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Asia Markets Down Sharply After Wall Street Slide; California Cases Raises Concerns For Community Spread; At Least 33 Turkish Soldiers Killed In Syrian Airstrike; Japan's PM Asks Schools Close Starting Monday; 180 Million Students Being Homeschooled; East Africa Suffering Worst Attack in 25 Years. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 28, 2020 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[01:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world, I'm Michael Holmes. And coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM. Fears about the coronavirus dragging down global stock markets. We're now on track for the Dow's worst week in more than a decade.

The virus closing the doors of thousands of schools across the globe now. Hear how parents in Hong Kong are coping by homeschooling their children. And later, invasion of the locusts. Farmers fighting back against this crop-destroying pests maybe even worse by yes, climate change.

A warm welcome, everyone. With the novel coronavirus spreading across the globe, the contagion also dragging down financial markets from New York, to London, to Hong Kong. Have a look at this. The Dow plunging almost 1,200 points on Thursday. That is the single big -- single biggest one day point drop in history. The NASDAQ and S&P were also down about 4.5 percent, officially now in correction territory. And it was the fastest transition to correction in history as well.

Fears about the virus also impacting markets in Asia and Europe. Just have a look at the Asian markets. In fact, the Nikkei is clawed back in the last hour. Last hour was up nearly -- down nearly 4.5 percent, now 3.67. And you can see there the Hang Seng in Hong Kong, two and a half percent down, Seoul nearly 3.5 percent down, Shanghai in China three percent down, red arrows all round.

CNN has correspondents and analysts in position all around the world. We got Paula Hancocks in Seoul. Let's begin with journalist Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo, though. Yes, an extraordinary scene in New York on Wall Street. And just look at all those red arrows in your region. Tell us what the futures like.

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, this is another meltdown for equity markets in the Asian region. The Tokyo equity market just finished trading for the day. It is down over 800 points. That's a loss of more than 3.6 percent. Earlier on in the day, as you mentioned, it was down over 1,000 points testing this critical 21,000 mark.

So it looks like that is being repeated across the region as well. You're seeing the KOSPI in Korea down more than 3.4 percent. The ASX in Australia down over three percent as well. And even the Shanghai and Hong Kong markets which are both spared yesterday continuing to sell-off today. We're seeing investors talk about -- reminded of the 2008 financial crisis but they say unlike then, when it was one event like the Lehman bankruptcy, this time, it's -- the events are still unfolding and we don't know what still is in store.

That's why investors seem to be trying to insulate themselves for a possibility of a slew of downgrades and corporations missing their guidance over the next couple of months and they are taking shelter in treasuries. The U.S. Treasury market continues to gain with record lows on the 10-year government bond yields.

And if you're seeing paralysis in the manufacturing sector in China, they are -- it's impacting the oil market as well, and oil prices, Michael, are continuing to slide as well.

HOLMES: Yes, it's not good news at the moment anywhere. I mean, the other thing that comes out of this with the coronavirus is the impact on Commercial supply chains. You're talking about major powerhouses the region like China, Japan, South Korea, all crucial links in that supply chain, all heavily impacted. That affects everyone.

ENJOJI: That's right. I mean, Wuhan which is the original epicenter of the coronavirus was called the Detroit of China. There was a lot of technology-based companies there. And supply chains are basically disrupted and impacting large manufacturers throughout the region. Nissan has had to scale back production in Japan, other companies may have to in the future. And if you have an actual factory in Wuhan, then over the last six weeks, those have been idled as well.

So that's the supply chain side of the situation. I think that's going to get a lot more complex as the weeks go by, because you're talking about a very, very complex supply chain. And so even some of the big manufacturers don't know where they're sourcing from. So that's one end, and then of course, people not buying consumption stores. So it's a double whammy, Michael.

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HOLMES: Yes. Consumer confidence too. That can have a big impact too going forward. Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo, thanks for being across all of that for us. Let's go to Paula Hancocks. She joins us now from Seoul in South Korea for the latest on that country. It seemed the most cases outside of mainland China. bring us up to date there, Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, there was a very sobering milestone here in South Korea. Just on Thursday, having the more daily new cases than China itself, 505 on Thursday. So clearly this spike in South Korea is significant and it's only been over the last 10 days or so.

Now the militaries of the U.S. and South Korea have become involved as well. We heard that they have decided to postpone joint military drills that was supposed to be held shortly because they're trying to contain the spread. 25 South Korean military personnel have been confirmed to have the virus already. Which of course is a great concern to any military around the world.

