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State Governors to Call the Shots; U.K. Ramping Up Antibody Test Kit; Britain Extended its Lockdown; Women Leaders Applauded for Aggressive Action on Health Crisis; Coronavirus Pandemic; Singapore Sees Sudden Surge In Cases; Wuhan China Revises Total Death Toll, Case Count; Singapore Reports 700 Plus Virus Cases In Single Day; China First Quarter GDP Posts First Decline In Decades; Pandemic Ends China's Era Of Uninterrupted Economic Growth; Boeing To Resume Production Next Week In Washington State; Ex-Trump Attorney, Michael Cohen, To Be Released From Prison Early; Trump Associate Roger Stone Denied Retrial; Pollution Levels In Europe Cut Significantly; Banksy Works From Home During Lockdown; AllInChallenge.com, Actors Team Up To Help Feed Needy Families; Play Ball, Taiwan Begins New Baseball Season. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 17, 2020 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. President Donald Trump outlines a plan to reopen U.S. states, but the final decision will be left to individual governors.

Also, this hour. In Wuhan, China city officials have released a revised death toll. More than 1,200 people join the grim roll of victims.

And some good news from the United Kingdom, scientists there say they are very close to producing a reliable test for coronavirus antibodies.

Hello. From CNN studios here in Atlanta, Georgia. And welcome to CNN Newsroom. I'm Natalie Allen.

Thank you again for joining us.

We begin right here in the United States where according to John Hopkins University the coronavirus has killed more than 33,000 people.

But President Donald Trump has introduced new federal guidelines to reopen the country. The plan suggests once states see a decrease in cases for two weeks and return to pre-crisis conditions in hospitals, they can start a three-phase approach to lift restrictions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does this mean that states such as Montana and Utah that are underneath that getting period, would they be able to go to in phase one as early as say, tomorrow if the governor decides?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You're talking about those states that are in great shape already?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TRUMP: They will be able to go literally tomorrow, yes. Because they've met all of the guidelines. If you go back, you're going back 14 days, you're going back even a month. And they have -- the ones that I'm thinking about, the ones that I've already spoken to governors about, they've met those guidelines actually pretty long ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: The president says these guidelines are not mandatory, which is CNN's Kaitlan Collins report is a reversal of his previous claims.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president is unveiling these new guidelines, he says are the first steps towards reopening the U.S. economy. And in a call he had with governors shortly before he unveiled this in the briefing room, the president backed off his claims of total authority to tell states what to do, those claims that he made earlier this week, when he now told governors they are going to be the ones calling the shots about it is that their states reopen.

And if you read through these guidelines there are several phases the president says it's a slow start step by step that you are going to see these states start to reopen. But none of the guidelines in here are state specifics.

Though the president did say he believes there are some states that could start doing this right away, that they do not have to wait for the end of April and wait for those guidelines that they put out in recent weeks to expire.

They can go ahead move ahead with these new phases. Now while these phases lay when they believe that schools, gyms, whatnot should start reopening, there is a little bit of a sense of vague numbers here. It doesn't really say when these states should start doing and what levels of cases they have in their states.

Instead, it just says as long as they have had this downward trend for a certain amount of days then they can feel comfortable moving from certain phases to another phase.

Now of course, one thing that is not addressed in this packet of guidelines that the president distributed to these governors is a strategy for a national testing system.

Over the last several days, the president has heard concerns from senators, from governors, and from business executives who are worried that there are still inadequate testing throughout the nation, and therefore it is going to hinder any kind of attempt to reopen the country. When the president was asked about this at the briefing he repeatedly

deferred to states as saying it's up to them to be the one to make sure that they are up to par with testing before they start reopening businesses and sending kids back to school and people back to work.

Though, of course, there are going to be looming concerns. Because a lot of the concerns we've heard from states is they are saying they need the federal government's help in order to get to that place.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.

ALLEN: So again, one of the criteria for states being able to safely reopen is access to testing. But some governors say they're not even close to being ready.

Our Nick Watt has that story from Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Why don't you open tomorrow? Because we're afraid the infection rate will go up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As President Trump pushes his plan to reopen states and the economy, many say too soon. We just don't have the testing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): I think that would be really dangerous. We're ramping up the tests so we got to see what the infection rate is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: Massachusetts and Rhode Island could still be days or weeks away from their worst.

