hello. secondary schools in england have been told that children should wear face coverings in classrooms to help stop the omicron covid—19 variant from disrupting the new term. the move brings england in line with the rest of the uk. unions have welcomed the advice while also warning that staff shortages could once again lead to some children being taught at home. sanchia berg reports. in scotland, pupils have been wearing masks as they learn with the windows open for the last few
months. the picture is similar now in northern ireland and wales. next week, english secondary school students will follow suit as the government tries to reduce the spread of covid—i9 in schools. around half of children over 12 have been double jab, not enough to keep the virus out. the been double jab, not enough to keep the virus out-— the virus out. the face coverings is very much — the virus out. the face coverings is very much a _ the virus out. the face coverings is very much a short-term _ the virus out. the face coverings is very much a short-term measure, | very much a short—term measure, simply until the 26th of january when it will be reviewed because we recognise it is not something many children will want to wear stop it recognises the priority of ensuring face—to—face education is made available, that is our number one priority. available, that is our number one riori . ., ., , priority. some are worried this could affect — priority. some are worried this could affect children's - priority. some are worried this could affect children's learning which has been so disrupted for the last two years. which has been so disrupted for the last two years— which has been so disrupted for the last two years-— last two years. there is very low risk to children _ last two years. there is very low risk to children so _ last two years. there is very low risk to children so i'm _ last two years. there is very low risk to children so i'm very - last two years. there is very low| risk to children so i'm very wary, last two years. there is very low i risk to children so i'm very wary, i will listen to what the government says but i am very wary about imposing masks on children in schools because i worry about their well—being and their mental health
which is already suffering because of school closures over lockdown. but it's backed for now by the teaching unions. if but it's backed for now by the teaching unions.— teaching unions. if this is a short-term _ teaching unions. if this is a short-term fix _ teaching unions. if this is a short-term fix is _ teaching unions. if this is a short-term fix is the - teaching unions. if this is a - short-term fix is the government short—term fix is the government says and one of a number of different measures including ventilation and moving ofsted to the sidelines, if that is going to do what we all want and keep young people in their school rooms and college, that i think will be a price worth paying. ihla college, that i think will be a price worth paying.— college, that i think will be a price worth paying. no one wants to return to remote _ price worth paying. no one wants to return to remote learning _ price worth paying. no one wants to return to remote learning for - return to remote learning for children were isolated, some put at risk. but head teachers are looking at contingency plans in case staff are hit covid—i9 when schools return next week. sanchia berg, bbc news. i'm joined by our health correspondent anna collinson. anna, covid case is running at record levels in recent weeks, what other potentially mean in the weeks ahead? ah, other potentially mean in the weeks ahead? �* w w other potentially mean in the weeks ahead? �* ., ., . ., , other potentially mean in the weeks ahead? ., ., . ., ahead? a lot of uncertainty as we head into the _ ahead? a lot of uncertainty as we head into the new— ahead? a lot of uncertainty as we head into the new year _ ahead? a lot of uncertainty as we head into the new year in - ahead? a lot of uncertainty as we head into the new year in one - ahead? a lot of uncertainty as we head into the new year in one of| ahead? a lot of uncertainty as we i head into the new year in one of the reasons for that is the data processed over christmas is pretty patchy. things like bank holidays
and adjusting their behaviour means cases are missed, even so, we have seen record height numbers, most recently nearly 163,000 cases recorded in england alone yesterday. the crucial question is what does that mean for the nhs? we see hospital admission is rising, scientists telling me they expect that trend to continue for at least another week but they cannot say how high that people go. as we have heard in that report, face coverings are going to return to classrooms in england, the government has been pretty clear it does not really want to bring in further restrictions calling them an absolute last resort. modelling suggests any measures that were brought in to prevent this peak would need to be brought in before boxing day. professor in medicine at the university of east anglia paul hunter spoke to me earlier and he told me he is against any further restrictions but says a way to tackle high and staff absences we are seeing in the nhs which is causing problems will be to reduce the isolation period from seven days until five but currently there are
no plans for he thinks kings do not look as bad as they did before christmas but health officials are keen to stress it is going to be a tough few weeks for the nhs. anna, thank you. public sector leaders have been told to prepare for the worst case scenario of up to a quarter of their staff being off work because of covid. the uk has seen record numbers of daily cases over the festive period. ministers have been tasked with developing "robust contingency pla ns" for workplace absences. here's our business correspondent, katie prescott. cancelled trains, delayed deliveries, closed restaurants and shut—up shops. staff shortages because of the spread of 0micron are a real worry in the new year as people go back to work after the christmas break. i think it makes sense to try to plan for such events. we know we have a very contagious variant in the uk and we know that lots of people are catching the virus and naturally there will be absences throughout all businesses, really.