You have people working and living in very close quarters in barracks and the virus could spread quickly. So that is something that the military is trying to crack down on in the U.S. Forces Korea here. There's about 28,500 troops and they have had three USFK related cases so far. So they have different things that they're doing at the moment, restrictions on soldiers going at the area of Daegu, which has really become the ground zero of the fight in South Korea in the southeast of the country. That is mission personnel -- mission essential personnel only at this point.

And one other thing to point out. The religious group, which -- Shincheonji which has accounted for well over half of the cases confirmed so far in South Korea, they have been fighting back against criticism saying they weren't transparent enough in saying who their members were when this virus started to spike.

We now know that the mayor of Daegu, this city in the southeast of the country, is going to report them to police and say that they were admitting names and also point out that they were hampering efforts to try and fight back against this virus. Michael?

HOLMES: Yes. Major developments there in South Korea. Good to have you there. Thanks so much, Paula Hancocks. All right, I want to bring in now Dr. Robert Kim-Farley. He's an epidemiology professor at the UCLA School of Public Health. Good to have you Doc.

Let's -- I wanted to actually start with this new case in the U.S., California, apparently, someone with no known connection to a carrier. I'm curious, what do you make of that in terms of community spread? That person presumably had many contacts and what does that mean going forward?

ROBERT KIM-FARLEY, EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFESSOR, UCLA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Thank you, Michael, for the question. Basically, the CDC is very closely, together with state and local officials, looking at that particular case, to be able to really investigate whether there was any potential contact with someone who had traveled to an affected area.

But if there is no such a situation, then it is a potential of a first example of a community transmission. That's basically when you don't have knowledge of where did the source come from.

HOLMES: Right. And that's what's worrying about it. The other thing worrying about it was the person wasn't tested for several days. That's another issue to talk about. I want to ask you about mortality rates and without sort of, you know, wanting to sort of make people fearful, the reality is that the common flu, the mortality rate is 0.1 of a percent. That kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. alone. The coronavirus death rate around 2.3 percent. You know, that could potentially mean tens of thousands of deaths.

Again, without being alarmist, what are the risks of that scenario in terms of the math?

KIM-FARLEY: I think a few things to recognize. Firstly, that 2.3 percent overall mortality rate includes obviously Hubei province. Even if you look within China, Hubei province has a much higher case fatality rate, we call it. Those were people died that had been cases, then the rest of China.

I have a sense that one of the reasons the high mortality rate occurred there was because their health care system has got overwhelmed with lots of people coming with severe illness, and they had to build new hospitals, etcetera. Whereas other places within China, you know, had more time to react to this, has not overwhelmed their healthcare systems. And again, the mortality rates are much lower.

So I think also there's something to realize that there's a number of -- the denominator of what you use against death is the issue of how many people have, you know, cases. But if you have a very mild case, and actually 80 percent of the cases are mild, there's many that would maybe almost be asymptomatic. And so, therefore, that denominator may be actually much larger, which means that when you divided it on the number of deaths, the actual case fatality rate is probably lower.

And even more, there's another number we use, you don't hear it much, but the -- an infectivity to mortality rate. There are some people that may in fact have no symptoms whatsoever, but still are being infected. And if you looked at that base as your denominator, the mortality rate would be even lower.

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HOLMES: Yes. And that's -- and that's reassuring in many ways. Those who are asymptomatic, that's true, that sort of dilutes that mortality rate number. I mean, here in the U.S. though, the U.S. President yesterday was heavier on rosy outlooks than he was on fact. And let's have a listen very quickly, and I'll ask you a question on the other side.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because of all we've done, the risk to the American people remains very low. The vaccine is coming along well, and we have a total of 15 cases, many of which are -- much within a day, I will tell you, most of whom are fully recovered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: I mean, the reality there is the President is undermining the predictions of his own top health officials who were literally standing behind him. Saying that the risk of the American people remains very low, everyone is getting better, I mean, what are the risks of that sort of assessment, given the facts? KIM-FARLEY: I think a couple of things. In terms of one aspect of the facts is that currently, the risk in the United States is very low. As you point out, there's only maybe one area that might have some local transmission. However, I think what CDC is really trying to put out and rightly so is that we need to be preparing for the worst, we still hope for the best, obviously.

But the reality is that we need to make sure that we understand that there is the potential and maybe inevitable potential, especially as we see more and more cases occurring in other countries for importations to occur, and more and more of these potentials for local transmission in the future.

