this is bbc news. i'm lukwesa burak with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. more than 150,000 people in the uk have now died, within 28 days of a positive covid test since the pandemic began. a serenade to novak djokovic who says he had a vaccine exemption to enter australia because he had covid last month. at least 21 people have died in north eastern pakistan, after heavy snowfall traps thousands in their vehicles. time to shine — the james webb telescope — the biggest observatory sent into orbit, successfully unfolds its mirrored panels.
hello, and welcome to audiences in the uk and around the world. more than 150,000 people in the uk have now died, within 28 days of a positive covid test. another 313 deaths have been reported in the latest daily figures. the uk is the seventh country to pass this number of official deaths — afterthe us, brazil, india, russia, mexico, and peru. 0ur health correspondent, catherine burns, reports. how do you begin to imagine 150,000 people? it's almost the entire population of oxford, a city, like others, where the pandemic has caused so much pain. the first death within 28 days
of a positive covid test was recorded in the uk on the 6th of march, 2020. five weeks later, more than 10,000 people had died. sabir—hussain mirza was oxford's first muslim councillor. mostly, though, he was a family man — married with ten children. they relied on video calls when he went to hospital. we would be like, "come on, dad, get better quickly and come back." but one day, sabir stopped answering his phone. he'd been put on a ventilator. after almost three weeks, doctors said some of the family could visit him for the last time. i said to him, "i love you, and i want you to know that i will always love you, and i will never forget you." you just can't come to terms with someone actually telling you that your father's left this world. sabir was buried next to his younger brother. he'd died the day before in the same hospital, killed by the same disease. as the pandemic spread
through society, the death toll rose rapidly, but scientists in this city were also working at speed, racing to find a vaccine, and by the end of april 2020, the oxford astrazeneca team was already testing it on volunteers in clinical trials, and as the year came to a close there was a real sense of optimism as both this and the pfizer vaccine were approved. january last year was a turning point — it saw more deaths than at any other time, over32,000. but by the end of the month almost half a million people had had their first dose of a vaccine. she was looking forward to the vaccine coming along. traceyjones turned 50 in lockdown. she didn't make it to 51. she said to me, "i feel very, very ill." isaid, "i know, my darling, they're going to put you to sleep and you'll be better." she said to me, "look after stephen," and those were the last words i ever heard from her. neil and tracey were a team, caring for their son stephen
who has special needs. i had to tell him, unfortunately, "mum has gone to heaven now," and he hugged me and cried. no one could come and see her. we were left to grieve on our own, really. it's very hard, especially when you have a special needs son, and you don't want him to see you crying, but sometimes you just had to go away and have a little cry. the pandemic has seen too many sad milestones. in november, 2020, the death toll stood at 50,000. just 11 weeks later, it reached 100,000. vaccines helped slow that pace right down and it's taken almost another year to get to this point. i'm so glad that he retired when he did, early. robin birchmore was 63 and his invitation for a vaccine came through two days after he died. in hospital, he had one last video call with his daughter. he kept saying, "i'm struggling, i'm struggling to breathe," and i said to him,
"hurry up and get better," and he said, "i'm trying." that was the last time i spoke to him. camilla's nan had also died from covid. 0n the night after her funeral the call came, it was time to say goodbye to her dad, as well. it was horrendous, horrendous. the doctor said, "here's your dad," and i went, "that's not my dad." i didn't even recognise him because of all the tubes. you say your goodbyes and then you have to walk away from them. the uk has reported 150,000 deaths before any country in the eu. there is hope, though, that this pandemic will never again bring suffering on such a scale. catherine burns, bbc news. the uk prime minister, borisjohnson, has issued a statement on the number of deaths. in it, he says...
for more on the uk's handling of the covid—19 pandemic, i've been speaking to professor lawrence gostin, director of the world health organisation's center on public health and human rights. it's true that the united kingdom and my own country, the united states, was among the world's worst performers. and that's staggering, because i was on the board
of the global health security index and, before the pandemic, we ranked the uk and the us among the highest in the world in their preparation. but it didn't turn out that way, and i think it's because of a combination of loss of public trust in science and public health, an overwhelmed health system, and just the failure to take the political steps that needed to be taken early on to limit the number of deaths, as other countries have been able to do. what do you think was the source of that loss of trust? was that always there and exposed during the pandemic, or was it created? you know, ithink it was exacerbated. there was always a certain loss of trust, you know, in my country in particular, in the us, but also in the uk, there's a kind of feeling about, "what are my rights?