from a retail perspective, the biggest concern will be on the supply chain to make sure that that is still running at the efficiency we are used to. empty workplaces are the nightmare for government. ministers are looking atjust how bad things could get and drawing up contingency plans to try and protect against any disruption from rising infection. to try and keep school gates open as well as hospitals and other vital services, in the public sector leaders have been asked to look at the worst—case scenarios of having ten, 20 or even 25% of their staff off at any one time. labour says that this announcement shows the government is leaving contingency planning to the very last moment. the most recent restrictions in england, set out in the government's plan b earlier in december, are expected to be reviewed this week. katie prescott, bbc news. twenty conservative mps and peers have called on the prime minister to tackle the spiralling
cost of living. five ex—ministers are among those who have written to the sunday telegraph arguing for a cut in environmental levies and the removal of energy taxes. their call follows big rises in wholesale gas prices. the government says it is meeting suppliers and the regulator regularly to work out how to help consumers. denmark says it hopes to end the use of fossil fuels on domestic flights by 2030. the danish prime minister says flying must be made green but acknowledged the target would be hard to meet. denmark had already announced plans to reduce carbon emissions by 70% of 1990 levels by 2030. a fire has broken out at the south african houses of parliament. dozens of firefighters have been tackling the blaze in cape town. the flames spread quickly when the historic buildings sprinkler system failed to activate. 0ur south african correspondent nomsa maseko has more
an historic building on fire. plumes of smoke engulfing the south african parliament. more than 60 firefighters battling to extinguish the blaze. the fire started on the third floor offices and quickly spread to the national assembly chamber. the damage is extensive. and there are fears in some parts of the structure which was built in the late 1800s, could collapse. the entire late 18005, could collapse. tue: entire parliamentary late 18005, could collapse. tt;e: entire parliamentary complex late 18005, could collap5e. t"t9 entire parliamentary complex is severely damaged, waterlogged and smoke damaged. so there is going to be damaged extensively. the roof above the old assembly chamber, the old assembly hall is completely gone. old assembly hall is completely one. a, , old assembly hall is completely tone. , , :, gone. many high-profile south african politicians _ gone. many high-profile south african politicians including - african politicians including president cyril ramaphosa were in
cape town for the funeral of archbishop desmond tutu which took place at st george's cathedral, a block away from the parliament precinct. block away from the parliament recinct. , , :, , :, , precinct. this is devastating news. it is a terrible _ precinct. this is devastating news. it is a terrible and _ precinct. this is devastating news. it is a terrible and devastating - it is a terrible and devastating event. particularly after we gave the archbishop what i would call the best sendoff yesterday. the minister resonsible best sendoff yesterday. the minister responsible for _ best sendoff yesterday. the minister responsible for government - responsible for government infrastructure said firefighters managed to contain the blaze from spreading further. this managed to contain the blaze from spreading further.— spreading further. this is a very sad day for _ spreading further. this is a very sad day for our _ spreading further. this is a very sad day for our democracy - spreading further. this is a very i sad day for our democracy because parliament is the home of our democracy and parliament is helping us add a key point.— us add a key point. there are no in'uries us add a key point. there are no injuries reported _ us add a key point. there are no injuries reported and _ us add a key point. there are no injuries reported and no - us add a key point. there are no i injuries reported and no indication what may have started the fire. fire and rescue service officials have said it could take longer to put it out completely because of carpets and wooden floors. nomsa maseko, bbc news. football supporters at this afternoon's match between chelsea
and liverpool will be the first to take part in a safe standing trial. standing terraces were banned at most grounds in 1994, following the hillsborough stadium disaster. ministers say safety is paramount — some police chiefs have expressed concern about fans moving into standing areas from other parts of the stadium. you can see more on all of today's stories on the bbc news channel. the next news on bbc one is at 4.55pm. goodbye for now. hello. you're watching the bbc news channel. sport, and a full round up from the bbc sport centre.
