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Japanese Comedian Ken Shimura Dies Of Virus; U.K. Government Faces Criticism For Handling Of Crisis; 14-Day Cessation Of Movement Announced In Nigeria; President Trump Change Tune on Social Distancing; COVID-19 Kills Even Men in Uniform; Resourceful Priest Makes Way to Held a Mass; Migrant Workers Walk Thousands of Miles. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 30, 2020 - 02:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Overcrowded hospital in Spain as the country reports its highest death toll increase.

And later, the heavy toll on New York's first responders battling the pandemic.

U.S. President Donald Trump initially tried to downplay the severity of COVID-19, but he is now being forced to change tactic, extending the country's social distancing guidelines until the end of next month.

Now that move comes as the U.S. reports more than 139,000 cases, the largest known number of infections anywhere in the world.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has more on America's new pandemic reality.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For millions self- quarantining to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, word tonight that the new normal will continue for at least another month.

At a press conference Sunday, President Trump said despite his initial hope that restriction would lift by Easter the pandemic's growth requires Americans to stay put for at least April 30th.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We will be extending our guidelines to April 30th to slow the spread. On Tuesday, we will be finalizing these plans and providing a summary of our findings, supporting data and strategy to the American people.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: More tonight, the worst of coronavirus is yet to come. Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN's Jake Tapper that based on modeling, 100,000 or more could die.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The number I gave out is, you know, based on modeling. And I think it's entirely conceivable that if we do not mitigate to the extent that we're trying to do that you could reach that number.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: More states across the country now preparing for a surge in cases. New York remains a national epicenter, 59,313 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Sunday with 965 dead of the disease.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state has not yet reached the apex of coronavirus cases, a moment he is planning for by adding medical beds and personnel to the state at a breakneck pace.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): They still forecast the apex to be 14 to 21 days.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Four new hospitals across New York City to help alleviate the tactical system approved by the federal government over the weekend. Even as the pandemic surged spreads to new cities and new states, much of the focus of this weekend was on sniping between the governors and White House.

On Saturday, Trump caught state leaders in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York by surprise when floating a vague quarantine of the New York metropolitan area.


Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it's a hot spot, but there's a possibility that sometime today we'll do a quarantine, short-term, two weeks on New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Before finally revealing new travel restrictions from the CDC warning residents of the New York area to stay home as much as possible and to quarantine themselves for 14 days if they do leave.

Guidelines that largely echo existing regulations set down by state governments weeks ago. Today Trump suggested out evidence something nefarious behind medical workers ongoing demand for more medical equipment despite a supply chain the president insist is up and running.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: It's a client, and they're going from, you heard it, 10,000,

20,000 tops to 300,000. And that's a hospital that's always full. So, I think people should check that because there's something going on. I don't think it's hoarding. I think it's maybe worse than hoarding.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The Washington Post reports that Florida, Trump's official state of residence since last year and home to one of America's most pro-Trump governors, has had all of its requests from the federal government fulfilled. Other states continue to beg for supplies and equipment.


TRUMP: Florida, look, they're very aggressive in trying to get things and they're doing a very good job.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Throughout the country, the strain on the health system is beginning to show. Nurses in the Bronx protest lack of supplies to protect them from the coronavirus as they work on patients with the president telling Americans to prepare for a long fight against coronavirus, continuing questions for medical workers about whether they'll get the right equipment they need to get that job done.


HOLMES: Thanks to Evan there. Now, on Sunday, the leading U.S. expert on infectious disease suggested 100,000 Americans or more could die from the virus. President Trump weighing in, taking credit for preventing a disaster of even greater proportions.


TRUMP: So, you're talking about 2.2 million deaths, 2.2 million people from this. And so, if we could hold that down as we're saying to 100,000, that's a horrible number, maybe even less, but to 100,000 so we have between 100,000 and 200,000, we altogether have done a very good job.



HOLMES: New York State now reporting close to 60,000 cases of the virus. That is the most anywhere in the U.S. But health workers there have been struggling to treat patients largely because they are still low on equipment, staff, and even morale.

