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While the Number of Coronavirus Infection is Dropping Inside China, the Disease is Spreading Rapidly Elsewhere Around the World; War in Syria: Erdogan and Putin to Discuss Idlib Ceasefire; EU Plans Border Intervention, Humanitarian Aid; Violence Erupts at Turkish- Greek Border; U.S. Targets Taliban Fighters in "Defensive" Airstrike; Afghan Mayor Urges Pompeo to Uphold Women's Rights After Deal; Democratic Race Down to Biden and Sanders; Mars Rover Captures Stunning 360 Degrees Panorama. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired March 5, 2020 - 03:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: The number of new coronavirus cases jumping by the hour and the pressure is on now to find a vaccine. We will take you inside one lab where scientists are working overtime to find one.

Throughout this war in Syria, feeling another migrant crisis, thousands walking in Turkey's border with Greece, and now those countries are blaming each other which turned into a violent and deadly situation.

As it turns out, half a billion dollars will not buy you a presidential nomination. Michael Bloomberg is out of the U.S. democratic race as Joe Biden, without a penny, makes a stunning comeback.

Hello. Welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. It is great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. Yes, this is "CNN Newsroom."

While the number of coronavirus infection is dropping inside China, the disease is spreading rapidly elsewhere around the world. There's growing concern the virus may have hit another cruise ship. This one is off the U.S. coast near San Francisco.

Italy is facing the biggest outbreak in Europe and has closed schools nationwide for more than a week. Sporting events in the hardest hit areas have been cancelled.

Meantime, the U.S. Senate on Thursday expected to approve more than $8 billion to battle the virus. The bill passed the U.S. House with bipartisan support.

Japan has now recorded its biggest increase in new infection in a single day. CNN's Blake Essig is live for us in Tokyo. So, Blake, first of all, do they know what's behind the spike in the cases and then what can they do about it?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, what the government is trying to do is focusing on social distancing. They actually are currently working with the parliament to try to declare a state of emergency which would allow municipalities across the country to not only close schools, public buildings, build medical facilities to deal with the surging patients, and also ask their residents to stay indoors.

A state of emergency has already been declared in the prefecture of Hokkaido by the governor there. What they're doing is trying to learn contact tracing. They brought in a researcher from Hokkaido University to try to figure out why these clusters are forming around the country and then how they're spreading in order to figure out how to stop it.

And again, the idea behind social distancing is at least to try to contain the spread. But, according to the researcher that I spoke to earlier today who is working on figuring out the contact tracing of the virus here in Japan, he said that the number of actual cases versus confirmed cases is vastly different. In fact, there are roughly 300 confirmed cases not associated with the Diamond Princess here in Japan.

This researcher believes that the actual number of cases here in Japan is in the thousands. So when you talk about the increase that we just saw yesterday, we have 33 more confirmed cases, we are likely to continue to see that increase for the days and weeks to come.

VAUSE: Blake, thank you very much for that. We go now to Middle East. The governments are limiting travel and ordering quarantines to try to contain the outbreak. CNN's Sam Kiley reports from Abu Dhabi. Tough measures could be underway.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of international concerns over the spread of the coronavirus continued to be focused on Iran. The Iranian government has announced that it is going to deploy some 300,000 extra health care workers across the country. It is also now trying to quarantine effectively the holy city of Qom, not in its entirety, but it has got roadblocks around the city, screening visitors in and out of that location because as a holy city and a site of pilgrimage, it is a place where the disease has been able to spread.

And because of that medical reality, the Saudi government has also issued instructions that its own residents of the kingdom and foreign residents there can no longer go on pilgrimage to Mecca. That is on top of an announcement they made a few days ago to say that foreigners were already prevented from coming in. Because of the very dense number of people that pilgrimage to Mecca inevitably means, there would be a rapid spread of the virus.

The United Arab Emirates is also moving quickly, much like the Italians also saying that they are going to ask children and students to no longer come to school for the next month in the universities and schools here in the Emirates.


KILEY: But as the other countries with less stable governments around the Middle East, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Syria and Yemen, of course, in the middle of a civil war in Syria, more than a million people packed up against the border in Turkey in desperate humanitarian situation already. If the coronavirus would get a grip on the population there, the results could be particularly catastrophic.

But for the moment, the attitude here in the gulf regions is that they believe they have enough money and skills to contain it. The real problem, though, is it leaking out into those parts of the Middle East, where there is neither the money nor the skills.