good afternoon. the big game in the premier league today is chelsea against liverpool, who are second and third in the table. both sides are desperate to make up ground on leaders manchester city who are 11 points clear at the top. the big news is that striker romelu lukaku has been left out of the chelsea squad. in an interview recorded several weeks ago but aired last thursday, the belgium striker lukaku said he was "not happy" with his bit—part role under manager thomas tuchel earlier this season. tuchel said the comments had brought the club "noise we don't need". some fans at the match will be legally standing, which is part of a trial at stamford bridge. all—seater stadiums became the law following the 1989 hillsborough disaster but several premier league clubs are now trialling safe standing. i think it's a significant
moment forfootball. as you trailed, these were part of the measures brought in after the hillsborough tragedy and the taylor report. those measures have served to keep football safe for 30 years. anything we do to alter those measures is really significant. i think we are saying it is the start of the pilot today. this is a misnomer. it has been in since the start of the season. clubs have had to put in engineering work. we have seen some positive experience and challenging experiences. from our perspective in policing we think there is an opportunity to implement this but do it in a way that's really safe, meets the needs of fans but equally keeps everyone safe. here's a check on all of today's premier league fixtures. chelsea liverpool is at 11:30, but before that brentford host aston villa, everton take on brighton and leeds are at home to burnley. all of those kick off at 2 o' clock. the ashes resumes on tuesday evening uk time and it's been confirmed that
england's head coach chris silverwood has tested positive for covid—19. silverwood has been isolating in melbourne since 30 december following a positive test from one of his family members. he will remain in isolation until saturday. silverwood is asymptomatic and is fully vaccinated. england's squad have undergone another round of routine pcr tests after a local bowler tested postive for covid in sydney where the fourth test is being played. england are 3—0 down and have already lost the series. 0bviously every positive case is not a good thing but we are dealing with the facts at the moment and getting tested every day. the doctors say we are in a good place to carry on and we fully back that, so i'm concentrating on what i'm trying to do and so are all the lads. we are pretty focused on the game. perth scorchers are top of the australian big bash league after beating the melbourne stars. england's tymal mills was in good form with the ball. he took three wickets for the scorchers as melbourne fell
51 runs short of their target of 181. and sydney thunder beat adelaide strikers by 28 runs. matthew gilkes innings of 93 off just 57 balls formed the backbone of sydney's 172—7, and adelaide were never really in the hunt. thunder move up to third in the table. great britain have got their atp cup campaign off to a winning start after beating germany in sydney. dan evans had beaten jan—lennard struff in straight sets in the first match, but norrie missed the chance to hand gb the win outright after losing to alexander zverev. the world number three took the first set in a tie break, before easing through the second, winning 6—1. and that meant that the tie went to a decider and a doubles team of dan evans and jamie murray sent it in gb�*s favour, beating kevin krawietz and alexander zverev in straight sets. great britain are next in action
against canada on tuesday. and if you head to the bbc sport website and app, you can find more about mica mcneill and adele nicoll who have won their first ever bobsleigh world cup medals — with silver in latvia this morning. good result for them as they look to qualify for the winter olympics next month. face masks are to be worn in secondary school classrooms in england, to reduce the spread of the 0micron variant. until now, england was the only one of the four uk nations where face masks were not recommended for pupils in class. six teaching unions have demanded urgent action to limit the spread of the virus. the government has also announced that 7,000 air cleaning units are to be made available to early years setting, schools and colleges to improve ventilation in classrooms. earlier i spoke to professor mark mon—williams from the university of leeds who is is leading a trial of air cleaning equipment in 30 schools in bradford.