HOLMES: Good -- yes, yes, good point. I think it is worth remembering that the Trump White House cut the team in the White House that would deal with pandemics and cut funding to the CDC and proposes more cuts to the CDC in the current budget. Those chickens could be coming home to roost. I wish we have more time. Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, thank you so much. Good to have your wisdom on this.

KIM-FARLEY: It's my pleasure.

HOLMES: Well, now to Northwest Syria where it's nine-year war is turning more deadly for Turkish soldiers. Turkey says at least 33 of its troops were killed in a targeted Syrian airstrike Thursday in Idlib province. More than two dozen other soldiers were evacuated to a Turkish hospital that were wounded in these strikes.

Now, Turkey is vowing revenge saying it will fire at all know and Syrian Government targets. So far, no comment from Syria officially. And for more Gayle Tzemach Lemmon joins me now from Los Angeles. She's an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of Ashley's War.

It's just such a horrible situation on so many levels. I mean, for weeks now, we've been talking about the risks of escalation when it comes to Turkey and not just Syria, but Russia. And now you have these dozens of Turkish soldiers killed, dozens more wounded. Turkey says it's firing back at what it calls the illegitimate Assad regime. What are your concerns about where this could head?

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: This is the truth, Michael, this is an overnight crisis that is years in the making. And really, Syria is the conflict that has absolutely extinguished the power of adjectives to describe its hell. Every time those of us who have tracked this conflict for more than half a decade think that it can't get worse. It actually does.

And so right now, what you see is Turkey, absolutely not going to back down and Russia which has never, not once, since the Civil War began nearly a decade ago, ever back down from its position coming into really direct confrontation. Which Turkey seems to want to avoid initially, but now cannot given the horrible loss of life of its forces.

And so it is hard to see how this ends well. And you have all these moms and dads caught right in the middle.

HOLMES: Yes. And I'll come back to that in a moment, but let's stick with the military side of it for a second. I want you to pause and let people listen to the Turkish president Erdogan on the Turkish position on this. This is just a short soundbite. Let's listen.

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RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): We're not going to take even a little step back in Idlib and push the regime forces out of the area that we designated and let the people return back to their house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: That does not all go well for compromise. I mean, how realistic is the possibility of full-blown conflict between (INAUDIBLE) NATO member Turkey and the Assad regime with the Russians perhaps being dragged into support. When we talk about a power in that region, it's the Russians who run the no-fly zone. You fire at airplanes, you're firing at Russians. So what are the risks that it's going to be an all-out war?

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LEMMON: I mean, nobody two weeks ago who watches this closely thought we would actually reach this point, and yet here we are. And Turkey cannot move forward and it cannot move backward. It's sort of stuck. And Russia has never shown any compunction about the use of force. It has been bombing civilians, it has been bombing schools, it has been bombing hospitals, and it has been all in on the side of the Syrian regime since the start of this conflict, and most certainly since 2015.

And so to me, it is hard to imagine how you have anything other than a conflict given that. Erdogan has no room to maneuver, and Russia will only advance forward.

HOLMES: Absolutely. I think that's a spot-on analysis. As you point out, and as we saw in our (INAUDIBLE), they are hitting schools, they are hitting hospitals, they are killing civilians, children. The question -- the question is who is going to stop the carnage. There seems to be absolutely zero accountability for the strikes, schools, hospitals, civilians. No one is standing up and saying stop it.

LEMMON: Impunity has become a hallmark of the Syrian civil war, right? No one has stopped this for years. And so you can forgive Russia and the Syrian regime for thinking that no one will care, and no one will stop. We're targeting of civilians that it has engaged in. Really Turkey has an issue and that has taken in 3.5 million, at least right, Syrian refugees since the start of this conflict. It had a number of folks that had it said it wanted to return to northern Syria.

And now there was a lot of discussion about whether it was forcibly returning people, but Idlib had been this last stand. And so now you see Turkey really feeling like it has nowhere to go and Russia saying you're right, you don't. And in fact, we're going to keep pressing forward and push you till the end. And the question is who in the international community will stop them.

There is no international community that has done anything of import to stop the harming of civilians since the start of this conflict.

HOLMES: Yes. Brinkmanship with a million civilian refugees in the middle, 700,000 of them women and children. There is reporting in the Turkish media that Ankara won't stop Syrian refugees from reaching Europe. Quoting a senior Turkish official, nothing, you know, official has come out yet, but that's Turkish media.

