Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Outbreak Brings Drastic Changes To Everyday Life; U.S. Stocks Suffer Worst Day Since 1987 Crash; Source: Trump Very Concerned About Getting Infected; Coronavirus Pandemic; Covid-19: Separating Fact from Fiction. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 13, 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]

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: He was trying to reassure an anxious nation, but instead the U.S. president and his European travel ban sparks outrage among allies and fear at home after stocks went into freefall for yet another day.

And while senior government officials worldwide have self-quarantined after exposure to the virus, Donald Trump outright refuses to despite multiple exposures.

The coronavirus locked down, to quarantines, to public health emergencies which groups China and Italy are now part of daily life in the United States. The National Guard has been deployed in even more cities, and schools, churches, museums, concerts, sporting events, or being closed, canceled, postponed or suspended by the hour. CNN Nick Watt begins our coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Disneyland in California now closing Saturday morning through the end of the month. And expect more announcements like this shortly, says the state's governor. Also, there will now be no March Madness this year. The NBA the NHL, Major League Soccer, as well as the global ATP Tennis Tour are all now suspending their seasons. A second Utah Jazz player has now tested positive.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: The majority of the NBA now has now come into contact with someone who has had direct contact with those Jazz players.

WATT: Status, no barrier to infection. Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson just caught coronavirus while he was filming in Australia. Social distancing now key. Cleaning crews in action at Palm Beach airport after a passenger landed from New York then told officials their test just came back positive. In New Rochelle, New York, there's a containment zone and uniforms on the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was shocked with the National Guard, but the containment area I'm OK with. WATT: Over in New York City, Broadway shows will now close, so will the Met Opera and the Met Museums of Art. No more gatherings of more than 500 people across the state. The governor calls the financial impact incalculable.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): This state is not going to be able to compensate businesses for lost revenue. It would bankrupt the state.

WATT: State, cities, corporations increasingly taking the situation into their own hands.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We do have in this executive order the ability to commandeer existing private sector assets, including hotels and motels.

WATT: The recommendation now across California cancel or postpone events of 250 people or more. For the elderly or infirm, don't attend the gathering of more than 10. And prepare for Starbucks to go only. As they didn't China, Starbucks might now limit in-store seating.

And remember the Grand Princess cruise ship capped off the coast of California last week after 21 positive tests onboard? Vice President Pence said this on Friday.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All passengers and crew will be tested for the coronavirus.

WATT: But today we hear all of these individuals will be tested, but not all of them have been tested. And three days after she docked in Oakland, some passengers are still stuck on board. Meanwhile, the Princess Cruise line has halted global operations, all 18 ships for the next two months.

Now, we know that some of the passengers who have come off the Grand Princess who have been tested have tested positive for coronavirus. We don't know how many and state officials tell me that they will have more details on that in a few days. Nick watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: There appears to be no relief in sight for financial markets which are being driven by fears of the unknown over the coronavirus pandemic. All the major indices in the Asia Pacific region are down sharply in Friday trading. The Nikkei is down by more than four percent, the Hong Kong Hang Seng down by 2.3 percent, Shanghai Composite down by more than three percent, Seoul down by more than five percent. So about a half an hour or an hour or so of trading there in Seoul.

Wall Street suffered its worst day since Black Friday 1987. The Dow plunged 10 percent. The index is now only slightly higher than it was when Donald Trump took office three years ago. For more now on the economic fallout from the coronavirus and the response by the Trump White House, Rana Foroohar, CNN's Global Economic Analysts is with us this hour from New York. So Rana, thanks for being with us. We appreciate it. RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Thank you.

VAUSE: OK, so the most dire prediction out there for the U.S. economy comes from Capital Economics, an advisory to clients which reads in part, "We now anticipate more aggressive measures to contain the pandemic over the next few days. This is from the Fed and from the government. With nationwide school closures, bans on large public gatherings and localized lockdowns, all possible. As a result, we now expect GDP to fall by four percent annualized in the second quarter, and to stagnate in the third."