Now some are filming the dreadful conditions they face on the front lines and are sharing their experiences with us.


out of medications. Some hospitals don't have protective gear for staff or family members of patients that come to the hospital.

We're running out of medications, we're running out of equipment, and we're even running out of oxygen, which is something that patients that have COVID-19 need.

So, we don't want to test your immune system in this day and age. If you're feeling unwell, stay home. If you're exposed to somebody, stay home.

BENJAMIN OBASEKI, NEW YORK DOCTOR: There is a common misconception going around that is only the elder people in our population that's being affected. That is simply untrue.

Every day we are having people, younger, adults come in who have very little comorbidity or other illnesses going on who are being seriously affected by this illness. Affected to the point to where they have to be put on a ventilator just to breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like the one that's beeping in the background.

OBASEKI: Exactly. The one beeping in the background as a young patient who was presumably healthy before they came in. This is not something that's isolated to the old. Please hear this warning and do whatever necessary to prevent this from spreading.

MOCHATUTA: All right. We love you. We want you to stay healthy.


HOLMES: Let's talk more about how the U.S. is handling this pandemic or perhaps more relevantly has handled it. Jeremy Konyndyk is the senior fellow for the Center for Global Development, he is also the former head of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. Jeremy Konyndyk, good to talk to you. He joins me now from Takoma Park, Maryland.

Good to see. You were quoted in a recent article saying, quote, "we are witnessing in the United States one of the greatest failures of basic governance and basic leadership in modern times. Explain why that is so.

JEREMY KONYNDYK, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT: Well, because we had a six-week period between when we saw the explosion of cases in Wuhan, China in mid- to late-January until we began seeing case counts really begin to mount here in the early middle of March. We had a six-week period when we could have been preparing.

And during most of that time, the federal government rather than taking that threat seriously, acknowledging the risk it post to the country and doing something about it, was instead telling the whole country that the risk was low, downplaying the threat, and focusing mainly on keeping Chinese travelers out of this country rather than preparing our own domestic hospitals and so on. HOLMES: And to that point, I mean, it was on January 30th the World Health Organization declared a global emergency and you had Donald Trump saying we only have five people, hopefully everything is going to be great.

The interesting thing is the U.S. and South Korea got their first cases on precisely the same day and then proceeded to handle it very differently. I mean, I don't want to particularly play a specific blame game per se, but do you see negligence in the U.S. response and at any level willful negligence?

KONYNDYK: I think there was a certain arrogance? I think there was a sense this was happening in China but it was unlikely to happen here. And you know, through the month of February, what you heard over and over from the White House and from federal health officials was that the risk was low and the situation was under control. And we know now of course that neither of those things were true.

We also know that they were made -- those statements were made from a position of blindness because of the testing failures in this country. And so, I think going back to that date of January 20th and comparing what the U.S. did and what South Korea did is very instructive.

South Korea because of the experience of SARS and MERS and other major infectious disease problems took this very seriously and began scaling up large-scale testing in the country so they would know when they were face problems. We did not do the same here.

HOLMES: You know, it's interesting, why do you think U.S. leadership played down this threat in those early days? I mean, the reporting is U.S. intelligence saw what was happening in Wuhan, China and warned the administration of the potential we have since seen fulfilled.

I mean, when you say that statements were made that weren't true, do you think it was knowingly so?

KONYNDYK: I don't think they knew that there were more cases than they were seeing. I think they were making statements that were not supported by the evidence they had available to them. I don't think there was willful deception there. But I think they was -- I think there were blind to what's going on in the country, and that is, you know, not quite as bad as deception. But it's certainly a degree of governing negligence.


HOLMES: You know, asked by CNN's Jake Tapper if she believes that Donald Trump is playing down of the crisis costs American lives, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was pretty blunt, she said yes, I am, I'm saying that. Is that going too far?

KONYNDYK: No. The president sent a clear signal to the entire federal government bureaucracy that he did not want this risk played up. He did not want -- he did want to alarm the public and more importantly, perhaps for him, he did not want to alarm the market. So, the sort of measures that we should have been taking at that time

signaling to our hospitals that it was time to prepare for surges in cases beginning to establish nationwide surveillance for this disease, you know, hard measures that would have alarmed people and preparing the public for the sort of social distancing that we're seeing now.