Basically, Turkey has leverage in that regard. But if that happened, and they said, all right, Syrian refugees off you go to Europe. What would that mean?

LEMMON: This is what is always been the question. I mean, think about this moment, Michael. We're basically weaponizing people who are moms and dads who are trying to flee war, right? Because no one wants these folks whose only fault for many of them is to simply be born into a country and have brought children into the world amid war.

These moms and dads have absolutely no place to go and no country that wants to take them in. And so Turkey is saying, OK, don't help us, we'll show you exactly what we can do, which is they can go onward to Europe unimpeded. And if you think about this, Turkey has really isolated itself. It had, you know, incurred the wrath of the international community in October of last year when it attacked the partner force of its NATO ally on the ground in northeastern Syria.

And so there are very few people who seem willing to come to Turkey's aid now. And so it is going to try to leave Europe no choice but to do something to help it or else it will turn on the spigot of moms and dads who are just trying to find something better.

HOLMES: That's just -- that's just terrific to watch unfold.

LEMMON: It is.

HOLMES: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, I appreciate your analysis as always. Thank you.

LEMMON: Thank you.

HOLMES: We'll take a short break. When we come back, 26 people are confirmed dead in Iran from coronavirus. Now, Tehran is doing something the country hasn't done in 40 years to try to contain the outbreak. We'll explain when we come back.

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DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: A dip in the jet stream across eastern. Two-thirds of the country

remains cold. The weather has settled in and it's also helped trigger off the lake effect snow machine downwind from Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, where we could see snowfall totals through the early parts of the weekend in excess of a foot or two.

Now, you can see a storm system moving across the Appalachians as well as the Tennessee River Valley. That'll allow for low elevation rain and some higher elevation snowflakes to fall. Downwind of the Great Lakes, that's where we have blizzard warnings in effect. You can see them in place across Upstate New York where blizzard conditions continue. Strong winds, low visibility, and of course falling -- or blowing snow taking place helping meet the criteria of blizzard conditions.

That'll start to clear out as we head into the day on Saturday. but notice the snowfall across the spine of the Appalachians with again some light sprinkles anticipated across Louisville and Nashville as well as the Atlanta region. You can see the snowfall totals there again, highest just downwind of the Great Lakes.

Here's your temperatures for your Friday. Negative one for Chicago, four for New York City, 11 into Atlanta. We say goodbye to the coldest of air and replace it with a mild stretch of weather along the east coast. As we head into the first parts of next week, a welcome sign of spring for many locations, including the Mid Atlantic. Look at D.C., you'll reach 12 degrees by the end of the weekend.

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HOLMES: Welcome back. The coronavirus outbreak is spreading to just about every corner of the world. Nigeria reporting its first case which is also the first in Sub Saharan Africa. And Iran stepping up prevention efforts after at least 26 deaths there. The Islamic Republic actually canceling Friday prayers. That's the first time that's happened in 40 years.

Saudi Arabia hasn't seen any cases yet, but the kingdom is closing its borders to foreign pilgrims and tourists from two dozen countries. More than 83,000 people worldwide have been infected, with a death toll fast approaching 3,000, the vast majority in China, but the spread is concerning.

CNN journalists the Ramin Mostaghim is joining us now from Tehran, and David McKenzie is with us from Johannesburg. David, let's start with you. I mean, the first case in Sub Saharan Africa, that has been a big fear of experts given infrastructure challenges parts of the continent. Is Nigeria and the continent prepared for this?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly, Michael, have been rapidly trying to scale up their preparedness. They have increased the diagnostic capabilities from, you know, just a handful of countries to around 16 in the coming days because that's the key to diagnose the coronavirus as quickly as possible and then put public health measures like quarantines in place and contact tracing.

Now, this first case in Nigeria is, in fact, an import from Italy, an Italian national according to the Ministry of Health. He traveled on Wednesday from Milan and Northern Italy to Lagos where that person they've been able to diagnose the case of this confirmed case. They say that this Italian national is stable and that it is not severe in their case.

But now, Michael, like everywhere else in the world that is dealing with it, the Nigerian authorities are trying to trace all the contact of that foreign national coming into the country. And you raise an important point. Many parts of the continent do have weak health infrastructure. Nigeria at times would be seen in that. But they have a lot of experience also with dealing with the potential of epidemics.

I remember in 2014 when we were in West Africa, Nigeria was really lauded for managing to stamp out the Ebola outbreak that had been imported from neighboring countries. So the next few days will be critical in Nigeria and the continent as a whole. Michael?