Sam Kiley, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


VAUSE: The only way to eradicate any virus is through immunity, usually a combination of natural immunity, you get the disease but you get better, as well as a vaccine. But developing a viable vaccine for the coronavirus will take more than a year, potentially longer than that. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is reporting from Berlin.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): As the novel coronavirus continues to spread around the globe and the death toll mounts, these scientists in Germany, like countless others around the world, are in a race against time, trying to develop a vaccine as fast as possible for an illness the scientific world has a lot to learn about.

FRANZ-WERNER HAAS, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, CUREVAC: The challenge, first of all, is that the virus is unknown, so you don't know which kind of protection you need in order to stimulate the immune system in order to be protected.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): German-American company CureVac, who CEO has been to the White House to meet President Trump, makes vaccines by essentially embedding the virus's code into human cells to help the body protect itself.

HAAS: We are making the body to produce your own vaccine, your own drug.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Each of these little tubes contains a different construct of the virus's code. Right now, the scientists at the main lab in Germany are trying to find out which one is the safest and most effective to be turned into a vaccine. While they don't want to put a date on it yet, they believe they're getting closer.

HAAS: We are in preparation for a clinical trial out of the different constructs we have to get the best ones into the clinics and we are in constant discussions with the regulatory authorities.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The pressure couldn't be higher with the number of novel coronavirus cases jumping every day and the global economy taking a beating from the coronavirus's effects. President Trump at a meeting with drug makers urged the industry to come up with the vaccine asap.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are moving aggressively to accelerate the process of developing a vaccine. A lot of good things are happening and they're happening very fast. I said, do me a favor, speed it up, speed it up, and they will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): We need to be prepared.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): While U.S. health officials acknowledge it will be at least a year before one will be certified, the company says it's working overtime to get it done soon.

HAAS: If you compare, a normal vaccine development takes several years. We are fighting an outbreak right now, and therefore regulatory authorities are hands on and trying to do this within a year's time.

PLEITGEN: Getting that done within a year is almost unheard of as far as the certification of drugs is concerned, but the folks at the company tell us that they've almost never seen this amount of international urgency on the part of governments, on the part of NGOs, and of course on the part of drug companies and labs to try and get a vaccine on the market as fast as possible and as safe as possible.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


VAUSE: U.K. budget airline Flybe appears to be another victim of the financial fallout of the coronavirus. Dropping business caused by the coronavirus added to the problems of the company which is already struggling. The airline is warning passengers, all flights have been grounded and they should make alternative plans.

Stock markets in Europe have just opened up and it is across the border, it seems. The FTSE 100 is up a touch. We have the DAX up by just over a half percent. Paris is also up by about half a percent. Zurich is half a percent as well.

In U.S., it looks like the rollercoaster ride will continue. Futures are down again a day after Wall Street posted a very strong rally. Markets in Asia have been up every day this week. The Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng are leading the way in Thursday's trading.

Well, as the number of new coronavirus cases in China continues to fall, the focus now seems to be on restarting the economy. Businesses and factories have been closed for weeks. Tourism is at a standstill. That is raising fears that China might just be facing its first recession in decades.

CNN's Steven Jiang is live this hour in Beijing. That is a big deal. I mean, this is a country and economy which has not seen a contraction since the 70s. What we're talking about here is a real contraction, not a drop in economic growth from, like, eight to six percent, but a real serious contraction of the economy that will be painful.


STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right, John. Very sobering reference you just made there, potentially the first economic contraction in this country since 1976. Partly based on this very important economic data point we have just seen, the purchasing managers index plummeted in February along with some other very horrendous data points we have seen. For example, sales of passenger cars dropped a whopping 80 percent last month nationwide in this market, which is the world's largest auto market.

But these figures are probably not surprising given the extended closure of businesses nationwide. Many of them are still struggling to find workers because of all the travel restrictions and quarantine rules put in place by local authorities.

I think that's why Chinese President Xi Jinping shared another top leadership meeting on Wednesday, stressing the importance of restoring economics on social order compatible with, in his words, the status of the outbreak outside of the epicenter.

He is really trying to bring economic growth back at an early date. The government has announced a series of measures, including tax relief and fee exemptions for companies nationwide and we are expecting to see more. They are also focusing on stabilizing employment which of course is crucial to maintaining social stability.

This country's service sector, for example, employers 360 million people nationwide and many of them are still out of jobs because of all the business closures. The government, of course, is also pointing to some promising figures for the the resumption of operations by many large factories in Shanghai. That figure is already 95 percent. But the key is still to have more small and medium sized businesses to reopen their doors because, you know, they are really the drive of the economic engine.

Now, already, John, we are seeing some reports of some business owners resorting to faking resumption of business due to growing government pressure by turning on their machineries but leaving theme idling for hours or leaving their lights, computers, and AC units on all day long in empty offices as government inspectors check power consumption figures as an indicator of resumption of business. John?

