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Georgia's Rush to Reopen Economy; Protests Across America, Encouraged by Trump; Trump Halts Immigration to United States; Kim Jong-un Absent from Public View; Inside One Of Turkey's Busiest ICU's; U.S. Oil Crashed To $37.63 Barrel Monday; Singapore Confirms Highest Number Of Cases In One Day. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired April 21, 2020 - 02:00   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, from Jordan to India to the U.S., around the world, lockdowns are being lifted or eased but the warning is the same. Get this wrong and brace for a surge in the coronavirus.

With almost 800,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., Donald Trump now plans to suspend all immigration.

And has anyone seen Kim Jong-un?

After missing a major celebration last week, new intelligence says the North Korean leader is gravely ill.


VAUSE: Just like almost everything in the United States these days, the decision by governors who want to reopen their states and how quickly seems to come down to partisan politics. The first state to reopen was one of the last to impose the stay-at-home order.

The Republican governor of Georgia announced that, by week's end, many nonessential businesses will be allowed to open their doors. CNN's Erica Hill has details.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gyms, barbershops, hair and nail salons, massage therapists all clear to reopen in Georgia on Friday.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): This measure will apply statewide and will be the operational standard in all jurisdictions.

HILL: Theaters and restaurants can open April 27th. Bars and nightclubs will remain closed for now. Some businesses in neighboring Tennessee will also be back on Monday. The state's stay at home order will now end April 30th. Neither state has seen a 14-day decline in cases which the president recommended before moving into phase one of reopening.

South Carolina giving some retail stores and beaches the green light. Four coastal communities, however, will keep existing restrictions in place noting there is, quote, no evidence from medical professionals that indicates the threat has diminished setting up a stark contrast across the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that the worst is yet to come for a lot of people.

HILL: Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia singled out by the White House task force as potential new hot spots. Ohio, the latest state to close schools for the remainder of the academic year, as experts caution a rush to reopen could backfire.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen. So what you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you're going to set yourself back.

HILL: Beaches in Jacksonville, Florida, now open with limited hours and what appears to be limited social distancing.

REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): Jacksonville is right across the border from Georgia and it tells you that one state can't make a set of decisions that are inconsistent with public health and with science because it's going to affect another state.

HILL: As states and cities look for a path forward, testing continues to be key.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The question is how fast can you increase the volume of tests?

Because the more tests, the better. That is the axiom: the more tests the better. Test nursing homes, test schools, test teachers, test prison facilities, but you need the volume of tests.

HILL: The city of Detroit now testing its essential workers. Amazon using thermal cameras to screen for fevers. New York state began antibody testing today, but officials stress we still don't know how effective those antibodies are.

(on camera): Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia was also asked about whether this move to start re-opening businesses on Friday could lead to more positive cases in his state and he acknowledged, yes, it absolutely could, but says he feels the state has what it needs in place to deal with any additional positive cases.

The governor also talking a lot about small businesses as he was weighing this decision talking about the need to get the economy back and the need to get the small businesses back to work.

Back to you.



CNN medical analyst Dr. Kent Sepkowitz is with us now for more on all of this.

Good to see you again.


VAUSE: The U.S. state of Georgia is set to be the first to emerge from a lockdown, keeping in mind, this is the same governor who was one of the last to order a stay in place order, that was back on April 2nd, when he made this public declaration.



KEMP: Those individuals could've been infecting people before they ever felt bad. But we did not know that until the last 24 hours.


VAUSE: That was at the time when he made the decision to order that shelter in place and, of course, that information had been out there for weeks, if not months. So I raise that because it does not seem that the governor is particularly well informed, because the businesses that are allowed to be opened are hair salons, gyms, nail salons.

If you look at the timing, it could come at the peak of the cases for Georgia. It seems to be the worst possible time and the worst possible businesses to be opening.

SEPKOWITZ: Yes, it defies logic. But I think a lot of what this particular governor and other people in the country have done is to defy any rational approach to this. I do want to say that Georgia had a terrible outbreak in the town of Albany, Georgia, in the southwest, a couple hundred thousand people.