[03:04:58]

Michigan may have passed its peak. And some are now protesting their stay-at-home orders that are still in place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): The fact of the matter is, it's still too dangerous to have people just out and about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: Getting ahead of those new federal guidelines New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. all extend their stay home orders another month through May 15th. And New Yorkers will now have to wear masks, riding the bus or subway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: I'm sorry it makes people unhappy. I do not consider it a major burden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: Detroit one place now using a quick 15-minute test.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN (D), DETROIT: We now have returned 700 police officers to duty because we brought every police officer, exposed firefighter, bus driver and got them a 15-minute test. Those who are negative go right back to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: Amazon has now begun the process of building its own testing lab. In a letter to shareholders CEO Jeff Bezos wrote, for this to work, we as a society would need vastly more testing capacity than is currently available.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The plain reality here is we have to do it in partnership with the federal government. You're talking about supply chains that go back to China.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: But Trump says he wants the states to take the lead on testing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID SKORTON, CEO, ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN MEDICAL COLLEGES: We need to have national coordination of the supply chain to get these reagents and swabs and everything to where they need to go. And it's unevenly distributed across the country, we need a national point of view to win this battle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: So, testing will be key. So here in the (Inaudible), Los Angeles we're not going to have any sporting events or concerts, we're told, for maybe a year, so they've turned the parking lot into a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

ALLEN: Peter Drobac joins me now. he is a global health expert with the Oxford Said Business School. He is live for us. Peter, thanks for coming on.

PETER DROBAC, GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT, OXFORD SAID BUSINESS SCHOOL: Good morning.

ALLEN: All right. So, this is a pivotal day the president announcing guidelines to open states. But they're in stages, but the ultimate concern is if the economy opened prematurely, and we just heard one governor say it's too dangerous to have people out and about. What are your initial thoughts?

DROBAC: Yes. I understand the sense of urgency to open things back up given the real devastation to the economy and to unemployment in recent weeks. At the same time, it needs to be done safely. And in fact, if people don't feel safe, that they don't feel like we have this under control, you can reopen shops and businesses and people are not necessarily going to use them.

But the even greater danger of course, is that if you reopen before you've got this thing under control, we'll very quickly see a second surge in cases and a return to lockdowns, and that's going to be really even -- even more difficult.

I think what we need to do is be very careful and thoughtful about finding ways to gradually reopen up safely. But risk -- or not risk going back into the cycle of kind of lockdowns going on and off, you know, endlessly.

ALLEN: Right. So, the key here seems to be adequate testing and equipment. White House officials say the CDC has 500 plus people on the ground in every state. But as we heard some state say, that is not in place for them. And the big question is are we trying to move too quickly here?

DROBAC: Yes, so the things we need to be able to start to open up safely are that we're passed our peak and that there's been a sustained decline in new cases, but that doesn't mean just a decline. It really means that the absolute number of new cases is small enough that you can handle it.

Because what we really need to do then is to get back to the place where we can trace every chain of transmission. That means we can dig diagnose every new case, we can understand where that person was infected from. And then we can follow all of their contacts and be able to test and isolate them as needed so we can keep on top of this.

We know that in most places the availability of testing is still inadequate. The actual contact tracing is a very labor-intensive effort. And we can use technology and there's some apps that are being developed for that, but it requires thousands and thousands of people probably in every street who are trained and deployed and coordinated to work with that technology to really get that infrastructure in place.

If we don't have that then we're really operating in the dark. And the risk is that we won't know when cases are starting to creep up and we don't want to get behind an exponential growth curve again.

ALLEN: Right. Because the numbers still are staggering, the number of cases and the number of those who have died.

[03:09:55] And also, as the country slowly opens, could it be the case that people would need to get tested on a regular basis like every week before going back to work again the next week?

DROBAC: It is possible that might be fairly intensive. Again, if we have a good system in place where everybody who has symptoms is getting tested, and then we're able to trace all of their contacts, that's going to go a long way to be able to do this.

To my knowledge, other places that have started opening up, and this is mostly in Asia where there's a bit more experienced, haven't resorted to that kind of regular testing of the entire population. That's a pretty massive effort. I think we can be a little bit smarter about that. The point is that we're not even close to probably where we need to be in terms of testing and tracing.

ALLEN: Yes. And let's talk about that. Because that is been the key problem over and over again. And the fact that the United States is still seeing huge lags in the process really doesn't make sense.

DROBAC: It's hard to fathom. This is been months that we've seen challenges. And of course, the U.S. is not alone. Because as these pandemic spreads around the globe there are global shortages and it's not just the test kits, it's the swabs and it's the reagents, and all of these different things that everyone is competing for.

And likewise, with protective equipment for health workers and key workers, and that's why the role of the federal government here is so important. Because if you sort of leave this to all the 50 states to fight with one another and to fight against every other country in a bidding war, you know, you're going to have winners and you're going to have losers. And you know, we're not going to be safe until this is under control everywhere.

