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tv   Newswatch  BBC News  March 6, 2020 7:45pm-8:01pm GMT

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and putting all our expectations in objects and not in feelings. she's an artist for our times, producing instagram—friendly sculptures loaded with meaning. from a pair of stilettos made out of stainless steel saucepans to a stack of plastic cutlery arranged to look like a heart. she says she wants to create a space for discovery. and joana is from the country of portugal. and if you look at the sculpture, those tiny little dots, when it's night time, they all light up. so you can see the sculpture from miles and miles around. bells clang. she's right. you can. will gompertz, bbc news, yorkshire.
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now it's time for newswatch. this week, samira ahmed puts the bbc‘s coverage of the coronavirus under scrutiny. hello and welcome to newswatch with me, samira ahmed. does the extensive air time the bbc is devoting to the coronavirus mean it's guilty of scaremongering? and how can reporters provide all the information on the virus that the public needs without encouraging a sense of panic? one subject has led almost all news bulletins this week, and it seems likely to remain top of the agenda for some time to come. here's hugh pym, on thursday's news at ten, reporting on warnings that the coronavirus was likely to spread further in the uk. the warnings today have been on the basis of a worst case scenario. case numbers may be less than expected, but health leaders feel they need to prepare hospitals, their staff and patients for a potentially very tough time ahead.
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while some viewers have applauded the way the topic‘s been handled — with a twitter user called jonathan posting this... but chris stapleton had a different view, asking, as well as the sheer extent of the coverage, including a number of special programmes on radio and television. the frequent references to the daily toll of new cases and deaths in the uk and worldwide concerns some viewers. here's alan cummings and first, alan collinson. every day i am hearing announcements such as "three more people have been diagnosed bringing the number infected to 90".
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no mention of the people who were diagnosed in the first three weeks, almost all of whom have now fully recovered. 90 is not the number of people who have the virus in the uk today, but the number who have ever had it. by this measure, you should be reporting that six billion people on earth have been infected with the flu virus — a true but misleading, sensationalist and unhelpful fact. like everyone else in this country, i'm concerned about the rise in cases in the coronavirus. when i sat down to watch the lunchtime news on bbc one on monday, the headline said there had been a surge in cases. i was naturally concerned. it later transpired the surge the headline was referring to was an increase over the two—day weekend of 23 cases. with a population of almost 60 million,
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23 cases, while newsworthy, is hardly dramatic enough to require the word "surge". bbc, just simply report the facts. don't use inflammatory and exaggerated headlines. well, taking time out from what must be a very busy period of reporting on the coronavirus outbreak is the bbc medical correspondent fergus walsh. thank you so much for coming on newswatch. i can remember, and i'm sure many viewers can remember, the huge coverage, the anxiety about the sars outbreak back in the early 2000s, others such as swine flu, avian flu, how does this situation compare? so i've covered all of those stories. i was in vietnam covering bird flu, which had a death rate of about 50%. sars, 10%. we've had mers, ebola. all of them, actually, with a higher death rate, but this has the biggest potential of any respiratory infectious
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disease spread through a cough or contaminated surface than we've seen in 50, maybe even 100 years so that is why this story, the new coronavirus, which only emerged three months ago, is getting such huge coverage because of its potential. now we're putting a huge amount of resources into this from our correspondents. first of all, in china, south korea. but then as it spread to italy, europe, iran and here in the uk. motjust health specialists and but also sport, the economy, business because this virus is having an extraordinary impact for everyone. and yet we, at the moment, havejust about 100,000 cases yet it's having this amazing impact. i think some of the anxiety we're getting from viewers‘ comments is about the volume of coverage
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creating a sense of fear, and as the specialist report, obviously you do the health medical aspect. how much coverage do you feel we need? you mentioned a huge range of topics there. don't shoot the messenger. i mean, this virus and the disease it causes, covid—19, are having a massive impact and i think it's unfair to blame the media on that. there's a huge amount we don't know about this virus and that's really the problem. we don't knowjust how many people it will infect, or has infected, and we don't really know how many people it may kill, but it has the potential to spread across the world and infect the large proportion of people everywhere. and although seasonal flu kills thousands of people in the uk each year and globally, maybe half a million people, this is worse than ordinary seasonal flu and so it has a bigger potential
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and there are so many unknowns about this that that makes calibrating the coverage quite difficult. i'm glad you mentioned the issue of, you know, why this is a bigger deal than flu, because there than flu, because there are viewers who say, until we've actually got deaths that are comparable, we should just focus on the fact the number of deaths there are, which in this country at the moment is is very, very small. and people feel that the too much talk about what might happen is fuelling some of that panic in britain. well, we are almost certainly heading for a major outbreak in britain. you just have to look at the number of cases in italy. hopefully it won't be 80% of the population. hopefully it will be far, far, far fewer than that. but even if it was a small proportion of the population, 10%, 20% got infected, it will have a significant impact. but one of the key things we try to do all the time is to emphasize