None of those things were done. None of those things were done proactively. South Korea, Singapore and other countries did those things proactively and they're in much better shape than we are now because of it. We're doing it reactively and it's very hard to catch up when you've given the virus six-week of head start.

HOLMES: Yes. Good point. I mean, part of your job is being mapping out how to stop diseases from spreading. so, the U.S. like other counties is being discussing as playing catch up. Given where we're at, what can be done or needs to be done now or done better?

KONYNDYK: Well, you know, the tragic thing is because we lost so much time, we now have a dramatically larger and more difficult job than we would have had and we're going to lose a lot more people very sadly than had to be the case.

I think we will get through this. I think the social distancing measures that are underway now will have some, you know, will be helpful. What worries me is that I think we're only learning about half the lesson from countries like Singapore, South Korea, and China.

You know, all of those countries, yes, they did social distancing but they also put in place very robust public health interventions, very targeted testing, isolation, and quarantine so that they had those two protections at once.

We're really only doing half of that. We're not doing nearly the level of testing we need to and our public health capacity especially at a local level in this country is far weaker than in those countries. So, we need a major surge there and so far, it's not yet happening.

HOLMES: Jeremy Konyndyk, thank you so much. I really appreciate your expertise on this.

KONYNDYK: My pleasure, thank you.

HOLMES: The Spanish health ministry now reporting 838 new deaths, the country's highest increase to date in the pandemic. Now that brings the overall death toll in Spain to more than 6,500 people with one of the highest rates of infection in the world. Spain's hospitals and morgues quickly becoming overcrowded.

Here to tell us more is journalist Al Goodwin who is in Madrid for us. Two weeks into the state of emergency lockdown. What's been the impact so far?

AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: Well, the impact is what you've been talking about on the program, Michael, that health authorities say that there's a lag time between the time you tell people to stay home and social distance and when we see really the difficult times. And that's what's happened here in Madrid and in Spain.

With when this -- when the lockdown order went into effect two weekends ago there were just over 300 deaths. Now more than 6,500 deaths and about 37 percent of those just in the last three days.

I'm outside one of the most important hospitals in the Spanish capital of Gregorio Maranon. This is a case in point of what the authorities are trying to do to get enough intensive care unit beds available for this influx of the COVID-19 patients.

So, this day the military is setting up a field hospital inside this sprawling complex. It goes for various city blocks, a big square occupying various city block. There's plenty of space in there -- I've been in there many times -- to set up a field hospital.

This is after about 10 days ago they set up some hotels that were empty because of no clients. They moved hundreds of beds, hospital beds, into these empty hotels to provide capacity specifically for this hospital.

Several hotels near here are taking patients who are milder coronavirus patients out of this hospital so that they can get the more serious patients in here.

This has been the scramble and this is why the Spanish authorities further restricted this lockdown or it's going to go another two weeks at least telling non-essential workers like construction workers stay off the job. You'll get paid. You'll make up the hours later, but we need to reduce number of people who are on the streets.

Now there's a relatively large amount of movement on the street because of all the people in and around this massive hospital. But clearly, they're trying like so many other hospitals in Madrid and Barcelona, the two hardest-hit areas of Spain, the two large urban areas they're trying to get enough intensive care ward beds available for this influx of patients. Michael?

HOLMES: Yes. And hopefully in two more weeks the trend will be in the other direction. We shall see.


Al Goodman in Madrid, as always, thank you.

Italy is seeing a slight decline in coronavirus deaths. Now that might be a sign that the nationwide lockdown there is working. We'll have a live report from Rome when we come back.


HOLMES: You're watching there a priest in Naples in Italy leading Sunday mass from a rooftop. Worshippers pray from their balconies so they wouldn't violate the lockdown that is still very much in effect in Italy. The country reporting 756 new deaths on Sunday, a slight decline from previous days. Let's go live to Rome now with CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau. Great to

see you, Barbie. I mean, the death rate is slightly down, still overall shockingly high. How precarious are there coming days and how are Italians handling the lockdown?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, this is such a critical week. We're just going into the fourth week of the lockdown and the authorities are telling us this is when we should start to see tangible results. But it's the first of the month this week. People are going to have to come up with the rent money. People have bills to pay. And people are really frustrated.


