this is bbc news. our top stories. the uk health secretary says there are early signs coronavirus cases are falling, but he doesn't know when restrictions could lift in england, despite the speed of the uk vaccine rollout. we don't yet know the impact on how the vaccine changes how you transmit the vaccine changes how you transmit the virus, that's why it's so important people continue to stay home after they have had the vaccine. a warning from england's deputy chief medical officer that you could still pass on the virus, even if you're fully vaccinated. anger in europe over vaccine delays — italy accuses pfizer
and astrazeneca of serious contract violations. a dramatic rescue in china, as 11 gold miners who'd been trapped underground for two weeks are brought out alive. new zealand confirms its first coronaviurs case in months, which appears to have slipped through the country's rigorous quarantine system. hello and welcome to bbc news. here in the uk, the health secretary matt hancock says there are early signs number of coronavirus cases are starting to decrease — but that he doesn't know when the current lockdown restrictions will ease. mr hancock also praised the speed of the vaccine roll—out — with three quarters of the over—80s receiving their first dose. in the past half hour, he's been speaking my colleague andrew marr.
the good news is there are early signs that certainly the rise in the number of cases has been halted. and in many parts of the country, that cases are starting to come down. it isn'tjust cases are starting to come down. it isn't just about the government, it's about each and every one of us, as we have discussed many times. as you say, the vaccine roll—out programme is going really rapidly. we have vaccinated as of this morning three quarters of all the over—80s in the country and a similar number of care homes and i'm so proud of the nhs team delivering on that. i have been talking to your opposite number in israel, mr edelstein. he says before restrictions can properly be lifted, they have to vaccinate 80% of the population. is that the kind of figure you are looking at here? it is far too early to say. the reason it is too
early is because we know with a high degree of confidence that the vaccine protects people from serious disease and of course from dying which is the whole purpose of it, but we don't yet know the impact on how much the vaccine impacts on how much you transmit the virus, that is why it some the virus, that is why it so important people continue to stay at home after they have had the vaccine and professorjonathan van tam is explaining this morning. that means those sorts of calculations, far too early to know. mr hancock's comments following a warning from england's deputy chief medical officer, who's urged people who've received a coronavirus vaccine to continue to follow restrictions, because of uncertainty over whether the jab stops transmission of the disease.
matt hancock also gave an update on the variants discovered in brazil and south africa — and assured the government is monitoring the situation closely. there are 77 known cases of the south african variant. they are under very close observation and we have enhanced contact—tracing to do everything we possibly can to stop them from spreading. the majority of those have had contact with, or come from south africa and that's why we've got such stringent border measures in place against movement from south africa. sorry to interrupt, but that suggests some people with the south african
variant have caught it from people inside the uk and therefore it is already spreading inside the community of britain? there is not what we call community transmission which is when you find a case but you cannot find the link back to travel. at the moment it is all linked to people who travel, and travel is restricted at the moment to returning brits. if you are not a british citizen or resident here, you cannot come here if you have been to south africa or southern africa recently. the shadow foreign secretary lisa nandy told andrew marr that the emergence of different variants meant the government should be taking border security far more seriously. scientists tell us that there are a number of countries where these strains are emerging that simply do not have the capacity to map what is happening. it is notjust countries that have
identified the strains of the virus we ought to be careful about. what we are likely to be seeing, even if we have not identified it, is strains emerging all over the world. there is no question we need to take border security far more seriously, we have been pushing the government to take tougher measures at the border since last spring. on monday, we have the delayed announcement, yet again delayed, we would fully expect the government to bring in tougher quarantine measures, we would expect them to roll out a proper testing strategy and to start checking up on people quarantining. only three out of every 100 people asked to quarantine when they arrive in the uk faces any checks at all, it's not sufficient. four coronavirus vaccination centres in south wales have been shut as the country braces for more snowy weather. anyone due to get theirjab at one of the sites today, will have their appointment rescheduled. a yellow weather warning is in place for the whole of wales —
