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THE BRIEF WITH BIANCA NOBILO
WHO: Global Threat Level "Very High"; 820+ Infections In Italy, Entire Towns Under Quarantine; Iran Takes Drastic Measures To Prevent Spread; Coronavirus Outbreak: Concerns Grow Over Possible Flare-Up In Africa; First Case Of "Community Spread" In United States; Coronavirus Outbreak: Stocks Post Worst Week Since 2008 Financial Crisis; Volunteers Helping Workers Affected By Wuhan Lockdown; Turkey Reports New Attack On Its Troops In Syria; Police: Paris Train Station Fire Brought Under Control; Democrats Make Final Pitch Ahead Of South Carolina Vote; Prince Harry Rocks With Bon Jovi at Abbey Road. Aired 5-5:30p ET
Aired February 28, 2020 - 17:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: CNN. Tonight on the show, the time to prepare is now. The World Health Organization warns that the risk from coronavirus is
"very high." As nations around the globe brace for the worse. We'll also hear from volunteers risking their own lives to help strangers.
And it could be a make or break moment. It's the eve of the U.S. presidential primary in South Carolina.
Good to see you. I'm Robyn Curnow. Welcome to the show. So at this hour there is a global panic as governments trying to stop the spread of the
coronavirus. New infections are appearing in new places every day.
Regional outbreaks are expanding in Europe and the Middle East and the World Health Organization says, the global threat is very high. But, they
say, it is still possible to contain the epidemic if countries take aggressive measures now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected
countries over the last few days are clearly of concern. The key to containing this virus is to break the chain of transmission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: So I want to break down some of the latest headlines for you. This is what we know at this hour. Nigeria is reporting its first infection. The
first in Sub-Saharan Africa. The number of infections in Italy, meanwhile, has spiked by more than 500 on Friday alone.
South Korea, the largest hotspot outside of China is waiting for hundreds of new test results to come in this weekend. Meanwhile, Iran is suspending
parliament sessions next week until further notice. And fears over the virus have wiped out $6 trillion - yes, 6 trillion from the global markets.
So there's a lot to talk about. And of course, this is CNN, we covering the story from all angles from around the globe from Milan to Beijing. We look
at the human impact as well as the economic toll, and even the growing political fallout.
Now the place where the coronavirus may be spreading the fastest right now is in Italy. The number of cases there, as I said, has exploded in recent
days. At least 821 people are infected. We know 21 people have died in Italy. And Italy has the most cases of any European country by so far.
Several other cases across Europe come from people who recently returned from trips to Italy, so that is where we find our Ben Wedeman. Hi Ben with
all the latest What can you tell us?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we can tell you Robyn is that the actual number of people who have been infected by
coronavirus in Italy, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency is 888. 46, fortunately have recovered, 21 dead.
And just to put that number in perspective, I arrived in Italy on Tuesday, and on that day, the number of people infected was 322. So these numbers
are growing dramatically. What we've heard from the Italian authorities today, there was a press conference of local officials and medical experts,
is that they are struggling to deal with this crisis.
In Lombardy, where we are this, province, this region, they reported 531 cases and warranted that if the numbers continue to increase, they will run
out of hospital beds in which to hold these sick. Also, we heard at that press conference that these so called "red zones."
These are areas where the outbreak began in large numbers were about 50,000 people live and are not allowed to leave those areas and nobody is allowed
in. Those have been in place for a week. Today it was announced that they would be in place for at least another week. This comes at the same time
that schools are closed, universities are closed.
The Duomo, the great Cathedral of Milan behind me, did open its doors for the first time in a week for worshippers. Although, it's not actually
holding mass properly. But, really, ordinary life in this part of the country has come to a screeching halt. There's not panic, so to speak.
People seem to be fairly level headed about the actual dangers of this virus. But there is concern and concern that this is only going to get
CURNOW: OK, so screeching to a whole taking it slow. What is the impact there on the Italian economy?
WEDEMAN: Well, certainly so far what we're hearing is some fairly disturbing numbers. The Italian Tourism Federation expects that industry,
which employs around 3 million people here is going to take a hit of around EUR 5 billion. Hotel cancellations are up in Italy as a whole by around 40
percent. In Milan itself 70 percent.
Now keep in mind, that Northern Italy is really the industrial engine of this country, highly dependent on exports. But, of course, you see, with
the general global contraction as a result of the coronavirus, this is going to have some long lasting impacts on the economy of Italy and
specifically on this part of the country, Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes, it certainly will. Ben Wedeman, great to have you there on the ground. Thanks.
