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Trump Claims The Experts Got It Wrong On The Pandemic; Lebanon's Economic Protest Turn Violent; South Africa Using HIV/AIDS Experience To Fight Coronavirus; Key Model Projects Higher U.S. Death Toll as States Reopen; Fauci Warns U.S. Could Be in for a Bad Winter with Second Wave; U.S. Coronavirus Cases Surpass 1 Million, 58,000- Plus Deaths; Labor Crisis for British Agricultural Sectors; Monetary Policy Stirs Inflation Fears. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired April 29, 2020 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining from around the world.
Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, the push and pull on reopening America. The White House promoting testing goals. Medical experts warn about the risk of a second wave of infections.
The Spanish government unveils a new plan to ease restrictions after enduring one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe.
And later, things on fire in Lebanon. Frustration, anger over an already fragile economy, now devastated by coronavirus.
The top infectious disease expert in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, is warning it could be a harsh winter in the U.S. without effective testing and contact tracing for the coronavirus.
That's a sharp contrast to President Trump, who says the worst is behind us. His comments come as the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has topped 1 million. Upwards of 58,000 Americans have died, more than the U.S. death toll in the Vietnam War.
CNN's Jim Acosta asked the president about his early prediction that U.S. cases would dwindle to zero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It will go down to zero, ultimately. And you have to understand, when it comes to cases, we do much more testing than anybody else. We can go to some of these other countries, you know, as an example, China. If you test, you will show many more cases. We are testing. We are doing more testing than any country in the world by far. At the appropriate time, it will be down to zero, like we said.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COREN: States and cities moving forward with plans to reopen and experts including Dr. Fauci are predicting the situation won't get better anytime soon. Erica Hill reports.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Globally, it is exploding in a way that has been unprecedented in the compact period of time. And everyone is at risk.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At least a dozen states pushing forward as new models suggest the country could face a major setback if change comes too soon.
DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR FOR HEALTH METRICS, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Our forecast now is for 74,000 deaths. There's a lot of unknown factors there. But our best estimate is going up.
HILL: The updated model often cited by the White House also predicting there could be longer peaks ahead if restrictions are eased too soon.
FAUCI: If we are unsuccessful or prematurely try to open up and we have additional outbreaks that are out of control, it could be much more than that.
HILL: Harvard researchers estimate the U.S. needs to test 5 million people a day by early June to safely begin reopening. The White House testing czar disagrees.
ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, WHITE HOUSE TESTING CZAR: So we don't believe those estimates are really accurate nor are they reasonable in our society. HILL: Many areas around the country looking to antibody testing to
better understand the spread. Nearly 15 percent of the thousands tested across New York state were positive for the antibodies. That number is closer to 25 percent in New York City.
COREY JOHNSON, SPEAKER OF THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: A lot more people were getting infected before it actually started to show up.
HILL: In addition to random sampling, states and cities also testing first responders and front line workers for antibodies. As officials weigh the data, Americans are trying to figure out what the coming weeks and months could look like amid new warnings about the economy.
KEVIN HASSETT, SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think by June, you know, I think that we're looking at numbers between 16 and 20 percent. The unemployment rate at that point will be something that's about as high as something that we haven't seen since, you know, the 1930s.
HILL: The president suggesting in a call with governors that schools should reopen even if just for a few weeks. Yet 39 states have already decided children will not return to the classroom this school year as concerns grow about a deepening divide. New York City trying to bridge the gap with nearly 250,000 iPads and Internet access. Meantime at hospitals, grocery stores and on the streets of America, front line workers push ahead.
Along the East Coast today, grateful cities pausing for a flyover, to honor their sacrifice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a beautiful tribute. No better place than New York City for them to do this.
HILL: That flyover, every minute of how many people not just here in New York but around the country are out there, helping to keep the country running every single day. Delivering groceries, whether to your house or to the grocery store, delivering mail, on the front lines in hospitals, there are many people to thank. Back to you.
COREN: Erica Hill reporting there.
Donald Trump claims the U.S. will be able to test 5 million Americans per day very soon, even as many state governors plead for federal help. Experts agree testing is the key requirement for reopening the country.