An enormous, devastating outbreak that arose from people going to a funeral. So he should know how this infection can spread quickly. Why he is doing that is up for grabs. But it is not reasonable to do.

VAUSE: And, potentially, if one state opens too early and we see a situation where the virus comes surging back, is that a problem just for that state?

Or does it translate into a much wider national problem?

SEPKOWITZ: Yes, the virus is not respecting zip codes or state lines, clearly. So, sure, if I were in a surrounding area or if I was someone who wanted to use the Atlanta airport, I would certainly think twice, three times and four times. I would not go near the place.

It's ridiculous in so many ways that it is hard to calm down to start to articulate this. It's just bad policy, very bad governance but that may well be the point, is to show how useless government is.

VAUSE: We've heard from a lot of state governors, the more rational ones who listen to science and fact, and they are saying, if this reopening is to happen with minimal risk and to be successful, then there is one key element that they say is missing and continues to be missing, despite their pleas. Here it is, what they say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More help is needed from the federal government on testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We simply have not had enough test kits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We governors are trying to do the best we can with what we have got.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The president does not want to help on testing.


VAUSE: The White House says the states have the capacity for testing. It seems like a weasel word.

What's the difference between capacity and real world capability?

SEPKOWITZ: No one knows. I think they don't have the capacity because they do not have the supplies. The supplies can be procured at a federal level much more readily than states arm wrestling each other over limited supplies.

There's a bipartisan statement, called the Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience, that was put out today. They are calling for 5 million tests, at least, a day. We have been at about 150,000 every day for the best part of April. We jumped out to a little bit. We are so far behind where we need to get to in order to safely start to reopen.

Everyone is pro reopen. I thought no one was pro COVID-19. And this just strikes me as completely, completely irrational.

VAUSE: Thank you, Dr. Kent Sepkowitz. Thank you.

SEPKOWITZ: Thank you.


VAUSE: So across the United States, a small number of Americans are refusing to follow social distancing guidelines, even protesting its stay-at-home orders. Many of those who have taken to the streets are emboldened by words of encouragement from Donald Trump. Randi Kaye reports.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to work, open our states.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From coast to coast, protesters are making their voices heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Governor Lee, reopen Tennessee.

KAYE: Defying stay-at-home orders and taking to the streets.


KAYE: Protesters are angry their state is shut down, their schools closed and their businesses facing bankruptcy.

RANDY PARE, PROTESTER: We do have a problem that certain parts of the countries are overstepping our liberty.

PAUL BROCKMAN, PROTESTER: Give us a plan. Give some people hope. Give that small businessman hope that he can open up in a week or two or three or whatever it is, but they can't stay closed forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here to stand up for our God given rights under the Constitution of the United States of America.


KAYE (voice-over): In some states, protesters carried guns, many carried American flags and signs with a message for their governor. Some of the most popular, "Freedom over fear," "End the shutdown", "Jesus is my vaccine" and "stop crying wolf.

This was the scene in Denver, Colorado, when a small group of people dressed in scrubs blocked protesters in the street.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a free country. The land of the free. Go to China if you want Communism.

KAYE: In Indiana, they gathered outside the governor's mansion and like so many other protests, completely ignored social distancing guidelines, all risking their own health and others to make a point.

ANDY LYONS, PROTEST ORGANIZER: I'm not wearing a mask. I'm shaking hands, I'm hugging people because you know what, that's what we do and if I get sick, then I'm going to bear the consequences of me being sick. If anybody else gets here that happens to get the sick, they bear the consequences of their choice, their free choice without government coercion to do so.

KAYE: This protester carrying a sign pointing out how most recover from the virus but what about her business.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who has the right to tell me I can't get a haircut, I can't go here, I can't go there. KAYE: While the governors of those states stand by their decision to remain closed, the protesters seem to have found a cheerleader in President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've seen interviews of the people. These are great people. Look, they what to get -- they call it cabin fever, you've heard the term. They've got cabin fever. They want to get back. They want their life back.

KAYE: He seemed to take pride in the patriotism of it all.

TRUMP: I have never seen so many American flags at a rally as I have in these rallies. These people love our country. They want to get back to work.