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what is the individual risk if you catch it. it's very clear that a lot of your reporting is focused on very much public service information and repeating this message at a time when a lot of british newspapers are running very, very alarmist headlines. and i wonder if more than ever the bbc news correspondents and editors‘ job feels like doing something very different to us news. —— doing something very different to news. i feel a personal sense of responsibility to get effective public health messaging out there. so i see headlines like killer virus and it makes a good headline in a newspaper. but what i try to do is give people information that sets this in context, sets it in to what you can do personally. and it may seem very obvious, but hand—washing really can dramatically reduce your risk of picking up infections. i've pointed out time and time again that the biggest viral threat
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in this country at the moment is not the new coronavirus, but seasonal flu. and i keep telling people how it spreads. and so i think we need to keep calibrating that and putting this in perspective. it's widely expected, as you've said, that uk infections will go up. has the bbc thought about whether it will need to change the tone of its reporting? so this is a virus that's going to be here and a disease that's going to be here for months, not weeks. so reporting every single death as a major headline, i think that will start to not be the case because we are going to have a rising death toll. but i think what we need to also focus on and what i'm trying to focus on is things like vaccines, how long that will take. i was holding a prototype vaccine in my gloved hands today,
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things like antivirals, rapid testing, all of the other aspects of how the nhs and how scientists generally are trying to respond to this emerging outbreak. there's a huge amount of viewer and listener interest in this. the main online page about coronavirus has had 25 million reads. we've had a bbc news special which got almost five million people watching it — far higher, over a million and a half higher, than the normal slot. and we've just launched a podcast, a weekly podcast, and hopefully that is where people can also get detailed information without any scaremongering, where they can feel better armed against this virus. fergus walsh, thank you very much.
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there was some respite over the weekend from a rather gloomy news agenda with the announcement that borisjohnson and his partner carrie simmons are engaged to be married and expecting a baby in the summer. but not everyone was filled with joy on watching bbc news reporting on that news. trevor webber emailed on sunday. and a twitter user called annie agreed. that charge of excessive airtime and an overexcited tone was also laid a few days later in relation to a very different story. here's emily maitlis on wednesday's newsnight in washington for the
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latest round of votes in the long contest to choose the democratic candidate for november's us presidential election. the electoral upset of the last few hours is pretty hard to overstate. vice presidentjoe biden is, if you like, the lazarus of this contest. he was left for dead just a few short weeks ago, emerging triumphant from super tuesday, winning ten states and the lion's share of the delegates. david burns was watching and had this response. thank you for all your comments this week. if you want to share your opinions about what you see or hear on bbc news, including its social media and online output email...
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or you can find us on twitter you can also call us. you might even end up appearing on the programme. that's all from us. we'll be back to hear your thoughts about bbc news coverage again next week. goodbye. from this weekend onwards, the weather is turning very unsettled again with spells of wind and rain. it is going to last as we head into next week as well. for many of us, through the first part of the night, it is going to be dry with clear skies, temperatures will tumble. further west, the first signs of this weather system moving in, bringing workload and outbreaks of rain. also strengthening winds, we could see a little bit of snow on higher ground of scotland. he coating to come, certainly eastern areas with a touch of frost. it will turn boulder out west. for the weekend, it is unsettled, though pressure takes control, it will be windy at times, outbreaks of rain will stop initially in the north—west of the country, then the
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wet and windy weather will sweep across the country during saturday night into sunday. and it is a blustery day with shine —— sunshine and showers. it will feel cool as well. that amount on saturday, gales andi well. that amount on saturday, gales and i the costs. 0utbreaks well. that amount on saturday, gales and i the costs. outbreaks of rain spreading east into sunday. it will be chilly with sunshine and showers heaviest in the west.
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this is bbc news, i'm lukwesa burak. the headlines... another big rise in the number of people infected by coronavirus in the uk, 163 people now have the virus. the government has pledged an extra £46 million for research into coronavirus vaccines and faster testing. it looks to me as though there will certainly be a substantial period of disruption when we have to deal with this outbreak. reassurance for shoppers. the government says retailers have robust plans in place to ensure people can buy the supplies they need, amid concerns that some

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