The White House seems to prefer putting the burden on states but even Dr. Anthony Fauci tells Jake Tapper the federal government has to do its part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: The blueprint for testing clearly indicates something that we really have to do. There has to be a partnership between the federal government and the states, that the federal government has to -- has to provide strategic guidance, as well as technical assistance.
FAUCI: We had a phone call with the governors where that was explained, that, I mean, obviously, when you say you put tests out there, Jake, one of the problems has been is the test getting to the people who need them, or are the tests out there and we're not connecting the dots?
And what we're trying to do -- and I believe that was pretty -- pretty well-articulated to the governors -- was, if that's not happening, if we're not connecting those dots, we need to help them to do that. We can't just leave them on their own on the one hand and the federal government can't do it by itself on the other hand.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: When do you think?
I mean, when will it all be up to speed?
When will everybody who needs to get a test be able to get one?
FAUCI: Yes and I like the word you used, Jake, when you said need, because, a lot of times, people say, I want a test...
FAUCI: -- and it's not part of the strategic approach.
But needing is important. Everyone who needs a test, according to the way we're approaching the identification, isolation, contact tracing, keeping the country safe and healthy, that, hopefully, we should see that as we get towards the end of May, the beginning of June.
Jake, that's what I'm being told by the people who are responsible for the testing. I take them for their word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Dr. Anthony Fauci speaking there.
New data shows the U.S. lagging behind other countries on testing. Even though the U.S. leads the world in confirmed cases, it falls below the average, performing 16.4 tests per 1,000 people. Italy's testing rate is almost double the U.S.
Professor Sanjaya Senanayake is an infectious disease specialist with the Australian National University joins us now from Canberra.
Professor, great to have you with us. The wealthiest country in the world under testing the population. It doesn't make sense.
What do you put this down to?
DR. SANJAYA SENANAYAKE, AUSTRALIA NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: Yes, it is disappointing that the testing has not been up to speed. It is so important. If you can test enough people you, can identify cases and their contacts and quarantine and isolate them so they don't infect other people.
But the U.S. has improved in its testing, in terms of those figures you just gave, which is about 16,000 tests per 1 million people. About a month, ago it was about 313 tests per million people. It has been a big improvement.
The president has talked about needing to do or wanting to get 5 million tests a day and Harvard recently published an article on pandemic resilience, saying in order to return to normal life by early June, the U.S. would need to be doing 5 million tests a day. And by the end of July, up to 20 million tests per day.
That's quite a challenge. I think it's really important that we achieve it.
COREN: You speak of this challenge, 5 million tests a day, when they are only doing something like 200,000 tests a day, at least they were on Tuesday, what would it take to reach that 5 million mark?
SENANAYAKE: It sounds like an enormous ramp-up in resources. You mentioned doing about 2,000 tests a day on average. The highest amount of tests done in a day in the U.S. was about 314,000.
Again, as Dr. Fauci was saying in an earlier report, it is really important that the federal and state governments talk to each other, cooperate, find efficiencies and try to fill them with the finances and other resources to maximize that testing.
COREN: Some disease researchers estimate that the true number of infection maybe 10 times the known number.
Do you agree?
SENANAYAKE: I don't know whether it is 10 times but certainly the number of cases that have been confirmed are an underestimate. It's made up of two components. That is symptomatic infections and asymptomatic infections.
There are lots of people who would have mild COVID cases, who, for various reasons, are not seeking out testing or want to get testing but cannot, not just in the U.S. or Australia but other parts of the world. So they are a part of that underestimate.
And there is also this talk about asymptomatic cases. So people who have been infected, you do a test, they have the virus but they don't have symptoms. We are trying to work out exactly how many people those are.
Some studies say about 17 percent. Others say 33 percent. A study from China recently said about 78 percent. But we certainly know the number of confirmed cases are (INAUDIBLE).
COREN: We know there are countries that are slowly reopening. They are easing restrictions. But the U.S. is not there yet. We are already seeing some states reopening anyway.
Are you concerned there will be further outbreaks?