KAYE: And then there were the counter protesters, protesting the protesters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It makes me angry when people ignore the science that seems to be working.

KAYE: The politics of protesting in the midst of a pandemic -- Randi Kaye, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.



VAUSE: Well, from the administration which first brought us the Muslim travel ban and then restrictions on visitors from China, Europe, Canada and Mexico in response to the pandemic, now comes the ultimate play by Donald Trump, a total ban on all immigration to the U.S.

In the past few hours he tweeted, "In light of the attack from the invisible enemy as well as a need to protect the jobs of our great American citizens, I will be signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States."

For more on this, let's go to our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, with us in Los Angeles.

So, Ron, do we even know what this ban will look like?

Has the executive order been written?

How long will it be in place?

What does temporary mean and is it legal?

How will it work?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, we don't know many of the details yet but we do know from the president, the Muslim ban, it took several tries before they ultimately got one that would stick with the courts. I think this is going to go to court right away but it is highly likely, given the pattern of rulings that the five Republican- appointed justices on the Supreme Court, will ultimately give the president a lot of leeway here.

The question, of course, is what will the details be, but you have to say based on the precedents that they've established already, they've shown there's a lot of deference among those five Republican members to this president on issues of immigration.

VAUSE: There is also the question of, will this work?

They restricted travel from China, 40,000 people, American nationals, who had been in China, were allowed in.


BROWNSTEIN: The other question is how relevant it is at this point. Certainly at this point we are dealing with extensive community spread in the United States. And the president talks, as you noted, always about the ban on China travel, it was very porous, a lot of people continued to come in; there are other countries around the world that are eliminating immigration at this time, he would not be alone in that.

But you have to have the sense that this is kind of a return to a familiar playbook for him and it is something that, you know, the hardliners in the immigration community have been hoping he would do at various points as president.

He will forget he had a speech in September 2016 in Arizona, when he was running for president, saying that we should limit immigration so that the share of the foreign born in the U.S. never rises above a certain percent of the population.

Something that has never been done in American history, limiting all forms of immigration, not only undocumented immigration, it has always been a central part of his appeal to his audience.

And I think, as they say, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Sooner or later it's inevitable that he would get here in this crisis.

VAUSE: It's interesting you say that because what would often happen, is there might be a tweet, you know, this is something I'm thinking of doing, he might say it again in the Briefing Room and then finally move to making an announcement.

But this has gone straight to an announcement. So it came out of nowhere, it seems.


BROWNSTEIN: But, look, I think the president, when ever he is under political pressure, returns to his core message and his core message is that, to his audience, you, the real America, the real Americans, are under siege from forces in effect above and below. You're under siege from contemptuous elites that want to run your life and we've seen that type of attack on Democratic governors, from his supporters even on the medical experts, on his -- you know, the fire Fauci chants in Texas last weekend in the rally.

And the other part of the message is that you are under siege from immigrants and minorities, who want to commit crimes against you or take your jobs. And whenever he is under pressure, the president really only has one play: he turns to some version, one prong of that two-pronged message. And it's about activating his base.

What's interesting, John, is that under his presidency, in Gallup polling, support for immigration and the belief that immigrants are a positive force in the society, has actually been rising to some of the highest levels in years.

So this is like many things that he does, it has the potential to galvanize the FOX audience, talk radio audience, a big portion of his base there. But it carries the risk of further isolating him and making it harder for him to reach beyond that.

VAUSE: Ron, thank you for being with us, we appreciate the insight and the analysis. Good to see you.

BROWNSTEIN: John, thanks.


VAUSE: When we come back the possible health scare for the North Korean dictator, just what condition is Kim Jong-un in right now after having apparently undergone surgery?

More on that in a moment.





VAUSE: There are burning questions this hour about the well being of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Both the U.S. and South Korea have recently received intelligence this evening, describing him as being in poor health.

One U.S. official speaking to CNN's Jim Sciutto described his condition as grave after recent surgery. Last week there was no sign of the young dictator during celebrations for North Korea's most important national holiday.