And that's why a coordinated response particularly by the federal government would be very important here, and unfortunately, we're not seeing that.

ALLEN: Peter Drobac in Oxford, England, we appreciate your expertise. Thank you.

DROBAC: Thanks for having me.

ALLEN: Stay-at-home orders in Britain have been extended for at least three more weeks. The foreign secretary says the lockdown has worked to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

CNN's Nic Robertson has that.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the government of course has been under lot of pressure to give an indication of how it will end the current lockdown. How -- what its exit strategy is.

We got our first indication of that from the government today. The secretary of state for foreign affairs also the first secretary of state for the country, Dominic Raab laid it out five point. Point number one. That the health service can cope, meaning that they've got enough critical care beds.

Secondly, that there is a sustained and measured decrease in the number of deaths. Thirdly, that there is reliable data. And I think that's an important point, reliable data, that the number of infections are going down.

So, what the government is telling us here is that this is going to be science led. The full thing. And this is something the government has been criticized for failing on so far. Failing to have enough personal protective equipment, PPE, and failing to have enough tests, to test the presence of the virus.

The government says the fourth point is they must know that they have adequate and capable amounts of PPE and test available. And the fifth point they say, and again, this is a very important one, that the National Health Service, the health service can cope with any eventuality that whatever the government does to get out of the current lockdown situation doesn't create a second wave, a second spike of infections that would overwhelm the health service.

So those are the five points the government has laid out very clear. For now, that lockdown is going to stay in place until the 7th of May. It will come up for review then in three weeks.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

ALLEN: There is promising news out of the U.K. on the race to mass produce a reliable COVID-19 antibody test. We explain next why that is so important in a live report from London.

Also, ahead here, how one group that would be females are leading the charge against the coronavirus and why their male counterparts should be paying attention.

[03:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: Scientists at Oxford say a coronavirus vaccine they are working on could be available in six months, that's at least one year sooner than what other experts had projected.

On Thursday, CNN's Erin Burnett spoke with the lead researcher about how the trial is progressing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADRIAN HILL, VACCINE RESEARCHER: So, we've been able in what, three months since this virus was discovered to make the vaccine, tested on animals, find that it appears safe, and manufacture it to a standard that we can start testing people next week. And aim to have a thousand people vaccinated a month later in this trial that we are running in Oxford and other parts of the U.K. We are talking to manufacturers in three continents, including some of the biggest vaccine manufacturers in the world. One in India, one in China, as well as in Europe and America and they're all very, very keen to scale up and we're helping them scale up as quickly as possible.

So, no, we're not going to have a billion doses available in October, but we should have millions once, you know, a month or two after we get an efficacy result and the scale up will be accelerating from there. And because we've never done this before we can't guarantee what the level of supply will be, but certainly, we're being very ambitious (Inaudible) what we needed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: And there is more promising news from the U.K. A company there saying it is very close to producing thousands of quick, reliable, and affordable antibody testing kits.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live for us in London with the details. Hello to you, Nick. What can you tell us?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Natalie, this has potential global consequences because pretty much every country wants to see who has had the disease so far, and therefore who might have antibodies that could offer some sort of immunity to enable them to go back to work for society to get back to normal.

The problem is so many tests are out there, and according to Dr. Fauci, the U.S. disease expert, a lot of them aren't that great. Now we've been speaking to one company here in the United Kingdom, they've been doing a lot of work on validating their tests, i.e., being sure that independent scientists are sure that it's working and they hope in the next day or two to have European self- certification which is a big leap on to try to get this manufactured on a wide bulk scale.

Here's what we saw.

We know little about the virus that's emptied our world, but cling to one hope that if you have had it, you might be immune for a short while at least.

In deserted cities like London around the world the question is, is there an antibody test out there that's reliable enough to tell if you've had the disease and then might be safe to go back to work.

It's a messy global race to an antibody test with possibly one British solution. Company Mologic say they have a quick test and offer lengthy validation by independent scientists will in days have European self- certification. They do hope to do hundreds of thousands in laboratories this month. And within weeks, make 10-minute home testing kits.

