Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Nears 13,000; China Has Lifted Lockdown Restrictions in Wuhan; Trump Threatens the World Health Organization; Anesthesiologist Describes His Coronavirus Work; Japanese P.M. Declares State of Emergency in 7 Areas; One of Asia's Biggest Slums Races to Stop Virus; More Than 17,000 Arrested in South Africa for Defying Lockdown; Coronavirus Survivors Share Experiences; Asia Markets Mixed after Wall Street Losses; Global Food Supply Chain Under Strain; Accuser Accepts Decision that Freed Cardinal Pell. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 8, 2020 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, with the U.S. seeing its deadliest day at the pandemic so far, the president turns his fire on the World Health Organization, threatening to withhold funding.

Britain's prime minister still is in the ICU as the country braces for a critical stage in the fight against this virus.

And in Wuhan, China, the place where the outbreak began, emerging from lockdown but life there is far from normal.


VAUSE: We've seen it in China, Iran, Italy, Spain: once this virus takes hold, every day the death toll is usually worse than the day before and so it goes until it peaks. And, in the U.S., many are wondering how bad it will get before it gets better.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. marked its deadliest day since the outbreak began, with the virus claiming almost 1,900 lives on Tuesday.

The overall U.S. death toll?

Just shy of 13,000. The number of confirmed cases now, almost 400,000.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will be very painful of a week. And, next week, at least part of next week but probably all of it. If one person dies, it is a painful week. And we know that is going to unfortunately happen, this is a monster.

The strategy is totally working, every American has a role to play in winning this war. And we are going to be winning it.


VAUSE: Even so, the U.S. president wants to reopen the country with a big bang, he said.

And during the regular White House briefing on the pandemic, he threatened to withhold funding for the World Health Organization because he says the group is biased towards China. More on that later this hour.

CNN's Nick Watt reports on how some of the states across the U.S. are coping with the outbreak.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, in New York City, more than 800 deaths reported. Triple yesterday's total.

But here on the front lines, the new case count appears to be flattening.

DR. RODRIGO KONG, STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: For the past couple of days, discharging more patients than we are admitting. But this is actually the time when we should redouble our efforts.

WATT: The battle is not over. The war goes on. The NYPD just announced a 13th member has now died from the virus. And more than 500 New York fire department personnel have it.

ANTHONY ALMOJERA, FDNY EMS LIEUTENANT: And I'm still getting EMTs and medics call because they're upset -- they are upset they got sick, because they're not out here. I mean, that's -- I don't know what to say. I mean, that's who's taking care of you.

WATT: Nationwide numbers still rising.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: A lot of the other parts of the country are not anywhere near flattening the curve. They're still rising exponentially.

WATT: Michigan one of few states keeping racial data. The black population there is around 14 percent, yet 40 percent of coronavirus deaths are in that black population.

TYRONE CARTER (D), MICHIGAN STATE REPRESENTATIVE: There's still a huge gap between races when it comes to health care and this is magnifying it.

WATT: In Chicago, black people make up 30 percent of the population, but 72 percent of COVID deaths; in Louisiana, similar numbers.

DR. CAMARA PHYLLIS JONES, FAMILY PHYSICIAN AND EPIDEMIOLOGIST: They are dying more, because they have -- our bodies have borne the burden of chronic disinvestment, active neglect in our communities. All of those insults on our bodies have given us more of these so-called pre- existing conditions, so once we are infected, we have more severe outcomes.

WATT: The administration is now looking for a light at the end of this tunnel.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Normal is going to be a different normal, whenever we do reopen. Once we get a vaccine, we can get more back to the way we treat flu season.

WATT: They are watching how other countries gradually reopen; just hours ago, severe lockdown restrictions were lifted in Wuhan. People are now allowed to leave. And four months after the first case in that city, China now claiming a whole day without a single COVID-19 death nationwide.

Here in California, the governor says the curve is bending and stretching.


WATT: So it will peak sometime in May. In Los Angeles County, they've designated this stay home week. So we are a few weeks out from that peak.

So if we all stay home, hopefully, that peak will be as low as possible. Meantime, California is lending ventilators to other states in the U.S. that need them right now. These are loans, these are not gifts. The governor making it clear that, at some point, California might need them back -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


VAUSE: The coronavirus death toll in France has surpassed 10,000. The government says more than 1,400 died on Tuesday, the largest single day increase so far. But the director of public health says the peak is yet to come.

And to reinforce containment measures, Paris is now banning outdoor exercise between 10 am and 7 pm.

A different case in Italy, which has recorded its lowest daily rise in new infections in almost a month. According to the government, there are about 94,000 active cases. Despite the downward trend, Italy's coronavirus commissioner warned the country is not ready to loosen restrictions on movement.

