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Travel Advisory for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut; Global Death Toll Surpasses 30K; COVID-19 Claims More than 10K in Italy; U.K. Expanding Medical Capacity; French Prime Minister: Next Two Weeks Will Be the Toughest; Navy Hospital Ships Won't Treat Coronavirus; Australia Limits Gatherings to Two People; Japanese Prime Minister: Country on Verge of National Emergency; Singapore over 800 Confirmed Cases; China Resuming Mass Transit in Wuhan. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired March 29, 2020 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00]

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ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Stepping back from what one governor called the brink of war, millions in the U.S. face new travel advisories as the death toll doubles in just the last couple of days.

Across the U.S., more communities emerging as virus hot spots, including New Orleans. What hospitals there say they need urgently.

And in Italy, the tragic impact of the virus forcing priests to face a new grim reality each and every day.

Welcome to your viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Anna Coren. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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COREN: It's 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast and the hours ahead will see residents of three states waking up to a two-week travel advisory. The region has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. So the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is telling people living there not to travel anywhere unless absolutely necessary.

It's a big step back from the quarantine Donald Trump suggested on Saturday, an idea rejected by at least one state governor.

It's not clear the travel advisory actually changes anything. Stay-at- home orders are already in place in those states and many others. Only people with critical jobs such as health care providers and delivery drivers are exempt.

Still, the CDC's latest advisory shows the Trump administration is grasping for ways to slow the pandemic in the U.S. The number of reported infections has spiraled upward to more than 121,000, far more than any other place in the world.

And the U.S. death toll has doubled over the past two days to more than 2,000. Globally, Johns Hopkins University accounts well over 660,000 cases and more than 30,000 fatalities and rising.

Our team is fanned out across the globe, covering the pandemic like only CNN can. We're live in the U.K., where the top doctor says, below a certain number of deaths, the country will have done well in this epidemic. We'll take you to Tokyo, as Japan moves closer to a national emergency, following the biggest one day spike in cases there.

And in Los Angeles, mercy coming in the form of a massive floating hospital.

But we begin with the president's push toward a quarantine for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The suggestions triggered a fierce back and forth all day Saturday. CNN's Jeremy Diamond takes us behind the scenes of the battle of wills and Mr. Trump's change of plan.

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JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump on Saturday backing down in the face of criticism. The president earlier on Saturday proposing a quarantine, essentially restricting travel for any residents of New York and people in parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, restricting them from traveling to other parts of the country.

The president late Saturday night instead backing down and proposing this instead, quote, "On the recommendation of the White House coronavirus task force and upon consultation with the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, I have asked the CDC to issue a strong travel advisory to be administered by the governors in consultation with the federal government. A quarantine will not be necessary. Full details will be released by the CDC tonight."

That was the president tweeting on Saturday night.

Of course there are already pretty strict restrictions by each of those three states already in place. Take New York for example. There is a stay at home order encouraging New Yorkers not to leave their homes except for necessities, like getting groceries or medicine. It's not clear what the advisory would do to change the situation on the ground.

But what is clear is the timeline of all this. The president's tweet backing down from his proposal earlier on Saturday morning came after criticism from New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

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ANDREW CUOMO (D), GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: This is -- would be a declaration of war on states, a federal declaration of war. And it wouldn't just be New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. The next week it would be Louisiana, with New Orleans, and then the week after that it would be Detroit, Michigan, and it would run all across the nation.

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DIAMOND: Cuomo made it pretty clear that he not only disagreed with this proposal by the president but that he believed that it would be illegal if implemented --

[04:05:00]

DIAMOND: -- or that the president didn't have the legal authority to actually impose some kind of geographic-based quarantine.

What is clear is that this is in keeping with the president's thinking over the last several days. The president has been eager to get the economy going again and what he has been looking at, as these 15-day guidelines are set to lapse in a matter of days, is putting in a system that would be more geographic based, looking at the risk in certain areas of the country.

But it appears his initial attempt to do something that would be geographic based, at least something that would be federally enforceable, so far, has not come to fruition -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Washington.

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COREN: Health care workers inside New York's besieged hospitals are describing increasingly jammed up conditions as more and more patients stream in, coughing, sweating with fevers and with fear in their eyes.