Professor Sanjeev Krishna has been validating these tests at St. George's Hospital in London.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANJEEV KRISHNA, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, ST. GEORGE'S UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: I'm very pleased with the results that we've seen so far, we have done quite a lot of work to ensure that the test does detects antibodies in those people who have definitely had the virus. And we're now expanding, those studies, to look at and see how specific the test is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[03:20:02]

WALSH: By specific he means the important part, to be sure the test doesn't mistake other viruses or health problems for coronavirus. This is a prototype version of the test for used by doctors or healthcare workers in hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRISHNA: And who is at greater risk than healthcare workers taking care of patients with COVID-19.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: They hope to soon to make a version for the home. This Sanjeev's kitchen for every one for as little as $1.20.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRISHNA: Collect to a blood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: This test contains tiny inert traces of the virus and showed a line when the antibodies in your blood react with them. Mologic hope all they're validating gives them an edge in the crowded market and even approval from the WHO or FDA soon for the final goal of mass cheap home tests. Krishna test negative, by the way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE FITCHETT, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, MOLOGIC: And if the test comes out to be exceptionally accurate, it takes 10 minutes, and it can be certain opposed.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: And why --

FITCHETT: And of course, there can be some (Inaudible). But the way, we are approaching at the moment is we have a well-functioning laboratory antibody tests that is robust, that is validating this week, we can scale manufacturing to high numbers. We want to see might it be under (Inaudible), and we need to make sure it's on the headlines and it is at some lines, and we will keep working on ensuring we get good reliable tests and does more benefit than harm. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: Science facing huge hurdles of mass production and accuracy, but also to promised the hope they bring is real.

Now, obviously, Natalie, there are hurdles ahead for this particular test, they want to get WHO, FDA approval, that takes some time, but their hope is to in the next weeks or so, scale up by the end of the month to be able to do hundreds of thousands of tests a week in a laboratory setting.

Accuracy seems to be utterly key for this, as is the notion for doing this at cost, making this as cheap as humanly possible. Now they are one of a number of products potentially out there. This one with a lot of validating already being done to it by independent scientists of substantial repute here in the U.K.

But more broadly on a scale globally, the faster a mass produce cheap test like this can be found, the quicker we can learn how many people in the population have already had it, may be asymptomatically, how many people in the population have antibodies that could possibly be used in treatment to help other people who are currently suffering with the disease, and also for all of us sitting at home who may be safe to go back to work.

One remaining question, if you have the antibodies, if you have the disease, what kind of immunity do you possibly have? Scientists still don't know the answer to that. Is it in a matter of days, weeks, months, and eternity, unclear at this point, but it does seem, fortunately, that scientists moving pretty fast as we sit at home paralyzed by this disease. Natalie.

ALLEN: Absolutely. Great report. It certainly is encouraging, Nick.

All right. Let's look at another angle here in the U.K. It is extending its lockdown orders. How extensively?

WALSH: At this point we are looking at another three weeks. And it is exactly the same as the last three weeks. We will not be allowed to leave our homes, unless it's for exercise, getting medicine, or essential work. That was always slightly unclear.

And I think the British government's problem with the messaging yesterday was, for a number of days they've been saying that the measures they put in over the last three weeks have been working. And they now have spare capacity in hospital beds and they're seeing numbers of people being admitted to intensive care slowing here in the capital.

Essentially, good news more broadly. The awful figure of hundreds of dying every day maintains unacceptably high.

And they've got five criteria that they needed to see satisfy. They don't want the National Health Service, the free U.K. health service to ever be at a point in the foreseeable future where it could be overcapacity. They need to see infection rates down, they need the death rate, the daily reported number of deaths significantly lower as well.

And so, a package of measures certainly, which I have to say, when I heard them sounded a little bit less tight than you might possibly expect, the things we could possibly imagine seeing being in place at the end of the next three-week period.

And you have to remember too, Natalie, as well, this is a government that doesn't have its prime minister at the helm currently. So, you have the different dynamics here of looking after their economy, those wanting to see the health of the nation first, those wanting to see the functionality of the health service, all vying for some sort of position here.

So, we may, when we see Boris Johnson who is currently recuperating from the disease at his prime minister retreat in Chequers, see some sort of clarification over the next three weeks of this policy. But for now, it's more of the same.

The British government saying it would be too dangerous to send people home unless we're -- sorry -- send people back to work, out back to a new normal until we're absolutely sure that isn't going to cause a second spike in the disease, Natalie.

[03:25:05]

ALLEN: Absolutely. This new normal who knows whatever that will look like. Nick Paton Walsh in London reporting for us. Thanks so much, Nick.

Italy is now getting an apology from the head of the European Commission over its response to the crisis. The commission now admitting there should have been more solidarity in sending medical aid and sharing the cost of recovery. The commission president says, too many people look the other way when Italy needed a helping hand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: You cannot overcome a pandemic of this speed and this scale without the truth. The truth about everything. The numbers, the science, the outlook, but also about our own actions. Yes, it is true that no one was really ready for this. It is also true that too many were not there on time when Italy needed a helping hand at the very beginning.

