hospital to show us the conditions doctors work in. we had to film secretly. the doctor fearful of the consequences if authorities knew we were there. >> people say going to hospital is like going to hell. >> the reality is devastating. just soaked in blood. for a health system already on its knees, the pandemic was another big blow. at the time when it is needed the most, the doctors don't feel protected. we saw them trying to work out who to direct hospital gowns to
without them being sold on. in desperate times, there's always someone trying to make a quick buck. >> when they are coming to hospital, it always makes me want to cry. this hospital used to have everything. now i we have nothing. >> the doctors have become collateral damage in this broken system. they were paraded as heroes in this year's celebrations to the city's patron saint. most venezuelans have lost faith in medicine. in a country where so many have lost so much, people are still hoping and praying for miracles. katy watson, bbc. >> now to washington, the federal government could shut if lawmakers can't agree on how to fund it. earlier on thursday, a deal was reached to extend funding through mid february.
a group of conservative republicans in the senate are threatening to force a shutdown as of president biden's vaccine mandates. here to explain is our senior north america reporter. i thought from having covered previous government shutdowns they had gone out of fashion because voters don't like them. but apparently not. >> apparently not. the thing about kicking the can down the road is you catch up with it. that is what happened today and tomorrow with congress facing the potential government shutdown. because they put it off right until when government funding may run out at midnight on friday, it has allowed a small handful of republican senators to come up -- gum up the works because they want to force a vote defunding joe biden's vaccine or testing mandate on companies employing more than 100 americans. they are using this pressure point, making the most of it, and that is why we can face a government shutdown, even if
only temporary. >> are there divisions in the republican ranks about whether it is wise, when they seem to be on a glide path to retaking at least the house? >> yeah, any time you get a shutdown, you don't know what the political fallout will be. very well the american public can blame the republicans if it stretches on for any significant amount of time. it is a strange hill to die on. the covid vaccine mandates are generally popular among the larger american public. with these handful of republican senato, ted cruz of texas, who they are playing to is not the general american public. they are playing towards the conservative base, where they have more suspicion of the vaccine mandates, they do it as government overreach. they support their senators trying to block this. people looking at the larger political viewpoint on this, i
think they would rather much not have this light. >> what about president biden's agenda? after democrats did badly in those off year elections, they managed to pass the info structure bill. was there another huge bill they were going to pass? >> there is, the build back better bill. it still is up in the air. it passed the house of representatives, but its future in the senate is still somewhat unknown. there is talk about having it done before the end of this year. but because it takes 60 votes to pass anything in the senate, and democrats only have 50, they need this procedural trick to pass the build back better bill with 50 votes. they are cramming everything into it. the rest of their agenda. that means there's a lot of negotiations behind it. factions within the democratic party want more money or less money for things. these are taking time, and that is dragging all of this out,
much longer than i think the biden like. >> thank you for eliminating what is happening in washington dc -- illuminating what is happening in washington, d.c.\ angela merkel was honored by -- washington, d.c. angela merkel honored by her country's military. she told them to live with the lightness of heart and be optimistic about the future. a punk anthem was played at her request. she officially steps down next week. russia's foreign minister has warned europe can be returning to what he called the nightmare of military confrontation. at a security conference in sweden, sergei lavrov expressed fears about u.s. plans to place intermediate ranged nuclear missiles in europe. the u.s. secretary of state warned russia would face serious consequences if it were to ensue confrontation with ukraine. the u.s. and mixing governments agreed to reinstate the trump era policy known as remain in mexico.
it means would-be be asylum-seekers who cross the u.s. on the border will be sent back to mexico waiting for a ruling on their case. joe biden had suspended the program, calling it inhumane. however, a court order forced his administration to reinstate it. you are watching bbc world news america. still to come on tonight's program. tech and taxis as kidnappings in cabs are on the rise in the -- cabs are on the rise. women have developed the safety app. >> the international olympic committee held a second call with the chinese star after the women's tennis association suspended all tournament in china amid concern for her well-being. here is the former u.s. tennis star pam shriver with her reaction. >> was founded on empowering women, seeking equality for women, so to have a meer of
our tour being censored and not able to speak freely and her allegations not being able to be looked at with any seriousness, as you say, swept under the rug, is not acceptable. it is unfortunate in the years the wta h been a business partner, the years since the summer olympic games were played there in 2008,. the things in china on the human rights side have not gotten better. it is a little bit disconcerting. it will be an uncomfortable olympic games. at ts point, i'm not sure i will be watching. >> safety on public transport is a concern for women all around the world. whether it is the subway, new york city, or a bus in delhi. at the capital of the
democratic republic of congo, taxis are a dangerous way to get around. the women with a tech solution to a global problem. >> one of africa's megacities is built on the banks of the congo river. it has an estimated population of 15 million people. >> everybody is on the move, but the transport system cannot cope. unless you have your own set of wheels, the only way to get around is in one of these taxis. but after sunset, you run the risk of getting kidnapped. that has been happening here up to five times a week. >> this route is where they usually carry out their operations. >> sarah was taken while on her way home from work. >> someone came from the back of the car. he grabbed me and said "don't move, or you will die." >> not every kidnapping ends in
a ransom demand. >> they took the back like this. >> in some cases, passengers are stripped of their valuables and dumped in a dangerous part of the city. after deciding not to kill her, the kidnappers left sarah here. it is the first time she has been back at night. >> i really don't like this place. it reminds me of what happened here on that day. that image is still so fresh in my mind. whenever i'm in a taxi or bus, and i see the driver turn in this direction, i get flashbacks to that night. >> sarah's kidnapping happened a year ago. two entrepreneurs launched an app, a growindatabasef drivers and their vehicles.