As Jim Sciutto reports, that very obvious absence could be the first public indication that something was up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Five days ago, Kim was noticeably absent from a ceremony marking, honoring his grandfather, Kim Il-sung. This is the kind of public ceremony like the one you are seeing here on the screen, that Kim Jong-un traditionally takes part in.

He was absent from that ceremony five days ago. It was four days before when he was last seen in public, at a Politburo meeting. So during those intervening days, there were questions why is he absent.

And it's more recently that the U.S. has been monitoring intelligence that he had a surgery. The aftermath of that surgery, there were complications and his health is now in grave danger.


VAUSE: CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Seoul, South Korea, and Will Ripley is in Tokyo. Will has reported from North Korean 19 times since 2014.

So Will, we'll start with you, there are unconfirmed reports which say Kim could be brain dead, others saying nothing to see here. Bottom line is the only way we will know for certain is if the North Koreans decide they want us to know?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's absolutely the bottom line, John. This is nothing new. When it comes to North Korea and rumors about assassinations and executions, even Kim Jong-un's own health, there were rumors swirling around when he vanished from public view for 40 days back in 2014, only to reemerge in state media walking with a cane after surgery to his foot.

Anytime that Kim Jong-un disappears, because there is such an extreme lack of transparency, in fact a veil of secrecy surrounding that country, you're going to have conflicting reports, speculation and we have no way to determine what is true and what is not.

VAUSE: Paula, one indication often that there is trouble or uncertainty in North Korea, some kind of mobilization of the military, are we seeing that?

Are we seeing increase in troop readiness along the Chinese border by the PLA, for example?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're not seeing any of that at this point. That is something that the South Korean officials look to, to see if there's any indication that anything is happening. The defense ministry has given us no comment to this report.

But the Blue House, the presidential office in South Korea, has said they have no comment on the reporting but have seen no unusual activity in North Korea.

It appears things are normal within the country. But the military side is who many look for quite frequently. One interesting point is the online publication, Daily NK, reporting, quoting one source, saying they believe it was April 12th that this surgery took place. We can't confirm that at CNN but on April 14th there was a military drill that took place and some short-range cruise missiles launched. That's something that usually the North Korean leader would attend and we would see photos and footage the day after.

We still haven't seen the footage so that was interesting and then the next day, April 15th, was one of the most important days on the North Korean calendar, and Kim Jong-un was not present.

So that is going to raise speculations. Will said we saw this back in 2014. But it will be when North Korea decides that they want to let us know what happened that we will know for sure what happened.

At this point, we have this report from the U.S. intelligence, saying they're monitoring his health. And that is of concern.

VAUSE: Back to you, Will, whether he is incapacitated or not, it raises a question, is there a line of succession?

Who takes over if Kim Jong-un dies?


RIPLEY: That is a question that we don't know the answer to, although if you look at history, it has been a family line of succession. But Kim Jong-un is only in his mid- to late 30s, his exact age is unconfirmed. He does have two children we know of but they are both relatively young.

His sister, Kim Yo Jong, has been by his side at a number of high- profile public appearances in recent years, she was at Singapore at the meeting with President Trump and she was in Hanoi at the failed summit with Trump.

And she did recently receive a promotion at a high-level government meeting. That was actually his last public appearance before it's reported he underwent this surgical procedure. So somebody to keep an eye on is Kim Yo Jong or other relatives who might not be such high- profile public figures but who may be very influential behind the scenes.

VAUSE: OK, thank you, Will Ripley there in Tokyo, and Paula Hancocks for us in Seoul.

We'll take a short break, when we come back U.S. crude takes an unprecedented plunge. We'll look at the toll the collapse has taken on the oil industry and it's a big toll.



VAUSE: Welcome back to our viewers watching us in the United States and around the world. Good to have your company. I'm John Vause live from the CNN Center in Atlanta. Well, Turkey gambled against the Coronavirus, imposing curfews on

weekends, and a soft lockdown for any part of the population. Now, it has nearly 100,000 cases, more than China. CNN's Arwa Damon. reports.