So in other words, the U.S. economy will fall into recession. That's their best-case scenario. If these containment measures fail, they say, there'll be the worst case with about a third of the country infected with this virus. The U.S. will face a prolonged recession. I mean, that seems entirely realistic, at least you know, the full percent recession.

[01:05:35]

FOROOHAR: It absolutely does. I mean, look, you have to think about what's really happening here. We are having a demand shock and a supply shock. At the same time, we are having a real economic event, which is a pandemic, kind of a big deal. And we're also having a market event.

You know, we saw a route today in the market because corporations are now going for their credit lines, they're drawing down building have dollars in credit, because they don't know what tomorrow is going to bring. They've got planes sitting on runways, they've got consumers that are not shopping, they need to pay their bills. Those don't stop coming. That's putting pressure on banks.

We haven't even seen the cascade of defaults and downgrades that we're probably going to see. So, yes, it's a big deal. You know, it would be really surprising to me if we didn't go into recession, at least for some period of time.

VAUSE: Well, you know, for the past three years, Donald Trump has taken credit not just for a healthy economy, but also for a booming stock market. In case you don't remember, here's a sample.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been.

The economy is doing fantastically well, even better than you think in the stock market.

The stock market is way up again today and we're setting a record literally all the time.

I say is this sucker ever going down a little bit. This is a little embarrassing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Be careful what you wish for. You know, as the saying goes, you know, if you get credit for the sunshine, you get blamed for the rain. So -- but how much of this economic sort of crisis that we're staring at now is actually really the direct fault of this president?

FOROOHAR: Well, you know, I think in general, presidents get both more credit and receive more fault for anything to do with the economy than they deserve. That said, what President Trump did was add kerosene really, to some of the fire that was already on the markets. I mean, I have been saying for years that keeping interest rates this low for this long, using monetary stimulus to really grow an asset bubble, has been a problem that we were someday going to have to pay the piper for.

What the President did in 2017 was add tax cuts which we really didn't need at that stage as a fiscal stimulus, which then encouraged corporations to take on more debt. That debt bubble is now bursting. And frankly, I think he does deserve some of the blame for that.

VAUSE: And just in the last 24 hours, one of the reasons for the plummeting markets was that you know, presidential address on Wednesday night. And when the President makes it televised address from the Oval Office, it's like announcing the 10 commandments. You know, there's room for error in any of this.

So apart from Trump's lack of credibility, and like leadership, the main proposal from an economic point of view to deal with the financial fallout, he wants to cut the payroll tax on Social Security payments. And that will cost the budget for about $1 trillion. It will swap the economy with liquidity and make supply shortages even worse. I mean, it's an awful plan.

FOROOHAR: It was an awful plan. And it was not what the markets were pricing in. The markets, as I said, you know, on CNN yesterday, the markets wanted to see the president come out and say, we are going to have a massive public health spending program. We are going to shore up the social safety net, we are going to bolster Main Street Americans. So he said, hey, here's a tax cut. And oh, and by the way, we're fighting a foreign virus. I mean, it was just an exactly not what would create calm in the market.

VAUSE: And right now, I guess the only worse in economy which has dealt with an almost total shutdown is Italy. So everyone's obviously closely watching what happens there. The former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi appeared on CNN. He begged both the Europeans and American leaders not to repeat the mistakes they made in Italy. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTEO RENZI, FORMER PRIME MINISTER, ITALY: Please don't make the same mistakes of undervaluation of the risk. Because a lot of people, for example, decide in France last week, or in the U.K., or in Germany, to go for example to theater -- to theater or to museum. Because their action is don't be afraid, we go to theater. This is a good reaction when there is an attack of terrorists. We show our resilience. But when there is a virus, we have to avoid to stay in public place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[01:10:00]

VAUSE: You know, always, you know, take this crisis seriously. And you know, Renzi is referring to everyone there, not just political leaders. But with that in mind, leadership is important at times like this, and it seems especially like here in the U.S. when you have a president who appears to be exposed to the virus, at least on a number of occasions, but is refusing to go into isolation.

