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Coronavirus Continue to Rise in Many Countries; From Former Rivals to Now Being Allies; Health Experts Educate People on Wearing Masks; UAE to Repatriate Its Citizens from Iran. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired March 3, 2020 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: More than 90,000 cases of coronavirus across the globe and that's with the outbreak actually slowing in China. We will look at which areas are getting hit hardest and the extraordinary measure officials are taking to contain it.

It feels like Deja vu in Israel after yet another election. Benjamin Netanyahu is claiming victory despite the math that shows his bloc does not yet have the majority to form a government.

And in the U.S., the Democratic presidential field has narrowed significantly. Why some of Joe Biden's former rivals are now endorsing him over the other candidates.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.

Good to have you with us.

So, the novel coronavirus could be reaching a dangerous new stage. Around the world the number of infected now exceeds 90,000. The World Health Organization says in just a 24-hour period there were almost nine times more new cases reported outside of China than there were inside.

South Korea is the hardest hit country after China, reporting hundreds of new infections Tuesday alone. The European Union is raising its fires alert level as the infection spreads. Overall, Italy has the block's most cases at more than 2,000.

The U.S. now confirms six deaths and more than 100 people infected all of those deaths were in Washington State.

And Wall Street saw a huge rebound on Monday after coronavirus fears led to massive losses last week. Right now, U.S. features are slightly up.

Well, South Korea is the hardest hit country outside of mainland China. And for the latest, CNN's Ivan Watson joins us now live from Seoul. So, Ivan, talk to us about what's behind this surge in cases and what South Korea is doing about it.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly, the most infections more, than 70 percent of them as a whole, and the latest number is that South Korea has more than 4,800 confirmed cases of coronavirus stem from the southern city of Daegu, that's the fourth largest city in South Korea and that's where the biggest concentration of infections have taken place.

A lot of the infections more than 50 percent of them have been linked to a South Korean religious group known as Shincheonji, and it's believed that there were some gatherings at the Daegu branch of this religious group where the infections were passed along to thousands of members.

More than 2,000 members of this organization have tested positive. As a result, the authorities have put some 9,000 members of this religious group into self-quarantine and they have embarked on a massive testing spree. There are more than 150,000 people across the country who have been tested now for coronavirus.

The president of South Korea in recent statements came out and saying that, basically the country is now, as he put it, at war with coronavirus. He called on all the government organizations to establish kind of 24-hour emergency working situations, basically being on call 24 hours to deal with this public health crisis.

He also apologized for a lack of face masks available for the populace. We have seen grumbling, we have seen lines of people particularly in Daegu waiting to get cheap masks, face masks sold by the government at post offices, for example.

Another example of the quarantine here, the South Korean defense ministry announced that some 10,000 troops were in self-quarantine right now because the infections have spread to all four branches of the South Korean military, dozens of infections confirmed, and they want to make sure that that doesn't spread.


Over the last week, the national assembly after it infected, they shut down for 24 hours to disinfect the parliamentary building after a visit from somebody diagnosed with coronavirus passed a series of laws strengthening the penalties for the crime of breaking your quarantine.

And on top of that, the Seoul City government has tried to press charges, file a petition with the prosecutor's office against that religious group, Shincheonji, accusing their leaders in fact of murder after accusing them of not fully cooperating with the authorities on sharing lists of the people who are members of that religious group, and participating in some of these meetings that took place.

That group has come back and insisted, defending itself and it is cooperating with the authorities. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to our Ivan Watson joining us live from Seoul. And Iran remains the largest area of outbreak in the Middle East with

the number of infected totaling over 1,500. It's the only country in the region to report deaths from the virus. And now other countries are evacuating their citizens telling him to return home or risk infection.

So, CNN's Sam Kiley joins us now from Abu Dhabi. Good to see you again, Sam. Talk to us about these evacuations, and of course, with Iran at the epicenter of this outbreak across the Middle East, what it's doing about it and what are other countries doing.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the United Arab Emirates is -- or has just announced that it will be sending evacuation flights to Iran or getting its people evacuated from Iran.