what does government owe me?" and we don't think enough about what we owe to our neighbours and ourfamilies, and our country and our world. and so, we unraveled. so, there was this desperate loss of trust, there was political divisiveness no matter what was happening, whether it was lockdowns, mask mandates, compulsory vaccination in parts of the world — so many things where the loss of trustjust broke down and was exacerbated. and i should also say that, while covid in one sense it affected us all, it affected us very unequally. in the united kingdom and in the united states, there were gross inequities in the burden of covid and the number of deaths, particularly among the poor and ethnic minorities, racial minorities.
and that's something that we really need to focus on going forward. well, let's move it forward, professor. according to the who, how do you think this can be fixed in time for the next pandemic? well, i think there are some clear lessons learned. i mean, the first one is that we really have to build in much greater resilience into our health systems, including the nhs, which of course is among the health systems in the world. but it doesn't have surge capacity, so there was a shortage of critical care beds, and even a shortage of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other things. and even going forward now, two years on, there are shortages of, say, effective antiviral medications that people can take at home, and even some testing shortages — certainly in my country,
maybe less so in the uk, but still there. so, that's one thing we need to focus on — equity, and notjust national equity, but global equity, making sure that everyone gets a chance to get a vaccine to avoid the horrible variants that we're seeing. france has reported 303,669 new coronavirus cases in the past 2a hours, despite strict covid pass measures. the figures come as demonstrations were held against even tougher rules which would see unvaccinated people largely banned from any public space. france also has strict mask—wearing restrictions. tennis star novak djokovic is facing fresh controversary after photos have emerged of him in public, without a mask, at around
the time his lawyers say he tested positive for covid—19. australia has banned him from entering the country to defend his australian open title because he has refused vaccination. his lawyers say he doesn't need one, as his infection was confirmed by pcr test on 16 december — and he has since recovered. djokovic posted these images to his twitter page on 17 december. he's pictured at an event the day before commemorating his own personal stamp. it's unclear whether djokovic knew he had covid when these photos were taken. the serbian tennis association also has photographs of djokovic handing out awards to young players around that time. he's currently in an immigration detention centre ahead of an appeal hearing on monday. the bbc�*s shaimaa khalil
reports from melbourne. the world's top tennis player is spending the weekend in an immigration detention hotel. and his supporters have turned up for a third day. this is novak djokovic arriving in melbourne on wednesday. the documents his legal team presented to the court state he'd received the exemption from tennis australia, with a follow—up letter from the home affairs department, saying he was allowed into the country. his legal team added that onjanuary 1st, djokovic received a document from home affairs, telling him his responses indicated he met the requirements for a quarantine—free arrival into australia. what's becoming clear is a breakdown in communication among those making
the decisions, and what the judge has to look at and examine is exactly which rules apply. is it state government rules or federal government rules? and until a decision is made about whether novak djokovic can remain in australia, the world no 1 is still stuck in this immigration detention hotel, and in the middle of a huge controversy. this particular set of incidents, the victorian government's not briefed on the matter. in terms of how people got into the country, that's a matter for the federal government. last night, his mother offered some reassurance. he said he's ok, but i'm not so sure. but he's mentally very stable, and he's waiting. the tennis tournament is only a few days away, and what's normally one of the biggest highlights here is turning into a political and a diplomatic embarrassment for australia. shaimaa khalil, bbc news.
in northeastern pakistan after their cars were at least 21 people have died in freezing temperatures in northeastern pakistan after their cars were trapped in heavy snow. the chief minister of punjab province has declared the mountain resort town of murree — where 1,000 vehicles are still stranded — as a "disaster area" and has urged people to stay away. janey mitchell reports. a day trip to enjoy the spectacle of the first snowfall of the season turned to tragedy. tens of thousands, including families, flocked to the popular resort town after snow began falling on tuesday. many travelled from islamabad ill—equipped to deal with the blizzard conditions. the pakistani army has been brought in to help clear snow and rescue those trapped. and the hope is to begin air lifts when conditions allow. translation: helicopter service will soon be started, _ but the weather is not
good right now. as soon as the weather gets better, god willing, we will start helicopter service to rescue any people stranded. many of the casualties died from hypothermia as temperatures fell to —8 celsius. others were reported to have been asphyxiated by exhaust fumes as they kept engines running to keep warm. vehicles were trapped as the narrow mountain roads became clogged with the sheer number of vehicles. others were blocked by fallen trees brought down by the weight of snow. local people are delivering blankets and food to those stranded. on friday, the government closed all roads leading to murree to stop any further influx. pakistan's prime minister has expressed his shocked and upset at the deaths. he suggested that the local administration was caught unprepared. he has ordered an inquiry to ensure such a tragedy does not happen again.