FOROOHAR: 100 percent. And he has been, you know, planning rallies. I mean, there is a sense of irresponsibility, frankly, that I think everyone in America is concerned about to a certain extent, and certainly, global markets are concerned about. I mean, there's basically two things that need to happen right now.

We need a signal that there is either going to be a vaccine or that there is going to be a containment and testing strategy that works. We don't have any of those things right now. So we don't know where this is going in the U.S.

VAUSE: Yes. It's going to get worse. That seems to be everything we know at this point. It's getting -- it's going to get worse. Rana, thanks so much. Good to see you. Y

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

VAUSE: In less than 24 hours, tough new travel restrictions announced by the U.S. president during his address from the Oval Office will take effect. For the next 30 days, travelers from 26 European countries will be denied entry into the United States. American citizens are exempt so to most of their family members. Permanent U.S. presidents or green card holders are not part of the plan, so to cargo.

Shortly after the news broke though on Wednesday night, some European leaders were quick to lash out, saying, they were blindsided by this announcement from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC MAMER, SPOKESPERSON, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Italy just recorded its biggest jump in coronavirus cases to date adding 2,600 on Thursday alone. The virus has now killed more than 1,000 people there, infected more than 15,000, and that's despite drastic restrictions and lockdown. Catholic churches across Rome have been ordered to close until April, the first time in recorded history.

French President Emmanuel Macron called the pandemic the biggest health crisis France has seen in a century. He called for anyone over the age of 70 to stay home and limit social contact. He announces that schools across the country will be closed as of Monday.

Britain's Prime Minister says the country is experiencing the worst public health crisis for a generation and can no longer contain the virus. But Boris Johnson says, for now, schools remain open.

Still to come, President Trump's close encounter with a person infected with the coronavirus, and now the president is said me at least a little worried and canceling many public events and gatherings. We'll explain what set off his scare. And later, fear may be proving more contagious than the virus itself. We'll separate the myth from the mania.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: After strong thunderstorms moved across the Tennessee River Valley on Thursday, now we focus our attention across the panhandle of Texas for the potential of our next round of severe weather later in the day today, being Friday. You can see we've highlighted the areas where we believe the best chances of severe storms will be for later this afternoon. We also have an area of low pressure moving across the Rockies that will bring mountain snows and plenty of wind especially into the Denver, Colorado region.

Lots of sunshine across the Great Lakes and our departing storm system bringing a few morning showers to the east coast, but that will move off the coastal regions by this afternoon and evening.

Here's our chances of severe weather, damaging winds, large hail, maybe an isolated tornado as well, anywhere from Lubbock, through Midland, all the way southward towards the San Angelo region. Even if Portions of New Mexico as well. Complex storm system kind of evolving over the next 24 hours. You can see that rain and snow mixed across parts of the plains as well.

[01:15:09]

Rainfall accumulation map, we're anticipating just light showers again for the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast locations before the storm system moves off. Heftier rainfall totals though once again across the Tennessee River Valley stretching further south and west towards the panhandle of Texas.

Dallas 18 today, 19 for New York, nine lonely degrees for Chicago, so cool weather for you. But we'll say goodbye to the coldest of air and welcome in some milder spring-like temperatures by next week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: The United States has carried out airstrikes in Iraq targeting Iranian backed militia sites south of Baghdad. One U.S. official says five weapons storage facilities were hit as a way of reducing future attacks on coalition forces. The Pentagon also says it's a response to a rocket attack Wednesday which killed two American and one British servicemembers.

The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be spending the next 14 days in isolation working from home after his wife tested positive for coronavirus. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau will also remain in isolation according to the Prime Minister's Office. She recently returned from a speaking engagement in the U.K.

In a tweet, Mr. Trudeau says his wife's symptoms are mild, and she's following her doctor's advice. The Prime Minister does not have symptoms, at least at the moment. He's still working the phones even discussing the coronavirus fight on Thursday with the U.S. President Donald Trump. And doctors say there is no need for Trudeau to be tested at least for the moment.