apart from anglesey. police are urging people to take care, as snow and ice is expected to cause disruption on the roads. italy has accused the pharmaceutical firms pfizer and astrazeneca of serious contract violations, after the companies announced they would not be able to deliver their coronavirus vaccines as agreed. prime minister giuseppe conte said the delays were unacceptable. the two companies have said production problems have forced them to cut the amount of vaccine doses they can deliver. tim allman reports. salvation in a syringe. the covid vaccination programme is being rolled out across the world, millions of people have already had theirfirstjab. billions more awaiting their turn. but are enough doses being provided? in italy, the answer to that question is apparently no. the country's prime minister insists that is unacceptable. giuseppe conte said:
and it's notjust italy. belgium's vaccine task force says it will receive fewer than half the number of covid—i9 vaccines it had expected in the first three months of the year. pfizer and astrazeneca have warned they won't be able to deliver the amounts promised due to production problems. and in a new twist, the new york times is reporting that pfizer plans to provide fewer vials because they discovered they could extract an extra dose from each vial which was only supposed to contain five. at the end of the day it's important to recognise that pfizer and other large pharmaceutical companies are for—profit companies, and they have a responsibility to their shareholders
to try to extract as much profit as they can. the company insists it is fair as the contract is based on doses, not vials, and the lucky discovery means it can stretch the vaccine even further, meaning more doses reach more people. but until the majority are vaccinated, the fight against the virus will have to take other forms. in the netherlands, a night—time curfew has been introduced, the first curfew there since the second world war. the wait for a vaccine may mean more lives are being lost. in the last few hours, there's been an extraordinary rescue of 11 gold miners trapped underground in china for two weeks. the first miner was brought to the surface to cheers from emergency workers. he was described as extremely weak and immediately carried to a waiting ambulance. over the following hours, the others were pulled out in small groups. a total of 22 workers were trapped
600 metres below ground at the mine in shandong province following an explosion. steve mcdonell told us more about what happened. a remarkable story, events are moving very quickly in shandong. ii miners have been brought to the surface alive. those following the story will know they had been told it'd take two weeks for rescue teams to dig 600 metres through to where they were. to bore out a rescue tunnel big enough to get them out. but somehow or other today, a separate group of rescuers managed to clear a ventilation shaft which already went all the way down to where they were. once that was cleared, they could bring them up straight away. those ten miners who had been in a group together, who had been given food and medicine for days, were able to come to the surface.
but the first miner to come up was trapped by himself. somehow they found him today separately, surviving for two weeks underground without food or medicine. i guess he was able to drink the rising underground water which ironically was threatening his colleagues, because the rescuers were worried they would drown before they had time to drill through to get them. and yet because they were able to clear this ventilation shaft today, 11 miners were able to be brought to the surface. very good news from shandong. do we know what condition the ii are in, in terms of their health? well obviously the one by himself was in a pretty bad condition when he was brought out on a stretcher, taken straight to an ambulance and then off to the hospital. but as all of them have come up,
they have had their eyes blindfolded against the light. they have been underground for two weeks now. some of them were walking, but it was pretty tough, the rescuers were carrying them as they were walking out. they have all gone to hospital together now for treatment, as you would expect. varying degrees of injuries. sadly one among the original group of ii has died from his head injuries. another who they had lost contact with 50 metres below them also has presumably died because they lost contact with him days ago. nine others, they still don't know the whereabouts. but given one miner was miraculously found alive today by himself caught in a separate part of the mine, i suppose they would be hoping they might be able to find others today. a pretty big ask, though, for people to still be
alive after more than two weeks caught underground. the fact one of them was alive, absolutely remarkable. coronavirus cases are falling — but he doesn't know when restrictions could lift in england, despite the speed of the uk vaccine roll—out. a warning from england's deputy chief medical officer that you could still pass on the virus — even if you're fully vaccinated. anger in europe over vaccine delays — italy accuses pfizer and astrazeneca of serious contract violations. a year ago, the world saw its first coronavirus lockdown come into force in wuhan, the chinese city where the pandemic is believed to have started. at the time, the wider world was shocked by the harsh restrictions and rigid enforcement, but even though it came at a significant cost, it proved to be a highly successful method of tackling the virus. so, how do different countries respond to pandemics and how does a pandemic end?