And yes, for that it is right that Europe as a whole, offers a heartfelt apology. But saying sorry only counts for something if it changes behavior. And the truth is too, that it did not take long before everyone realized that we must protect each other to protect ourselves. And the truth is that Europe has now become the world's beading heart of solidarity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: With more than 22,000 deaths reported, Italy has the highest number of any European nation. Several countries have been praised for their effective responses to

the pandemic. As the virus begins spreading, they put testing, lockdown, and intervention measures in place quickly.

So how did these countries get it right? CNN's Max Foster reports the answer maybe who's in charge.

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: As the virus spreads beyond China, countries and territories run by women appear to have had particularly effective strategies.

Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen was one of the first leaders to recognize the threat to her island. Her aggressive early response, included restricting flights from mainland China and ramping up production of personal protective equipment such as masks.

To date, Taiwan has reported only six fatalities linked to the virus amongst its population of 24 million.

Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand was even more aggressive as she enforced a national lockdown before any deaths were even reported, and she banned tourists which are the country's biggest source of income.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: From 11.59 p.m. tonight, we will close our border to any nonresidents and citizens attempting to travel here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: When the virus hit Europe, female leaders were similarly proactive. In Iceland Katrin Jakobsdottir offered free testing to all citizens whether they were showing symptoms or not. And she used a tracking system so she didn't have to lockdown and suffocate the economy.

Compare that to Sweden, which has by far the highest death rate in the Nordics, and is also the only country there that isn't led by a woman.

Smaller nations are perhaps easier to manage, but that doesn't explain Angela Merkel's success in Germany. A nation of 83 million. This chart Germany's noticeably low death rate with other comparable European states and the U.S.

So, what explains the apparent link between low virus mortality rates and female leadership.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMANTHA POWER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: So, each of the leaders you mention brings a combination of combination of compassion and rigor, I think to the way that they've engaged the public, in fact- based, evidence-based, science-based early. But also, really showing empathy and showing and speaking to the humanity of what's at stake here in the crisis. (END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Managing a crisis requires recognizing it early on and acting decisively. The international evidence so far shows a disproportionate number of female leaders successfully taking that approach to the current pandemic.

Max Foster, CNN.

ALLEN: China is revising the coronavirus death toll in Wuhan, the center of its outbreak. Next here, why they are raising the number by more than 50 percent. We'll have a live report.

Also, Singapore was once leading the way through the pandemic but now it is seeing a sudden surge in cases. What's changed?

We're live from Singapore, next. You're watching CNN Newsroom.

[03:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom from Atlanta, I'm Natalie Allen. Officials in Wuhan, China are revising the cities coronavirus death toll. Within the past few hours nearly 1300 new deaths were added raising the total amount to more than 3800. The city also increase the total number of cases to more than 50,000. This comes as the U.S. accuses China of hiding this scope of the epidemic from the world. Steven Jiang joins me now live from Beijing. Accusations by the United States against China, so, what do we know about these new numbers, Steven?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Natalie, this is a substantial jumped by 50 percent in terms of death toll in Wuhan the original epicenter of this pandemic. That's why this is catching a lot of attention around the world, but timing wise as you mentioned, this is a very interesting because it came as an increasing number of U.S. officials and politicians in recent days again pointing fingers at Beijing for its lack of transparency and blaming the Chinese government for basically mishandling the crisis and causing these global pandemic.

Now the government here have been strongly pushing back at any such accusations. But in its statement announcing these latest revisions, Wuhan officials did not mention U.S. criticism. Instead they frame this revision in the framework of their effort to be accountable to history to its own people and victims of the virus as well as to ensure data accuracy and open and transparent disclosure of information. But already we are seeing in state media editorials and commentaries are brushing aside the notion linking this release to the U.S. attacks as saying the Wuhan authorities were not influenced by reports from the west. They have stuck to their rules and procedures to show their pro-transparency and total honesty.

Now, you may ask what has caused this discrepancy. According to officials there are several reasons for that, one is, during the initial stage of the outbreak, a lot of people died at home because of the lack of medical resources. And also, during the peak of the outbreak, medical workers were so overwhelmed, they had to focus on treating patients instead of reporting deaths, and then there were delays and errors in reporting because it involved a large number of medical facilities run by different levels of the governments as well as the private sector.