Publicly, at least, the U.S. president seems to be don't do as I do, but do what my senior officials say. Privately, the President is apparently worried that he may have caught the coronavirus at an event last weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort In Florida. We get details now from CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House says President Trump still hasn't been tested for coronavirus even though it just got much closer to him. After Trump hosted a dinner for the Brazilian President at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night, the Brazilian press secretary has now tested positive for coronavirus.

The White House says Trump had limited interaction with the senior aide and there's no reason for him to be tested despite a photo showing otherwise. For now, Trump says he's not worried.

TRUMP: Let's put it this way. I'm not concerned.

My fellow Americans --

COLLINS: After his primetime address created more chaos than combs, Trump caused more confusion about testing today.

TRUMP: Frankly, the testing has been going very smoothly.

COLLINS: That's not true according to Democrats, Republicans, or even the President's own health advisors. Asked who's in charge of making sure tests are administered, the CDC director look to Dr. Anthony Fauci for the answer today.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: My colleague is looking at me to answer that. It is a failing. Let's admit it. The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we're not set up for that.

COLLINS: Trump also confirmed that European leaders weren't informed before he announced he was restricting most travel from Europe to the U.S. for the next 30 days.

TRUMP: We had to move quickly. I mean, when they raise taxes on us, they don't consult us.

COLLINS: The President made that announcement in an Oval Office address in primetime last night.

TRUMP: We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.

COLLINS: While the message was intended to show he was serious about coronavirus, the president left out major details. Less than an hour after he gave his address, the Department of Homeland Security clarified it didn't apply to American citizens or legal permanent residents.

TRUMP: It was made very clear last night who is and who isn't.

COLLINS: The White House was also forced to clarify that the restrictions wouldn't impact goods coming into the U.S. after Trump said they would.

[01:20:01]

TRUMP: These prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval.

COLLINS: After highlighting the risk of large crowds, the President has canceled multiple trips on his own schedule, including public appearances, fundraisers and campaign events.

TRUMP: And the question is how many people will die? And I don't want people dying.

COLLINS: Now, other officials who were at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend did interact with the Brazilian press secretary are getting tested and self-quarantining, they say, out of an abundance of caution. People like Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the President's closest allies on Capitol Hill is one of those, another is Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who met with the two Brazilian officials in Miami over the weekend.

But so far, that is not the plan for either Trump or the Vice President at this time. Caitlin Collins, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Michael Genovese is the Director of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. He's joining me this hour from Los Angeles. Michael, it's good to see you. The White House did issue a statement explaining why the President will not be tested or isolated despite his exposure. They're citing CDC guidelines here. They go on to say both the president and vice president had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive. This is the Brazilian official. And do not require being tested at this time.

CDC guidelines say though, when it comes to self-quarantine, the separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease, but not yet symptomatic from others who have not been exposed to prevent the possible spread of the communicable disease. There is a credible argument to be made that under federal law, the health secretary has the legal authority to force quarantine on the President of the United States because he is right now a risk to the public health.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the White House explanation is completely unpersuasive. And the President is playing ostrich. He's burying his head in the sand rather than facing the reality. I think it's part of both his own personal psyche, but also it's kind of the bigger political question.

He simply can't get his hands around this, can't accept that it's happening. And he's very personalized this -- very much personalized this. How could this virus do this to me? He -- the virus is doing it to everyone, and the President is not immune from that. And it is irresponsible to take the position he's taking.

And while yes, he could be forced to be quarantined, that will not happen. He has to be the grown-up and he has to do it himself. He has to get tested.

VAUSE: After this, the President is 73 years old, which is within an age range which makes him especially vulnerable to this virus. And for a guy who's a self-confirmed what, germaphobe this refusal to take any kind of medical advice just seems kind of pigheaded?