We see it over and over again. People aren't singing from their windows like they did in the beginning but we have seen a short -- or a slight decline in the number of positive cases on a daily basis. That is, they say, the beginning of the flattening of the curve.

What we are expecting to see this week is that that curve starts to go down. And that's going to give people I think the hope and strength to carry on, stay inside, you know, keep up this lockdown as hard as it is on so many people psychologically and economically, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. Hopefully we do see that turnaround there in Rome. Good to see you, my friend. Thank you. Barbie Nadeau there in Rome.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is asking for forgiveness from the poor after locking the country down for 21 days. That decision leaving tens of thousands of migrant laborers scrambling to return to their hometowns after losing their means of income.

The prime minister says the strong measures were, quote, "absolutely necessary and the only option," calling the coronavirus a battle of life and death. The number of cases reported topping 1,000 on Monday.

CNN's Vedika Sud is standing by for us in Delhi. So, Vedika, I'm sorry, how likely is that to be well received? How concerned are Indians? Are they adhering to the lockdown?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: Well, that is an appeal made by the prime minister yesterday, Michael. But just look at the visuals we have for you. One thought, a lockdown for 1.4 people in India would be the biggest challenge. Clearly that isn't the case.

This is the biggest challenge. You have at least 45 million migrant workers in India. This is just a fraction of them that you're seeing on your screens. This is the biggest challenge, Michael, because they're altogether walking on foot, believe or not, because of course transport has been locked down across the nation. They don't know where to go. Their salaries aren't coming in.

Some of them earn as much as $5 to $7 U.S. dollars a day. The landlords have asked them to leave their homes. They're walking on foot for miles, and hundreds of miles just to get to their homes where they think they are at least safer. I did speak to one of the top doctors in India, Dr. Naresh Trehan.

Here's what he had to say about this migrant movement. This is his concern.


NARESH TREHAN, CHAIRMAN & MANAGING DIRECTOR, MEDANTA: The problem at the border I think is a big mistake. Because they're all -- they're all packed together like sardines and the infection (Inaudible) is most likely there is (Inaudible). And then it would be impossible to control.


SUD: So, this is at the time, Michael, when you have one bed for at least 1,844 patients in India. Just imagine if any of them have contracted the virus, what is India in for? This remains the big concern even though the government has come out and they have base to $22 billion package for migrant workers which of course has been announced. But what does one do? This is the situation that you see at the Delhi border but we see it across India happening as we speak, Michael.

HOLMES: That just seems extraordinary and the opposite of what needs to happen. When you cram those -- that many people and just send them on their way to other places around the country. Extraordinary. Vedika Sud, thanks so much. I appreciate your reporting there.

Well, their job is to protect the public from the pandemic, but as the virus spreads New York's first responders are struggling to protect themselves. We'll have details on the growing risks they face when we come back.



HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone.

In the U.S. the coronavirus pandemic taking a growing toll on the first responders trying to manage the crisis. New York's Police Department now has lost three employees to the disease including a detective who served 23 years on the force.

We get more now from CNN's Jason Carroll.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To see the toll the pandemic is taking on first responders in New York City, one need only to look at these police officers standing at full attention in the rain as one of their own, Detective Cedric Dixon, takes his final journey.


DERMOT SHEA, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: He is going to be sorely missed. It is just a very, very difficult time for the 32nd precinct and for the department as a whole.


CARROLL: Dixon had been on the force for 23 years. He's the first sworn member of the NYPD to die from COVID-19 and the third member of the department to die within a little over 48 hours. The first two were civilian employees.


SHEA: As I stand here, I cannot begin to describe what we are feeling, what the families of these three heroes are feeling. We are hurting. We are crying. And we continue to fight. We simply have no other choice. It is in our heart and it is in our soul to sacrifice, to serve, to fight for you.