Now, Iran is taking drastic measures as well, suspending parliament, canceling Friday prayers, closing schools and universities, all to limit
the spread of the coronavirus. 34 people, we know, have died there, almost 400 people infected in the regional epicenter and it shows certainly no
signs of slowing down. Well, Frederik Pleitgen tells us more. Fred.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An all too common sight in Iran cities these days, citizens wearing face masks
hoping to dodge the novel coronavirus. The mood in Tehran between concern and defiance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We're not afraid of the news about the arrival of coronavirus in Iran. This man says, we request our
government to provide people with the necessary information.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): And this woman adds, as the coronavirus entered the country, it is clear that there is a fear for
everyone, and we asked the government to prevent it.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): And the government is escalating its measures to combat the outbreak, cancelling Friday prayers in many cities, one of the
first times in the history of the Islamic Republic.
And disinfecting public spaces like the Tehran Metro at least once per day. But while streets and public transport are emptier, pharmacies in Iran are
packed. While, the country is suffering from medical shortages due to international sanctions, customers at this pharmacy and Tehran are stocking
up on supplies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Regarding coronavirus, which has become serious these days and state TV officially announced it, this
pharmacist says, people massively come to buy antibacterial materials and different masks. Tehran has become a hotbed for the novel coronavirus in
the Middle East.
Almost all neighboring countries have closed their borders with the Islamic Republic and top level politicians are also infected. The most recent case,
Iran internationally prominent Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar. Iranian authorities saying she's currently being treated after testing positive.
Iran's Deputy Health Minister recently confirmed he contracted the virus after being seen clearly unwell during a press conference.
Iran now says the coronavirus has spread to more than 20 provinces in the country. The epicenter, still being Qom, about 90 miles south of Tehran.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The least expectation is to provide people, and especially students, and in universities with masks
with filters, gloves, antibacterial gel and tell people this is very serious and close to us in Qom City, this woman says.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): So far, the Iranian government says it will not quarantine Qom or other cities affected by the coronavirus, hoping the
measures currently in place will be effective and help curb the outbreak. Frederik Pleitgen CNN, Berlin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: So in Nigeria now health officials say they could handle a potential outbreak, that's after a traveler from Italy became the first
coronavirus case in Sub-Saharan Africa. Well, the World Health Organization said an outbreak in Africa would be worse than in China.
And David McKenzie now reports the continent is now bracing for possible new cases, David.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we do know is that the African CDC has been really ratcheting up the diagnostic potential of these countries,
because that really is the key here. When you have a case like this, in this case from Northern Italy arriving in Nigeria, you first have to have
those frontline detection facilities like they have in Nigeria. Now as you come into the airport, testing for any symptoms or temperature.
Then it's about diagnostics, and they managed to rapidly diagnose this case, just less than 48 hours. Now there is no communal transmission yet in
Nigeria. This will be a big test for the health system there. But in the past - the recent past, Nigeria was lauded for stopping an Ebola outbreak
in its tracks when a case was imported to their country from neighboring countries. So they have experienced in this.
On a broader scale, they really need to up the diagnostics for the rest of the continent. In just the next few weeks, at least 20 countries will be
able to diagnose for the coronavirus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: OK. Thanks, David, for that they're in Johannesburg.
So now to the U.S. health officials are trying to figure out the first case of coronavirus community spread. So that's where the source of the
infection is unknown. A patient in California was overlooked by the CDC, because she had not traveled or been in contact with anyone infected. But
now that patient is in a serious condition and intubated, and the CDC has now changed its protocols.
Well, Nick Watt joins us now from Los Angeles with more on all of this. So, hi, Nick, good to see you. So just explain to us what this means by
community spreads. Essentially, did this person get sick from the surface of something? How did this happen?
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's unclear. They're still trying to figure out how this woman caught the coronavirus. And that is what's
worrying them. Listen, there are now 62 cases in this country, but most of them are people who traveled abroad. A lot of people who were on that
Diamond Princess cruise ship, and were brought back here.
But this woman had no contact with anybody who was known to be known to have tested positive and she herself had not traveled overseas. So that
makes officials worried that she caught it somehow just out there in the community, and that would be a major ramping up of the situation here.
And actually one of the health officials up there in Northern California where this woman is being treated, he said, "You know what? There are
probably many more people like her in the U.S., we just don't know about it yet." So the CDC's testing protocols are the things that people are really
focusing in on that.
As you mentioned, Robyn, this woman wasn't tested. She went into the hospital last Wednesday. She wasn't tested for the coronavirus until Sunday
because she hadn't traveled overseas and she hadn't been in contact with somebody that we know is positive.
Now, because of her, the U.S. has changed its policy. Now, if a doctor just suspect somebody might have coronavirus, then they can test it. And, you
know, the CDC also today did admit that the initial rollout of the testing plan didn't go quite as smoothly as they had hoped. There weren't enough
Some of the test kits that got sent out were in fact flawed. So that caused some delay. Now they're saying we're on it. And by the end of next week,
they are saying - the CDC is saying that they want every single state and every single local health department in the United States to be testing for
this coronavirus. Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes, they certainly were some early missteps in the U.S., Nick Watt, thanks for explaining that. Also is their live from Los Angeles.