there are two bits to the trial. the first is understanding what are the issues associated with putting these technologies into schools. sounds very straight forward, put some technology in school. in practice there are a number of issues to resolve in order to make that as painless as we can for the schools. the first part of the study has been looking at that issue. the second part of the study is then seeing, is there evidence that these very promising technologies will actually decrease infection rates and keep children in school. we completed the first part of the study, actually understanding how we put these things in the schools and the issues associated with them. and in early january we hope to have the first tranche of data to give us some indication as to whether the systems are decreasing infection rates and over the forthcoming school year we will get a better understanding of their impact. th will get a better understanding of their impact-— their impact. in terms of the technical _ their impact. in terms of the technical logistics _ their impact. in terms of the technical logistics of - their impact. in terms of the
technical logistics of rolling l their impact. in terms of the i technical logistics of rolling out ventilation units, because the government has said it will fund 7000 ventilation units, is it pretty straight forward? the 7000 ventilation units, is it pretty straight forward?— straight forward? the number of different issues _ straight forward? the number of different issues such _ straight forward? the number of different issues such as - straight forward? the number of different issues such as does - straight forward? the number ofj different issues such as does the room have enough plug sockets, how many units will you put in classrooms? 0ther many units will you put in classrooms? other issues as well such as delivering units, cleaning filters that are present in the systems. there are a number of different practical issues that need to be understood in orderfor the rolled out to be effective. th to be understood in order for the rolled out to be effective. in terms ofthe rolled out to be effective. in terms of the cost. _ rolled out to be effective. in terms of the cost, how _ rolled out to be effective. in terms of the cost, how does _ rolled out to be effective. in terms of the cost, how does that - rolled out to be effective. in terms of the cost, how does that work i rolled out to be effective. in terms i of the cost, how does that work out? the more units you put in, the lower the cost, but the costs are still substantial. the question is, is this the best investment to make? we all passionately want to keep children and young people in schools and we just but they want to improve outcomes for children and young people. the question is, is this where money is best spent and that's what we're trying to establish with the trial. we need a solid evidence
base so policy decisions can be made and we are working with the department for education and department for education and department of health and social care to try to get that evidence so we can make the best possible decisions for children and young people. keeping windows open and using natural ventilation is free, but it can make people uncomfortable but how well does it do the trick versus paying for units in classes?- paying for units in classes? that's exactly the _ paying for units in classes? that's exactly the sort _ paying for units in classes? that's exactly the sort of _ paying for units in classes? that's exactly the sort of question - paying for units in classes? that's exactly the sort of question we i paying for units in classes? that's i exactly the sort of question we need to address. ventilation is an incredibly powerful tool but not all schools are able to ventilate adequately. a number of schools are positioned in areas with very poor air quality so opening up windows may produce other adverse consequences. this is what we need to properly understand, the different benefits and disadvantages of various approaches. ventilation is a fantastically important tool but the question is, can we supplement that with technology. aha, 5upplement that with technology. a quick thought, this is 5omething quick thought, this is something that has been raised for a long time
and the pandemic has been going on for almost two years. why is it only now this is being rolled out? children have actually had three academic years disrupted, so this is the serious issue. the pandemic has made us all think afresh about what we really care for in society and i hope what this has done is shone a spotlight on desperate needs for children, young people and their education. they are the hope of our society. it's sad it has taken a pandemic to focus on children and young people but now let's make sure we take the opportunity to think through holistically how we support every aspect of a child and young person's life in order to give them the best possible start in life. "robust contingency plans" are being developed by government ministers, amid warnings that a quarter of public sector workers could soon be off work because of covid. rising case numbers have led to large numbers