CARROLL: Nearly 5,000 of the department's uniformed employees have called out sick. That's about 12 percent of the NYPD, the largest police force in the country. The department says there would be nearly 900 positive coronavirus cases by morning. At least 29 are hospitalized, one in critical condition.

New York's governor acknowledging the department and the risk all first responders are facing.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You think these police officers are not afraid to leave their house? You think these nurses are not afraid to go into the hospital? They're afraid. But something is more important than their fear which is their passion, their commitment for public service and helping others.


CARROLL: The impact of the pandemic being felt across the country. On Friday, more than 400 members of the Detroit Police Department in quarantine, 39 tested positive including the chief.


MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN (D), DETROIT: We are going to continue to ramp up the protection of our police officers. It is right now our highest priority.


CARROLL: In Chicago, at least 21 police department employees infected, the LAPD now reporting a total of at least 24 employees with confirmed cases of COVID-19 while in Racine County, Wisconsin officers there, like in many cities, adopting new ways to protect themselves.


out of the car. We may ask you to step out of your home on a routine call. It's in an effort for us to stay safe. It's an effort to keep you safe.



JASON CARROLL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's the same in Hartford, Connecticut, police there giving patrol cars added wipe downs and sending a clear message to the public.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reduce your contacts with others.

CARROLL: Back in New York, the city's Fire Department says 235 of its members tested positive for COVID-19. The department also says EMS had its busiest four days in history last week. Again, the governor praising all first responders saying their ability to overcome fear makes them great human beings. Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Now, the Japanese comedian Ken Shimura has died after contracting the coronavirus. The 70-year- old, one of Japan's best-known comedians and the first Japanese celebrity to fall victim to the pandemic. Kaori Enjoji is in Tokyo with more on this. Obviously, a big shock to Japanese people. Tell us about him and how revered he was.

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Absolutely, Michael. The news of the death of Ken Shimura is shocking the nation and particularly Tokyo where he was from, especially because he's come to COVID-19 just after -- one week after he tested positive. As you mentioned, he was a beloved comedian. And there has been an outpouring of grief on the streets of Tokyo, on social media, even from top government officials, which shows how well-loved he was, and how far-reaching his popularity was crossing generations.

I mean, you mentioned just the word drifters to any Japanese person, which was the name of his first comedy group back in the 70s, and it would have brought a smile -- it brings a smile to everyone's face here in Japan. He started off in a rock group that opened up for the Beatles back in the 1960s. And he has been growing -- going strong ever since.

So the death of Ken Shimura at the age of 70 has been a tremendous shock to the nation and really a turning point in this fight against COVID-19, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. I guess, you know, when you hear of things like that, people of that stature, it really brings home the reality to people who perhaps weren't taking it quite so seriously. What is the state of the -- of the virus in Japan? How widespread the testing? How serious is the government taking -- you know, keeping people off the streets? ENJOJI: Well, it does bring it home. And I think people until around this weekend, around Saturday, people weren't -- really weren't taking COVID-19 as seriously as the government would have liked. I mean, people were out and about enjoying the cherry blossoms. And there was a plea basically from the Tokyo governor and the government to please, please stay at home unless you have to go out, try to work from home. And I think this, the death of Ken Shimura changes the dynamics of the way the society looks at the coronavirus.

Right now, people are on tenterhooks as to whether the government will announce the state of -- state of emergency and whether Tokyo too will face a lockdown in the days ahead. The number of cases in Tokyo in particular has been increasing hitting record levels for about a week now. 68 new cases on Sunday alone.

And that may not seem like much in the grand scheme of schemes, but there has been a steady increase particularly after last Tuesday when the government decided to postpone the Olympics. And I think the tone from the government has changed dramatically since then. In the run-up to this, there were fairly -- they were being criticized for being slow to respond, with travel restrictions, slow to test, but I think that mood has changed dramatically over the last two or three days. Michael?