YALIM DIKMEN, HEAD OF ICU, ISTANBUL UNIVERSITY CERRAHPASA SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Follow me. You're in the hot zone. So these patients, for instance, is receiving oxygen, the flow oxygen they call. And this patient on the other side is having high flow of oxygen to the peak. So this patient is not doing well.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's Dr. Yalim Dikmen who heads the ICU in Istanbul University Cerrahpasa School of Medicine, one of the country's busiest. He's been an ICU doctor for three decades, but nothing compares to this.

DIKMEN: It is quite intense at the moment.

DAMON: No one really knows where this virus is going. I mean, that's got to be a little bit scary at times.

DIKMEN: Scary, intellectually challenging. But we have to do something, and we're trying to do our best. But we are having very good results, actually.

DAMON: Turkey has struck out on its own with its treatment protocol, like delaying intubation and opting for oxygen flow therapies for longer periods of time. Administering Favipiravir, the Japanese antiviral, and hydroxychloroquine, the controversial malarial drug very early on, which many experts say can cause long term damage that outweighs its unproven benefits. But the team here says they're not worried about that.

DIKMEN: We are dealing with a jigsaw puzzle and we just tried to find the correct pieces and put them in the correct place and we just do something and hope for the best.

DAMON: This patient is in his 40s with no pre-existing conditions.

DIKMEN: So the lungs sometimes get very sick and cannot get any oxygen to the blood. And then, in order to keep the patient alive, you have to get blood out of the body and oxygenate out of the body.

DAMON: The patient's oxygenated blood is pumped back into his body.

Everything about being here is just really intense. The machines are constantly going off, wearing this protective gear, and I have to say these nurses, these doctors, they really have nerves of steel.

The staff is surprisingly upbeat. The hospital is not overwhelmed despite daily jumps in positive cases in the thousands countrywide.

DIKMEN: This area is another intensive care unit. Now, it's free as you see. We have sense of spaces. DAMON: Unlike in some areas of the U.S. or Europe, there is no shortage in PPE, bed space, or life-saving medical equipment. Around 70 of the staff have tested positive for COVID-19. (INAUDIBLE), an emergency room nurse was among them. This is her first day back on the job.

To be honest, I can't say that I'm not afraid. It's stressful, she tells us. But I am more cautious now than I was before.

No matter how hard the staff here work, no matter how ready they are for influx they hope will never happen, they can't beat this pandemic on their own. That is on all of us. Arwa Damon, CNN Istanbul.


VAUSE: An unprecedented drop in the U.S. oil markets and stocks sharpie low. The Dow closed down almost 2.5 percent Monday after oil futures plunged into negative territory for the first time ever. For more on this, CNN's John Defterios live in Abu Dhabi.

You know, this data pricing for oil futures means at one point, they couldn't give the stuff away. So what does this brief moment say about the impact of the coronavirus and it's having on the -- on oil and the nature of the price crash that we're looking at here?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, you know, John, first, I mean, for somebody who covers oil, it's a once in a lifetime activity. I had to take a look at the screen two or three times as we crashed down below $38.00 a barrel. We've made that recovery into positive territory.

But think about it. When we talked yesterday, oil was trading at $15.00 or $16.00 a barrel. So $1.50 or so is nothing great to write home about. And it tells us a few things in the market, three key factors if you ask me. Number one, there's no place to put it in the United States. This is U.S. specific.


But in Cushing, Oklahoma, which takes in the Texas crude, they're running out of storage in the next three to four weeks. So people who held the contract in May we're actually wanting to pay people to take the oil off their hands. It's cheaper than a price of cappuccino at this age, or just a cup of cappuccino. It's extraordinary.

We have demand destruction here in the market, down nearly 30 percent. And a lot of people aren't paying attention to the fact that the U.S. dollar is rising and putting pressure on the other petrol states, whether it's Angola or Brazil or Venezuela or Russia, and that's a third factor.

