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tv   BBC News at Ten  BBC News  December 14, 2020 10:00pm-10:31pm GMT

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it's 10pm. this is bbc news with me, tim willcox. in a few minutes, huw edwards with the bbc news at ten, and at half past, we'll be looking at tomorrow's newspapers with our reviewers, the broadcaster john stapleton and kate proctor, the political editor of politics home. our main story tonight: 11 million people in london, essex and hertfordshire will move into tighter tier 3 restrictions from one minute past midnight on wednesday, because of sharp rises in covid cases which may be associated with a new variant of the virus. the details were given at a downing street news briefing led by the health secretary this evening. at that same briefing, england's chief medical officer, professor chris whitty, was asked
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about the impact the relaxation of restrictions across the christmas period might have. before that, though, he explained what's known so far about a new variant that's been linked to rising cases in southern england. in terms of the new variant, the reason this has been picked up is because there is a good surveillance system in the uk, wider than in many other countries, and it does appear to be in an area of the country, particularly kent and bits of london, which are increasing rapidly. we do not know what's cause and effect. is it getting more frequent because it is in a part of the country at which the rate of increase is going faster anyway, and therefore inevitably it is a higher proportion, or is it that this virus itself is possible to transmit more easily? that isn't really yet clear. there are two other things you always want to worry about with a new variant. the first one is... three things, actually. the first one is — is there any evidence this is actually more dangerous? and there is no evidence
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for that at the moment. there is no evidence that if you catch this variant, you are more likely to have severe disease than if you catch different variants. the second question is — is it invisible to the tests we have? the short answer is no, the current tests work against this variant. they might have... some of them might have one bit of the testing might be slightly less effective, but most of the tests will work completely normally, and the other ones will work, we think, normally as well. and the third question, given that we now have a vaccine around the corner, is would we expect this to reduce the effectiveness of a vaccine? and i think the thing to remember with this is we do not yet have a vaccine deployed and there is relatively little, still quite a small proportion of the population currently have immunity due to prior infection. so there isn't a huge selection pressure on this virus, and therefore it would be surprising, not impossible, but pretty surprising if this would actually have evolved to be able to get around the virus.
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as time goes by, with any infection, then there is selection pressure, what is called selection pressure, when a very high proportion of the population has been vaccinated. and at that point, the new variants that emerge, and new ones will emerge the whole time, are more likely to be ones which actually are able partially to escape from a vaccine. there is no reason to think that would be happening at the moment. but that is being tested at the moment in porton down and other specialist centres, and we will be able to give more hard data on that relatively soon. we will obviously do so once we have it. the relatively modest, actually, relaxation over christmas will undoubtedly put upward pressure on the virus. we know that. that's been clear from all statements that everybody has made, all ministers and all the people who have commented from these press conferences, but the feeling was this is a very important time for many families, but — and the big, big but on this is — the level of impact this will have entirely is related to how many
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people choose to do this in a very minimalist, responsible way and those who wish to choose to come together and do all sorts of things which they otherwise wouldn't be doing if it wasn't christmas. that's where the risks start. so people have just got to take this very seriously. this is an ability for families to come together within the law, within the rules, and people have been incredibly good at sticking to the rules and sticking to the guidance. and this is, in a sense, a limited relaxation which will have some impact on the upward pressure on the coronavirus, but the key thing is people have just got to be sensible. and they've got to be really sensible going in because we want the rates to be as low as possible during and on the way out. really, really critical.