HOLMES: All right, Kaori, thanks. Kaori Enjoji there in Tokyo for us. Well, COVID-19 also hitting the opera world. the Famous Spanish tenor, Placido Domingo, hospitalized in Acapulco, Mexico with complications related to the virus. His spokesperson says he's doing well, responding to treatment. Domingo who is 79 announced a week ago that he tested positive and encourage fans to take precautions. He is now in the hospital.

All right, we're going to take a short break. When we come back, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson knows firsthand what it's like to test positive for Coronavirus. Why that's not stopping criticism of his government's handling of it. That's when we come back.



HOLMES: Welcome back. Broader than the U.K., more generous than New Zealand. That's how Australia's government is describing its new economic stimulus plan to safeguard jobs from the coronavirus. The Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison committing $80 billion over the next six months towards job keeper payments.

For more details, let's bring in Trudy McIntosh, a reporter for CNN affiliate Sky News, Australia. Good to see you, Trudy. I mean, after what many thought was a slow reaction to coronavirus, the government is stepping up its response.

TRUDY MCINTOSH, REPORTER, SKY NEWS AUSTRALIA: The Prime Minister making the case today, Michael, that this is an unprecedented level of spending that we have seen by our federal government here. $130 billion spent by the Australian Government in just one day to underwrite the wages of millions of workers right across the country.

There has been pressure for the prime minister to do more when it comes to making sure Australians can stay in work. Lots of questions about why Australia hasn't followed the U.K. or New Zealand when it comes to wage subsidies. But this has been the big announcement here in the last hour in Canberra. $1,500 in Australian terms, $900 or so American dollars paid to every business for workers that have been stood aside.

This is about trying to support them to get to the other side of this crisis. That's what the Prime Minister continues to stress. This is about the British, as he says, to the other side of this. They want to say as many workers not getting Centrelink or welfare payments, instead staying connected to the businesses that they work for.

HOLMES: Trudy, tell me about the public reaction to do how it's been handled there. I mean, there were images of crowd on beaches and even a couple of days ago on beaches in Melbourne. Has the threat become real to Australians now?

MCINTOSH: It's been certainly increasing as time goes on. As you say, there has been a strong reaction from government leaders here. To those pictures we've seen on Bondi Beach, and then just at the weekend at St Kilda in Melbourne, thousands of young Australians seemingly ignoring the messages about social distancing. We saw just yesterday this crackdown on mass gatherings again. Now, you'll only be able to leave the house and gather with one other person unless they're a member of your household.

The government's not afraid to continue to stick up these majors as they have in other places right around the world. But the Prime Minister has stressed they don't want to rush to a total lockdown, that this is being done in stages, even as we do see some people ignoring the advice.

HOLMES: Trudy McIntosh there with Sky News Australia. I appreciate it, Trudy. Thanks so much. Well, it has been a couple of days now since we learn British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for the coronavirus, but the response to his government's handling of the pandemic turning increasingly negative. International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson with more from London.



BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: I've taken a test. That has come out positive.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the first world leader to get COVID-19. His health secretary and several top officials all have the symptoms, all self-isolating. The message from government, keep calm, we are carrying on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no gaps in government. ROBERTSON: As emergency hospitals are hastily constructed, masks and other vital protective equipment PPE belatedly rushed to the pandemics frontlines, hospitals by soldiers. There is also another message from government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation will get worse before it gets better.

ROBERTSON: What to believe? What to think? Questions everyone is asking, with some falling unfavorably against the government. The respected medical journal The Lancet describing the government's response so far as a national scandal. Its editor in chief saying, the government has failed to follow the World Health Organization's guidelines.

Claudia Paolini, a thoracic and (INAUDIBLE) leads a union representing doctors.

CLAUDIA PAOLINI, PRESIDENT, HOSPITAL CONSULTANTS AND SPECIALISTS ASSOCIATION: It's natural for member members into the PPE and preparedness for the onslaught. And 80 percent of our members said they were fearful, they were anxious, they were fearful to their safety.

JOHNSON: Our action plan, as you know, sets out four phases of our approach attacking the virus, contain, delay, research, and mitigate.

ROBERTSON: Just three weeks ago, Johnson's plan sounded solid. No one mentions it now. Back then, this former top government official was urging faster action, now reluctantly accepts the fate this government has delivered.