At the International Energy Agency, they're calling this the Black April. But the darkest day, of course, was Monday, when we had this perfect storm because of the expiration of the so-called May contract for the U.S. benchmark. VAUSE: Explain to me just quickly this lack of storage space in the

U.S. How does that actually translate into having a global impact? Well, the first place where we have a lack of storage is the United States because, John, we were the number one producer of 13 million barrels. That's dropping quickly

It could be three to four million barrels a day, if not higher, in 2021. And even here in the Middle East, which is the low-cost producer, they're having a problem because there's just too much oil on the market, and the OPEC cuts don't kick in until May 1st, and that is far too late for this crisis.

OK, John, thank you. John Defterios as always, live for us in Abu Dhabi, I appreciate that. Thank you. When we come back and look into two possible futures, what the very different decisions made in Hong Kong and Singapore maybe Europe and the U.S. and life after the lockdown.



VAUSE: Well, the tale of two cities could prove to be a valuable lesson for the rest of the world, and a warning that returning to life the way it was before this pandemic may not be possible. Singapore was widely praised for doing everything right. And when the curve had flattened, they tried to change life before the pandemic. Now the numbers have surged.

Meantime Hong Kong reported no new cases for the first time since early last month. But despite that has extended strict measures designed to contain the outbreak. Kristie Lu Stout is live in Hong Kong, but first, live to Manisha Tank in Singapore.

And Manisha, many of these use cases in Singapore are migrant workers, but still a warning about how restrictions should and should not be lifted.

MANISHA TANK, REPORTER: Very much, John. And people are referring to this as Singapore's second wave because back in mid-March, we actually weren't reporting so many cases of coronavirus and Singapore was hailed as the gold standard for how to approach this pandemic.

But then, it all changed because lots of travelers, residents came back from countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, where coronavirus cases were exploding and they brought coronavirus back into the wider population. The people are asking, did we miss something here? Was there more attention that needed to be given to the migrant working community even back then?

Now, all employers had to take measures such as taking temperatures, of people looking out for illnesses. People were encouraged, if you feel unwell, stay at home. Stay at home 14 days if you have to. So there were leave of absences being given out or encouraged by employers for anyone who felt a little bit ill. But it has, like you said, got into the migrant worker population. And to give you some of the numbers to help you understand the gravity

of this, the latest spike in cases is more than 1,400. And we've seen more than 3,000 cases in the last few days alone. And this is obviously really quite worrying because people want to know, where do we go from here?

The wider population is actually seeing cases plateau. But what about those migrant workers? What's happening to them? A huge charity effort, for example. There have been more than a million masks donated, but they live in really tightly packed dormitories. Some of these dormitories house tens of thousands of people. If you take a typical room in a dorm, you'll have bunk beds, you'll have lots of single beds, but you could get up to 20 men, 20 migrant workers sharing one room.

So you can imagine how easy it is for such a contagious virus to spread in those sorts of facilities so quickly. The questions now are what do you do with all of these cases. And these are essential workers, so the ones that are well are being siphoned off because they're the lifeblood of Singapore. They keep the nation running, John.

VAUSE: Manish, thank you. You're absolutely right with that. And Kristie, it would seem Hong Kong, very similar situation with Singapore when it comes to migrant workers packed into a densely populated area. But for now, at least, it seems the authorities in Hong Kong have not made the same mistakes as Singapore.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you look at what happened on Monday. The department of health here in Hong Kong canceled its daily briefing because there were no new cases to report. This is the first time that there have been zero new infections in Hong Kong since the second wave hit the city, the second wave of imported infections.

And during that time, residents returned home to Hong Kong from hotspots in Europe and the United States. And the number of cases in early March tripled here. The Hong Kong government took decisive action. They banned all non-residents from entering the city. They close the border to them.

Also, for those residents returning back, they made sure that they were tested and that they were tracked wearing these wearable devices on them as they went into self-isolation for 14 days. Strict social distancing measures have been in place here from the very beginning including the closure of schools and the closure of government offices that in turn pressurize private companies here in Hong Kong to be closed as well.

And then there were those measures that were introduced late last month by the Chief Executive Carrie Lam saying that entertainment venues, cinemas, playgrounds, gyms would be closed, and that there would be a ban on gatherings of four or more people.

Now, today, we heard from the chief executive, and she made the decision to extend those social distancing measures for an additional two weeks. Here's more about what she had to say.



