this is bbc news broadcasting to viewers in the uk and around the world. i'm luxmy gopal. the headlines... new records for covid in the uk — the highest number of daily cases since the pandemic began and an estimated 1.7 million people are reported to have had the virus on a single day last week. millions around the world face travel disruption over christmas, as the surge in omicron cases sees more than 2,000 flights cancelled globally due to staff shortages. at least 39 people are killed after a packed ferry caught fire in southern bangladesh. the queen is expected to give a very personal christmas message this year, her first since the death of her husband prince philip.
and pope francis delivers the traditional christmas eve mass from st peter's basilica. the uk has again recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus cases since the pandemic began — more than 120,000. it's the third day in a row that cases have topped 100,000 — with 122,186 recorded today. a separate survey from the office for national statistics found that on december 19th, an estimated 1 in 35 people in the uk had coronavirus — that's1.74 million people. in london the ratio is much higher — one in 20 people were likely to have tested positive for covi.
tested positive for covid. let me show you quickly the stats for the other nations. in wales it's around one in a5. scotland's rate is one in 65, and in northern ireland it's one in a0. but despite soaring cases, early findings suggest that the 0micron variant is milder than delta, and leads to less hospitalisation — the head of the uk health security agency drjenny harries called it a "glimmer of christmas hope". european countries are also reporting record numbers of cases today — 94,000 in france, and more than 50,000 in italy, which hasjoined greece and spain in introducing mandatory face coverings outdoors. elsewhere, thailand has reported its first 0micron cluster — 21 infections, an outbreak traced to a belgium couple who had travelled to the country earlier in the month. here's our health editor hugh pym.
london is the epicentre of the surge, and new figures suggest that one in 20 people in the city now have the virus, either the omicron or delta variants. the data comes from the office for national statistics, which tests people from tens of thousands of households, picking up those who don't have symptoms. its latest survey points to a faster spread around the uk. well, we are seeing a really quick increase in prevalence right across the country and across all ages, significantly for the very first time, all of the numbers are at the moment very, very small in the over 70s. this chart shows how rapidly infections in the uk were rising as measured by the 0ns at the end of last week and into the weekend. to more than 1.7 million people with the virus. there were differences around the uk, though, and england,
it was one in 35 people, in northern ireland one in a0 in wales, one in a5. while in scotland, it was one in 65 people with the virus. 0micron cases are rising rapidly, but it's less likely than delta to put people in hospital according to new research and officials say that's reassuring. there is a glimmer of christmas hope in the findings that we published yesterday, but it definitely isn't yet at the point where we could downgrade that serious threat. i think the findings have showed on some very, very preliminary analysis and very small numbers, which i want which i want to reinforce, that individuals compared to delta are around 30—a5% less likely to attend a&e.
there is the increase in absence rates, the cueing at hospital, the hearing our control staff call out for any ambulances that are available, and there just aren't any left, that is taking its toll on front line staff. while ministers work out what further steps to take them efforts are being made to get the booster programme into the heart of the local communities here in an asian restaurant in bradford. we are creating access where our communities are, so a resturant is the best place for the time of year to come and bring the vaccines to make it as easy and as accessible as we can. boosters will be available on christmas day and boxing day in england, though not in the rest of the uk, and in basingstoke today, there was no shortage of takers for a christmas eve jab. it's an interesting one, but i want to get it done because i want to see family. it'sjust easy peasy, it's around the corner. it's good, yeah, it made sense to do it, it for the community and everybody else. but as people enjoy christmas attractions,
the prospects for new year and beyond remain highly uncertain. hugh pym, bbc news. of course the uk isn't the only country where omicron is spreading fast. as we heard a little earlier, in thursday, france reported a new record high in the number of daily infections. and in spain, where the wearing of facemasks outdoors is compulsory again, the 73,000 cases recorded on thursday represented the third consecutive high in as many days. so a curfew will be in force from tonight in catalonia in northeastern spain, where residents are banned from leaving their homes between one o'clock and six in the morning. dr quique bassat is a research professor at the barcelona institute for global health, with more on what the situation is like there. we are very concerned about the situation. we are witnessing an unprecedented increase in the number of cases, with 25,000 more cases today than we had two days ago, with more than 100 points in the incidence increased between two days ago and today. with increasing pressure to the health system,
we are getting warnings from the emergency departments, the intensive care units, that we are seeing many more cases being admitted. even if this new variant is predominantly less severe, because we also have a predominately very well vaccinated population, with over 80% of the population having received two or more shots, we are seeing lots of pressure to the health system and lots of cases that require hospitalisation. what is happening is that this huge increase in the number of cases, even though the new cases may be less severe, it is having a toll in the cases that end up being severe. we do recognise that the vaccine is protecting against severe disease, but because of the enormous amount of new infection that we are seeing, there is a small proportion of those infections that do require hospitalisation.