VAUSE: Thank you, Steven Jiang, live in Beijing. I appreciate that. CNN will host a global town hall on facts and fears about the coronavirus on Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern here in the U.S., Friday morning at 11:00 a.m. in Hong Kong.

A short break. When we come back, folks who want better life in a new land are met with violence. The migrant crisis at the Turkey-Greece border turned even more chaotic.

Also ahead, the U.S. and Taliban reached a historic deal, but something very important was left out. The plea to the U.S. from one Afghan mayor.


VAUSE: A ceasefire in Syria will top the agenda when the Turkish president meets with his Russian counterpart in a few hours from now. Nearly a million Syrians have fled their homes in the past four months because of intensified fighting between Russian-backed Syrian forces and rebels in Idlib province.


VAUSE: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly warned that Turkey cannot take in any more refugees. It is already hosting almost four million. After dozens of Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria, Mr. Erdogan opened the Turkish border. That in turn created a crisis on the border with Greece.

European Union countries are proposing an intervention program on land and sea. They are offering more money for humanitarian aid in the Idlib province. But they also criticized what they say is Turkey's use of migratory pressure for political purposes.

In the meantime, Greek authorities are blocking thousands of migrants and refugees from crossing the border. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports that effort has turned violent.



JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We don't know her name.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): She is too distraught to speak.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): But you really don't know what words to explain this gut-wrenching grief. Those with her tell us her husband was killed at the border. Turkey says Greek border guards opened fire at refugees and migrants gathered at its border on Wednesday, killing one and injuring five others. The Greek government denies using live ammunition and calls it fake news, fabricated by Turkey. But it's not just the Turkish government making these accusations.

(On camera): We are not allowed past this police line, but the situation seems chaotic. We have seen several ambulances coming in and out.

(Voice-over): This man made it out of the area where thousands are gathered by the border fence. He says they were protesting peacefully.

They said, go away, and then they shot at us. He says the Greek government is openly firing live ammunition, an accusation Greece categorically denies. We spoke with a Syrian refugee who also says he witnessed the incident.

(On camera): He saw one person, he says, hit in the chest by a tear gas canister. We are also hearing pops of -- it is unclear what is being fired and who is firing what.

(Voice-over): At the local hospital where the injured were taken, Turkey's health officials are keen to show us a photo of a bullet they claimed was removed from one of the wounded.

(On camera): Because the Greeks are trying to say they did not use live ammunition, they did not use bullets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We certainly removed it.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Thirty-year-old Zishar Omar, a Pakistani laborer, says he saw people gathered at the border fence. He thought that they might be opening the gate to enter Greece, so he ran up. This footage shows Omar being carried away moments after he was shot in the leg. All he wanted, he says, was a better life.

ZISHAR OMAR, PAKISTANI LABORER: Pakistan is not working. No business. No jobs.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Back at the border, a steady stream of new arrivals, undeterred by the news of violence and Europe's determination to keep them out. Some say they know Turkey is using them as leverage, trying to get more support from Europe. People are so desperate for a different life that they are willing to risk everything for this uncertainty.

Jomona Karadsheh, CNN, on the Turkish-Greek border.


VAUSE: The U.S. has launched what it calls a defensive airstrike at Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. Military officials say they responded after the Taliban attacked an Afghan checkpoint in Helmand province. CNN's Nic Robertson has more on why the strike happened days after both sides signed an agreement to work towards possible peace talks.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: What this airstrike appears to show is that the United States is keeping good on the word that Afghan government officials say they got from the United States and that was if the Taliban transgressed from the deal, that the United States would use lethal firepower against the Taliban.

It does appear as if the Taliban have become frustrated, perhaps divided internally, but frustrated with the deal that they signed with the United States because their expectation was the afghan government would release 5,000 Taliban prisoners by March the 10th, so inter- Afghan talks could begin.

The Afghan government has said that that's way too short a timeframe and that's when the Taliban began their attacks. Now, it's not clear if the instructions for the attacks are coming from the senior command in the Taliban or these commanders on the ground.

But nevertheless, the Taliban have had their answer from the United States. They are sticking to the resolve that they gave the Afghan government that there is no gaffe, if you will, between the Afghan government and the United States on this issue.

So the Taliban now have to decide if they go back to the reduction in violence or they try to fight their way forward. The ball does seem to be squarely in their court.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


VAUSE: And in the wake of that agreement, women are voicing concerns about the future of their rights in Afghanistan.


VAUSE: We are being honored at the annual Women of Courage Awards in Washington. One Afghan mayor urged the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to protect women's rights through this Afghan peace process.


ZARIFA GHAFARI, AFGHAN WOMEN'S RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Therefore, let me ask for your continued support to ensure that Afghan peace process does not erase the gains that have been made since the dark days of the Taliban regime.