Meantime, in Spain some lockdown restrictions are expected to be lifted on Monday. The health minister says they're looking to reopen parts of the economy while taking measures to avoid another spike in cases. This despite the number of new infections and deaths rising for the first time on Tuesday after a week-long decline.

Johns Hopkins University reports Spain has nearly 142,000 confirmed cases.

And the place where this outbreak began, Wuhan, China, the lockdown was lifted just hours ago. For more than 2 months, no one has been able to leave the city in an effort to contain the outbreak. Now anyone deemed healthy or low risk is allowed to travel. Some businesses have reopened, public transportation has resumed.

CNN senior producer, Steven Jiang, live this hour from Beijing.

This is all being done with cautious optimism about whether or not they have this under control. There's still this fear of whether it will come back, despite the fanfare that they lifted these restrictions overnight with a light show and as such.

Steven, are you there?

I think we're having some problems with Steven.

Maybe -- I think some technical problems there.

But as I mentioned, Wuhan celebrating the lifting of this lockdown with a midnight light show. Images of medical workers, first responders and others that have kept the city running were displayed on skyscrapers and bridges. Other Chinese provinces which have helped the city recover were recognized as well.

Well, in -- let's take a short break.

In the middle of this global pandemic, President Trump has gone after the World Health Organization, he's threatening to cut the group's funding and we will tell you why in one moment.

Also, I'll talk to an anesthesiologist who's fighting this pandemic in a Chicago hospital. He said it's like being next door to a nuclear reaction.






TRUMP: We're going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We will put a very powerful hold on it.


VAUSE: The U.S. president, Donald Trump, at the White House on Tuesday, in the middle of a global pandemic, saying he would withhold funding, a very powerful hold, he said, from the World Health Organization.

But as he often does, he walked back that threat just a few minutes later. He said they'd look at it.

But the president has complained for weeks that the WHO was critical of his decision in late January to restrict travel to the United States from China. Now that complaint is growing. He claims that the WHO has failed on every aspect of this pandemic and so many others have been slow to respond. Of course, not him.


TRUMP: They said there is no big deal, no problem, no nothing. And then, ultimately, when I closed it down, they said that I made a mistake in closing it down and it turned out to be right. But at the time, they did that. So let's just take a look at. It they seem to be -- I said, social media said they seem to be very China centric. That's a nice way of saying it but they seem to be very China centric. And they seem to air always on the side of China. And we fund it. So I want to look into it.


VAUSE: We've heard a lot about a critical shortage of ventilators, which has forced doctors in many countries to make life and death decisions. Before this pandemic, usually, a patient would stay on a ventilator 4-5 days. Now doctors say it's between 2-3 weeks. And the grim reality of COVID-19 is that most patients who are intubated still won't survive.

Dr. Cory Deburghgraeve, an anesthesiologist, wrote in "The Washington Post" about watching death in real time.

"It's a powerless feeling watching someone die. The oxygen level drop, the heart rate drops, the blood pressure drops. These patients are dying on the ventilator and sometimes when they take away the body, the tube is still in the airway."

Dr. Deburghgraeve is with us now.

Cory, thank you for taking time to talk with us. I guess, where you are, the number of patients is surging and there's a lot worse to come.

How are you and your colleagues holding up with all this and how are you coping?

DR. CORY DEBURGHGRAEVE, ANESTHESIOLOGIST: Obviously it's very challenging and it's a totally new challenge. Medicine and, especially with anesthesia, we try to be very forward thinking and to anticipate problems.

But who could've anticipated a pandemic like this?

So we're taking it one step at a time, trying to anticipate and come up with new, unique solutions to problems. But everyone is doing the best they can. It's very taxing, physically, emotionally and mentally.

So we have a good community within my hospital, a lot of us have been reaching out to the community for donations, for masks, for people bringing us food, things like that, to be very supportive. But it is taking a lot on us.

VAUSE: And one thing about this virus, it seems to be brutal once it takes hold. And the symptoms seem especially cruel.

Has that surprised you or been a shock to you?

DEBURGHGRAEVE: Well, yes. As an anesthesiologist, I'm used to seeing my patients -- they're not excited for surgery but they kind of know what to expect. And, generally, people are OK with the pain control and waking up after surgery.

With this, it is such a change, because people come in with a cough a few hours ago and all of a sudden they're being intubated and put on a ventilator. So it's hard because it's a total change from what we are used to.

And, sometimes I walk into the patient's room and I have this entire, what looks like a space suit on me. And it makes you hard to have that human connection with someone that's gasping for air, panicking, they look pale. So it is a lot on us.