For the medical professionals, there's worry about their own health. Nurses in The Bronx protesting the lack of safety equipment, such as masks and gloves they need to stay healthy and on the front lines.

This tragic and poignant moment Saturday also in The Bronx.

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COREN (voice-over): New York City police officers standing in the rain to salute the third NYPD member to die from coronavirus as his body was taken from the hospital. Detective Cedric Dixon was a 23-year police veteran. The NYPD reports almost 700 personnel have now tested positive for the virus.

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COREN: The state of Louisiana saw a spike in coronavirus cases and now is reporting more than 3,000 confirmed cases and more than 130 deaths. The city of New Orleans is especially hit hard with the National Guard coming in there to help with the emergency response.

A local nurse at a New Orleans hospital tells CNN that her hospital is averaging three to four deaths per day. She tells us, "We have had to set up a temporary morgue outside the emergency department next to an ambulance ramp for those who expire from COVID-19. This temporary morgue is full."

With more on the situation in New Orleans here is Ed Lavandera.

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ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest numbers here in Louisiana suggest that this state and the city in particular of New Orleans remains a hot spot in the coronavirus outbreak across the country.

The Department of Health here in Louisiana says there are now more than 3,300 cases of coronavirus in the state and there have been 137 deaths. This is a significant jump from the day before. And here in the next few hours the latest numbers will be released once again.

That is the continuous increase of these case numbers is what has people here on edge. And medical experts say that this is a spike in the trajectory that will continue to go up and it's one of the reasons they're so concerned.

The governor says that, by this time next week, the end of this coming week, they will be running out of hospital bed space as well as ventilators. The governor has requested some 12,000 ventilators. The last we heard, they hadn't even received 200 of those.

Many people in hospitals across the state bracing for what's coming in the coming days here as there's a great deal of concern of just how quickly this virus is spreading among the population here.

The stay at home, shelter at home orders have been issued for almost a week now in the state. And you've seen how that has had a significant effect. Many businesses boarded up as if it was a hurricane coming toward the city of New Orleans once again.

Many people taking those orders seriously and they hope that that will begin to flatten the curve. But there's a great deal of concern about what will happen in hospitals across this state this coming week -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, New Orleans.

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COREN: Al Edwards joins us now with the University of Reading School of Pharmacy in England.

Great to have you with us.

As a scientist, are the measures being taken in the U.S. enough to slow the spread of the virus?

Or are more aggressive draconian methods such as used in China what's required?

AL EDWARDS, UNIVERSITY OF READING SCHOOL OF PHARMACY: I think it's really hard to say. I think the other thing is that it's really difficult to square up what people are experiencing locally in their home community and what's happening in different regions.

And, you know, even in the U.K., I'm only maybe 20 miles from the capital, London, and in the region I am there aren't that many cases locally yet. But in London we're getting this -- beginning to get more and more cases, probably a little more like what's happening in New York over there.

[04:10:00] EDWARDS: The control measures and the changes to behavior, what people need to understand, is it takes -- maybe two weeks after we change our behavior before we see any change in the new cases because the new cases we're seeing now are people who were infected two weeks in the past, maybe roughly.

And so it's very difficult to know what impact the existing measures are having. And that makes it very difficult to know what is needed to go further than the current measures, if that makes sense.

COREN: Sure. Let me ask you, then, about Donald Trump's suggestion to quarantine New York. Obviously that received a great deal of backlash, particularly from Governor Cuomo.

But in the current crisis, would it help, considering there are other countries where states are closing their borders?

EDWARDS: Yes, I think we are getting -- I think Italy is several weeks into regional traffic being reduced. There's two sides to that. On the one side, it may be too late. If you have a lot of travel between the states, those cases will be spreading so, in two weeks' time, changing what we do now won't make that much difference.

As you were reporting, maybe you have an outbreak already in New Orleans. On the other hand, it's very, very important if we have an area in any country which is very badly affected, it's very important to try and protect the other areas nearby.

So travel restrictions from and to the outbreak may be helpful. The political side of it is very difficult as well. It's not that straightforward. You can't just immediately shut down travel -- or at least I think that's what we're beginning to see, is that it's one thing to say and it's another thing to achieve it.