i am joined now from durham in north carolina by drjonathan quick, managing director of pandemic prevention at the rockefeller foundation and author of the end of epidemics. let's refer to that title. how does this epidemic, this pandemic end? well, it ends first of all when you have strong, consistent leadership at all levels. to mobilise for the kind of... inaudible. it ends when you listen to scientists and you adapt safe habits, the masking, the ventilation and the safe distance. it ends when you get the majority of the planet vaccinated. you get the ma'ority of the planet vaccinated. ~ . you get the ma'ority of the planet vaccinated.— vaccinated. what the chinese authorities _ vaccinated. what the chinese authorities have _ vaccinated. what the chinese authorities have done - vaccinated. what the chinese authorities have done in - vaccinated. what the chinese l authorities have done in wuhan vaccinated. what the chinese - authorities have done in wuhan with that very top lockdown at the beginning, we have seen different countries responding in slightly
different ways... what would you say are the differences in national strategies and their relative success or failure we have seen around the world?— around the world? with earlier coronaviruses, _ around the world? with earlier coronaviruses, like _ around the world? with earlier coronaviruses, like singapore | around the world? with earlier. coronaviruses, like singapore and korea, they knew they had to move quickly. they had testing already. they have a fraction of the death plume acpo population we have seen in and north america. —— deaths per population. germany has half the death rate of france. decisive leadership. canada has half the death rate of the us per population. the leadership here was chaotic. it's like fighting a war, except it is not troops, it is thousands of
viruses. you need a battle leader. and there was a lot of variation in the response. and there was a lot of variation in the re5ponse-_ the response. some leaders 'ust aren't the response. some leaders 'ust am prepared i the response. some leaders 'ust aren't prepared for it i the response. some leadersjust aren't prepared for it because i the response. some leadersjust l aren't prepared for it because they haven't had to deal with this kind of thing before? you mentioned asian countries have had something similar in the past. iii countries have had something similar in the ast. ,, ., �* countries have had something similar in the ast. ,, . �* ., in the past. if you haven't dealt with it before, _ in the past. if you haven't dealt with it before, it's _ in the past. if you haven't dealt with it before, it's listening - in the past. if you haven't dealt with it before, it's listening to i with it before, it's listening to the scientists. norway and sweden, right next door to each other. norway were listening to scientists, they made tough decisions early on. sweden said, well, we will try, against advice, to let it run wild and natural immunity. weedon has almost three times the death rate of norway. even if you haven't been there before, a good leader goes to there before, a good leader goes to the experts and get their advice. —— sweden has almost three times the decorate of norway. the advice will change as we get new information, but it is critical. leaders
everywhere, theirjob is to unify, mobilise, courage. if they are not doing that, they are not fighting the pandemic. you doing that, they are not fighting the pandemic.— doing that, they are not fighting the andemic. ., , , .,~ ., . , the pandemic. you speak of leaders, and the united _ the pandemic. you speak of leaders, and the united states _ the pandemic. you speak of leaders, and the united states have - the pandemic. you speak of leaders, and the united states have a - the pandemic. you speak of leaders, and the united states have a new. and the united states have a new leader. donald trump ferociously criticised for his handling of coronavirus. how much difference do you thinkjoe biden and his new covid strategy will make? you you thinkjoe biden and his new covid strategy will make? you have a leader who wants _ covid strategy will make? you have a leader who wants to _ covid strategy will make? you have a leader who wants to unify _ covid strategy will make? you have a leader who wants to unify people, . leader who wants to unify people, who has an expert team of people in charge, the scientists. we have started a 100 days ramp up of the masking, putting resources in place. one of several reasons why different states have had trouble responding is because they haven't had the resources. we have had gridlock. with new leadership, we expect the public health measures which we know