GENOVESE: Well, he's in denial clearly. And he's not been able to face the political reality or the medical and healthcare reality that we're in a pandemic, it's a national crisis, is an international global crisis. And he's worried about things like what he said when he went to the CDC where he went with a campaign cap on, and he's talking about how tests are available and that they're perfect, just like my letter was perfect.

He's simply not focused on this crisis. Presidents need to focus like laser beams on a crisis and serve the public. He's still worried about himself.

VAUSE: And you mentioned the lack of testing kits. This seems to be emerging as one of you know, the really big screw-ups early on by this administration. And 11:45 Thursday morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci from the White House Coronavirus Task Force testified before Congress, about an hour later we heard from the U.S. president talking about these tests in kids. Here are both their answers. We'll start with Dr. Fauci.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: The system does not -- is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Failing?

FAUCI: It is a failing. Let's admit it, the idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we're not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes, but we're not. TRUMP: We're going to have a million tests now and they're going to have over the next few days, we're going to have 4 million tests. And, frankly, the testing has been going very smooth. If you go to the right agency, if you go to the right area, you get the test. Now with that being said, as you know, millions are being produced. It's a brand new thing that just happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: There are two real explanations for this for Donald Trump. I think he's just outright lying about these testing kits to deliberately mislead the public, or he is incapable of understanding and absorbing facts or details which he believes reflect badly on him or his administration, or maybe it's a combination of both. But either way, it is dangerous in the midst of a pandemic to have misinformation out there. That is how people die.

[01:25:02]

GENOVESE: And we've had -- we've had to face the very uncomfortable truth that the President is not up to the job, that it's too big for him. And this should not surprise us because after three years of bashing science, after three years of budget cuts on health care, after years of saying that we're going to not fill positions in the pandemic response team, after letting all the Obama infrastructure that he built up on dealing with pandemics collapse, now we face this.

And I think the President is unable to face that he's wrong, especially because Obama was right. And also, the implication that it has such an -- it will have such an impact on his electoral fortunes, I think it's just too much for him to deal with. And so I think psychologically, he is capable only playing the ostrich. He can't face substantive reality.

We need strong leadership now. We need someone who will speak truth to power, who will grab ahold of this and start showing some real leadership. The President has not been able to do that.

VAUSE: And there's no one in this administration right now who seems to be willing to speak out to the President. But we have -- meantime, with this campaign rallies, which are now on hold, Donald Trump has finally suspended his campaign rallies lease, at least the time being. The same is true for the Democrats. There'll be debates but there'll be without cheering audiences.

This is good news for Joe Biden. On Wednesday, he did this speech. He outlined his administration would deal with this crisis. Here's part of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No president can promise to prevent future outbreaks, but I can -- I can promise you this. When I'm president, we will be better prepared to respond better and recover better. We'll lead with science will listen to the experts. Maybe it's crystal clear. The Coronavirus does not have a political affiliation. It will affect Republicans, Independents and Democrats alike.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: If you came down from Mars and didn't know who the President was, you looked at Donald Trump and Joe Biden, you'd guess it was Joe Biden.

GENOVESE: And what stood in contrast between the President and the wannabe president? Biden was serious, he was thoughtful, he was measured. But in a way, you can understand this as the rule of opposites. Americans look for in the next president, someone with the opposite characteristics of the incumbent president.

And so, when George W. Bush was light-hearted about his decision making, we went to a professorial decision-maker in Obama. And from Obama, who was very serious and thoughtful and intellectual and professorial, we go to Trump who's frivolous about his decision making and arrogant and his self-worth.

Now, we have another study in contrast, you go from the inexperienced, frivolous president to the very experienced sober president-would be. And that study in contrast, I think you're absolutely correct. This plays right into Joe Biden's hands and it works so clearly against the president because that contrast is striking.

VAUSE: Yes, politics, everything is timing. Michael, thank you. Very good to see you. Michael Genovese there in Los Angeles. I appreciate it.

GENOVESE: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: So as testing kits Michael mentioned are immerging as a key to minimize the impact of this viral outbreak, when we return, we'll take you inside one South Korean company which are making the kits long before the virus even had a name. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:31:46]

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

The global sell-off in financial markets took another hit on Friday as all the major industries in Asia fell sharply at the open. They remain in negative territory at this hour.