That is because it is, Iran that is being attributed, as you suggest there, as being an epicenter for the spread of the disease around the region, particularly into Kuwait with so far as recorded, cases mostly connected with travel to Iran, Bahrain. Fifty-six that jump up by nine just yesterday.

And of course, with those 66 dead in Iran, and among them is a member of the parliament. Among those infected in Iran is the vice president and the deputy minister of health minister.

And one of these issues for Iran is that it is highly problematic particularly in religious centers such as Qom province which is where a lot of the infections have been reported. To get pilgrims not to go to these, to the shrines there, to try to get people not to go in. They are being required to sanitize their hands.

But a lot of these sites have attributed to them health giving properties, and therefore problematic for the Iranian authorities and then the numbers may actually increase as this infection spread.

That said, in areas where there is a heavy level of infection, people are being banned from sharing shisha pipes, which is across the Middle East are highly enjoyed social activity in which people smoke and share the lit vows for those pipes.

But the real issues across this region are not going to be so much in the wealthy gulf nations which really easily have the capacity to deal all with almost any eventuality here. They got a lot of money and a lot of medical skills.

But those parts of the Middle East where -- that are in turmoil, Syria and Yemen in a state of civil war, Iraq has a vacuum at the top of its leadership and has had now for many months it's had widespread protest. It is asking people to stay away from large gatherings and from even gathering in cafes.

Egypt seems to have surprisingly low level of infection, Rosemary, with just two cases among tourist being reported. That's being treated with some cynicism by the world by experts across the region.

The World Health Organization is actually centered in Egypt for this region. And its head there has been saying in a statement released on its web site today that there are serious concerns that the more unstable part of this region will seriously have their health systems tested as this, or this virus starts to get a grip.

So, the prognosis here is pretty grim looking forward, particularly for those countries that are already suffering so horrifically from humanitarian and conflict-related issues. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes. It is a big concern for sure. Sam Kiley bringing us that live report from Abu Dhabi. Many thanks.

Well, the European Union is raising its virus alert level as the infections spread. France is reporting more than 100 cases, many sporting events have been suspended, and popular tourist sites like the Louvre in Paris are closed to the public. Overall, Italy remains the blocks hardest hit country.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has more now from Milan.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The authorities here in Lombardi where we are, say that they will continue with the measures to try to restrict the spread of the virus continuing with the closure of schools, universities, museums.


Those red zones where 50,000 people live in, basically under in their houses. They are not allowed to leave their villages; those will continue for at least another week.

The authorities are also advising anybody over the age of 65 to minimize social contact, to try to stay in their homes for the next 15 days because they are the ones most susceptible to this virus.

CHURCH: And six deaths from the virus have been reported in the United States. And as the numbers come in, Washington is beginning to take notice, the message from the administration remains, there is no need for panic.


MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Let's be clear. The risk to the American people of the coronavirus remains low according to all of the experts that we are working with across the government.


CHURCH: CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more now from the White House.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As these cases of the coronavirus have started to skyrocket in the United States, you are starting to see President Trump and his administration officials take a different tone on this, holding several meetings yesterday to make sure that they were making, putting a public face on all of this by not only with the president meeting with those drug company executives, a meeting that was initially supposed to be about drug pricing but then turn to talk about vaccine.

But you also saw the Vice President Mike Pence meeting and having conversations with the governors, in addition to that briefing he held yesterday with the members of the coronavirus task force, which now have included several more administration officials including members of the president's own cabinet.

And of course, Dr. Birx, the specialist that Vice President Pence picked to put on that team who said she had just got in from South Africa to really give you a sense of how fast-moving all of this is for the administration.

Because it comes as, you know, in recent weeks for the last, you know, several weeks as these health officials were sounding the alarms, saying it is inevitable that you are going to see cases in the United States.

President Trump was continuing to downplay it, saying he didn't think it was going to be as big of a deal, really trying to calm people's fears. Because we were told by sources, he was worried about what a sense of alarm would do to the financial markets.

Now when the president was in that meeting with those drug company executives yesterday, you saw a really notable moment, where they were talking about the timeline to develop a vaccine, where the president seem to be saying he believed it could be just a matter of months with the biggest timeline there being a year.