COREN: And people abide by it. The race is obviously on to find a vaccine. There are, from my understanding, 3 dozen companies and institutions working to create a vaccine.

Tell me, are they working together for the greater good of humanity or is this a competition?

EDWARDS: I think the scientists are probably working together more than ever before. What I'm experiencing is that the people I know who are working on this kind of thing, such as in parts of the U.K., we're all rooting for each other.

Everybody wants everybody to be successful and be able to develop that vaccine. So everybody is perhaps much more generous than a year ago when the scientific community traditionally -- we all work together but we're also very competitive. Everybody is rooting for each other.

What I find that concerns me, even when we discover the vaccines do work and we can make them safely, which will take some months before we can do that, I'm concerned it will be difficult to manufacture enough vaccine, whatever vaccine is discovered, to be able to make a really big impact. So I think the manufacturing of vaccines will turn out to be a really

big -- an important factor as well, the moment that we have the scientific evidence that a particular vaccine works.

COREN: We're not there yet. Al Edwards, great to get you perspective. Thanks for joining us.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

COREN: Streets across Italy are deserted, the country in the grip of coronavirus. We'll look at the tragic toll the virus is taking.

The virus also is claiming more and more lives in the U.K. We'll tell you about the letter the prime minister is now sending to millions of Britons and the disturbing prediction from a top government official.

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COREN: You're looking at the deserted streets of Milan, Italy. Residents heeding warnings to avoid public spaces. Italy has reported more deaths from COVID-19 than any other nation. Civil authorities say it stands at over 10,000 lives lost. Ben Wedeman looks at the devastation coronavirus is causing across the country.

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BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Coffins, one next to another, next to another, next to another. Lined up in a church in Northern Italy, the epicenter of this country's coronavirus outbreak. Social distancing means family and friends can't say their final farewells. The sick were all alone as they lay dying.

"They were people," says Father Mario, "who died without anyone to hear or see them, without the possibility to talk to their loved ones, with no one to comfort them."

The increase in new cases has of late shown signs of beginning to slow down. But now COVID-19 has killed more people in Italy than anywhere else on Earth. The public health system, one of Europe's best, has been pushed to the limits. The disease has killed more than 50 medical personnel, more than 7,000 have fallen ill.

Italy has been under lockdown for almost three weeks. Severe measures may be starting to bear fruit, says Dr. Moreno Tresoldi.

"We should see less people arriving in the emergency ward," he says. "And we will be able to better look after patients."

Even if the numbers are starting to level out, the damage coronavirus has done to this country is breathtaking. Friday evening, the 24-hour death toll was 969. Saturday evening, the authorities reported another 889 people had died. If there is light at the end of this tunnel, it is at best a faint glimmer -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.

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COREN: The British government is also preparing for a surge of many more cases. Workers are converting London's Excel Center into an emergency hospital. More than 1,000 British patients have died.

The medical director of the National Health Service says if the total death toll can be kept below 20,000, then Britain will have done very well in the epidemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been self-isolating after testing positive for the infection. He's also writing letters to some 30 million households, urging people to stay home.

He writes, "We know things will get worse before they get better. But we are making the right preparations. And the more we all follow the rules, the fewer lives will be lost and the sooner life can return to normal."

Salma Abdelaziz joins us from London. Salma, 20,000 deaths, that is quite alarming.

Are Britons heeding the warning?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Those are very worrying numbers. What we can say is, for now, the U.K. government position is precarious. As you just mentioned, the prime minister has tested positive for coronavirus, the health minister has tested positive for coronavirus, various other members of the government in isolation because they're showing symptoms of the virus.

The prime minister is very much trying to come out in front of this in a video message to the country, he says he will continue to lead the government's efforts. But there has been criticism. A leading medical journal publishing yesterday that the U.K. government was delayed in putting these measures in place, saying that patients will die unnecessarily. Very strong words there.

But yes, with the prime minister sending out these letters individually to each household, the hope is that any confusion around these measures, confusion around what the restrictions are will be clarified and people will follow them.

Yes, we are seeing there's some activity, some of the key workers, health care workers, other people that haven't identified as key workers in the country, have been going out and, of course, doing their jobs.