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tonight at ten, more than 3a million people in england will be living with the highest level of restrictions from wednesday. new areas, including the whole of london, are being moved into tier 3 because of a very sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases. we must act now to shift the curve because when the virus keeps growing exponentially there is not a moment to spare. shops will stay open but with just 11 days to christmas, pubs, bars and restaurants will have to close, except for takeaway, dealing another heavy blow to the hospitality industry. total lockdown again. we opened one week ago and we're closing. this is like a joke. i don't think it's going to work. we'll also have details of a new variant of the virus, though experts say the new vaccine
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should be effective against it. during the day, the mass roll—out of the pfizer vaccine across the uk got underway. in china, questions about the alleged forced use of people from minority communities in the country's huge cotton industry. and a tide of tributes to the manager who brought five major trophies to liverpool, gerard houllier, who's died at 73. and coming up in sport, on bbc news... more on tier 3 restrictions in london and how it will affect events, as frank lampard calls for fans to be allowed to stay in football stadiums. good evening. from wednesday 3a million people in england will be living with the highest level of restrictions in tier 3. new areas, including
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the whole of london, are being moved into the top tier because of a very sharp rise in the number of coronavirus infections. the measures were announced as ministers revealed that a new variant of the virus has been seen in the uk but experts say they believe the new vaccine is effective against it. so, greater london and parts of the counties of essex and hertfordshire are to be placed in tier 3 from wednesday, facing the most severe restrictions. there can be no socialising indoors with anyone, other than the people you live with, or those in your support bubble. bars, pubs and restaurants will have to close, though they can provide takeaways and deliveries. but shops, gyms and hairdressers will be able to stay open, as our health editor hugh pym reports. music: away in a manger. the run—up to christmas just won't feel the same across a swathe of south—east england, with new restrictions
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on meeting members of other households outdoors, though shops will remain open. the move to tier 3 is a response to a steep rise in virus cases in london and parts of essex and hertfordshire, and that's putting more pressure on hospitals. cases were moving up anyway, though the health secretary told the commons of a new development. we have identified a new variant of coronavirus which may be associated with the faster spread in the south—east of england. initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variants. we've currently identified over 1,000 cases with this variant, predominantly in the south of england. he said there was nothing to suggest the new variant made people sicker or that it was resistant to vaccines. labour said the picture around england was now less encouraging. overall, the increasing areas are rising faster than the decreasing areas are falling. as things stand, we are heading
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into the christmas easing with diminishing headroom. the buffer zone these tiers were supposed to provide is getting much thinner. of the top 20 virus hotspots in england, all but two are in the south—east. for example, the london boroughs of havering, enfield and southwark with case increases of more than 50% in the most recent week, and brentwood and thurrock in essex even more — around 80%. the rise in cases, officials said, could put the nhs under great strain. and this will lead inexorably not only to covid deaths directly but it also leads importantly to displacing other health activity that means that other diseases are not being treated if we don't get on top of this quickly. the health argument for tighter restrictions has been made on the basis of sharply rising case numbers, but there is, of course, an economic impact. tier 3 means bars, pubs and restaurants having to close to customers, apart from takeaways and deliveries,
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and it should have been their busiest time of the year, especially in london. this restaurant only reopened recently after the lockdown. now they'll have to stop serving customers indoors again, and it's not clear how much government funding will be available. it's a joke. we opened one week ago and we close down this week again. and it doesn't work like that. i'm sure if it goes like that we are all going to close down and find a differentjob. there's been no change to the planned relaxation of the rules over christmas around the uk, though scotland's first minister made a plea for people to be cautious. just because we can visit people indoors over christmas on a limited basis, doesn't mean that we have to. any indoor meeting between different households obviously creates a risk. the virus will not take a break over the christmas period.
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local leaders in manchester and some other areas of england that have been at the highest alert level for some time are hoping to be moved down because of falling case numbers but in wales, with hospitals said to be nearly full, there have been calls from some nhs staff for a pre—christmas lockdown. hugh pym, bbc news. the education secretary for england has issued a legal order demanding that greenwich council in london withdraw its advice to schools to close from tomorrow. gavin williamson said using his legal powers was a last resort and continuity of education was a national priority. greenwich, along with islington and waltham forest, have urged schools to move pupils to online learning to help tackle a rise in coronavirus cases. 0ur education editor bra nwen jeffreys reports. arriving for what could be their last day, parents told schools were being advised to move online, leaving them facing a sudden childcare crisis. it's just too short notice to get
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any sort of childcare arrangements in place, so you would either be taking the day off unpaid, coming up to christmas, which is just not doable. they have to do what they have to do. it's a shame, though, that things have been left till the last minute. this is something that should have been done ages ago. schools in greenwich are the first to get this advice from their council, but ministers insist schools must stay open. schools have found themselves caught up in a political battle, and in the end, they have to make their own decisions, so this primary school has told parents that learning will move online from the end of today. but some secondary schools who are academies and have much more freedom from the local authority have told parents they will be staying open until the end of term. at a testing centre, london's mayor warned of rising cases, calling for all secondary schools to shift to remote learning.