of employees self—isolating, with absences particularly affecting the nhs and the transport industry. colenzo jarrett—thorpe is the national officer for health at the unite union. he had this assessment of the nhs's position. the nhs has been chronically underfunded over the last 15, ten years or so, 12 years or so. this is just a symptom of that, because they haven't had the funding and investment, nhs staff are absolutely knackered and exhausted and are not able to cope with what's going on. they have been pushed to their limit over the last two years of the pandemic and there is already 100,000 vacancy shortage in the nhs so another 25% vacancy shortage, we don't know how the nhs and other public services are going to be able to cope. public services are going to be able to co e. :, public services are going to be able to coe. :, ,, public services are going to be able tocoe. :, ., , ,:, to cope. can you give examples of what could — to cope. can you give examples of what could potentially _ to cope. can you give examples of what could potentially be - to cope. can you give examples of what could potentially be the i to cope. can you give examples of. what could potentially be the impact on services? the what could potentially be the impact on services?— on services? the impact on people, for example. _ on services? the impact on people, for example, where _ on services? the impact on people, for example, where they _ on services? the impact on people, for example, where they have i on services? the impact on people, for example, where they have a i on services? the impact on people, for example, where they have a gp| on services? the impact on people, l for example, where they have a gp or any sort of primary care point, they are not going to be able to be seen
and that might miss vital signs and symptoms for much more serious illnesses. that's going to be the impact. and if waiting times are longer people would be queueing in a&e longer, people not not be able to get a gp appointment. people will have appointments cancelled. in schools, our kids are told to open a window because they don't have the ventilation equipment in the school. there will be impacts everywhere, throughout public services because of the omicron virus and we are asking for there to be contingency plans. asking for there to be contingency lans. ~ :, asking for there to be contingency lans. ~ . :, asking for there to be contingency lans. ~ :, :, asking for there to be contingency plans. what would those contingency lans look plans. what would those contingency plans look like? _ plans. what would those contingency plans look like? in _ plans. what would those contingency plans look like? in the _ plans. what would those contingency plans look like? in the trade - plans. what would those contingency plans look like? in the trade union i plans look like? in the trade union movement — plans look like? in the trade union movement and _ plans look like? in the trade union movement and in _ plans look like? in the trade union movement and in unite _ plans look like? in the trade union movement and in unite in - plans look like? in the trade union. movement and in unite in particular we have been asking for these measures to be put in place for some time. better ppe, giving access to the ppe that people need. we have been asking for that for two years now. it is still not the case, some people are still denied the ppe they
need. better ventilation in workplaces to make sure there is ventilation in workplaces. i am told that we have research that says it costs £140 million to put ventilation into schools, that they need. and also social distancing. the measures to bring back social distancing in society and in the workplace came far too late, far too late and that should have been in place before this current crisis and long before the government actually said there should be social distancing and mask wearing a game. measures like thatjust need to be put in place to make sure that we are able to resist 0micron as much as possible and keep people at work, keep people seeing family and friends and keep people doing what they are doing to get through this. in terms of contingency planning, trying to mitigate when workers are unable to turn up because they are isolating because of covid, do you have any suggestions on that front? there are suggestions.