But beyond that, the streets of London, as you can see behind me here, are largely empty and that's because they're trying to heed that warning, keep home and keep safe -- Anna. COREN: Salma Abdelaziz, we appreciate the update, thank you.

The Spanish government is imposing new restrictions on movement as the number of COVID-19 fatalities soars. Officials reported 832 new coronavirus deaths on Saturday. That brings Johns Hopkins' counts of deaths in Spain to almost 6,000.

The country's prime minister announced Saturday that all nonessential workers must stay home for two weeks. The restrictions begin March 30th and run through until April 9th. He says everyone will get paid and can make up the lost hours later on.

Al Goodman joins us from Madrid.

Al, the soaring death toll extremely alarming, considering the strict measures that Spaniards have been living under for works.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Just in the last two reported days, the figure you just gave of 832 through midday Saturday and the previous 24 hours was 769 deaths. You had those up, that's almost 30 percent of all the deaths from coronavirus in Spain in just the past two days.

We're waiting for new figures in a few hours. The government saying that the percentage increase of these deaths is not as high as it was and they're supported by those numbers. But they want to get more things in their favor.

Halfway through this lockdown, when it started, you could still go to work. The prime minister announcing Saturday night, that's going to change for the next two weeks, starting Monday, where nonessential workers, construction workers, will not be able to go on the job.

Although the streets are empty and traffic is very far down, they want to get it further down. These workers will be paid. They'll have to make up those hours when this is all over but they're trying to reduce the new numbers of potential cases, infections, that would potentially send more people to the hospitals and put more pressure on the intensive care units.

And they want to reduce all of that so they can save more lives. The government announcing that the -- that businesses will not be able to use coronavirus as an excuse to fire workers. That's something supported by the unions, not by all businesses.

But there's another very troubling number here in Spain, more than 9,400 medical workers themselves are infected. Three doctors have died and that's a testament that there wasn't enough protective gear at the outset of this crisis.

Now they're bringing in millions more masks and all sorts of the gear that you need, ventilators, et cetera, but it's coming late -- too late for some of these people, Anna.

COREN: Tragic news. These people on the front lines definitely need that support. Al Goodman, great to have you there. Many thanks for your reporting.

[04:25:00]

COREN: The French prime minister has a warning about the outbreak in his country. The next two weeks will be the toughest yet. Prime Minister Philippe adds that the fight there is just beginning. His government is racing to add intensive care beds and get hold of protective gear while extending the lockdown.

The health minister says France has ordered 1 billion face masks from China. The country is reporting more than 38,000 cases so far and more than 2,300 deaths.

America's most populous state is in lockdown but California is still bracing for a wave of patients in the coming days. We'll show you the massive Navy hospital ship that has just arrived and how it plans to help.

Plus we'll look at how the virus is impacting other places around the world. Ecuador now under a state of emergency. Horrific stories are emerging from a system straining under the pandemic.

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COREN: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren. The headlines this hour.

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[04:30:00]

COREN: In California, there are now at least 4,600 confirmed coronavirus cases and the predictions of what may be coming are alarming. Officials there say the virus is doubling every three to four days and a surge of patients is expected soon.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Los Angeles has issued a stark warning. He said, "No matter where you are, this is coming to you. Take all the measures you can now to make sure people are home."

In the Los Angeles port of San Pedro, it's all hands on deck to help in the fight against coronavirus. CNN correspondent Paul Vercammen is with the U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy, where they're trying to lighten the load for those battling the pandemic.

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PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy is up and running here in the port of San Pedro: 1,000 beds, 800 personnel, 12 operating rooms and it arrives here just in time. Southern California starting to see that jump toward what they call

the apex of coronavirus cases. Big jumps in the number of cases in Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles and other surrounding counties.

Now what can Mercy do?

The idea is for it to take on any emergencies -- broken bones, appendectomies -- anything that is not a COVID-19 patient. If you look behind me, you can see there are crew members who are aboard the Mercy. They now have a do not disembark order.

They are trying hard to isolate this ship and make it exist in its own coronavirus-free, self-containment bubble.

Now this ship does have a lot of experience with humanitarian missions. One at the top of that list, 2004, the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. It played a big role there.