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if you can't keep these schools covid—safe in the last few days before christmas, it's better to err on the side of caution and revert to online teaching for these few days, make the schools covid—secure over christmas, so injanuary they can reopen. another london labour council went further, asking schools to move online. tonight tonight, in a dramatic intervention, this legal order from the government. the government says it would enforce this in court. greenwich council will respond in the morning. very different in wales where classroom teaching ended last week. rapid testing promised there in schools in the new year. but one
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union leader told me in england, schools were caught between ministers, councils and parents. teachers are caught between a rock and a hard place. parents are voting with their feet we have increasing numbers of students out of school a nyway numbers of students out of school anyway which means there is a toxic mixture of problems for teachers to deal with. as schools slog through the last week of term, a political battle over who decides they stay fully open. branwen jeffreys, bbc news. in a moment we'll talk to our deputy political editor vicki young, but first to our health editor hugh pym. 11 days until christmas, millions of people in england facing much high restrictions, what are the factors at work? the new variant we heard about today, and viruses do mutate and this one is no different, we saw and this one is no different, we saw a new variant in spain in october which pushed infections up around
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europe and the health secretary conceded it may or may not have had an impact on the south—east of england in recent weeks. i suspect london and parts of essex and hertfordshire would have gone on to tier 3 anyway because there is deep concern about the increase in cases in that region. matt hancock at the end of last week said it would be wednesday this week when he looked at all of the tiers in england including london but they have brought it forward today because of what they see as a pivotal moment because of the sharp increase in cases. it is an attempt to curb the spread of the virus ahead of the opening up over christmas. today we heard in varying degrees of rhetoric from political leaders and health officials, showing more caution about christmas, saying people have got to be careful before meeting up with households, and they don't have to if they don't feel it is com pletely to if they don't feel it is completely necessary, because there isa completely necessary, because there is a worry that opening up with increase cases and this will put more pressure on the nhs at the
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busiest time in january. more pressure on the nhs at the busiest time injanuary. some london council leaders say tier 3 is not enough, they wanted to go to tier 3 plus with even tighter restrictions to get a grip on things. thanks for joining us. vicki joins us now from westminster. a short while ago we were talking about a joint approach by the home nations to christmas and the christmas period but of course the situation is changing as we have been reporting, so how much of a political risk is there around this decision now? listening to politicians from all four nations you can heartheir politicians from all four nations you can hear their anxiety coming through pretty loud and clear. quite often what we are hearing, what sounds like a contradictory message, they are pointing to in some areas what are still quite alarming rises, pressure on the nhs, and yet injust over a pressure on the nhs, and yet injust overa week pressure on the nhs, and yet injust over a week millions of people are going to be allowed to travel across the uk and mix. some mps in westminster are urging government to
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think again about this. i don't get any sense that it's happening, but i do think what they are doing is urging us to think twice and the word you are going to hear between i'iow word you are going to hear between now and christmas is personal responsibility. saying to people, please focus on the risks, just because you are allowed to do it, it is pretty clear listening to the politicians that actually they are discouraging it. they are saying to people, think carefully about who you are going to meet and whether they are vulnerable, so before we even get to christmas, the politicians and the doctors and scientists seem to be worrying about what is coming injanuary and february and of course the possibility of restrictions that might have to be with us for many more weeks. thanks forjoining us. the latest government figures on coronavirus show another 20,263 infections recorded in the latest 24—hour period. 232 deaths were also reported, that's people who died within 28 days of a positive covid—i9 test.