VAUSE: U.S. officials say women will have a seat at the negotiating table. However, they were not mentioned in the agreement.

On March 11th, CNN will partner with young people around the world for a day of action against modern day slavery. For this year's "My Freedom Day," we are asking what freedom means to you. Here's what Olympics sprinter eight-time gold medalist Usain Bolt had to say.


USAIN BOLT, EIGHT-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Freedom for me means freedom of speech, living how you want to live, living free, being happy, having your family and friends around you. For me, it's all about happiness, you know what I mean, willing to do whatever you want to do, go wherever you want to go, and just living, you know what I mean, no binds, nobody telling you what you want to do, just living free and happy.


VAUSE: Free and happy. Tell what freedom means to you. Share your story on social media using the hashtag "My Freedom Day." And tune in this weekend for "CNN Freedom Project" documentary "Begging for Change." We will take a look at the widespread practice of forcing children to beg in Senegal, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Hong Kong, 7:30 a.m. in London, only here on CNN.

When we come back, Elizabeth Warren's days may be numbered, leaving Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders fighting for the chance to take on Donald Trump. The Democrats' new dynamic in the race for the White House, just ahead.


VAUSE: So, isn't the Biden balance has a little Joe-mentum? (Ph) Whatever you call it. The former U.S. vice president's campaign has moved into high gear after a surprising and sweeping win on Super Tuesday. He has now raised more than $7 million online in less than two days. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more now, reporting in from Washington.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They don't call it Super Tuesday for nothing.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, it is clear, momentum trumped money.

BIDEN: So I'm here to report -- we are very much alive!


ZELENY (voice-over): Joe Biden is not only alive. He is on a remarkable role, collecting the endorsement of Michael Bloomberg, who extinguished his presidential bid after a dismal showing on Super Tuesday.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. And after yesterday's vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.

ZELENY (voice-over): Biden sweeping 10 states from Massachusetts to Minnesota, across the south, and even winning Texas. Bernie Sanders claiming his home state of Vermont and two others while holding a lead in the biggest price of all, California. Tonight, Biden is leading Sanders in the only metric that matters, the delegate race.

As Warren reassesses her candidacy, an advisor telling CNN, the biggest decision left is whether to endorse Biden, Sanders, or neither. For Sanders, the results on Tuesday were a surprising setback, exposing holes in his coalition and raising questions about whether his support has come up against the ceiling.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course, I'm disappointed. I would like to win every state by landslide. It's not going to happen.

ZELENY (voice-over): He pledged to fight Biden all the way to the democratic convention in Milwaukee.

SANDERS: Joe and I have a very different voting record. Joe and I have a very different vision for the future of this country. And Joe and I are running very different campaigns.

ZELENY (voice-over): Yet Sanders is trying to embrace former President Barack Obama through a new TV ad.


ZELENY (voice-over): Aimed in part at improving his low support among black voters. It was a dramatic comeback for Biden, for which he owes a long list of thank yous to Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg for dropping out and enjoying him, to Warren for bringing Bloomberg down on the debate stage, and to voters who flock to him.

BIDEN: People are talking about a revolution. We started to movement. We've increased turnout.


BIDEN: The turnout turned out for us.

ZELENY (voice-over): Going forward in a one-on-one race with Sanders, the former vice president can also lean on the financial muscle of Bloomberg, who pledged to turn his robust campaign into an effort to take down President Trump.

BLOOMBERG: I will not walk away from the most important political fight of my life and I hope you won't walk away either.


ZELENY (on camera): Bloomberg is vowing to spend considerable money to defeat President Trump and help Joe Biden. But it is President Trump who is at the center of all of this. Democratic voters have been looking for a consensus candidate, the strongest candidate in their view to take on President Trump. Many think that is Biden. But some, of course, still think it is Sanders.

A key question: What will Elizabeth Warren do? Senator Sanders called her, asking for her support. She did not immediately give it. So that is one key question, if she will go with Biden as all the other rivals have or she will be standing with Sanders. But one thing that is clear is Biden-Sanders fight goes on.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: We have said this before, but it's this time we really mean it. This is a stunning new look at the surface of Mars and it comes from NASA's Curiosity rover. The space agency has pieced together more than a thousand pictures taken late last year to make this 360-degree panorama. Yes, it is a panorama. We're looking at a region called the Gale Crater which is likely filled with lakes and stream billions of years ago. Curiosity snapped the photos during the same two-hour period over four days so the lighting would be consistent.

What a time of your life (ph). Thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause. "Business Traveller" is up next. But I will be back for checking the headlines. You're watching CNN.