Also here in Southern California, now, not only is the Mercy starting to help out but they've got all sorts of other moves in place to ramp things up. And they're still being very vigilant about stay at home orders.

This weekend, the first weekend where beaches and hiking trails are closed as Los Angeles moves closer toward the apex as we said earlier -- reporting from San Pedro, California, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now back to you.

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COREN: A cruise ship with at least two coronavirus patients will now be allowed to cross the Panama Canal and sail to Florida. It's been stranded off Panama's Pacific Coast since the cruise was cut short. More than 130 passengers are said to have flulike symptoms.

Panama had denied passage to the ship but then reversed that decision on humanitarian grounds. At least four elderly people have died on the cruise although the causes of their deaths are unknown. Healthy passengers are being transferred to another ship.

As Japan posts its largest single day increase in cases, its prime minister warns the country is poised for a state of emergency. Coming up, how Abe Shinzo wants the public and government to respond.

And as Singapore battles the virus, we'll speak with a best selling author about her husband's struggle to recover in a Singapore hospital. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

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COREN: Welcome back.

This just into CNN, Australia taking new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The prime minister Scott Morrison announced a short time ago that gatherings would be limited to just two people starting Monday. That's down from 10.

He says all public outdoor areas, including playgrounds and skate parks, will be closed. He says residents must stay home except for necessities like going to a doctor or shopping for groceries. He also announced a six-month moratorium on evictions.

Japanese prime minister Abe Shinzo says the virus is pushing the country to the brink of a national emergency. This comes as Japan reported its biggest one day increase in cases Saturday, nearly 200.

Mr. Abe is pushing for a massive aid package to help blunt the impact on the economy and he's urging people to avoid crowds and limit their outings so Japan won't have to pose the strict controls that many European countries are now seeing. Will Ripley is in Tokyo for us.

How are the Japanese citizens responding, considering it was only a few weeks ago that Abe said he didn't need to declare a national emergency?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it was a bit of a confusing feeling for some people because all this time, life has been relatively normal in Japan. It's like they're paddling down the river, everything is OK. The government says you need to turn around right now, everything changes.

They're talking about the a lockdown for Tokyo, every day record increases in the number of cases and they're talking about declaring a national emergency ,something that Abe Shinzo said he didn't need to do and he said that repeatedly.

Why now and why after the postponement after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?

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RIPLEY (voice-over): Huge crowds pack Tokyo's Meguro (ph) River for hanami (ph), the viewing of the cherry blossoms. They gather despite increasingly dire warnings from the Japanese government, warnings that coronavirus cases could see a major spike.

KAIJI FUMA (PH), TOKYO RESIDENT: The situation is very, very severe.

Kaiji Fuma (ph) sees the crowds from his apartment window.

RIPLEY: What do you think when you see all these people outside, some of them not wearing masks close together?

FUMA (PH): Not good. Yes. I feel very worried.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The Japanese government is worried, too. The governor calls the situation severe, cooperation critical. She says this may be the Japanese capital's last chance to flatten the curve. "We would like to see each resident share the sense of crisis," she

says, "do what you can to avoid spreading it. She's asking people to stay home, avoid nonessential travel, be vigilant to slow the spread.

So far, it's not working. Despite guidelines to work from home, many offices this week full, public transportation packed. Bars and restaurants open. This weekend, the city's relaxed mood does seem to be changing. This park's famous cherry blossoms closed, along with many department stores and around 500 Starbucks.

[04:40:00]

RIPLEY: The iconic Shubuta (ph) crossing always packed, on Saturday, empty. People preparing for the kind of restrictions on business and travel that other nations imposed weeks or even months ago.

Japanese prime minister Abe Shinzo is moving closer to declaring a state of emergency just days after announcing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be postponed. Infectious disease experts warn of a steep price in human life if coronavirus spreads rapidly in this rapidly aging society.

DR. MASAHIRO KAMI, MEDICAL GOVERNANCE RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Coronavirus is very dangerous to old people.

RIPLEY: You have a lot of senior citizens here?

KAMI: Yes, in hospitals and in nursing homes.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Dr. Masahiro Kami is executive director of Japan's non-profit Medical Governance Research Institute. He says most coronavirus patients in Japan are likely showing few, if any, symptoms.