so it is important that the population understands that even though we are safer with the vaccines, we are not completely safe and we are not completely protected against hospitalisation. at least 39 people have been killed after a packed ferry caught fire in southern bangladesh. the ferry had sailed from the capital, dhaka, and was bound for the southern town of barguna, with hundreds of passengers on board. at the time of the fire, the ferry was near the town othalakati. 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. the authorities in russia have reported another successful test
of the country's hypersonic missile weapon system, known as zircon. president vladimir putin announced the news at a government meeting on friday. it's said to be the first time that a salvo of several missiles was launched simultaneously. he described it as a big event in the life of the country and a considerable step in strengthening russia's security and improving its defence capability. here's president putin hailing the multiple launch test of the hypersonic missile. translation: tonight before morning, a simultaneous — translation: tonight before morning, a simultaneous launch _ translation: tonight before morning, a simultaneous launch of— translation: tonight before morning, a simultaneous launch of the _ a simultaneous launch of the hypersonic zircon system took place. this is our newest missile which works against both naval targets and ground targets. the tests were conducted successfully, immaculately. the most powerful telescope ever to be launched into space blasts off from french guiana tomorrow. it's travelling one—and—a—half million kilometres from earth, and it will look back in time to the first luminous
glows after the big bang. our science editor, rebecca morelle has more. it's taken 30 years to develop, cost more than $10 billion and has involved thousands of scientists. now the james webb space telescope is finally ready to launch to begin the most ambitious astronomy mission ever attempted. this telescope is absolutely the biggest and most complex and most powerful telescope that we've ever attempted to send to space. all of us astronomers are extremely eager to get this telescope into space. but i think it's going to work and i think it's going to, again, just completely revolutionise how we understand the cosmos. the telescope is a successor to hubble, which has given us amazing images. butjames webb is much more powerful. its mirror is almost three times bigger, which means it can reveal parts of the cosmos we've never seen before. gazing up into the heavens can help us to answer some of the biggest questions like where we come
from and how did we get here? this space telescope will help us to look further back in time than ever before to 13 and a half billion years ago, revealing the light from the very first stars to shine. we'll be able to see the earliest galaxy formation and whether they spiral into space like our own milky way, and other planetary systems will also come into view, allowing us to discover whether life could exist on other worlds. scientists will be able to study every phase of cosmic history. we think that the first stars might actually be really huge and they will be burning really hot and really brightly and would die very quickly, possibly with a huge explosion. but we haven't seen it yet and we really hope that this is something that we're going to find with the webb telescope. but before it can take any images, there's the most
difficult task ahead. the telescope's so huge, to get it into a rocket, it's been folded up like origami. for it to unfurl in space, more than 100 release mechanisms need to fire at exactly the right time in the right order. if anything goes wrong, it's game over. we know there are many ways that it could fail. so that means to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse. we've unfolded it an folded it many times. we've examined it carefully. every time we say, well, that's not quite right, we'd better fix that. and it's extraordinarily challenging. the final preparations have been under way. it's an incredibly tight fit, as the rocket is tentatively lowered over the folded telescope. this is high stakes science, but if it works, it could lead to discoveries that scientists haven't even dreamt of. rebecca morrell, bbc news.