VAUSE: There always seems to be an article of faith. If only we have enough ventilators, we're all going to be fine. That is not the reality. Here's how one doctor explained it to "The New York Times," how hard it is to keep someone alive.

"Doctors are left with impossible choices. Too much oxygen poisons the air sacs, worsening the lung damage. Too little damages the brain and kidneys, too much air pressure damages the lung, too little means the oxygen can't get in. Doctors try to optimize, to tweak."

Realistically, I mean, can this be maintained?

This level of attention, this care of maintaining and tweaking?

With so many people in need and so many more to come?

DEBURGHGRAEVE: Right. That is the concern. Each of these patients -- what they're suffering is called acute respiratory distress syndrome. It's not something unheard of, we've seen with other respiratory viruses and illnesses, but specifically the average hospital would only have a few at that, patients that they are dealing with.

Now we have ICUs for all of these patients and each one of them needs such tailored, specific care.


DEBURGHGRAEVE: It's not like there's one antibiotic for this infection and one treatment for that. This is really every patient is so individualized and has such different needs.

So that requires lots of nurses, respiratory therapists, doctors going in and out of the room throughout the day to make small tweaks here and there. It's taxing the system, no doubt.

VAUSE: You mentioned a moment ago about the protective gear that you have to wear. You wrote about that in "The Washington Post" and talked about that moment that you get the message on your pager that you are required.

You said, "I grab my backpack of medications and my duffel bag of protective gear and run for the stairs. There is not time to wait for the elevator. I go two floors up to the ICU, get into my protective gear outside the room: mask, face shield, hood, secondary hood, two sets of sanitized gloves."

How many times a day are you being paged?

You could be the last person this person ever sees in many cases?

DEBURGHGRAEVE: To answer your second question first, it's a unique challenge for me because I want my patients to wake up. You hope they wake up but you have no idea. It is difficult to predict.

So I take it very seriously that I may be the last face or voice they hear. I try to spend some time with the patient if I can and show an extra level of compassion.

To address the first question, how many times in the day?

It varies. I'm working overnight shifts, generally. And it really varies. Initially, during the pandemic, it was 1-2. Now we're seeing 4-5 a night. And we're just one medium sized hospital in the city. There's several hospitals that are experiencing the same thing.

So it's quite a bit. You put that protective gear on, putting it on is the easy part. Taking it off after the intubation is what's really challenging because now it's contaminated and you can't really -- you have to be careful not to touch any part of your body with the contamination equipment.

VAUSE: Because the rate of infection and mortality among health care workers has been much higher compared with the general population.

You said if you end up on ventilator, you're doing OK. You said just leave me alone. But you add this, "If I'm going through liver and kidney failure and if I'm cognitively impaired at that point and if you can tell my body is failing and I'm not going to get back to being who I am... well, it was a hard conversation."

I guess one of the main reasons you had that conversation is because you're a lifelong asthmatic. Your respiratory issues means if you're infected, you're much likelier to develop severe life threatening symptoms and because you're a health care worker, the odds of getting infected are much higher.

So why do this?

Why volunteer? DEBURGHGRAEVE: It's an interesting question. My family and loved ones have asked the same thing because they know that it is an increased risk. But I've been training my whole life. I've always wanted to be a doctor and help people and I idolize my heroes who are doctors.

And now when something like this comes up and I see it's going to tax the system and some of my colleagues are older, have young children, I'm happy to take this on. It's a risk but I'm trying to think about my patients first and me second while still taking care of myself.

But I can't imagine not working during this time when doctors are needed.

VAUSE: It's incredible. I wish you nothing but the best. Stay well.

DEBURGHGRAEVE: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Now to Britain, where the prime minister spent a second night in ICU. Boris Johnson tested positive for the coronavirus almost two weeks ago. His declining health is adding to the anxieties of an already anxious nation. Nina dos Santos is with us now.

Nina, what's the latest on the prime minister's health?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: Basically the prime minister appears to be in the same condition that he was in over the last 48 hours. He was taken to hospital on Sunday with mild symptoms, mainly a temperature and a persistent cough.

Within 24 hours, things deteriorated and he was admitted to the ICU. According to the government, he appears to be stable. He is having standard oxygen treatment, probably a breathing tube through the nose but no intubation.

That's important because many patients who require intubation have to be sedated.


DOS SANTOS: Some parts of Johnson's job have been handed to his deputy, Dominic Raab. So Downing Street is still very keen to emphasize the prime minister is in good spirits, not been diagnosed with a secondary infection.

VAUSE: Also the U.K. science adviser has warned the country will soon be facing a very critical moment.