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the total number of deaths so far across the uk is now 64,402. the mass roll—out of the vaccine across the uk has begun. care home residents in scotland have started to receive the pfizer vaccine from today, and they'll be joined next week by care home residents in north wales. around 100 gp surgeries in england have received deliveries of the vaccine today as our science editor david shukman reports. that's it. you might end up with a wee bit of a bruise. applause applause for annie innes, aged 90, as another momentous step is taken against covid. protecting other people, aren't you? annie lives in hamilton in scotland. she's the first resident of a care home to be vaccinated and she's very relieved. it's been a terrible year, terrible. i'd like to see it a lot brighter for everybody else.
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care homes are now the priority in scotland. covid has claimed 20,000 lives in british care homes so far, roughly one third of all coronavirus deaths in the uk. and the isolation has been hard, as well. here you are. not being able to have contact with your families at times of distress, not being able to have contact with your families at points in your life that you would normally share — birthdays, anniversaries — has been absolutely devastating. this vaccine now gives us hope. it's a challenge to keep the vaccines frozen and delivered in time to be useful. the aim is to reach the most vulnerable. 90% of covid deaths have been among the over 65s, so the elderly are first in line. thank you very much. a batch arrives at a gp surgery in halesowen in the west midlands. a scene being repeated at hundreds of other locations.
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it's been such a difficult year for everybody. we've all been stuck in a dark tunnel, and finally we can see light at the end of the tunnel with the arrival of the vaccine, so i'm delighted to be able to sit here and say that we have the vaccine today. there are larger vaccination centres as well, this one at epsom racecourse opens tomorrow. but it's one thing getting everything ready, quite another making sure there's enough vaccine to go round. some gps are warning that deliveries which they've been promised have yet to turn up, so bookings are being cancelled. an uncertain start to a project with so much hope. david shukman, bbc news. the president of the european commission, ursula von der leyen, has welcomed what she described as "movement" in talks between the uk and the eu on a trade agreement with the uk. she was speaking as negotiators from both sides continued the intensive discussions in brussels. but the british side says the talks
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"remain difficult" and that the two sides have not made "significant progress in recent days". 0ur political editor laura kuenssberg has the latest. how long can this go on? vital talks grinding on to agree a new way for the uk and the eu to do business. whether there is a deal or not, the status quo disappears and time will run out in 17 days. he's the one who's always said the clock is ticking. the eu negotiator seems to have softened brussels' position a little since last week, when the uk said there was just no way they could agree. the end will be when we reach an agreement both on fair competition and the reciprocal access to water and markets. the brussels cliche is nothing's agreed until everything is agreed. months of talks have stumbled over how much fish the uk and eu can catch in each other‘s waters, how to share rules to do business
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smoothly, and who's in charge if something goes wrong. but the eu chief is no longer emphasising the gaps in public. first of all, there's movement. that is good. we're fine about the architecture itself, but the details in it, do they really fit? and these are crucial points because, again, it's a matter of fairness. lord frost, are you feeling confident? the uk deal—makers are in brussels, but aren't willing yet to claim it's done. and while the prime minister claimed it would be wonderful, ministers want to avoid the huge possible costs of no—deal disruption with potential taxes and tariffs on goods, serious uncertainty for business. obviously, there are a number of areas where we still need to make quite significant progress. but, as the prime minister said, we need to make sure that we go the extra mile. it's what businesses want, its what people in our country want, and that is precisely what we're doing. we're not going to be walking away from these talks. whether in brussels or here in the uk, the signals around the deal are cheerier than they've been for quite some time.
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both sides appear to be willing to budge a bit, particularly over sharing rules and regulations in future. and the political desire of both to avoid the chaos of no deal is very strong. but number ten is still adamant the most likely outcome right now is no agreement at all. and government sources have told the bbc tonight there's been no significant progress and no backtracking on their side either. neither the uk nor the eu wants to be the first to give up, nor the only one to give in. laura kuenssberg, bbc news, westminster. hundreds of thousands of people from ethnic minorities, including the uighur community, are being forced by the chinese authorities to pick cotton in the far western region of xinjiang, that's according to information seen by the bbc. the evidence suggests that china's cotton crop, which makes up a fifth of the world's total supply, could be far more dependent on forced labour than
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was previously thought. over the past few years, more than a million uighurs are thought to have been detained in so—called ‘re—education' camps. china denies claims of torture and carrying out forced sterilisations and abortions. in response to the latest evidence, the chinese government has told the bbc that claims of forced labour are "entirely fabricated". 0ur china correspondent, john sudworth, has this special investigation from xinjiang, a region where foreign journalists are followed very closely and monitored. xinjiang makes mountains of cotton, a fifth of the world's total and our investigation will only heighten concerns about this product, although the evidence wasn't easy to find. they're waiting for us. we're turned back at checkpoints... we'll pay, we'll pay. ..stopped from filming... we'll pay. ..questioned. .. ..and followed. the one behind is also following us.