coronavirus has thwarted many christmas plans this year, and it's continuing to wreack havoc on international travel. more than 2,000 flights around the world have been cancelled today due to staff shortages. on the first christmas in two years that australians could travel between states over the holidays, more than 100 domestic flights from sydney and melbourne to other cities were cancelled, as were hundreds of us flights, with united airlines saying that omicron cases had had a "direct impact on ourflight crews and the people who run our operation". passengers flying with delta and lufthansa have also been affected. at boston's international airport, people expressed mixed feelings about boarding their flights. let's take a listen. you know, iam you know, i am glad to be back with people doing what we do. it kinda feels good. i'm still worried about the variance, omicron and all that, but at the same time, you know what, let's get back to living our lives a little bit. �* u. ., , let's get back to living our lives a little bit. �* ., , , little bit. i'm scared to be flying to meant to _ little bit. i'm scared to be flying to meant to be _ little bit. i'm scared to be flying to meant to be honest. - little bit. i'm scared to be flying to meant to be honest. i'm - little bit. i'm scared to be flyingj to meant to be honest. i'm glad to see everyone looks pretty masked up. i see everyone looks pretty masked up. liust hope _ see everyone looks pretty masked up. ijust hope people on the plane are respectful— ijust hope people on the plane are respectful of those around them will
our north america correspondent nomia iqbaljoins me now. how serious is the situation of passengers being stranded not knowing what happens next? airliners are t in: knowing what happens next? airliners are trying their _ knowing what happens next? airliners are trying their best, _ knowing what happens next? airliners are trying their best, delta _ knowing what happens next? airliners are trying their best, delta and - are trying their best, delta and united domain airliners said that they did send text messages and are trying to help passengers who are stranded. omicron has really taken hold in this country, so it's three weeks ago when it was first detected and now it counts for more than 70% of new coronavirus cases as well. so there was a warning to americans by doctor anthony fauci. at this very into it spread very quickly. it is transmissible, we know that and we are now seeing that, it has had a huge impact on travel. i think many americans like people across the world were hoping that christmas 2021 would not be the same as
christmas 2020, millions had plans to travel, notjust by plane but also by car, and that's now been all upended because of this variance, and as you heard that, some people are trying to be cautious about it and there are lots of restrictions backin and there are lots of restrictions back in place, but it does look like this christmas will be a repeat of last christmas.— last christmas. absolutely. disappointing _ last christmas. absolutely. disappointing for _ last christmas. absolutely. disappointing for many - last christmas. absolutely. i disappointing for many people last christmas. absolutely. - disappointing for many people who thought, well, we got past the disruption caused by restrictions and travel bands, now we are allowed to travel again, but then we have got this spanner in the works. do we have a sense of how much longer this disruption will continue and when people can feel that it is not at risk of their travel plans being upended. it’s risk of their travel plans being uended. v ., , risk of their travel plans being uended. �*, ., , ., ., upended. it's really one of those situations which _ upended. it's really one of those situations which is _ upended. it's really one of those situations which is hard - upended. it's really one of those situations which is hard to - upended. it's really one of those situations which is hard to really| situations which is hard to really get sacked because many people thought, well, ok, we got vaccinated, we've got our second vaccination, we are now being boosted, so we are masking up and doing everything that we are being
told to do. so i think people thought, certainly when i chat to people here in dc, which has now returned to its masked mandates, they thought that everything would be ok. this omicron variant did people bash take people by surprise, doctor fauci warned that it would be highly transmissible and warned that it is going to be a rocky few months. president biden is still confident that america will come through. he is still imploring people to get vaccinated, bear in mind that there are still many people in this country who do not want to be vaccinated, let alone get a booster shot. they don't even necessarily, you know, stick to the restrictions. he got to different states in america, everyone seems to have their own rules. but there is a warning that this was going to happen, so as i say, it's really disappointing for americans and people across the world that christmas plans a new years plans which have not been scuppered. absolutely. frustrating christmas
for many passengers. world athletics has approved new regulations which will limit the thickness of the soles of competitors' shoes. the change will come into play in november 202a — just after the paris olympics. tanya dendrinos reports. an historic moment in world sport — eliud kipchoge becoming the first athlete to run a marathon in less than two hours back in 2019. he was wearing a modified version of nike's vaporfly trainer. shoe technology has been in the spotlight with questions raised over the balance between innovation and unfair advantage. but speaking on the topic last year, the marathon king said innovation should be embraced. technology has grown, and you can't deny that it has grown. if we ban this and this, then actually we discourage innovation, we discourage technology. world athletics has just approved new regulations. come november 202a, all athletic
shoes in track and field events will need to comply with a stack height — that is the amount of material between your foot and the ground — of 20 millimetres. in the shoes that have produced the records, like the nike vaporfly, that has about a 30mm stack height. it has a carbon plate in the middle of a bunch of foam, so as you strike, the foam will combine with the plate and give you a bit more power and propulsion. so, over time and distance, it will give you a 2%—5% increase in performance. there are a number of other regulations agreed upon by the sport's governing body, which come into play on the 1st ofjanuary, including a requirement that athletics shoes must not contain any embedded sensing or intelligent technology. the challenge for manufacturers now is designing a shoe that will measure up both with the rules and optimal performance. tanya dendrinos, bbc news.