PATRICK VALLANCE, U.K. SCIENCE ADVISER: It's possible we're beginning to see the start of a change where we might see numbers flattening off. We won't be sure about that for a week or so. And we need to keep looking at it but it does begin to suggest that things might be moving in the right direction.


VAUSE: This is some good news but it's coming with many wondering who's in charge of the government.

DOS SANTOS: This is the big question, obviously with Boris Johnson laid low in ICU, the country is facing very, very big decisions, when to end the lockdown, when to focus on getting the economy back into action.

It's way too early for those conversations. The most immediate concern is the long Easter weekend. They're keen to tell people the lockdown will have to continue but they don't know until when.

The man whose sound bite you played, he went down with coronavirus at the same time as the prime minister yet their outcomes have been radically different. People know that patients can take a turn for the worse.

There are some encouraging signs that the country may be plateauing, albeit tentative ones. They gave a press conference revealing the daily death toll of coronavirus; 6,130 people have died as of 5 pm London time yesterday; 256,000 have been tested, 14,000 positive.

We know 55,000 people have the virus but if there isn't mass testing of key workers for the NHS and the population, the government will never get a grip on this to know how many have had the coronavirus and when it will be safe to ease the lockdown.

There has been a lot of controversy about the U.K.'s stance on testing, late to the game. They felt they could learn a lot from countries like Germany, who are able to test 0.5 million daily.

VAUSE: Nina, thank you.

A sense of normalcy settling over Wuhan, China. No one has been allowed to leave the city for 76 days after a lockdown to contain the virus there. Now anyone health or low-risk is allowed to travel. Steven Jiang joining us again.

Great to have you with us. It's important to note not all restrictions have been lifted. School is still out. Many seem reluctant to return to business.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: That's right. Still the ease of travel restrictions was big. Millions of people had been trapped in their homes for 76 days.

That's why hours before the midnight reopening we saw cars lining up on expressways. State media interviewed the first driver in line. He had been stuck in Wuhan for over two months, separated from his family, missed Chinese New Year.


JIANG: He arrived at the checkpoint eight hours before midnight and that eeriness is being echoes throughout the city. But we're seeing a mass exodus because remember, 5 million people had already left town before January 23rd. Now the outbound traffic is mostly consisted of out-of-towners who were stuck in town because of the lockdown, as well as migrant workers trying to go back to their jobs and a limited amount of business traffic.

Authorities are expecting 65,000 people to leave Wuhan today, on Wednesday. Most of them will be taking trains. That is why we see rail officials literally dusting off bullet trains, making them shiny, clean and disinfected.

They are running 276 trains today from Wuhan carrying 55,000 people bound mostly for the manufacturing hub in southern China. The city's airport has reopened as well. They are running 54 flights on Wednesday, only a fraction of the normal operations before the outbreak.

But still, it is the first time in over two months we see commercial flights take off and land in the airport. Still, as you mentioned, this is nowhere near normal. Authorities are telling local residents, most of whom are still staying put, obviously, that they should stay at home as much as possible and avoid nonessential travel and activities.

That is why even though parks and shops have reopened, most entertainment venues and other places remain closed. You still see a lot of obsessive health checks throughout the city, not to mention schools remaining closed and a lot of access restrictions for both commercial and residential buildings.

So it is a milestone for the city but we are nowhere near being normal, if being normal means going back to the state of things before the outbreak -- John.

VAUSE: I think that will be the case around the world. When this ends, it will not end how we think it will. Things won't be normal for a while. Steven Jiang, thank you in Beijing.

Still to come, it was only a matter of time. Major parts of Japan now under a state of emergency. We go to Tokyo for more on the prime minister's urgent plea to the public.

Also, the coronavirus has hit one of Asia's biggest slums. There are fears it could spread like wildfire.




VAUSE: Well, for the next month, parts of Japan, including a number of major cities, will be under a state of emergency. The prime minister had initially been reluctant to make that declaration.

But the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABE SHINZO, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In order to make an end to this emergency situation in one month, the condition is that we must reduce contact with people by 70 to 80 percent. This is very difficult to 70 to 80 percent. This is very difficult to achieve. Although we've been urging people to work remotely, in order to society to work, we ask you to work from home, unless the job is required.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Seven prefectures, including Tokyo, are covered by the state of emergency, including the country's second largest city, Osaka, some businesses, though, will remain open. Public transportation will stay in service. And CNN's Will Ripley will be standing by in Tokyo.

So, Will, it sounds impressive, but does it actually have any teeth? Is there a way of basically forcing, you know, not necessarily a lockdown but a restriction on movement, if you like?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. The police are not on the streets, telling people to go back inside. This is a very strongly-worded request from the Japanese government, telling people that if they don't cut human to human contact by 70, 80 percent right now, Tokyo could have 10,000 cases in two weeks and 80,000 cases in a month.