Japan claims it can process close to 8,000 tests per day. In reality, they're testing less than one-sixth of that number, averaging around 1,200 tests per day. The health ministry says, as of Friday, just 27,000 people have been tested, 27,000 people in a country of 125 million, leaving many in Japan to wonder how many cases are really out there.

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RIPLEY: Many are wondering how many cases we're going to learn about 14 days from now after the incubation period. All of those people who are out, packing public transportation or sitting in crowded restaurants and bars, social distancing has not been practiced here.

Japan is not a hug, handshake culture. People bow and keep their distance. Perhaps that could save this capital city from a widespread coronavirus pandemic. But a lot of people feel it puts Japan and much of its older population in a lot of danger.

COREN: As you say, it has a huge aging population and that is a real concern. Will Ripley, thank you. Not following social distancing rules, it could cost you your health. In Singapore, it could cost you money and time. People meeting in groups of 10 or more, risk a $7,000 fine and even jail time. Singapore has had at least 800 coronavirus cases and three deaths.

We now want to get a personal perspective about conditions right now in Singapore. Margie Warrell is the author of four best selling books, whose husband is hospitalized with the virus.

Thank you so much for joining us.

How is your husband?

MARGIE WARRELL, AUTHOR: He's doing OK. His fever has (INAUDIBLE) but he's still extremely fatigued, still hospitalized and recovering.

COREN: Tell us about the timeline when he first fell ill and how you managed it.

WARRELL: Yes, he arrived in the United States on Wednesday morning and it was the 17th. The following morning, he was feeling not too great. I usually wouldn't suggest to check the temperature but in that situation, I said why don't you. It was a mild fever.

So he laid low. The next morning, the fever was a bit higher. We felt that it would be good for him to get tested and I haven't seen him since then. That was Friday, the 20th of March. He's been hospitalized since then.

And he had a pretty high fever for about a week before it abated and he was really wiped out for a guy that is fit and strong. I'm happy to say he's feeling a little bit better and stronger every day.

But in Singapore, everybody remains in hospital until they are testing negative. No one is sent home, even if they have mild symptoms. It's one of Singapore's many, many protocols to help isolate people who are infectious and to contain any more infections in the community.

COREN: Singaporeans, they lived through SARS back in 2002-2003 and obviously were hypervigilant when coronavirus appeared on the scene. Authorities have announced even stricter measures.

Do you believe that the world should be looking to Singapore on how to manage this pandemic?

WARRELL: Absolutely. I really -- I do believe Singapore is a gold standard for this and I've had so many people. Singapore has 5.6 million people living here, 3.5 million are senior citizens.

So many people have said to me, I couldn't think of anywhere better to be in the world. It was swift and divisive in its protocol back in January, when most of the world was thinking it wouldn't affect them. The prime minister has been very direct, very transparent and very clear in all of his communications from the get-go.

[04:45:00] WARRELL: And I think that everyone in Singapore, while people are a bit anxious right now and the measures have been really ramped up a lot in the last week or two as it has spread in other parts of the world, I think everyone in Singapore feels that they are really living in probably the best country in the world right now in terms of how this pandemic is being managed.

COREN: Only three deaths. That's quite extraordinary, 800 infections. Those figures in itself speak for itself. Maggie, you mentioned your husband is recovering, he's still in hospital.

When are you expecting him home?

WARRELL: That's the $64 million question. He actually was transferred to another facility yesterday. He was no longer considered to need high levels of medical care. They're calling it an isolation resort. It is sort of a little bit like a hotel accommodation, sort of.

He's sharing a room with someone and he will stay there until he's testing negative. I've heard -- it might be days but I've heard of some people continuing to test positive for the virus for weeks. We're all hoping that's not the case.

But as Dr. Anthony Fauci said in the United States, we don't set the timeline; this virus sets the timeline. I keep focusing on, I know he's in a good place, getting excellent care and his prognosis is really good.

COREN: Absolutely. That in itself is very reassuring. We obviously hope that he gets home to you very soon. We wish you and him the very best. Thank you so much for speaking to us.

WARRELL: Thank you, Anna.

COREN: Some more images of how the coronavirus impact is being felt around the world and we start in Ecuador, where an army soldier is checking drivers' documents in the city. It follows a national state of emergency that restricts people's movement.