And then saw Dr. Anthony Fauci who is on that coronavirus task force who briefs the president on a daily basis, really stepped in to say no. That is just how long it would take them to start testing it, not to get to deploy where you could actually use it for these Americans who are testing positive for coronavirus.

Really it just gives you an indication of how things are operating back here at the White House. But they very much are trying to put on this public face to say yes, they are up to speed and they are adequately prepared to handle this. Because they recognize that essentially that response before has come under an intensive amount of scrutiny.

CHURCH: All right. Kaitlan Collins reporting there. We'll take a short break here. Israel's prime minister is claiming a win, but the exit poll numbers aren't adding up to a majority for Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party.

We are live in Jerusalem, next.

And a shake up just before Super Tuesday, has U.S. presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders speaking directly to his rival supporters. His message to moderates, that's up next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: A child has died after a boat carrying migrants capsized off the coast of Greece. It's believed to be the first death since Turkey announced last week it was opening its borders with Europe. Since then, the number of refugees traveling to Greek islands has surged.

Ankara's reversal on halting Middle Eastern migrants from traveling to Europe is viewed as a way to pressure Europe for support in Syria. Turkey's state-owned news agency reports President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the European Union to step up in a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): Turkey have hosted nearly four million refugees for nine and a half years, and now, one and a half million refugees is about to come to our borders from Syria due to the escalating tensions in Idlib.

They're laying more burden on us. I've already warned Europe if they don't share this responsibility with us, I had told them that Turkey will open its border gate. But they underestimated our words. They thought that we were bluffing.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): With all understanding and every readiness to talk in order to provide more support, I think it is unacceptable to deal with it at the expense of migrants because they've been motivated to go to the border and end up at a dead end.

And our policy and the policy of the E.U. Turkey deal is such as not to do politics at the expense of migrants.


CHURCH: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is claiming victory in the country's third election in less than a year. But exit polls gives his right-wing Likud Party 59 seats. And that's two seats short of a governing majority. The bloc of his main challenger former army chief Benny Gantz has 54 seats.

Mr. Netanyahu called it a joyous night while Gantz stop short of conceding.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I told you it's a victory against all expectations. We stood against violent forces. Our opponents already made our obituary and said that Netanyahu era has ended.


CHURCH: And journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us again live from Jerusalem.

Good to see you, Elliott. So, Benjamin Netanyahu has declared victory but the numbers don't seem to add up. How is this looking?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, not only did they not add up, but the numbers seem to be going in the opposite direction to where Netanyahu would want to go, because the votes are getting -- more and more votes are getting counted, just over half have been counted so far.

And according to our channel 12, when it kind of plugs in, they counted together with its exit polls, it is now predicting that Netanyahu and his bloc of right-wing coalition partners would end up with just 58 seats, leaving them three short of a majority.

So, that would make his work cut out even more. But the big story here actually is very interesting is the joint list. This is this amalgamation of various Arab parties which came together. And one reason why they seem to have done much better than had been predicted is perhaps because of Trump's peace plan. Now this was seen by many people as a great gift to Benjamin Netanyahu and allowing him to kind of rally his right-wing base.

But in what may turn out to be a delicious irony what it seems to have done passed because of one of the parts of the Trump's peace plan which allows for the possible transfer of Israeli Arab towns to a future Palestinian state.

What that may have done because it hasn't gone down well with the Israeli Arab populous is galvanized them into coming out in greater numbers to vote for the joint list which seems to have increased the number of seats that it's going to win quite considerably and that could ironically end up depriving Netanyahu of the majority that he so desperately craves.

CHURCH: Interesting. Elliot Gotkine bringing us the very latest on Israel's election. Many thanks.

Well, now for a crucial day on the Democratic presidential primary in the United States, it is Super Tuesday. Voters in 14 U.S. states and American Samoa will head to the polls. Thirty-four percent of the party's pledged delegates are at stake. The most are in California and Texas.


And in a major turn of events just before voting begins former Vice President Joe Biden gets a big boost, endorsements from some of his former rivals.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): It is up to us, all of us to put our country back together, to heal this country, and then to build something even greater.