CARRIE LAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, HONG KONG: It was indeed a very, very difficult balancing act. You are right that on the one hand, we want to fight the virus to keep our citizens safe. But on the other hand, if the city is dead, it doesn't have any business, people do not have normal activities, that becomes also a very, very difficult. So, in striking this balance, we have to first of all, take science as a basis.


STOUT: There you had it from Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaking at a press event earlier today. One day after reporting zero new infections, Hong Kong has announced that its strict social distancing measures will be extended for another two weeks.

Hong Kong not taking any chances it seems at least in this city amid this pandemic. There are no shortcuts, John.

VAUSE: Yes. A good note to finish on there. Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout live for us in Hong Kong. Also, Manisha Tank live for us in Singapore. Thanks to you both. A short break. When we come back, a plea for global unity in the face of a global crisis. The head of the World Health Organization says unless we faced this challenge together, there will be far darker days to come.



VAUSE: Right now, as many countries begin to ease restrictions on lockdowns and stay at home orders, it might seem the worst will soon be in the rearview mirror. Not only is that wrong, it's dangerously wrong. And officials are warning this moment is not even the end of the beginning, especially since this pandemic is yet to take hold in many developing countries in the southern hemisphere.

And on Monday, the director-general of the World Health Organization made an emotional plea for global unity in the face of this ongoing global crisis.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WHO: Let's stop tragedy. Hundreds of thousands now dying is serious. Even one life is precious.


VAUSE: With me now, Dennis Carroll, an infectious disease expert, the former director of U.S. AIDS Emerging Threats Division. So, Dennis, good to see you once again. Thanks for being with us.


VAUSE: There's not a lot of empathy in this current administration in Washington when it comes to the fate of other nations, especially when the leader of that country may not be on friendly terms with Donald Trump, but there's no shortage of self-interest in the White House.

So wouldn't that be enough motivation for the United States as well as other nations to step up and assist the developing countries to minimize the impact there, so it minimizes the impact here later?

CARROLL: Well, let's remember first and foremost. The COVID-19 is a global event. And any place on the planet earth that is threatened by COVID-19 also represents a threat everywhere on the planet. And if we are not able to work as a global community to bring this virus under control everywhere, not just within our own borders, then no country is going to be safe.

And so it's imperative that nation by the kind of leadership that will unify the global community to take on what is inherently a global threat. That's not a threat specific to the United States. It's not a threat specific to China. It is a threat that is impacting on every community, every household in the world today, and it will require global response.

VAUSE: And the reason why this funding has been at least put on hold, the President says that the WHO was too trusting in the information coming from Beijing, you know, participated in a cover up and believe the WHO is not without problems.

Back in January 14th, they were quoting officials in Beijing, saying there was no clear evidence of human to human transfer. Just over a week later came an official statement saying yes, human to human transfer was in fact possible. That came with a warning for all countries to prepare for containment as well as early detection.

And then on Monday, the director-general made it clear that the White House was informed of all of this, the good and the bad information every step of the way. Here he is.


GHEBREYESUS: Having CDC staff means there is nothing hidden from the U.S. from day one. Because these are Americans who are working with us and just comes naturally and they just tell what they're doing. And for WHO, it's open, we don't hide anything. It's open.


VAUSE: Just from your experience how these things work, does that just ring true that tell the process is?

CARROLL: Well, I think first off, WHO is not without criticism there. They are not a flawless organization. They've performed well in many regards with respect to COVID-19. But any response of this type is subject to legitimate concerns and legitimate criticism. That said, this is not the time in the midst of a global pandemic to

take the kind of actions that undercut the world's leading authority and voice on global health. To undercut their ability to continue to lead is quite frankly the consequences are reached far beyond, you know, this singular criticism that might be brought against WHO.

It's bad timing. Every event provides an after-action moment where you can critically evaluate, review and understand the evidence for what the performance look like. That is the time to have these discussions, not in the midst of a global pandemic.


VAUSE: Dennis, good to see you. Dennis Carroll there in D.C. I appreciate you. Thank you. And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. The news continues with my friend Rosemary Church after a short break.