work, will be put into place faster and more effectively. bier? work, will be put into place faster and more effectively.— work, will be put into place faster and more effectively. very good to talk to you. _ and more effectively. very good to talk to you, thank _ and more effectively. very good to talk to you, thank you. _ and more effectively. very good to talk to you, thank you. the - and more effectively. very good to | talk to you, thank you. the director of pandemic prevention at the rockefeller foundation. the authorities in new zealand have confirmed the first case of community transmission of the coronavirus in months. a woman, who had returned from europe and completed a compulsory two week period of managed isolation, tested positive ten days later. contact tracing is under way after she and her husband travelled around the north of the country. the health minister said it was too soon to speculate on the origin or strain of the infection. the case is a 56—year—old woman who has recently been through isolation at the pullman hotel in auckland, after returning from europe. she tested negative twice during her stay, and was released following that. we don't yet know the origin or the strain of the infection. it's important not to speculate on that
until we have that information. it's also too early to speculate on what our possible response options may be, including things like alert levels. we are working on the assumption that this is a positive case and that it is a more transmissible variant — either the one identified first in south africa, or the uk, or potentially brazil, or another more transmissible variant. given where we are in this global pandemic, the variants that are becoming more common are the ones that are more transmissible. here in the uk, the snp will today present its national assembly with what it's calling a road map to a new referendum on scottish independence. the 11—point plan sets up the possibility of a showdown in the courts with the westminster government over the legality of any attempts to seek a fresh poll. borisjohnson has repeatedly said he opposes another referendum even if the snp wins a majority in this year's scottish
parliament elections. well, in the past half hour, the first minister of scotland nicola sturgeon, has been speaking to my colleague andrew marr, who asked her about the prime minister's objections to another independence vote. it's robert burns' birthday tomorrow, ourannual burns day, and when i hear boris johnson about this, i bring to mind a poem. cow'rin, tim'rous beastie, 0, what a panic�*s in thy breastie! he's frightened of democracy. the polls show a majority of people in scotland want independence if the snp win the scottish election in a few months' time on a proposition of giving the people that choice, then what democrat could rightly stand in the way of that? boris johnson clearly just fears the verdict and the will of the scottish people. you say in a few months' time — therefore you are not going to delay the elections because of the coronavirus pandemic? i see no reason why the election should be delayed but rightly
and properly in a democracy, it shouldn't simply be a decision for government — that would be a cross—party decision. we have legislation recently that had passed to put contingency arrangements in place — we might have to do the election differently — more postal voting, for example — but i see no reason why it shouldn't go ahead at this stage. many countries have had elections over the course of the pandemic. president biden says he wants to restore the nuclear deal with iran — making it a top foreign policy priority. donald trump pulled out of the agreement in 2018. but distrust between washington and tehran means it's not clear whether president biden will be able to revive the deal. our middle east correspondent, martin patience, reports. donald trump wasn't popular in iran. donald trump is a liar, is an unpredictable person. he is not representative of satan — he is satan himself. he is a satan. and here's the main reason why. in a few moments, i will sign a presidential memorandum to begin
reinstating us nuclear sanctions on the iranian regime. in 2018, president trump pulled out of the nuclear agreement. his policy — maximum pressure on iran. sanctions designed to force tehran back to the negotiating table — something that never happened. but now donald trump is gone, and joe biden�*s in, and he wants to revive the deal. but is any agreement still possible? i was in iran a year and a half ago as tensions were soaring. tankers exploding in the gulf, the iranian shooting—down of an american drone. and then, a year ago, the us assassination of iran's top general. tehran retaliated by firing missiles into american bases in neighbouring iraq. and what all of this means is that president biden can't simply
hit the rewind button. iran's ramping up its nuclear activities, and it's now in breach of the agreement. so if there was a deal, how would it work? would america, for example, lift some sanctions and then iran would respond by rolling back elements of its nuclear programme? or would washington want to renegotiate the deal to include, for example, iran's missiles — a move that tehran has ruled out? and then there's america's allies — saudi arabia and israel, who were always opposed to the nuclear deal because they believed that it allowed iran to run amok in the region. raise your right hand and repeat after me... reviving this agreement may be one of president biden�*s foreign policy priorities. but in the end, donald trump may have laid enough obstacles to scupper any chance of that.