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this is one site we're trying to get to — a giant re—education camp. but, more recently, something else has being built next door — a textile factory. days after its completion, a large group of people can be seen being moved between the camp and the factory. wow, and this is the factory here, its extraordinary... from the ground, it's clear the factory and accommodation blocks are all now one single site, plastered with communist party slogans. but when we get out to film... we are entitled to film in public anywhere in china... china says these places are simply about creating jobs, but everywhere we go, there's this extraordinary effort to stop us documenting any of it. in xinjiang, a whole culture is under suspicion. more than a million uighurs
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and other traditionally muslim minorities are thought to have been swept into the camps, viewed by china as potential islamist separatists. but, each year, more than 2 million others are being gathered for something else. giant new factories and textile mills, hundreds of them, where they face strict controls and political indoctrination. "the first thing our workers have to learn is to love "the communist pa rty", this factory boss says. but now, the bbc has seen evidence that shows uighurs are also being sent en masse into the cotton fields. one day, my family will disappear from this world... mahmoud, not his real name, left xinjiang three years ago but his family still lives there. and my mum told me, like, she is picking the cotton for the garment officers.
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it's like our duty to do that work. they willjust go because they are so afraid of being taken to jail or somewhere else. newly uncovered documents show the scale. 150,000 pickers sent to one area, almost as many again organised for another. they're given ideological education and "the lazy", the authorities say, are being taught "the glories of work". the evidence suggests that the real intention here in xinjiang is the dismantling of an entire culture and its rebuilding through the total control of people's families, their faith, their thoughts and, on a massive scale across the fields and factories of this region, in the work that they do. in a written statement, the chinese government said...
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it said... but the researcher who unearthed the documents believes they have major implications for the global fashion industry. for the first time, we not only have evidence of uighur forced labour in manufacturing, in garment making, we have evidence of a massive state—sponsored forced labour scheme involving hundreds of thousands, over half a million, of ethnic minorities and it's directly about the picking of cotton. in terms of global supply chains, now that's a game changer. as we leave xinjiang, we pass this prison camp complex, thought to contain multiple factory buildings. it's the first independent footage of this truly colossal site, a final chilling reminder that here, mass incarceration and mass labour are closely connected.
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john sudworth, bbc news, xinjiang. more compensation is to be offered to victims of the windrush scandal, which saw thousands of people who came to britain — mainly from the caribbean in the 1950s and 1960s — wrongly deported or threatened with deportation and many left unable to work. the government announced that the minimum compensation payment will rise from £250 to £10,000. it will apply restrospectively, meaning those previously given less will receive top—up payments. in the us, the formal process to certinyoe biden's presidential election victory is under way, with members of the electoral college publicly casting their votews. under the us system, each state gets a number of these college votes, roughly in line with the size of its population. most of the "electors" for the college are not household names but this year,
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former president bill clinton and his wife hillary cast votes for the state of new york. democratjoe biden is on course to win 306 of the electoral college votes, to republican donald trump's 232. despite this, president trump is not expected to accept the official result. the french energy giant edf is in the process of building a nuclear power plant — called hinkley point c — in somerset. and edf is now in talks with the government to build a similar plant in suffolk. the £20 billion project at sizewell could generate 7% of the uk's electricity needs. ministers say it would create thousands ofjobs and contribute to their plan to get to net—zero carbon emissions by 2050. our business editor simon jack examines the details. the last of a generation. by 2035, sizewell b will be the last uk nuclear power station in operation. nuclear supplies 20% of the uk's electricity,

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