>> when i heard people are getting kidnapped, even one of my cousins got kidnapped, it was like i have a mission, how can i find a solution and bring safe, sustainable, affordable mobility to the population? >> the ahead could be friendly, it can use the icons, even when it could not wait. >> this is how it works, pretty simple. open up the app on my phone, hit the qr scanner. bring it up to the code. in a few seconds, up comes the picture of the driver and the car and you are ready to ride. >> transport officials told us kidnappings are now down from five a week to just five in the last 10 months. in nearly a third of the city's 60,000 taxi drivers have signed up. >> good for business.
before you know, at the end of the day, your car or taxi is safe. even the passengers in the car or in the taxi are safe, as well. >> the overall success means there is the possibility of launching the app in other african cities. until then, thousands of passengers still face a terrifying daily commute. victoria ruby deary, bbc news. >> an important idea. now to an icelandic artist whose work is inspired by the recent volcanic eruption his country. a new exhibit in new york conjures up the experience through sound, sculpture, and sense. he has been speaking to the bbc about his creation. >> it has definitely been a weird time with all of the lockdown stuff.
i kind of them stuck in america and cannot go back to see my family. i could not come back in again. also, i was really sad not to see the volcano. i feel like this is the main piece inspired by that. i really want to see it, experience it, but i can't. i'm just like how can i create my own? two pieces, and a pretty soundscapey noise, like you would be in a volcano. [volcanic noise] >> making music, perfumery, or any kind of art, it is all connected in some ways. i've just been surrounded by musicians all my life, but also, artists. i've been very curious about that. also because i'm working in perfume and music, they are both invisible. they still kind of move you in
some invisible way. instead of being in a rock band, you play a show and leave. but now, you can actually really control the space, curate the space, and decide the little details and make it work for you. >> -- this is obsidian glass. i really like cutting artworks. it is a beautiful color. i want to make more art you can actually touch. it is a good sense to trigger, i think. so the next artwork is going to be smell, sound, touch, taste , maybe. [laughter] in the walls also, we have invisible speakers. and there is a bass under, also. it has been super weird in every possible way, but also for me,
as everyone else, you can get some kind of peace and contemplation being in one place for a long time. >> i have a component coming out of the tube. people are really sensitive to it. so you knew very little to actually smell it. what i have is a 1% solution. that is how strong it is. finally now in december, we are going to go for a month. see my family, friends, spend christmas, new year's, and finally going to hike up to the volcano to see it and smell it. >> the artist. and before we go tonight, you know it is the holiday season when the lights on the christmas tree in new york's rockefeller center are switched on. an 80-year-old norway spruce took center stage in midtown manhattan with a special tv broadcast. the something -- 79 foot tree was decorated with led lights,
d 900 pound crystal star at the top. it is a welcome change from last year. there were a few concerns of the tree's health reflecting pandemic life. it was looking a bit feeble. here's to the end of 2021, and here's to 2022. thank you for watching bbc world narrator: funding for this presentation of this program is provided by... narrator: financial services firm, raymond james. man: bdo. accountants and advisors. narrator: funding was also provided by, the freeman foundation. by judy and peter blum kovler foundation; pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs. and by contributions to this pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ ♪
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight... >> we're going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion. >> woodruff: ...the pandemic persists-- the president lays out a plan to counteract the omicron variant, including testing and travel restrictions, as the number of global infections rise. then, high stakes-- a potential government shutdown looms as congress remains divided on funding and vaccine mandates. and, the toll of gun violence-- a deadly school shooting in michigan highlights the ongoing issue of access to firearms in the united states. >> it's extraordinarily difficult to know before the