0bviously one of the things about the members we represent, we represent health care scientists, speech and language therapists, pharmacies, you can't get these workers, just pick them up because they need to be trained and that is where we have shortages with these workers. to make sure people will come back to work and there is a contingency workforce, retired people, recently people who have left the service, to come back into the service, that would be the way to do that. sorry to interrupt, is that being done and are people coming back? there has been some attempts to do that over the last couple of years and obviously when the first wave of the pandemic came around, there was a big volunteering programme and there was a programme that allowed people to come back so some people have come back but obviously that is needed right now so whether we can draw on those
people that are willing to put themselves forward. the processes to allow people to put themselves forward and that has to be easier. i know we have to go through necessary checks to make sure people are who they say they are and have the skills they claim they have but that process needs to be made easier and there have been plans to make sure people do have the proper qualifications to do that. just some of these sorts of measures could be taken to make sure that people have actually done that. and nhs staff are working overtime and they ought to be paid for doing overtime and that is something we are trying to ensure. when people do work overtime, they're paid for it but that has to be done as well. we don't want nhs staff to burn out as well so people have to be given the right to have their holidays and their breaks and the time off and we know the nhs have put lots of measures in place to actually help people with their mental health and to recover so we know
that is happening, but we need more of that and it has to be something that is consistently put through the nhs. itjust can't be a one—off measure. lebanon is ending the year in a state of paralysis. its cabinet hasn't met for two months, the currency continues to lose value and the investigation into 2020's port blast in beirut has stalled, amid deep political divisions. elections are due this year but arguments over the date have led to fears they won't happen at all. 0ur middle east correspondent anna foster reports. for lebanon, the last year has been a fight for survival. a battle for a dwindling supply of medicines, for electricity, as the country descended into darkness, and even for the most basic goods like food and fuel.
in october, seven people died in violent clashes that took a generation back to the civil war. the hours of fighting here that day were sparked by rows about the investigation into 2020's devastating beirut port explosion. influential political figures have fought hard against giving evidence and that means the investigation has been suspended again and again. for survivors and bereaved families, there is still no closure. hiam's son ahmed was one of more than 200 people who died.
the one it finally got back in september has achieved little. the currency has lost more than 90% of its value and thousands of families are living in poverty. in the next few months, there should be elections but political parties can't agree on the date and there are fears they won't happen at all. what we feel and what we sense is that the political class is a big opponent of these elections because this might change the ruling parties and this might bring in a new blood to the parliament which mightjeopardise the power of these political parties. the international community has made it clear that it won't help lebanon until the country helps itself. based on the last year,
the prospects for the next one look bleak. anna foster, bbc news, beirut. a german sea rescue charity has taken hundreds of migrants to pozzallo, in sicily, after a week—long search for a port that would accept them. crew members say the group includes more than 200 unaccompanied children. gail maclellan reports. saved from leaky and overcrowded migrant boats, 440 of the lucky ones. the german non—governmental organisation sea watch rescued those on board in five separate operations. mostly from africa, the migrants have all come through libya and ended up in danger deep in the middle of the mediterranean. almost half the migrants are minors, most of them unaccompanied. it took a week for sea watch to find a port in italy where they could go ashore.
finally, authorities gave permission for them to disembark in sicily. the ship is one of several operated in the mediterranean by charities and the head of mission for sea watch explained why they undertake such voyages despite criticism. i think it is quite a problematic angle to look at, because what we really need to look at is the people continually drowning in the central mediterranean sea. there is a high number of deaths. we witness from aeroplanes that people are trying to cross no matter the temperature, no matter the wind, no matter the weather, you know, the time of the year. for me, we need to actually talk about why so many people have to drown and the reason for that is that all state capacity has been pulled back and no state organises search and rescue programmes and this is the action we need to talk about. almost 68,000 migrants
disembarked in italy in 2021. almost double the number who arrived the previous year, putting further pressure on prime minister mario draghi's government and the european union to find a solution. gail mclennan, bbc news. now it's time for a look at the weather. hello. after yesterday's record breaking mild new year's day, a lot of mild weather around for the rest of today. in terms of the weather, we have a few scattered showers, some of them heavy. you may have already had a few cracks of thunder, especially across the south of the country. this is what it looks like at 6pm. 11 celsius in london, 9 celsius there in the lowlands of scotland. you can see where the showers are spreading across some parts of the country through the course of the evening and night. a change taking place in scotland. a weather front arrives, behind it we have much colder air, there is a possibility of some snow and stronger winds in places across scotland through the course of the night and the early hours of the morning as well, central and southern scotland.