janey mitchell, bbc news. an air strike on a refugee camp in northern ethiopia is reported to have killed more than 50 people. there's been no independent confirmation of the attack in tigray, but pictures on social media show injured civilians being treated in hospital. fighting on the ground between federal forces and tigrayan rebels has halted, but air strikes have continued. a spokesman for the tigray people's liberation front, called the incident �*a callous drone attack�* by the government. the family of an outspoken university professor in afghanistan have called on the taliban to release him after he was detained on saturday. it's not known where faizullahjalal is. he had criticised the taliban leadership, telling them they couldn't deliver anything by beating and killing people.
his daughter, hasina jalal, has posted a message on twitter saying she hasn't been able to contact him since he was detained, and is calling for international support to demand that he be freed. the kazakh authorities have detained the former head of the country's domestic intelligence agency, karim massimov, on suspicion of high treason. it's fuelled speculation that the violence of recent days may be linked — at least in part — to a power struggle within the ruling party. mr massimov previously served twice as prime minister under kazakhstan's former long—standing president, nursultan nazarbayev. the funeral service for former us senate majority leader harry reid has taken place in las vegas. 82—year—old reid died nearly two weeks ago after a four—year battle with pancreatic cancer. he served in congress for more than four decades. former president barack 0bama delivered the eulogy.
few people have done more for this state and this country than this driven, brilliant, sometimes irascible, deeply good man from searchlight, nevada. nasa says the james webb telescope is now full deployed in space. scientists have successfully unfolded the final mirrored part of the observatory. the telescope was sent in to orbit last month. it aims to unlock the mysteries of the early universe. later this year images will be sent back to earth. nathalie 0uellette is an astrophysicist at the university of montreal, and is involved in the james webb project. we've been talking a lot
about 1k days of terror, all of these deployments going on — but really, it's all gone off without a hitch, so we couldn't ask for better. what's next, then? there are so many parts that could have gone wrong, but let's look forward to what the next milestone is. absolutely. so starting in a few days, we're going to be aligning the mirrors, so it can take clear images of space. and so, the mirror�*s made of 18 individual segments that can be moved individually — so they will be going on for several months and we also need to cool down the telescope to very cool temperatures, —230 celsius, and we'll be able to then turn on all the instruments, make sure they work to finally start doing science. has it actually arrived at its final destination, known as l2, hasn't it? that's right — not quite yet. we think around 23 january, it will be in l2, as he said. canada is one of three partners taking part in this fantastic project — what is canada's contribution?
because it's really key in terms of the images we're going to see — without you, we would not be getting those images. absolutely, this is really exciting, i'm so happy to be outreach scientist with a mission in canada. the canadian contribution is a double instrument — one is a scientific instrument called meares, which will be able to study exoplanets, find out if they are habitable and very far—away galaxies, but also, the fine guidance sensor — which is, as mentioned, mission critical. it will be the eyes of the telescope which will allow the telescope to point in a precise and stable manner to make sure it's taking clear images for every single observation. 0k, we're fast running out of time but, once that data starts to come in, what are you hoping to see? so, i am very excited to look at the very first galaxies ever created, 200 million years after the big bang. we've never been able to look that far into the past, so that is something i'm looking forward to.
the president of turkmenistan has ordered his officials to find a way to put out a fire that's been burning for decades in a huge desert crater, nicknamed the gateway to hell. mystery surrounds how the darvaza gas crater in the karakum desert formed and began to burn. the president, gurbanguly berdymukhamedov, wants it extinguished for environmental and health reasons, but also as part of efforts to increase gas exports. i've been speaking to canadian explorer george kourounis, the first person ever to descend to the bottom of the crater. he told me how he managed to do it. it was very challenging. i was the expedition leader on a project that was assigned to go here and gather soil samples from the bottle of this burning pit of methane gas in order to study it and see
if there are extremophile bacteria living at the bottom of this crater that could give us clues as to where we might want to look for a life outside of our solar system. and this is a very unique place on earth, there is no other spot just like it. well, it was very difficult to get there — two years or so of planning and preparation. i had a special heat—resistant suit and self—contained air. i was able to drop down in the centre and spend 17 minutes at the bottom in what felt like another planet — it really was otherworldly, and we did find several types of microorganisms living in that crater that were not in the dna database, and were thriving in this condition that we would find fatal. so was this a sink hole, then? actually, just take us through how people think it was formed. there's a bit of controversy