CURNOW: So the fears surrounding the coronavirus has led to terrible, terrible week for the stock market. The Dow was down more than 1,000
points. Take a look at these numbers that is low on Friday. Wow. Now this was before an extraordinary rally in just the last few moments of trading.
The three major U.S. stock indices posted their worst weekly percentage drops since 2008, which of course was the middle and the midst of that
financial crisis, we all remember. Nd Investors are worried as the coronavirus is certainly disrupting practically every single industry.
One of them, Disney, closing theme parks in Japan until mid-March. We know K-pop band BTS has cancelled four April concerts in Seoul. Next week's
Geneva Motor Show is being called off, easyJet has cancelled some flights to Italy, United Airlines is reducing flights to Japan. There's certainly
an effect and a global effect.
So at the epicenter, though of this coronavirus in that Chinese City of Wuhan, the lockdown and the travel restrictions are also taking a toll,
especially on migrant workers who are left stranded and homeless. David Culver reports on a group of volunteers trying to help them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, volunteers patrol Wuhan's
locked down streets. They spot a homeless couple in the cold, uncertain climate.
How do you eat every day they asked the couple?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We pick up leftover food.
CULVER (voice-over): The volunteers shocked by the harsh reality. The man said he had no choice he and his wife had been living on the streets for
days, the volunteers compelled to help, but the man and woman are not even from Wuhan. They were among the many migrant workers who are stranded here.
The city has been put under a severe lockdown since late January, an extreme policy, the government put in place to contain the virus from
spreading outside the city. The World Health Organization says it has been effective. But it's made life within increasingly difficult, many are
relying on volunteers providing blankets to get through the cold nights.
Hotels are too expensive. Those who are stranded here left scattered around the city's parking lots and underground passages, using them as shelters.
In one local park another group of volunteers is distributing free meals.
Local government has been hurrying to arrange hotels for those without shelter, but that takes time, so volunteers are stepping in to help out.
CNN scrolled through multiple online group chats. We found message after message of help asking for help. From a medical worker, looking for a ride
home, to those folks asking for masks and disinfectants.
Xu Liang, born and raised in Wuhan, he has both a car and a generous heart.
XU LIANG, VOLUNTEER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): When I was driving on the street, I found many people were not wearing masks, I couldn't understand why
initially. Then I realized they simply had nowhere to buy masks. So I deliberately looked for those who weren't wearing masks. Once I saw them, I
would hand that mask to them.
CULVER (voice-over): Xu also opened his door to others, recognizing the desperate need at times.
LIANG (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Helped pick up a couple. The wife was very pregnant and not feeling well. All the transportation had stopped, they had
no choice but to send out health messages.
CULVER (voice-over): The couple later delivering a healthy baby boy and sending Xu a message of gratitude. Wang Yong is another one of those
WANG YONG, (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Now we are heading to Jinyintan Hospital. It's a hospital for infectious diseases. They only take confirmed cases in
severe conditions. So it's a dangerous place.
CULVER (voice-over): He and his volunteer team had been dedicated to helping hospital staff. But despite percussions taken for an entire month,
he avoided going back to his own home to spare his family from potential exposure, and he kept quiet about it.
YONG (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): So you can imagine if I told someone what I was going to do, and taking such big risks, they would definitely not accept
CULVER (voice-over): Human compassion pushes through sterile boundaries, even if it means risking one's own health. David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Thanks, David for that report. So you're watching CNN. Still ahead, we're just hours away from a make or break contest for U.S. presidential
hopeful Joe Biden, we have that story also. We'll preview South Carolina's Democratic Party. That's straight ahead.
CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow. So, Turkey's defense ministry is reporting a new attack on its troops in Syria. It says government shelling
killed one Turkish soldier and wounded two others.
Now this comes just a day after an airstrike by Russian backed Syrian forces that killed 33 Turkish soldiers in Idlib Province. It was Turkey's
biggest loss of life in Syria by far since it first intervened in the war.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone today with Russian President Vladimir Putin and could meet him face to face next week in
Moscow. Mr. Erdogan also spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump about the humanitarian crisis in Idlib. They called on Russia and the Syrian regime
to stop their offensive in Syria's last rebel stronghold. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled the area in just the past two months.
Meanwhile, in Paris, police say a major fire at train station is now under control. That's good news. The blaze broke out at the Gare de Lyon station
earlier on Friday, sending massive plumes, as you can see here, of black smoke and flames into the sky. Emergency workers responded to the blaze and
evacuated the station. Even though the fire is though under control, police ask - still asking people to stay away from the station for now.