Right now, the official number is 1,200 cases, but there is skepticism about whether that's actually accurate, John, because Japan has had such limited testing. But I can tell you from kind of watching Japanese media and looking off my apartment balcony -- I kind of feel like a grandfather sitting on the porch, looking down at the kiddies, you know, saying you shouldn't be outside. Because there's still a lot of people out. There's certainly a lot of people out in my neighborhood.

I've talked to our teammates who live in other parts of town. One of our producers says her neighborhood is a ghost town. The other says it looks like business as usual. And if you look at pictures of people, the subways, there are less people, but not 70 to 80 percent less.

VAUSE: I guess the question is, how bad does it have to get for people of Tokyo and Japan to follow the example that, you know, so many other countries around the world are now setting in terms of stay at home?

RIPLEY: There's a pride. There's a feeling that Japan is a more hygienic society, with less person-to-person contact. It's not a hug and handshake culture. So people bow instead of shake hands. And that that might protect people in Japan.

And frankly, Japan's strategy of minimal testing and really intense contact tracing is working in some of the smaller prefectures. But here in Tokyo, in Osaka, and in the seven prefectures listed in the state of emergency, the virus numbers are continuing to go up. They believe they have community spread.

And so clearly, there are asymptomatic people walking around in the city. We don't know how many, because there is such limited testing, and those people are potentially spreading the virus to others. So, you look at what's happening in New York, and you think that New York had Tokyo's numbers not that long ago. Could that be repeated here?

And I mean, we certainly hope not. The Japanese certainly hope not. But yet there are still a lot of people that don't appear to be taking this as a dire situation, despite the increasingly dire warning from the Japanese government that started up, by the way, after the announcement of the postponement of Tokyo 2020.

If we have time, John, I just want to tell you really quickly about this massive economic stimulus plan. Nearly one trillion dollars, just an interesting tidbit that we learned today. And this is to kind of help struggling families who are out of work.

And one notable group that's getting a lot of time online, is that the government will include sex workers in this stimulus package. They will give daily cash handouts to sex workers to encourage them to also stay home and not to be on the job.

And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense from a public policy perspective. Because when we're talking about person-to-person contact, there isn't a business that has much more of that than the sex industry.

VAUSE: It's a good policy, by the sounds of things. Will, thank you. Will Ripley, live for us in Tokyo.

India reporting a total of over 5,300 coronavirus cases and 150 dead so far. These numbers are surprisingly low for the world's second most populous country, but now an outbreak that has become impossible to be contained is spreading in a Mumbai slum.

For more, CNN's Vedika Sud is in New Delhi. So Vedika, this is what they fear. They were so concerned that -- that the coronavirus would turn up in this huge slum, because once it's there, they are packed in so closely, the health services just aren't on the ground, that now this virus would just take off.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning from India, John, yes you're absolutely right. We're talking about a population of 74 million people in the country's slums, that being one of the biggest slums in Asia.

And these people, like you rightly pointed out, live cheek by jowl in these areas. It's not only Pahari (ph) we're talking about, but across India. Is social distancing really possible for them. That is the big question.

We spoke to a few of them, and it was really, really upsetting to see what they had to say, because they've lost their income, along with, you know, having no place to go and eat, because they don't have money. A lot of people have come forward. That's the good news, good Samaritans, politicians, and in authorities to help them with their three square meals for the day.

But of course, that won't be enough for them. And this comes at a time that we've entered the final phase of the lockdown in India.



SUD (voice-over): Pahari (ph) in Mumbai is one of Asia's largest slums. With around a million residents, this has a population density almost 30 times greater than New York.

Now, with confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including a death in the last week, authorities are worried. If not contained in time, Pahari (ph) could turn into a breeding ground for the virus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to see, how we can isolate these individuals and put them into an institutional based quarantined, because they cannot quarantine themselves at home. If you have a number of people living in one room, it's not possible for them to have home quarantine or self-quarantine.

SUD: Ever since the announcement of the three-week lockdown, most residents who depend on daily wages have lost their jobs. These queues you see on the road are for food handed out to the poor by officials, politicians or volunteers.

Back home in the small shanties, the situation is no better. With one public toilet for 1,440 people, social distancing is not an option.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Small scale industry workers are on daily wages, mostly. Most of the people are not getting food over here, but due to organizations or corporations, they are helping us.

SUD: The fear of contracting coronavirus is also the biggest concern for people living in slums in New Delhi. Grandmother Bahpi (ph) collects garbage from heaps to support her family of nine. But now out of work, she wonders what will kill her first.

"Earlier, we are dying from the coronavirus," says Bahpi (ph). "Now, we will die from hunger. Where do we go to earn a living?