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HOLMES: Indeed. David keeping an eye on it for us there in Johannesburg. I appreciate it. Let's go to Tehran. Ramin Mostaghim. We've seen a rapid increase in cases there, some high-profile ones as well. What's the latest? What are authorities doing to try to contain it?

RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, CNN JOURNALIST: They're doing their best, Michael. I mean, three hospitals dedicated designated for the coronavirus patients involved are fully loaded, fully packed. And they are -- the authorities are saying that they are thinking of field hospitals in home just in case. Because the problem is that the officials now are admitting that they are some of them are -- have contracted the disease themselves.

And at the same time, the same officials as Michael -- the head of the WHO said they ignore the incoming virus. In fact, the virus leaks for it has been accepted as outbreak of this virus contractions came to Iran undiagnosed, undetected. And now there's a problem because the virus undetected has spread all over the country and more than 11 countries travelers have been transferred these disease to the -- to their own country.

So many countries are tracing back today their disease of coronavirus to Iran. So, now they are the official here -- the officials are under pressure to do something to speed up the diagnosis of the coronavirus cases. Because actually when you look at the number of the positive 245 and compare it to the number of dead 26, and the number of the suspect, it is not logically acceptable. There must be some many -- I mean, many hundreds, many thousands undetected positive cases across the countries.

Unfortunately, the Friday prayers after 40 years have been canceled in the 22 provinces. Stay in home, their Friday prayers may be held. Michael?

HOLMES: Yes, testing as you pointed out is crucial across the board around the globe. Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran, also David McKenzie in Johannesburg, I appreciate your reporting. Thanks so much. All right now, Italy now has 650 cases of coronavirus with 17 deaths. It is the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe, Regions near Milan where many businesses are actually closed. They are under lockdown as you can see there.

French President Emmanuel Macron, pledging to cooperate in the crisis with the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): I want to express here my solidarity and friendship with Italy, with our government, and with all health authorities in handling of the coronavirus. This virus concerns us all. And the situation that all of us are collectively facing can only be resolved through perfect European and international cooperation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Italian authorities maintain the situation is under control. They have no plans to close the country's borders. And millions of students in Japan and Hong Kong are being forced into homeschooling because of the coronavirus lockdown. Just ahead, how students and teachers and parents as well are having to cope.

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[01:32:42]

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone.

I'm Michael Holmes with an update on the top news this hour.

Turkey vowing revenge after it says Syria carried out targeted air strikes killing at least 33 of its soldiers in Syria's Idlib Province on Thursday. 35 more soldiers were evacuated to Turkish hospitals wounded in the strikes. Syria has not yet commented.

Fears over the novel coronavirus are sending world markets into a bit of a tailspin, you see there, red arrows all over Asia as those markets wind up the day. And that follows a 1,200-point slide for the Dow in the U.S. The market's single biggest one day point drop in history.

Japan's prime minister is calling for a month-long closure of schools on Monday nationwide. The move coming amid fears over the spread of the coronavirus. Japan has 907 confirmed cases at the moment.

Let's go live to Tokyo. That's where we find our Blake Essig.

School is canceled for all of March? That sort of speaks to the urgency and concerns.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes -- Michael. Day after day the Japanese government has continued to implement and recommend further measures in their effort to contain and prevent the spread of the coronavirus across the country really highlighting the next one in two weeks calling that time period critical in order to do that.

And as you said, you know, it speaks volumes that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would come out and essentially encourage 34,000 schools across the roughly of 12 million kids to not go to school until early April.

Of course, this is just a recommendation. And the decision on whether or not the schools will be closed or, you know, any partial closure will come down to local authorities.

Now, so far at least one city has come out and said that they will not close the schools based on the fact that the hardship that will be essentially put on the parents of these students. And the potential effect with these parents having to request time off of work and the impact to businesses in the city.

[01:34:59]

ESSIG: So it really will depend on how things play out each location across the country, 47 prefectures will have the decision on how they want to handle this potential closure of schools.

And as I head mentioned earlier, a lot of recommendations have been coming out. The Japanese government has not only canceled rugby and soccer games. They've also made it so that the baseball games, while they will be played over the next couple of weeks, they will be played in stadiums without any fans.

And then also one of the big things here when you walk around Tokyo, there's just not a lot of people on the street. A city of roughly 37 million people, that salaryman culture. So you have a lot of people's wearing suits going to work and whatnot, they have also been asked when possible to stay home.