JONATHAN POWELL, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO TONY BLAIR: I think it's very difficult to criticize the government in these circumstances. They're trying to do their best in very, very difficult circumstances. I think when we look back at it, when the inquiry happens, people may say it was a bit late to move because usually, my experience in government was you have to move quickly if you have a crisis like this.

ROBERTSON: That questions will need to be raised is not in doubt. Paolini's priority for now, keeping her doctors spirits up.

PAOLINI: The questions we'll have to come afterwards is not something is actually particularly useful right now to decide whether that's the right thing or the wrong thing because we can't judge it because we don't know what the end result is.

ROBERTSON: A result that depends not just on government, but on everyone in the country doing their bid, staying home, social distancing.


HOLMES: And Nic Robertson joins us now live in London. It's interesting, as you reported, there was a turnaround after a sluggish start and going the wrong way, by the look of it by the British government. How likely is it that the lockdown could be extended even further?

ROBERTSON: I think that's what people are being prepared for at the moment. I mean, like so many countries initially given, you know, a number of weeks to expect this, but that -- I think everyone expects that to be extended. The deputy chief medical officer, the chief medical officer under isolation at the moment. He has the COVID-19 symptoms.

The deputy chief medical officer yesterday, essentially said that don't expect life to go back to normal for at least six months. And the current social distancing, you know, rules, if you will, to call them anything else would be -- would be silly at the moment. The current social distancing rules are expected to stay in place for perhaps three months, she said.

You know, the details, we don't know, and that's not -- you know, that's not been the officially either articulated policy plan of the government so far, but those are the indications. So, I think everyone is being prepared for that. The prime minister in his second video from isolation recorded last night, praise everything that's happening in the country.

20,000 retired national health service workers have come back to work. Their government put out a call for them. There was an estimated 65,000 available, so a third of those about are coming back, a volunteer force to help all those people told to maintain shelter in place, essentially, 1.5 million vulnerable people, asked to stay at home for 12 weeks.

And the Prime Minister saying now there are -- there are three- quarters of a million volunteers to help them. So you know, while questions are being raised, I think it's one really has to say and the Prime Minister referenced this in his -- in his video last night that, you know, people really are rallying. They might be frustrated, they might be anxious, but they're trying to do their bid. And that's a hugely important message for the government. And it's -- and I believe it's hugely important for the country as well.

The prime minister predicted what the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had said. He talked about there really is a society in this country. And certainly, the country is demonstrating that the recriminations will really have to wait if the ball was dropped, which many feel that it has, Michael.


HOLMES: Right. And yes, if there was ever a time for the proverbial stiff upper lip. You think about, you know, the shortages in the U.S. of everything, basically, that health care, frontline health care workers need, what is the situation in the U.K.? Are there those sorts of shortages in the beds or masks or gowns or ventilators?

ROBERTSON: There is a news this morning that a -- that there is a sort of an upgraded version on the way could be sort of being delivered within weeks of a full ventilator system, a system that keeps the airways open, the lungs open through a sort of a pressure system, if you will. That's something that's coming. The government is working with a number of industry companies to deliver additional ventilators and there about 8,000 available at the moment.

They have as many as perhaps 20,000 are being talked about, but these can't be delivered until perhaps later in April. And the reality is the real spike and the need is going to happen before then. There are things like surgical masks, gowns, and such like being delivered in profusion by the army here to the hospital, 170 million face mask -- face masks delivered, 40 million gloves being delivered.

But the way that these are consumed in a health service of this scale and capacity in a country of this size, it is very, very quick. And the material and the protective equipment has been short in being delivered is still falling short in some places. An area in London this morning, in southeast of London was reporting that it didn't receive any gloves in those supplies that came out. So there are holes in the system.

HOLMES: Yes. Nic, good to have you there covering this for us. Nic Robertson there in London. And just briefly in other European news, just getting word that the European airline very familiar to everyone in Europe, EasyJet, is going to ground its entire fleet given "the unprecedented travel restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus." EasyJet grounding the whole fleet.