Bipa (ph), who makes a living on the rough streets, says she's not even getting two square meals. "What will they do," she asks?


SUD: That's the worry, isn't it? There are seven cases in Pahari (ph) itself. And that's the worry, because this could really, you know, spread across Pahari (ph) and other slums, as well, if not contained in time.

The good news is, testing has really increased in India over the last few days, but the bad news is, so have the number of cases. They are about 5,000, and they've doubled only in the last five days. And this is the worry, because the lockdown is coming to an end within seven days. Will India go ahead and extend this lockdown until the end of the month? Or will it be phasing it out, is the big question -- John.

VAUSE: Yes. And there's the economic cost that comes with that, and eventually, people have to be left out of their homes. But it's a decision for the government and we'll find out, I guess, soon enough. Vedika, thank you. Vedika Sud in New Delhi.

Well, the number of reported coronavirus cases in the Middle East and Africa is surprisingly low, but the region's ability to fight the virus is hampered by long-running conflicts, as well as economic problems and political gridlock.

We have two reports now. We have Arwa Damon in Istanbul. But first to David McKenzie in Johannesburg.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in South Africa, authorities are taking a very strict view of the lockdown. More than 17,000 people have been arrested during this time for defying lockdown orders, according to South Africa's police minister.

In neighboring Zimbabwe, more than 2,000 people have been arrested. Many of them have been fined, according to state media there.

But in Uganda, in east Africa, at least 20 members of the LGBT community were arrested and then placed in prison, because the authorities said they were defying public gathering bans.

Human rights groups have said that civil liberties here in Africa and elsewhere shouldn't be impinged because of the fight against the virus.

And just over the last week, you've seen iconic cities in Africa, like Johannesburg, and Nairobi where they've stopped travelers from coming in and out. And even Legos, the center of the economy in West Africa, really shut down and brought to a standstill. Governments will be hoping that this is enough to stop the virus from spreading.

David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.



ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There may be a positive trend for the Middle East hardest-hit country. Iran with the WHO saying they are observing a flattening off of the number of coronavirus cases being reported there.

President Rouhani has told the population that some of them may be able to return to what's being described as low-risk economic activity, pledging a billion dollars to further stave off the spread of COVID-19.

Now, the region's other nation that is in the global top 10 is Turkey. And the government here is trying to reassure the population that they have the situation under control.

The minister of health is saying that ICUs are about 62 percent capacity, and that under 52 percent of hospital beds are currently occupied.

Plus, the government is planning on turning two decommissioned airports in the Istanbul area, this being the hardest hit city, into hospitals.

But there is quite a bit of criticism here that the government has not implemented a full lockdown. Yes, businesses are closed. Some of them, public spaces, are off limits. But you're only under a government- mandated lockdown if you are under the age of 20, or over the age of 65.


Masks have now been made mandatory in places that could potentially be crowded, such as a supermarket, and masks are now free. Even pharmacies are not allowed to sell them.

But the population here is very worried about what direction this country is going to be going in, especially if stricter measures are not put in place.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.


VAUSE: It's important to remember, tens of thousands of people have recovered from this disease. But, even then, many still have doubts, is it a total recovery? Are you now immune?

CNN's Brian Todd has some answers.



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shareka Williams's horrible ordeal is just about over. The nurse, who cares for the elderly at a nursing home in Tennessee, says when she was in the deepest throws of coronavirus, she had to fight off thoughts of planning her own funeral.

WILLIAMS: You can barely eat. You can barely walk. You can't breathe, because it hurts so bad.

TODD: With tens of thousands of Americans being diagnosed with coronavirus daily and hundreds each day dying, there is also a growing number of people recovering from COVID-19. And what they're going through can serve as a guide to millions. How do you know when you're coming out of it?

DR. MICHAEL MINA, IMMUNOLOGIST, HARVARD CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: The most important things to look for are improvements in your breathing.

TODD: Dr. Michael Mina from Harvard also says if you're coming out of the virus, your dry coughs might start to lift, your fevers might start to come down, but he warns you might also have false signals of recovery. Don't be fooled by one good day.

CHAN: To really be sure that you're -- that you're really kicking putting this virus and putting it behind you, it usually takes multiple days, three or four or five days of continuously feeling better and better and improving your energy, improving your breathing.

TODD: Then, there's what one recovering patient calls the Rip van Winkle effect. David Lat spent 17 days in the hospital, and was on a ventilator for 6 days without even knowing it.

DAVID LAT, CORONAVIRUS SURVIVOR: I came back from off the ventilator, I kind of just went back to what I was talking and thinking about right before I went on the ventilator, even though it had been a week ago. I asked my husband to bring some -- some books to the hospital, and so I asked, "Oh, did you bring those books?" I just -- it really didn't dawn on me yet.