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 she will wear the same sapphire brooch that she wore on her honeymoon. a warning — our royal correspondent nicholas witchell�*s report contains flashing images. rehearsing at windsor for their part in the queen's christmas broadcast, the central band of the royal british legion will play the national anthem which begins the broadcast. this year's christmas message — a still from which has been issued by buckingham palace — will be an unusually personal one. the queen is wearing a brooch which she wore on her honeymoon and on the desk beside her, a photograph of her and prince philip taken in 2007, when they celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary. it's eight months now since philip's death. so far, the queen has not spoken
publicly in any detail about how much he meant to her. her broadcast will 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 adjusted so that she won't be alone. the prince of wales on the duchess of cornwall will be with her at windsor, other members of the family, the wessexes and the gloucesters will also be there. 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. christmas eve celebrations have been taking place in bethlehem, including an annual procession led by the head of the roman catholic church in the region. the events will culminate in a mass starting in just over 3 hours time at the church of the nativity, built on the spot where it's believed thatjesus was born. our middle east correspondent tom bateman reports. in manger square, they wait for the biggest night of the year — a christmas procession that
will follow the route believed to have been taken by mary and joseph. it's a march of faith. but this season's greetings are mainly between the locals. the scout bands are a fixture of christmas in manger square and you can feel the energy. but what is missing are the international visitors and pilgrims that would usually be thronging the square here, and that is a devastating blow for the second year running because bethlehem needs tourism to keep surviving. the glimmers of tourism restarting last month have gone derailed by border closures due to the new covid variant. people trying to find joy and happiness from nothing. so it's very interesting, very impressive to see such a gathering. since the beginning of 2020,
everything is closed, hotels are empty — everything is closed, hotels are em . �* , everything is closed, hotels are em . h , , everything is closed, hotels are em . h y , m empty. it's very, very difficult, especially _ empty. it's very, very difficult, especially those _ empty. it's very, very difficult, especially those who _ empty. it's very, very difficult, especially those who are - empty. it's very, very difficult, l especially those who are working empty. it's very, very difficult, - especially those who are working in the tourism — especially those who are working in the tourism sector. _ the characters of christmas come to life. in this factory, ibrahim is the only worker here today. normally, he'd be joined by four more. for palestinian christians in this part of the west bank, life has been a challenge, says nabeel, whose family has run this shop for decades. we could keep our workers till the moment, but i don't know. you know, it's hard. i have two shops, one is here, the one on the manger square. it's been like 2a months, zero income. it's sad, it's not normal to see bethlehem this way. but at christmas, there's always light to look up to. as this town celebrates, it remains a year of hope against the odds. tom bateman, bbc news, bethlehem. to the vatican where the pope has been holding the traditional catholic christmas eve mass.
the head of the catholic church urged vatican cardinals, bishops and bureaucrats thursday to embrace humility this christmas season, saying their pride, self—interest and the "glitter of our armor" was perverting their spiritual lives and corrupting the church's mission. here's a snapshot of events at vatican city. they sing some scenes from the vatican there.