Nigeria's president has called for a 14-day "cessation of movement to help stop the spread of coronavirus there. The World Health Organization in Africa confirming more than 2,600 cases and 49 deaths on the continent, but there isn't a whole lot of testing. Here to discuss more is CNN's David McKenzie. He is in Johannesburg for us.

Let's stop where you are. Strict lockdown in South Africa and other parts of the continent for that matter, but is a lockdown even realistic?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in many parts of the continent, it's not realistic. And if you just look at Nigeria, like you mentioned, Michael, they're shutting down Lagos, a massive city in Nigeria, as well as Abuja, the capital, and one state starting late tonight. They're shutting down Zimbabwe for 21 days, the neighbor of South Africa.

And many people in both Lagos and all across Zimbabwe survive by being on the street hawking ways informal sector economy. So, I just don't know how they're going to really enforce that effectively. We'll have to wait and see. Here in South Africa, we're on day four of a strict lockdown. Only essential services including journalists, that's why I'm here at our live shot are allowed out. But again, It's a very challenging scenario.

Millions of people today throughout South Africa, Michael, are trying to get their social grants, the money that comes from the government to more than 10 million people at least once a month. The images of people jammed in lines waiting for that money, their army was on the street trying to clear homeless out. In my neighborhood, and other neighborhoods, it's very quiet of the weekend. Hardly anyone moving. And the disturbing development that it's worth noting that is going to happen across this continent in Khayelitsha, one of the largest informal settlements in South Africa, they've had their first positive case. People living cheek by jowl there, Michael, in shacks. And it's hard just to be under lockdown for your normal life, let alone if the virus starts spreading through those regions.

They are making that public because it's clear that in places like Khayelitsha and other informal settlements across the continent, it's going to be exceedingly difficult to try and stop this respiratory virus from spreading in those areas. The capacity of the public health system here in South Africa is already strained.

And so contact tracing and trying to isolate people if they are sick is critical in the next few days, I think. Michael?


HOLMES: What a -- yes, what a scenario there in parts of Africa with the health infrastructure and the like in the crowds. Oh, my goodness. David, thank you. I appreciate it. David McKenzie, there. We'll take a break here on the program. When we come back, with churches now close during the coronavirus pandemic, one priest has found a way to hold confessions and practice social distancing at the same time. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: With more and more churches forced to shut their doors during the coronavirus pandemic, one has found a way to stay connected with its parishioners by offering drive-thru confessions.


HOLMES: I mean, whoever thought that people would be comfortable pouring their hearts out in a parking lot.


COREY BASSETT-TIRRELL, PRIEST: And this is our confessional, actually. This is where we would -- we would come in here for confession. But that's just not possible now. So, I said, we're bringing it outdoors.

BRIAN LENIHAN, PARISHIONER, ST. MARY'S: I tried to come to confession during lent with the coronavirus, you know, shutting everything down, I figured, well, that wasn't going to happen this year. I think it's great that they're making this available for people.

BASSETT-TIRRELL: It was important for people to know how much their priest loved them and care about them, and will go to any lengths that we can safely and prudently to reach them.


HOLMES: Just trying to say it loudly. Every day our CNN Heroes are making a difference. And during a crisis they are among the first to step up. Here's Anderson Cooper with a look at three CNN Heroes on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: These CNN Heroes are on the front lines of the pandemic, bringing medical care and supplies to those who need. Their E.R. doctors putting their lives on the line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never been a part of a pandemic. We're seeing widespread illness. It's organized chaos, organized confusion, but we are there for a purpose.

COOPER: Bringing COVID-19 testing to the homeless.

It's really important in these times to remember that we're all in this together. These are our brothers and sisters out here.

COOPER: And putting life savings soap into the hands that need it most.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the last two and a half months, we have provided over 375,000 bars of soap to people in affected countries.

COOPER: Acts of selflessness and unwavering courage from everyday heroes reminding us all that we're not in this alone.


HOLMES: And to see Anderson Cooper's full story, do just go to Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM. Do stick around though. Rosemary Church up next with more CNN NEWSROOM.