[03:35:01]

So, all of this may sound like a reasonable explanations, but it's probably not going to satisfy or implicate Washington as this has become such a politically-charged issue, especially with President Trump's own handling of this crisis and the growing scrutiny, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. We appreciated it. Steven Jiang for us there in Beijing. Steven, thanks.

Well, Singapore was seen as a success story in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, but it is now reporting its largest single day increase in infections, 728 new cases. And the government says many of them are migrant workers. Journalist Manisha Tank joins me now live from Singapore, to talk more about it. Manisha, first of -- how many migrant workers could be impacted due to their living conditions?

MANISHA TANK, JOURNALIST: Well, it's a huge number actually, Natalie. I can tell you that 90 percent of that 728 case jump, 90 percent of them are migrant workers. And this has been a real weak spot for Singapore, because of course, we are held as the country that was gold standard when it came to fighting coronavirus and getting the situation under control. And there have been international headlines doing the rounds, saying that, you know, some of the shine has come off that gold standard accolade that Singapore held.

Yes, I mean, the situation for the migrant workers is particularly acute at the moment. And this is because we saw one of the cluster that broke out towards the end up March. Being in an area that's frequented by a lot them. A lot of them come from Bangladesh, they come from India, they are such a core function here for Singapore. They keep this small island nation running, they build roads, they build the housing estates. They even build the very famous CHIJMES International Airport which Singapore has won many awards for.

They are rally treasured part of society here so it is very unfortunate that this is happening. But how is it happen? Because there was exposure in a cluster in little India, a place where many of them socialize and once you take that highly contagious virus to your workplace, even though we had measures in place where employers were checking temperatures, we know now that you can be asymptomatic and carry the coronavirus.

So, once it gets into those dorms, it can spread very, very quickly. Let's take one of the biggest clusters for example, when you look at the living conditions there, everyone is taking care of but you would have in a dorm room in some cases, say six bump beds. It means it houses about 12 workers and they are living very close together, 13,000 workers live in one of the biggest dorms here. So, it gives you an idea, 10s of thousands of them are in quarantined at the moment. Natalie.

ALLEN: Well, that's a measure being taken to control it, do they feel like they can bring this under control? We are talking many, many people and they are the essential workers?

TANK: Certainly there's a feeling here that they can. So, a number these essential workers are required to continue highly important functions for the country here. Around 5,000 or so have been relocated, these are the ones who are well, they've been relocated to other place where they are safely being taken care of the government. And the government has gone so far as to set up a special task force just to cope with the situation amongst the migrant workers.

No, I can tell you that outside those dorms, in terms of the other coronavirus cases here we are beginning to see a leveling out, a plateau, there are fewer cases but this is partly because we've had really stringent measures come in to place. It happen last week on April 7th. It's going to last into the beginning of May, it's what we are calling the circuit breaker measure and I think the rest of the world can and compare to the shutdowns and the lockdowns that we've seen in many countries. Mad some would say look, relative speaking, Singapore's case numbers are still much lower that lots of other countries out there.

But we are a much smaller nation. And even the local press has pick up on how did it get this way? There are some infectious disease experts that, you know, the infectious disease house is here. And national universities that are saying that potentially we could see 10,000 cases. So, this is moving very quickly. I just want to quickly leave you with one story thought, covid patient, the 42nd covid patient here in Singapore has actually come out of ICU after two months and will wake up to hear news that he has had a baby boy, while he has been unconscious. So, some positive news amongst all of this.

ALLEN: Absolutely, will leave on that one. That's a life full. All right, Manisha Tank for us, thank you from Singapore.

China's economy has suffered a historic blow. Next here, the distressing numbers and what it all means.

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[03:40:00]

ALLEN: The coronavirus has ended China's era of uninterrupted economic growth. Its first quarter GDP declining for the first time in decades with the slump of 6.8 percent. The historic contraction is one of the starkest economic signals to emerge from the pandemic so far. CNN's Anna Stewart joins me now live from London to break down the numbers and they certainly are bleak, Anna.

ANNA STEWART, CNN PRODUCER: They are bleak and earlier in the week, of course, the IMF warns that this recession could be far worse for the world than the financial crisis of 2008. Now, the GDP reading for the first quarter out of China isn't hugely surprising, it comes in slightly worse than the general estimates from analysts. What is interesting Natalie, not just a headline figure, but taking a much deeper dive into those numbers, as to what it tells us about what we can expect from China and other economies in the recovery part post- lockdown as restrictions are eased. And this is why I'm most interested in.