U.S. futures have now moved into positive territory after a disastrous 2,300-point drop off for the Dow on Thursday.

Less than 24 hours from now, many Europeans will no longer be allowed to travel to the U.S. The 30-day ban is intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the United States, which is already in nearly every American state.

The new restrictions apply to those traveling from the E.U. but not the U.K. and Ireland.

And concerns of the epidemic is causing Disney to close its theme parks in California, Florida, as well as France. The closures will begin this weekend and last through until the end of the month. Disney's theme parks in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo were shuttered earlier this year and will remain closed.

There is a simple rule in science. If you are looking for something, chances are you will find something. In South Korea, when they went looking for the virus they found a staggering number, nearly 8,000 so far and counting. And they found those patients, simply because they have the ability to test for the virus because long before there were any cases reported in South Korea, one biotech company began producing the testing kits.

CNN's Ivan Watson takes us inside that firm.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, South Korea has aggressively tested for the disease with the help of drive-through testing facilities that speed up the process.

South Korea has already tested more than 220,000 people. The quick rollout made possible, thanks to fast work by Korean biotech companies like Seegene, which gave CNN exclusive access to its research facilities.

This is the laboratory where a team of scientists came up with the test kit for diagnosing coronavirus. And they did it in under three weeks.

CHUN JONG-YOON, FOUNDER AND CEO, SEEGENE: When we started, we did not expect this kind of pandemic or outbreak happening in Korea. Nobody expected it at all.

WATSON: Chun Jong-Yoon is the founder and CEO of the Seegene, a company that designs and sells test kits that identify dozens of different kinds of diseases. In mid-January, Chun says he first instructed his researchers to invent a new test for coronavirus, which was then starting its deadly spread across China.

So you guys were already working on coronavirus before the first confirmed case of the illness in South Korea?

LEE DAE-HOON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SEEGENE INSTITUTE OF LIFE SCIENCE: Yes, just hearing the news from China, we thought it will be impact on the Korean peninsula so we (INAUDIBLE) in emergency cases.

WATSON: The molecular microbiologists got to work without ever having a physical sample of the virus. Instead, they relied on a genetic blueprint of the new virus distributed by the World Health Organization and health officials in China.

Highlighting three specific genes, Seegene's scientists then had to come up with a way of spotting those coronavirus genes in future samples taken from patients.

Was there more pressure than usual?

[01:34:56]

LEE: Yes. Because it's an emergency case rapidly spreading the coronavirus into our countries.

WATSON: Not long ago it would have taken Seegene two to three months to come up with a test, but using artificial intelligence --

You were able to come up with a test in less than two weeks?

CHUN: Right.

WATSON: That's pretty quick.

CHUN: Yes, very quick.

WATSON: Chun says on February 12th, the Korean government fast-tracked approval of the new coronavirus test kit less than a month after Seegene started working on it.

These six vials, some of which only contain a tear drop worth of solution, are what you need to conduct tests on 100 patients for coronavirus. And that can be completed in just four hours.

Seegene is now working overtime, even drafting scientists with PhDs to work on the assembly line.

That is how much demand there is right now.

NOH SI-WON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE STRATEGY, SEEGENE: Yes, yes.

Great demand, not only from domestic markets, also you know, from the overseas markets.

WATSON: The demand is urgent because identifying coronavirus is one of the best ways to stop the spread of this disease.

Ivan Watson, CNN -- Seoul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Fear and misinformation seem to be spreading faster than the coronavirus itself. When we come back, separating fact from fiction.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: During a U.S. congressional hearing on Thursday, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci was blunt. He said the U.S. testing system for the coronavirus is failing.

CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta asked him about that problem during a CNN "CORONAVIRUS GLOBAL TOWN HALL" just a few hours ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Fauci -- there was a test. It was being distributed around the world; WHO was using the test. I believe it was created in Germany in Berlin. And it was being used.