And Democrats battling to replace U.S. President Donald Trump are making their final pitches to voters in South Carolina. Polls open there in just a
few hours' time. And certainly this primary is especially critical for former Vice President Joe Biden. He's counting on the state to resurrect
his campaign and give him momentum, heading into Super Tuesday. Biden is expected to win South Carolina, but Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders
is hot on his heels, hoping to score an upset.
We'll speak to Josh Rogin after the break.
CURNOW: So the South Carolina primary is just hours away. I want to bring in our political analyst Josh Rogin. He's a columnist for "The Washington
Post." Josh, good to see you. Thanks for joining me. So what are you looking for in South Carolina? I know nothing is certain. But is this about
Joe Biden trying to reset the race?
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, that's exactly right. According to the latest polls, former Vice President Biden is up by anywhere from five
to 10 to 20 points depending on which poll you want to look at. And that sets a high bar of expectations for the former vice president as he seeks
his first primary win, heading into Super Tuesday only three days later.
And if he wins, he's alive. If he doesn't win, his campaign is in big trouble. And if he wins big, he might actually have momentum to head into
those states. But, whatever news comes out of South Carolina will be quickly overtaken by the news out of the Super Tuesday states where
actually Bernie Sanders is looking very, very strong and has been spending a lot more time. So this is a must win state for Joe Biden, but it doesn't
get him all the way where he needs to be.
CURNOW: OK. I want to talk about Super Tuesday just a moment. So it's also about reframing the narrative. So do you think it is just about Sanders
versus Biden or are the other candidates potentially likely to also pick up some sort of momentum?
ROGIN: Well, we'll see for the first time in South Carolina, Tom Steyer, having a significant turnout, which is something that he has failed to
produce. I think it will show actually a thinning of the race if other moderate candidates like Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar don't perform
I wouldn't expect anybody to drop out at this time, because they'll all have an argument as for why they shouldn't drop out. But as Sanders starts
to accumulate delegates in a pretty substantial way, the pressure for thinning the field opposing him inside the primary will grow and grow. And
eventually there will only be one or two of those spots to be had and that's why South Carolina is so crucial.
Of course, Michael Bloomberg hasn't competed in any of these states and is not competing in South Carolina, looms large over this, because he will
demand one of those spots opposing Sanders, when Super Tuesday comes.
CURNOW: And both Steyer and Bloomberg, essentially the rich guys in the race, and have thrown all sorts of money in terms of ads, we'll see if that
makes an impact.
I mean, this is also about the voters, and in particular, African-American voters, whether they're motivated, and also whether they think Biden is
their man. And they've traditionally gone with Joe Biden. What is the reading on the voter mood?
ROGIN: Well, I would say that voters are cautiously supporting Joe Biden in South Carolina, with concern that he's not up to the task of taking on
first Sanders and then Trump. And I think when you talk about African- American voters, who traditionally have been Biden supporters, the test will be how many of them go over to this Sanders campaign based on
Sanders's stronger showings in the previous contests.
And Sanders performed not so well in South Carolina in the 2016 primary. So if he can substantially increase his African-American support, that'll be a
big signal to all of us watching. And also the African- American turnout, which of course, was naturally very big when there was an African-American
at the top of the ticket. Even if they do support Biden, will they come out for him? Will they show up? And that's another big unknown that will tell
us a lot about what we need to know.
CURNOW: Yes, it certainly will. Josh Rogin, always great speaking to you. Thanks for joining me.
CURNOW: OK. So here's the story. Prince Harry is wrapping up his public engagements as a British Royal and enjoyed one perk of the job on Friday,
dropping in on a recording session with Jon Bon Jovi at Abbey Road Studios. You know that one, The Beatles, I think, might have made it a little bit
There they go. They reenacted The Beatles famous walk and posed for pictures. They were there to record a song for this year's Invictus Games,
Max Foster all the details Max.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Prince Harry, currently in the U.K., teaming out with Jon Bon Jovi, no less. He's written a song about military
veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a cause very close to Prince Harry's heart. And he's linking that song up with the Invictus
Games, which is also supporting military veterans.
Meanwhile, back in Canada, where the Sussexes are currently living, a bombshell statement really, from the Canadian government, saying, not just
that they've been providing security support to the Sussex family since November, but that that support will end when they transition out of the
Royal roles in March.
The big question that is who's going to pick up those security costs? Is it the family themselves? Is it the wider royal family? Or is it the British
government. A worrying development for the family themselves, but also a politically sensitive development for the British government. Many people
will be questioning whether or not the Sussexes should be publicly funded when they've moved out of their public roles. Max Foster, CNN London.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Thanks, Max for that. I'm Robyn Curnow. You've been watching CNN. "World Sport" is next enjoy