Looking industrial production from China, if you look at January, February, pretty miserable March, you see something of a recovery. However retail sales much, much worse picture down 16 percent in March despite some shops reopening. Now that might mean of course that domestic demand plays in there, we are seeing an uptick and unemployment in China, as with other economies.

You can also, of course, expect exports to be down for China, given much of the world is under lockdown, and not buying as much. This is just the first quarter. So, we've got to get the 2nd quarter as well to get a better picture, but lots of people today will be wondering what this means in terms of will we see a v-shaped recovery out of this economic crisis.

Now, looking at Asian markets you can see here in Asia all high today, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Japan much higher the Nikkei up 3 percent, part of that boosted of course by the Wall Street rally yesterday that was based largely on early days on a potential treatment for covid-19 and the White House sharing some guidelines about reopening the economy, but also, Natalie, I think this data that we had out of China also supports expectations for more fiscal stimulus from China's central bank.

ALLEN: Yes, we are going to talk about that next with our guest. Anna Stewart for us there in London. Thank you, Anna.

Let us begin, Richard McGregor, he is a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute and author of The Party, The secret world of China's communist rulers. Mr. McGregor thank you so much for joining us, good morning to you.

RICHARD MCGREGOR, SENIOR FELLOW, LOWY INSTITUTE: Hi.

ALLEN: I want to first get your reaction to this news about China's economy, its first decline in decades.

MCGREGOR: Well, as your reporter says, it's not unexpected the entire economy was in lockdown basically for the first three months of this year. That's a slight uptick in March and, you know, the figure itself 6.8 percent is pretty stable and as of the acknowledgment by the Chinese government on how the downturn was, because of course, these figures are a little bit massaged.

[03:45:00]

You know, the big question is what kind of recovery we get. It won't be a v-shaped recovery, and that's important for the rest of the world because (inaudible) China is about 30 percent of global growth. So, if we don't get a v-shaped recovery, what kind of stimulus package follows? That hill there powder dry for the moment. But let's see what happens.

ALLEN: Right, almost 40 percent as you mentioned of China's economy is export, so global demand is key to the recovery, but with most of Europe, the U.S. an emerging market economies faltering, what could this mean to China's ability to export products and restore solid growth?

MCGREGOR: Well exports aren't important. They're not as important as they once were, in fact the real drivers that the Chinese economy is consumption services and also infrastructure, but at the time when you're looking for growth, wherever you can get it, obviously exports are important, demand is going to fall off the cliff in Europe, and United States, and that does have long term implications for the Chinese economy, because that hurts primarily private firms which is the engine of employment in China.

That is the big question, not so much the growth rate, the employment rate and unemployment. So, I think in that respect, China will be looking hopefully offshore, to see that the Europeans, and the Americans can get their act together, and get their own economies back in gear.

ALLEN: Yes. The question is will the economy return to growth in the second quarter and beyond for China. Things could get worse before it gets better, but I want to ask you, does this signify a sign of how hard it will be to restart all of our economies?

MCGREGOR: Undoubtedly, I think one of the big issues for China's is second and third wave infections, you know, in other words another wave of coronavirus infections, and if that happens, then they have to lock down again, you're seeing that in a couple cities in China smaller cities, where we've got clusters there, so China, you know, is first in and they look like they are first out, but I think everybody will be watching them closely to see that they actually stay out and do maintain the progress that they have in locking this down.

ALLEN: And let's talk about how much China is trusted as far as numbers. We saw them released new numbers on the cases that they saw in Wuhan over the coronavirus, do you believe they are being wholly transparent here?

MCGREGOR: Well I don't believe they are wholly transparent, but I also don't think that the numbers are totally bogus as you said they've released some new figures out today, upgrading the number of deaths in Wuhan, I think everybody thought the death rate in Wuhan had been vastly underestimated, but at the end of the day, even in China, you can't hide a virus like this, and the impact of the virus like this. So it's much like GDP figures frankly, I don't think they are accurate to a tee, but the trend is accurate, and you get a sense of that. So, in that respect, I think we can be guided by the Chinese figures.

ALLEN: We appreciate your insight so much, Richard McGregor, joining us from Australia. Thank you.

MCGREGOR: Thank you. ALLEN: And again your book, The Party, The secret world of China's

communist rulers. We appreciate your time, sir.

Boeing said it will restart its commercial airplane assembly plant, and calls thousands back to work next week. Boeing closed the factory in the U.S. State of Washington in late March and arrange cleanings after roughly 100 employees, contracted the coronavirus. The company said new safety measures will be in place, including staggered shift times, and more spread out work areas.

President Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen will be released from prison due to the coronavirus pandemic, he is serving a three-year sentence at a U.S. Federal prison camp, in Otisville New York, where 21 inmates and staff, have tested positive for the virus. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to tax fraud, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress. He was set for release in November 2021. But he will serve the rest of his time, in home confinement.

But the news that was not as good for another disgraced Trump associate, a judge denied Roger Stone's request for a retrial, Thursday. Stone was convicted for lying to Congress about his role in the 2016 Trump campaign, he claimed the jury forewoman, didn't disclose her anti-Trump leanings in a pretrial questionnaire. The judge said, Stone's legal team failed to fully research and question her. Stone faces 40 months in prison.

[03:50:08]

Well, sports have been shut down since the coronavirus pandemic began, we are all missing it but, one country just started playing professional baseball games this week. We will see what other countries might follow as well.

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ALLEN: New satellite images show how the coronavirus pandemic is slashing air pollution levels in Europe. Take a look at Italy, the image on the left, shows nitrogen dioxide concentration in March of 2019, compare that to the same period this year, in the image on the right. Also Paris is seeing the most significant drop at 54 percent, this image shows the difference in France's levels in March of last year, versus last month. And it's a similar story in Spain, where Madrid saw decreases of around 45 percent, the European space agency says, the lower pollution levels across the continent, coincide with the recent strict quarantine measures. That has been a bright spot, maybe the only bright spot in this pandemic.

Famous street artist Banksy is following coronavirus lockdown protocols, taking his outdoor work inside. The elusive figure, published five pictures on his Instagram account, Wednesday showing rats, causing chaos, in what may be his bathroom. One is knocking a mirror to the side, the other is stepping on a tube of toothpaste, one is hanging from the towel rings, another from a light cord. The captions the post, my wife hates it, when I work from home. Good one, Banksy.

Well two of the biggest actors on the planet, are giving some lucky fence, the chance of a lifetime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: This is Leonardo DiCaprio.

ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: And Bob De Niro.

DICAPRIO: And we're accepting the all in challenge, Lorraine Jobs and I helped create America's food fun, to make sure that every family, in need gets access to a meal at this very critical time.

DE NIRO: Our most vulnerable communities, including children, low income families, the elderly, and individuals facing unemployment, need our support now more than ever.

DICAPRIO: And that's why we are asking you to help us go all in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: What a great idea, through their digital fund-raiser, the actors are giving fans a chance to win a walk on role in their upcoming film Killers of the Flower Moon. Directed by Mark Scorsese. The All-In Challenge hope to raise 10s of millions of dollars to feed Americans in need during this critical time, 100 percent of the donations, will support DiCaprio's Americas food fund, meals on wheels, and no kid hungry.

The pandemic cancelled most sports around the world, but not in Taiwan. Professional baseball there started its season this week, and they're inviting sports deprive fans from across the world to tune in. CNN's Ivan Watson has that from Hong Kong.

[03:55:00]

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IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is not a rerun, it is a baseball game that was broadcast live, Thursday night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like they say, I hate to see you go but I love to see you walk.

WATSON: That's right. Live professional baseball, in the time of coronavirus. Played with a Taiwanese twist. Well almost all of the sports around the world have been canceled, Taiwan's baseball season has just begun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We welcome everybody to enjoy our games especially when there is no game in states, no getting pinned, (inaudible), anywhere.

WATSON: I caught up with Richard Wang before he went on air, to announced Thursday night's game between the Monkeys, and the Lions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are starting the game with (inaudible).

WATSON: Taiwan is one of the only places in the world that still has sports being played right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes and that's because we did a pretty good job on the pandemic preparation.

WATSON: Taiwan's daily new coronavirus infections hit zero this week, with only six lives lost to the disease to date. So that means game on.

As this Taiwanese sports channel is live streaming the games to the world for free.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hope we can cheer up other people who are under the impact of the coronavirus, so don't feel sad, because Taiwan is offering the live action today.

WATSON: Before the first pitch, I have to get ready.

I confess I'm not much of a baseball fan, but this may be the only professional sport broadcast live anywhere on the planet right now. So why not. Among those watching Taiwan's president and her cat. Health guidelines mean they are no human spectators in the stadium, the Taiwanese use cardboard cutouts to replace the cheering fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of quiet, but we still have the music on, and we got the robot drummers.

WATSON: What do you mean robot drummers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the robots playing drum during the games.

WATSON: Is that a new thing for baseball in Taiwan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never saw anything like that before.

WATSON: In the middle of this global sport drought, Taiwan may have hit a home run. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.

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ALLEN: I'll be right back with another hour of CNN Newsroom please stay with us.

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