And yet we did not use it in this country, even though they stopgap measure. Even as we prepare to make our own test. And as a result we got behind.

That's a problem and I'm just wondering, was that a mistake? Should we have used that test? Why didn't we?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, you know, Sanjay -- I'm not sure that it was a mistake. But certainly, you know, if you look back and Monday morning quarterback it would've been nice to have had a backup.

But what the CDC has done over many, many years when we have things like this, is develop their own test, which is always really a good test, and to roll it out in a way that we call a public health directive where they give it to departments of public health. You have a physician-patient relationship, they come in, they ordered the tests, they get the test.

It was not designed for the kind of mass distribution that we need now that we've seen in other countries. That is behind us.

Looking forward, we are going very much in that direction -- Sanjay. Very much so. And I think really within a relatively short period of time -- you know, a week or maybe even less, we are going start to see the ratcheting up of the availability of tests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[01:40:05]

VAUSE: Please stay with CNN as we follow developments throughout this coronavirus outbreak. And you can watch that CNN town hall in its entirety coming up at 8:00 a.m. in London, 4:00 p.m. in Hong Kong.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, so too does fear. And concerning the misinformation, many health experts find themselves battling a myth as well as this disease.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout sorts through all of it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To separate fear from fact, I sat down with two infectious disease experts in Hong Kong.

The coronavirus is man-made.

DR. IVAN HUNG, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: If you look at the virus itself, if you look at the -- follow the genetic tree -- we find that basically, the virus pops very nicely in between the (INAUDIBLE) coronavirus and the SARS coronavirus.

So we believe that this is actually a natural evolution of this novel coronaviruses.

STOUT: So it didn't come from a lab in China. This wasn't bioengineered?

HUNG: Unlikely.

STOUT: Since the outbreak began there has been a wave of misinformation, prompting this open letter by scientists in "The Lancet". "Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumors and prejudice that jeopardize our global collaboration in the fight against this virus."

My pet can give me the virus because we know that a pet, here in Hong Kong, has tested positive for the new coronavirus. The pet has even been placed in quarantine.

DR. SARAH BORWEIN, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: It's very unlikely. And more likely the dog has been environmentally contaminated.

HUNG: Even though it is contaminated, you won't get a very high viral load (ph). And it's very unlikely that it can actually be transmitted from the pet to you. It's very unlikely.

STOUT: Now, this is a big one. Wearing a mask will not protect me from the virus. Because you have the U.S. Surgeon General telling people you don't need to buy a mask, it is not effective. Is it?

HUNG: If you look at the data, in Hong Kong wearing masks is probably the most important thing in terms of infection control.

STOUT: Wow.

HUNG: It will not only bring down the, you know, the cases of coronavirus, it also bring down the influenza. In fact, this is now the influenza season. And we hardly see any influenza cases. And that is because the masks actually protect, not only against the coronaviruses, but also against the influenza viruses as well.

STOUT: The coronavirus is less deadly than the flu. How did they compare?

HUNG: If you look at the thousand cases being reported by Professor (INAUDIBLE) in new internal medicine, it basically, the mortality rate is around 1.4 percent. Or probably even going to go lower as the denominator is getting bigger. So it still stand about 1 percent.

For Influenza is 0.1 percent or even lower, depending on what season you are. So it is still 10 times more deadly, compared to influenza.

STOUT: The virus will go away in April. We've heard that from many people.

BORWEIN: That would be wonderful.

(CROSSTALK)

STOUT: Is that to be believed?

BORWEIN: It is very speculative. And so people partly say that because SARS kind of went away in April, May. But when it is warm here, it's going to be cold somewhere else. We've got a southern hemisphere, too.

HUNG: And SARS only affected a few countries, but this time it's really a pandemic scale. So basically it can come back, especially in the southern hemisphere and then, you know, alternate with the northern hemisphere.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Thanks to reporter Kristie Lu Stout there for that story.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

"WORLD SPORT" starts after the break.

[01:43:55]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)