So again the Japanese government -- Michael, taking the spread of the coronavirus very seriously.

HOLMES: Indeed. Blake Essig in Tokyo -- appreciate it. Thanks so much.

Now the coronavirus outbreak had triggered what might be the world's biggest home learning experiment. We are talking about what is happening in Japan. Well, around 180 million students across China and Hong Kong are being homeschooled as campuses there stay shut.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is in Hong Kong with more on that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's just another day of home learning during the outbreak. To curb the spread of the coronavirus Hong Kong has closed schools through April. And organizations have rolled out work at home policies.

That means teachers Jackie and Yammy Aryon (ph) -- along with their children Samuel and Titus have been cooped up inside their apartment for weeks. Conducting and taking classes online. Wary of the virus they are not taking any visitors. So I paid them a Skype call outside their apartment.

Hello. How are you doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are doing ok.

STOUT: Yes. Can you describe to me what your daily routine is as you do home learning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just wake up. I go to my computer, our school uses Google Meets to like get us to see each other and go online to learn every lesson. It's like -- it is not such a big difference.

STOUT: Now home learning can be a challenge in the cramped environment of Hong Kong where many people live in small apartments like this one.

This apartment is about the same size as the Aryon's family home about 600 square feet, roughly the same size as four parking spaces.

In Hong Kong and across China around 180 million students are holed-up at home in what maybe the world's biggest home learning experiment. China has started broadcasting primary school classes on public television.

And launched a Cloud-learning platform for its primary and secondary students based on its national curriculum. The government enlisted tech giants including Huawei, Baidu and Alibaba to support the platform so 50 million students can use it simultaneously.

But the school closures are testing students and their parents. Many families across China and Hong Kong don't have computers or enough of them. Some caregivers may not be tech savvy and cabin fever can set in. And that can strain the patience of parents and the attention of kids, including my own.

ODILE THIANG, MENTAL HEALTH EXPERT: Being cooped up in one space with everybody under quite a lot of pressure, so we have a stress container and in these last couple of weeks our stress container has been really filling up with everything.

There is also that general fear of contamination. People are feeling -- everything is adding up.

STOUT: Odile Thiang recommends providing a structured environment at home with set times for learning and opportunities for everyone to relax.

Do you miss being outside?

FAMILY: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I miss school.

STOUT: Do you try to exercise inside at home?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Starting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

STOUT: For the Aryon family this is life in the time of coronavirus.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN -- Hong Kong.

HOLMES: All right. It is a plague of biblical proportions. When we come back, billions of locusts devastating crops right across the Horn of Africa. Why scientists are pointing the finger at climate change.

We'll be right back.

[01:39:26]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Billions of desert locusts wiping out crops and creating food shortages in east Africa. It is the worst locust invasion in more than a generation. Scientists say climate change has caused unusual weather patterns which is creating ideal conditions for insect numbers to multiply.

The United Nations warns this could become a humanitarian catastrophe.

Derek Van Dam joining us now from CNN Weather Center. So tell us about the links between climate and these swarms.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Michael -- there is a link. That is the most important thing for our viewers to know. You think about the rising of global temperatures -- actually super charges storms across the world. And climate change is responsible for tilting the scale for these large scale circulation patterns that set up these infestations or these swarms of insects.

And can I just say what everybody is thinking here? Eewww -- this just makes me feel super uncomfortable, one of my worst fears here. A swarm of locusts coming by. Terrible to see what's happening there.

But how did we get to this point. That's the question and that's what I'm going to try to explain to you now.

It has to do with two cyclone's that hit a normally dry part of the world -- that being the Arabian Peninsula. Here is Oman, here is Yemen, there is Saudi Arabia -- that is the Horn of Africa. And this produced a significant amount of rain in a region that normally only sees 30 millimeters in the entire year.

So we saw over two years worth of rain just in a 24 hour period filling some of the desert sands here with this rainfall. And that set the stage for this locust infestation because it allowed for vegetation to flourish.

Meteorologists also looked at large scary weather patterns that increased this frequency of our locust spread and boy, was it significant. It moved from the Arabian Peninsula right across East Africa and it continues to spread -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Derek Van Dam -- yes, don't have nightmares tonight after seeing that. Creeped you out, hasn't it?

VAN DAM: Yes.

HOLMES: Thanks -- my friend.

VAN DAM: Right.

HOLMES: On that note, thanks everyone for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.

"WORLD SPORT" coming up next. And then you'll see Natalie Allen at the top of the hour.

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