as to how we believe it was formed, but essentially, there was a sinkhole that formed and caused a drilling rig basically harvesting this methane gas to collapse — it's about 30 metres deep and 70 metres wide. most seem to believe it happened in 1971, but there's evidence to suggest that it actually happened in the 1960s, and it wasn't lit on fire until the 1980s. now i understand that natural sources of methane include wetlands, termites, which i didn't know about, the oceans and, of course, mining, as well. so where do we think that the source of methane came from? well, the karakum desert is home to vast expanses of ancient methane gas, from ancient microorganisms that lived there millions of years ago. and an interesting thing is that when i was in turkmenistan doing this large expedition, we had two geologists with us from the turkmen government, and they mentioned to me back in 2013 that they
were thinking about finding a way to drill in at an angle to tap into that market of natural gas. certainly it would be of economic benefit to turkmenistan, but also this crater has become literally the country's largest tourist attraction. so i'm kind of surprised to hear that the president is making these decisions. yeah, what are the locals make of it? do they want it put out? well, there are no locals! this is a very remote part of the desert, and it has been implied that part of the reason is financial, but part of the reason is to protect the local population. but this is a very, very remote place. at one point, the president was adamant that the police should be completely bulldozed and the fire extinguished. then several years later, he was using as the backdrop for some of his own displays of his influence. so it's mixed messages certainly coming out of turkmenistan. i just want to go back to something you said — the organisms that you said
were found down there, are you saying they're from outer space? no, i'm not implying that they are from outer space! i'm implying that the organisms that live in this hot methane—rich environment might give us clues as to where we might want to look on other planets that also have hot methane. ah — quickly and finally, do you think this fire can be put out? the fire certainly can be put out, there's no question about that. it's just whether or not it is beneficial to put it out from an environmental aspect. raw methane, unburned is actually more of a greenhouse gas than burning it and releasing carbon dioxide rather than methane. so it's actually a little bit better for it to burn them not. and at the same time, well, it is a tourist attraction, there is a fence around it now and flush toilets and picnic tables. marilyn bergman, the song lyricist, who, together with her husband alan, wrote hundreds of songs, has died at the age of 93.
the pair wrote lyrics for hits like "the way we were" for hollywood films, winning three 0scars, and garnering 16 nominations. you're watching bbc news. hello again. it was quite a wet and windy start to the weekend. saturday brought widespread outbreaks of rain. the wettest place, northwest wales, picking up 3a milimetres of rain. the strong winds towards the isle of wight pushing the waves into the coastline here. towards the end of the day, we had a lovely sunset in dumfries and galloway in west scotland. now, the driving area of low pressure that brought the wet and windy weather on saturday is here, and it's still on the charts through sunday. what's going to happen is it's going to weaken significantly as it moves its way across scotland. however, it will still be bringing a little bit of rain with that across parts of scotland and northern england as well. now, for the time being, we've still got some fairly brisk winds blowing in there, bringing scattered showers across western areas. there is a little bit of sleet mixed in with some of these across the high ground,
scotland, northern england, northern ireland as well, with temperatures close to freezing but on the whole, just staying above except in northern scotland, where temperatures could get down to about —5 in the deeper valleys in aberdeenshire. now, for many, it's going to be a fine start to the day, but that area of low pressure is going to push this band of rain across scotland, northern ireland, and though the afternoon, the rain moves its way across northern england. it will turn lighter and patchier, perhaps reaching the north of wales late in the day. still across the midlands, east anglia, most of southern england, a lot of dry weather. we end the day but this band of light patchy rain pushing into cornwall. well, that is associated with this warm front, and that warm front is going to picket its way into the uk as we go through monday. now, with that, yes, will come mild air, but there will be a lot of cloud around, mist and fog patches quite common around the coasts and hills. it will be quite damp at times with a bit of light rain and drizzle, bit of heavier rain into western scotland where a cold front will begin to move in late in the day. temperatures — the mildest across western areas of the uk just ahead of this front.
in the east, a little bit cooler, highs of around seven celsius or so. now, by tuesday, this is our cold front now pushing its way southwards across england and wales. that will clear outbreaks of rain southwards. a mixture of bright spells and showers for scotland. a lot of dry weather in between for northern ireland, northern england and north wales as well. you will notice the cooler air is starting to move back in from the north and west. temperatures here around 7—8 celsius, the mildest air in the south. now, beyond that, high pressure is going to build into the south of the uk. and that may increase in the week ahead the weather will become fine and dry with some sunny spells.
the headlines: more than 150,000 people in the uk have now died within 28 days of a positive covid test. prime minister borisjohnson offered his condolonces to those who'd lost loved ones. tennis star novak djokovic faces more controversy after footage emerged of him in public around the time his lawyers say he tested positive for covid—19. they're claiming the infection exempts him from australia's vaccine rules, where he's currently detained in an immigration hotel after being barred from entering the country. at least 21 people have died in freezing temperatures in northeastern pakistan after their cars were trapped in heavy snow. the chief minister of punjab province has declared the mountain resort town of murree — where1,000 vehicles were stranded — as a "disaster area", now on bbc news, it's time