don't forget you can get in touch with me and some of the team on twitter — i'm @luxmy—g stay with us here on bbc news, because we will have the headlines at the top of the hour for you. hello there, i'm olly foster with the latest from the bbc sport centre. another boxing day game is off in the premier league. everton's squad is depleted because of covid and a number of injuries. they were due to travel to burnley on sunday, but it has now been postponed. it's the third premier league fixture to go on boxing day. 20 matches across the football league are also off. spurs boss antonio conte says yesterday's premier league meeting with the managers and captains of all 20 clubs achieved nothing and was like talking to a brick wall. the virtual meeting was called with concerns about player welfare, the fixture pile—up and rising covid cases, but conte was
farfrom impressed. some coaches are trying to speak and to ask about a solution, about... i think that everything was decided and i think yesterday it was a wall. a waste of time? i and i think yesterday it was a wall. a waste of time?— the england captainjoe root has vowed to lead by example in the boxing day test in melbourne as they try and keep themselves alive in the ashes series. he was very critical of his players after heavy defeats in the first two tests against australia and they now need to win all three remaining matches if they're to regain the urn. that's never been done before. nesta macgregor reports. we all know it is the season for giving, but so far england have been overly generous. from giving up easy
way gets to missed catches and ultimately missed opportunities... australia when the test match, they go australia when the test match, they 9° up australia when the test match, they go up 2—0 in the ashes stop at the scariness of england, the last time they were of 2—0 down and one in ashes test was... they were of 2-0 down and one in ashes test was. . ._ they were of 2-0 down and one in ashes test was... actually can it's never been _ ashes test was... actually can it's never been done. _ ashes test was... actually can it's never been done. so _ ashes test was... actually can it's never been done. so a _ ashes test was... actually can it's never been done. so a chance - ashes test was... actually can it's never been done. so a chance for| ashes test was... actually can it's i never been done. so a chance forjoe root side to create history and restart pride. we root side to create history and restart pride-— root side to create history and restart pride. root side to create history and restart ride. . ., ,, ., . restart pride. we all know what we need to do. _ restart pride. we all know what we need to do, and _ restart pride. we all know what we need to do, and it's _ restart pride. we all know what we need to do, and it's the _ restart pride. we all know what we need to do, and it's the art - restart pride. we all know what we need to do, and it's the art of - need to do, and it's the art of trying to take ten wickets can it's trying to take ten wickets can it's trying to take ten wickets can it's trying to build pressure, understand how you are going to be able to create pressure through keeping the scoreboard quiet, but also being brave enough to hit the lengths that will take you wickets and create chances. ﬁst will take you wickets and create chances. �* . ., . will take you wickets and create chances. �* . ~ , chances. at the iconic mcg in melbourne — chances. at the iconic mcg in melbourne is _ chances. at the iconic mcg in melbourne is the _ chances. at the iconic mcg in melbourne is the venue - chances. at the iconic mcg in melbourne is the venue for l chances. at the iconic mcg in i melbourne is the venue for the chances. at the iconic mcg in - melbourne is the venue for the third test. england to have struggled to score runs are expected to make changes, zach crawley and johnny their stoa replacing rory burns and allie pulp. basketball or mark would who missed the second test should also feature. australia who had been there visitors so far say they are
expecting a much improved england side, but now the odds of retaining the urn are in their favour. arnie side, but now the odds of retaining the urn are in their favour. we know how aood the urn are in their favour. we know how good they _ the urn are in their favour. we know how good they are _ the urn are in their favour. we know how good they are and _ the urn are in their favour. we know how good they are and obviously - the urn are in their favour. we know how good they are and obviously a l how good they are and obviously a world—class team with world—class players, so, yeah, we played really well the last couple of matches, we will be sure to bounce back really hard. , ., ., ., ., , hard. the well the set for a famous boxina hard. the well the set for a famous boxing day — hard. the well the set for a famous boxing day fixture, _ hard. the well the set for a famous boxing day fixture, post-christmas boxing day fixture, post—christmas cherokee, england hoping they don't get stuffed. some rugby union news, billy and mako vunipola have signed new deals to stay at saracens — and that means they're still available for england selection. the brothers were both being linked to clubs in france — a move abroad would have ended their international careers, with england's policy not to select anyone playing in foreign leagues 2022 could be very lucrative for golfers on the ladies european tour. a record prize fund will be on offer of over 20 million pounds. they've released their schedule with the greatest
number of tournaments in its aa year history. 31 across 21 countries. there'll be two new events in asia and south africa and 8 tournaments return to the calendar. the tour starts in mid february. and that is all the sport for now. hello in a warm welcome to the first of two special editions of dateline london. next weekend at the turn of the year, we will make some predictions for 2022. this weekend, we concentrate on the waning year