TODD: Experts say amnesia or delirium in recovering coronavirus patients usually goes away, but caregivers have to watch out for long- term effects in those who have had acute cases of the virus.

MINA: Inflammatory response to the body can sometimes really do sometimes permanent damage to people. And whether that's damage to your lungs from the virus and the immune system's response to that virus, or whether to brain tissue, both all sorts of things can go wrong when you're in the intensive care unit.

TODD: Patients can also come out the other side stronger, with antibodies, your immune system's memory of the virus that could help fight it off again. Survivor Diana Barrent (ph) is donating her plasma so others can other benefit from her antibodies.

DIANA BARRENT (PH), CORONAVIRUS SURVIVOR: I like to think of it as a superhero. Me and all the other survivors, we have these internally built hazmat suits.


VAUSE: Our thanks to Brian Todd for that report.

We'll take a short break. When we come back, for weeks, we were told don't hoard, don't panic; buy. But now there are warnings of strains in the supply chains of the global food supply.

Also, we'll see what impact the virus is having on the financial markets in Asia. That's after Wall Street takes another tumble. Live in Tokyo again in just a moment.



VAUSE: We're keeping an eye on U.S. stock futures after a volatile trading session on Wall Street. Here's where they stand right now.

During Tuesday -- these are Dow futures, actually, so we are up by a third point for the Dow; the NASDAQ up by just over half a point; and S&P up by a third of a point. Not a whole lot there.

But the S&P and NASDAQ closed lower, as investors appeared jittery over growing signs of economic pain. Also the Dow had a big surge, 900 points, gave up all of those gains, pretty much at the close.

Let's find out how the Asia markets are faring at the moment. Kaori Enjoji is live for us in Tokyo. You know, again, we've said this since the beginning. The markets are being driven by emotion. Some days it's fear, some days it's hope.

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: That's right. And I think there's a little bit of caution on the regions here in Asia after two days of fairly steady gains.

But Dow futures have pointed higher now in the afternoon trading here, and that is propelling some of the equity markets higher like Tokyo, with the Nikkei 225 moving higher.

We're also seeing oil continue to move, very, very sort of whippy trading. We had a loss on Dow future -- excuse me, on U.S. crude by almost 9 percent, but now they are up by more than 5 percent, close to $25 a barrel. That seems to be because of expectations of these production cuts, come the OPEC talks later on this week. And that seems to be driving sentiment, as well.

More bad news, though, in terms of forecast for economic performance, in some of the key areas in Asia, in particular, Japan. Goldman Sachs has issued a report, saying that they expect the economy to contract 25 percent on an annualized basis in the current quarter. This is one of the deepest downturn readings I've seen, forecasts I've seen so far among economists here.

Generally, business fairly confused by the state of emergency that the government declared, that took effect about 12 hours ago. Retailers don't really have to close, but many are opting to do so. They seem to be shortening hours, or closing altogether.

And there seems to be a lot of confusion as to whether or not you're supposed to close, or you can remain open. And that is because this is not a lockdown, per se, as we've seen in some countries, but the government has insisted that they're requesting cooperation.

The city set up an emergency call center, and they said they got 1,500 calls asking whether or not they're supposed to be doing this or that. So there seems to be a lot of confusion on the day -- on the first day of this state of emergency here in Japan.

We are seeing some renewed concerns about layoffs in the auto market, particularly in the U.S., and whether or not it will spill over into the Japanese market, with companies like Nissan announcing fresh job cuts in the United States, and big automakers like Honda saying that they will no longer be able to continue to pay for some of the workers that were furloughed earlier on.

Amidst that, we are seeing a little bit of decline in the number of commuters here. More and more companies are starting to telework. But in general, I think, there hasn't been the kind of panic that you would expect from a state of emergency, possibly, John, because they took about two or three days in preparing the public for this announcement.

Back to you.

VAUSE: OK. Kaori, thank you. Kaori Enjoji there with the very latest on the markets.

Well, measures to try and contain this pandemic is taking a toll on the global food supply chain. Travel restrictions have slowed the flow of produce and goods, as well as workers. All this coming just as consumer demand has surged. The end result is a system showing signs of strain. Here's CNN's John Defterios.


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Panic buying, empty shelves, huge queues. Coronavirus restrictions have led to familiar scenes across the world. So far, supermarkets and governments have insisted food supplies remain secure, despite the rush.

SYLVESTER TURNER, HOUSTON, TEXAS MAYOR: No need to rush into the stores, as if all of the food will be gone and there won't be any left to restock.