now to the decline of the honey bee. as we've reported in the past, experts around the world are alarmed at the reduction in their numbers. but in bolivia, a vet and his wife are doing their best to save several colonies threatened by deforestation in the andes. gail maclellan reports. it's humid, it's subtropical, and high on the eastern andean slopes of the cordillera real, it's also vulnerable. as in many areas in bolivia, deforestation has become an issue. in this case, the trees are cut down to grow coca — in its most innocent form used to alleviate the symptoms of high altitude, but also used to produce cocaine. this deforestation is a huge blow, particularly for one of the littlest creatures dependent on the vegetation. vet eric paredes says the number of bees in the area has been halved, and this
endangers food production. translation: bees are incredibly important - for our planet. incredibly important it's been shown that bees are responsible for 70% of food production around the world, so, from that point of view, we give greater importance to the work we do. and that work is looking for beehives to save, and creating safe habitats for the bees. wooden beehives keep the bees safe, and the vet and his wife have saved ten native species. you'll be relieved to know the species doesn't sting just as well. convincing local farmers to assist with the conservation has been difficult. if their crops are not fruits, farmers see bees as a nuisance, not an aid to agricultural production. eric paredes is not going to give up. translation: the ob'ective of this place is for it h to become a bee research institution for all native, stingless bees, and we want to be
able to transmit this knowledge to different regions so they're valued more. our mission is simply to save the bees. and at the same time to support a delicate ecosystem. gail maclellan, bbc news. now it's time for a look at the weather with chris fawkes. hello, there. heavy snow is moving its way across northern ireland, england and wales, bringing with it a risk of some transport disruption with snow covering roads here in lampeter in ceredigion during the early hours. you can see this band of snow continuing to push its way in. i have to say, there have been times this morning that stretches of the m4 and the m5 have been completely snow—covered. and it's not a comment on the gritting. you just need a bit of traffic to actually mix the grit into the falling snow. and at the moment we're only meant to be doing essentialjourneys, so obviously traffic volumes are quite low at the moment and that's allowing snow to settle on those motorways
and the a—roads as well. sojust bear that in mind. travel disruption is quite likely in places as this band of snow becomes particularly slow—moving across parts of wales and the midlands as we go through the day. the snow tends to clear away for northern ireland, scotland and northern england, sunshine and a few snow showers. but bear this in mind. we are likely to see some transport disruption for a time across wales, parts of the midlands and parts of southern england on account of the snow and the ice. overnight tonight, the snow will finally peter out and pull away southwards, and with skies clearing behind that, it's going to be a cold night, one of the colder nights we've seen recently across parts of western england and wales with a really sharp frost, minus five or so in birmingham. just about nationwide, there's a risk of some icy stretches, then, to take us into monday. but monday promises to be a much sunnier day across england and wales. a lot of dry weather here, although there will be showers in north—west england, again some of these will be falling as snow and a few showers as well for northern ireland and scotland.
again, there's more than likely going to be some snow. temperatures on the cold side — five, maybe six degrees celsius. but there are signs of a change towards the middle part of the week as this atlantic weather system moves in. now, this eventually will bring milder air, but it's moving into colder air as we head towards tuesday. so something of a battle zone set up across the country. now, we may well see a little bit of snow on the forward edge of this band of precipitation. if we do see any snow across wales and southern england, it will turn back to rain as that milder air works in. but with a reservoir of colder air across the northeast, well, the snow could last longer here, bringing some significant accumulations, but ultimately it will turn milder for just about everyone as the week goes by. the cold air, though, still loitering across the north and east. that's your weather.
the health secretary says there are early signs coronavirus cases are falling — but he doesn't know when restrictions could lift in england, despite the speed of the uk vaccine rollout. we don't yet know the impact on how much the vaccine impacts on how much you transmit the virus. that's why it's so important that people continue to stay at home after they've had the vaccine. a warning from england's deputy chief medical officer that you could still pass on the virus — even if you're fully vaccinated. anger in europe over vaccine delays — italy accuses pfizer and astrazeneca of serious contract violations. a dramatic rescue in china as eleven gold miners who'd been trapped underground for two weeks are brought out alive. now on bbc news, newsbeat go on a road trip to meet young americans from all sides to see what they think needs to be done