The mayor says the situation there has gotten so bad, bodies are being left outside hospitals, in homes, even on sidewalks.

To Brazil, the country's top football clubs are handing over their ground so health authorities can turn them into field hospital and clinics.

You're looking now at an aerial view from the Polish-Ukrainian border. Dozens of commercial trucks parked with nowhere to go. It follows the Ukrainian's president's closing of all crossings between the two countries to non-Ukrainian citizens.

Back in Ukraine's capital, these Russian citizens are waiting to get on a special train that will take them back to Moscow. Effective tomorrow night, nearly all of Russia's borders will be closed.

The lockdown in Wuhan, China, is beginning to ease. How life is starting to go back to normal in the place where the pandemic began. First, amid the unfolding tragedy around the world, musicians are trying to calm things down a bit with songs of comfort.

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COREN: China wants the world to know that life is getting back to normal in COVID-19's original epicenter. State media show public transportation is coming back online in Wuhan. This is a partial reopen and health checks are still in place.

But passengers are filtering back into the metro system. The government says the virus is under control and these people are celebrating. They gave a thumbs up for the cameras as other passengers waved Chinese flags.

Yuli Yang is a former resident of Wuhan, whose family still lives there. She joins us from Singapore.

My friend, lovely to see you. First, my condolences on the passing of your relative to coronavirus. This must be a very difficult time, like it is for so many around the world.

How is your family holding up?

YULI YANG, FORMER WUHAN RESIDENT: Thank you. It's great to be able to chat with you. My -- like you now, my great aunt had passed away because of COVID-19 in early February.

We have held the news of her passing from Granny, who is in her late 80s, because we want Granny to keep up her good spirits, spirit high, so her immune system can be high so that she can survive the strict lockdown quarantine in good spirit.

Now that the lockdown restriction is about to be lifted, we have told her about the sad news. And like thousands of other families in Wuhan, we are just in the process of beginning to plan for the funerals and grieving process of our loved one.

COREN: As you mentioned, Wuhan has been reopened, partial reopen, which is extraordinary.

How do citizens feel?

Do they feel safe venturing outdoors?

YANG: Yes, when I talked to my family and friends back home, there is a great sense of excitement. People are excited, looking forward to finally be able to stepping outside of their house, play on the playground. But the mood is still extremely cautious. People are cautious, do not

want to risk their health -- their loved ones' health, their kids' health. So everyone is taking extreme precaution and planning to be vigilant even if they are able to finally step out of their apartments.

COREN: What are your family members doing?

[04:55:00]

YANG: So we are -- we are still -- we are still in the process of trying to figure out what we will be doing next. There hasn't been a big family gathering planned just yet, even though we have canceled our Chinese New Year gathering. We are still kind of on the watch and wait and see kind of situation and see what we need to do next.

But obviously I also want to mention, despite the caution, the excitement, the mood in Wuhan, I would say still largely somber. Like I said earlier, thousands of families who have lost their loved ones because of COVID-19, they have not had the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones.

They have not had the chance to pick up their loved one's ashes just yet. And as the restrictions are lifting people are -- people are going to start planning funerals and planning grief. And we can expect a second wave of emotion that is going to hit my city in the weeks to come.

COREN: Absolutely. I want to finish on a bright note. You've taken to social media and you have done postcards from Wuhan. Tell us about that.

YANG: Yes, so in the past few days we realized that so many people around the world are under some kind of quarantine, Wuhaners really should share their tips and messages of support to the rest of the world.

Me and my friends have started to create postcards from Wuhan under the #GoWuhanGoWorld with pictures and messages from the real people who have been under lockdown for the past two months and more.

We hope when you see these messages and the faces and smiles from Wuhan, you will somehow find strength and hope in them as you go about your own quarantine.

And also, like you know that discrimination has been an issue around this virus spreading. We also hope that as you see these faces and smiles and the eyes of real people in Wuhan, you will find it harder to hate and to discriminate.

COREN: Yes, it gives people a great deal of hope. Yuli Yang, wonderful to see you, many thanks for sharing your story.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren. CNN NEWSROOM continues just after this short break.