DEFTERIOS: But behind the scenes, there are signs of strain on the way food is grown, made and delivered.

The majority of the global food supply is carried on ships, but the industry is hardly moving, reeling from port closures across the globe. Now, more than 30 ports worldwide are either restricting entry to vessels or prohibiting crew changes, making it very difficult for ship owners to plan routes effectively.


Air cargo is turning into a hot commodity, but the grounding of commercial aviation has sharply reduced capacity, making it harder and more expensive to move perishable goods.

The travel shutdown is taking its toll on the food supply chain, particularly on fresh produce. It also creates a lack of manpower. TOM BRADSHAW, VICE PRESIDENT, BRITISH NATIONAL FARMERS' UNION: Nobody

will be looking at paid work force like somewhere around the middle of May. We're relying on 75 to 80,000 Eastern Europeans to come and fill those jobs, for picking the fresh fruit and vegetables. And obviously, with the current travel restrictions, it's very challenging.

DEFTERIOS: Labor shortages have restricted cross-border movement, coupled with increased demand, could trigger food inflation, and make certain high-value products such as fruit, vegetables, meat and fish harder to come by.

DIRK VAN DE PUT, CHAIRMAN & CEO, MONDELEZ: Depending on where you are in the world, and particularly in developing economies, the measures that some of the governments take are quite draconian. And I'm not discussing that that is the wrong thing to do. Absolutely not. But they have to make this strong stance and keep people off the street. And that starts to interfere with food supply chains. And so situations like in India are pretty dramatic at the moment, I would think.

DEFTERIOS: Emerging economies face a higher risk than developed economies, but the supply chain is getting global attention. G-20 leaders pledged to ensure the movement of vital medical supplies, critical farm products, and other goods and services.

At the end of the chain, supermarkets working around the clock to keep shelves stocked amid the shopping frenzy.

John Defterios, CNN Business, Abu Dhabi.


VAUSE: Well, the once-convicted pedophile now a free man. George Pell may be out of prison, but the families of his alleged victims say this fight is not over. More on their legal action. That's next on CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: Well, the man who accused Australian Cardinal George Pell of molesting him as a boy says he accepts and respects the high court's decision, which overturned Pell's conviction. But he hopes victims will still come forward and speak out, and not be put off by this legal action.

CNN's Anna Coren has more now on the reaction to this high-profile case.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After 405 days behind bars, Cardinal George Pell, the highest ranking Catholic ever convicted in the church's pedophilia scandal, is now a free man. Ordering that the 78-year-old will be released immediately from Barwon Prison. Sitting in the back of a black SUV, the 78-year-old former Vatican

treasurer was driven away, after the Australian high court overturned his conviction for historic child sexual abuse.

With police blocking the road outside the prison, the cardinal sat in the back seat of a black vehicle. He looks extremely calm, looking out at the waiting media.

In a unanimous decision, the highest court in the land overruled a unanimous jury and the majority decision of the court of appeal, deciding there was reasonable doubt with the evidence presented that could not support a guilty verdict.

In a statement, it said, "There is a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted."


ANDREW BOLT, SKY NEWS AUSTRALIA ANCHOR: There was a witch hunt in this country, and we need to look at why we let that happen.

COREN: Pell didn't speak to the media, but in a statement, he said, "I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice. This has been remedied today with the high court's unanimous decision."

But for the survivors of clerical sexual abuse and their advocates, this was a devastating blow.

CHRISSIE FOSTER, CHILD SEX ABUSE ADVOCATE: It was shock. I was really shocked. I was hoping that it wouldn't happen. In my mind, you know, reading about it, I thought that it could not happen, it should not happen. Yet, it happened.

COREN: But for the father of the choir boy who died of a drug overdose in 2014 before any legal proceedings began, he says he blames Pell for his son's death, and is pursuing civil claims.

LISA FLYNN, LAWYER: It's been a very difficult day for our client. He has a lot of anger and disgust at the outcome of today. He feels that he has been a voice for his son, and in a -- in times where his son is unable to have a voice.

And so he will continue to fight this and to seek justice, as I said, through the civil courts, rather than the criminal justice system.

COREN: Other lawyers have also indicated that they are planning to file civil suits against Pell, who has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing. In the past, he said, "Sexual abuse is abhorrent to me."

Meanwhile, the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse is due to consider unredacting the 60 pages of findings involving Pell's time in Balarat, his hometown, also the epicenter of clerical child sex abuse in the Australian Catholic Church.

The cardinal may be enjoying his new-won freedom, but more legal battles may lie ahead.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


VAUSE: Thank you -- thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. I'll be back with more news about an hour from now. In the meantime, "AMANPOUR" is up next. Thanks for watching.