I believe we can do this together and that is why today I am ending my campaign and endorsing Joe Biden for president.



CHURCH: So, as candidates drop out of the race Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wants to scoop up their supporters. Here's the appeal he made to them at a rally on Monday.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know that there are political differences but I also know that virtually all of Amy's support and Pete's support understand that we have got to move toward a government fully which believes in justice not greed.


SANDERS: And that our government must be based on principles of economic justice, social justice, racial justice, environmental justice.


SANDERS: So, to all of Amy and Pete's millions of supporters the door is open, come on in.


CHURCH: And remember, stay with CNN for coverage of Super Tuesday. We will have a team of reporters across key states with in-depth super coverage all day long.

And still to come, as the virus continues to spread there's been a surge in demand for surgical masks but that could lead medical professionals at risk. We'll explain. That's next.


CHURCH: Concerns over the coronavirus have created a huge demand for face masks, but experts warned wearing one doesn't actually provide any real protection.

Here is CNN's Brian Todd reporting from Washington.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the concern over coronavirus climbs in America, top U.S. health officials have a stern word of caution, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not.


JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: There are things that actually can harm you in your community and going out and hoarding mask is one of those things.


TODD: Since the outbreak began millions of people around the world have done surgical masks, hoping to fend off the virus.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was seen wearing one in public. But top health officials and experts say masks often don't provide adequate protection against something like coronavirus.


So, the typical mistake is what, I put this on, and it may or may not fit and what am I doing wrong here?

REBECCA KATZ, GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERT, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: So right now, you wearing a mask that's supposed to be fit-tested, that's supposed to be fully sealed. At this point it's not. So, you'll see that you can actually -- there's a space where your nose is, that particles could actually potentially get underneath the mask.



TODD: Public health experts say many people who wear masks don't have them properly fitted. That means constant adjustments and more risk.


KATZ: You're not used to wearing it, you don't know what to do. You might be touching your face more often. All of those are opportunities to actually get yourself sick.


TODD: That's because our hands are our biggest transmitters of the virus, the more you touch your face, the greater your odds of getting sick. Major retailers say there's been a ran on masks at stores and if they're cleared off the shelves there is a dangerous potential ripple effect.


ADAMS: If we actually utilize mask inappropriately in the community and in the general public, they won't be available for healthcare workers who actually need them to respond.


TODD: Public health experts say there are myths about masks. One is that one single mask can be used indefinitely.


KATZ: These are supposed to be single use but some people might wear them for days, in which case you actually there you might get particle in bacteria micro inside the mask.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: So, what should average healthy people be buying? Soap and household cleaning supplies, experts say, and make sure you stock up on whatever medications you're already on.

As far as the best habits to fend off coronavirus, health officials say there are some very simple but important steps.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Wash your hands as frequently as you can. If you cough, cough in the -- in your elbow and not on your hands and try to stay away from crowded places where there are a lot of people who were coughing and sneezing.


TODD: What if you have to travel on a plane or another tight, crowded space, should you wear a surgical mask then? Experts say that's a judgment call but you have to make sure it fits you perfectly that you know how to use it, and just it one time.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: Some good tips there. Well, CNN is partnering with young people around the world for student led day of action against modern- day slavery on March 11. We want to know what does freedom mean to you. Here is what American basketball player Sue Bird had to say.


SUE BIRD, AMERICAN BASKETBALL PLAYER: I think for me, freedom, I mean, probably somewhere to a lot of people it means having the ability to speak your mind, having the ability to have your rights, having the ability to be treated the same as everyone around you regardless of race, color, sex orientation, you name it.

I think there's a lot of us in this world who are trying to work towards that. Sadly, there is a lot of people who are trying to block that. So, to me, for me personally, I think freedom right now means I have to speak up on it. If you see something say something type of a vibe, and to me, that's I'm going to use my freedom to make sure everybody else can get theirs.


CHURCH: Well said. Well, tell the world what freedom means to you. Share your story using the hash tag my freedom say.

And thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Inside Africa is up next. But first, I'll be back with the check of the headlines. You're watching CNN. Stay with us.