SENANAYAKE: Yes, absolutely. The behavior of this virus is still a mystery to us. Even though it seems like we have been in this forever, it has only been about 3-4 months. We really don't know what is going to happen. We can only plan and plan and plan.
In Australia, we are in a relatively good position. We have a small number of cases and are carefully and slowly lifting restrictions.
If the U.S. is going to do this, you have some areas which are far more affected than others. My guess, some should feel more secure in lifting those restrictions but it is worrying, particularly if there is travel between states.
So people where there is a lot of infection in one state, people are moving to another state where there is less infection and that could lead to a second wave and more outbreaks. You really have to do this carefully if you are going to do this.
COREN: Professor Sanjaya Senanayake, great to get your perspective, joining us from Canberra, Australia. Many thanks.
SENANAYAKE: Thank you.
COREN: Now to Europe, where according to Johns Hopkins University, France, Italy and Spain are all seeing a decline in the virus death rates. This comes as Spain has announced a four-phase plan to ease restrictions, with a goal of returning to some sense of normalcy by the end of June. For more, Al Goodman joins us now live from Madrid.
Al, great to have you with us. Spain has endured some of the world's toughest containment measures.
What has the reaction been to the prime minister's plan to ease restrictions?
AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is cautious optimism here, with the announcement. They let children out for the first time in six weeks last weekend. Adults may be able to go out and do some exercise, take a run, take a bike ride by themselves this weekend.
This four phase plan is what the prime minister says will bring Spain back to what he's calling a new normality. He says it won't be real normality until there is a cure or a vaccine or a treatment for this.
But it is four phases, which is supposed to roll out starting next Monday. Some stores will be able to open but you only get in by appointment. Restaurants will be able to open, like this, one but only for takeout food.
Professional athletes will be able to start training in phase 2 the following Monday. Small businesses can open. This restaurant could put outdoor seating right here in this area but only up to 30 percent of the tables. Houses of worship can resume services at 30 percent capacity.
Then there is a phase 2 and 3, successively opening up more and more. The prime minister has been under so much pressure to get this done but the health advisers are saying they didn't want to move too fast.
And the prime minister says if there are health indicators across the country, things are going back, up this is a second wave in infections, that they will have to stop and do things a bit slower. There is still a concern that 38,000 medical workers have been infected with the virus here. That is 17 percent of all the cases.
COREN: Even though the virus is in decline, the prime minister said the virus is still lurking. Al Goodman, good to see. You many, thanks. Still to come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
(INAUDIBLE) That bad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That bad. COREN (voice-over): Is the U.K.'s food supply at risk?
How farmers are dealing with the lack of seasonal workers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Welcome back. The U.S. president has signed an executive order forcing meat processing plants to remain open. Some of the largest plants in the U.S. have had to shut down after thousands of workers tested positive for the coronavirus and at least 20 have died.
The closure has prompted fears the nation's food supply chain may break down. The head of the country's largest meatpacking union warned the order by the president needs to come with safety measures and workers' protections.
"While we share the concern over the food supply, today's executive order to force meatpacking plants to stay open must put the safety of our country's meatpacking workers first. Simply put, we cannot have a secure food supply without the safety of these workers."
With seasonal migrant workers stranded at home, the U.K. is now encouraging its citizens to till and fill the fields. As Nic Robertson reports, furloughed British workers are now turning to farm work to put food on the table.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): In the Garden of England, the county of Kent, a crisis looms. Lettuce harvest has begun. Row upon row, right for picking. Any other year, this would look like locked in profit, but not this.
COVID-19 is killing markets and cutting off workers from farms.
McDonald's now shuttered, normally stuff their chicken wrap with this specially grown Apollo lettuce.
NICK OTTEWELL, PRODUCTION AND COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, LAURENCE J. BETTS LTD: Potentially there's 25 or 30 tons a week of crop that's currently without having plowed.
ROBERTSON: What does the rest of the season look like?
OTTEWELL: We break even this year. Slightly under.
ROBERTSON: That bad?
OTTEWELL: That bad.
ROBERTSON: Bad is an understatement. Nick Ottewell who has managed these 1750 acres, one of the largest lettuce producers near London, for over a decade. Covid-19 isn't just costing him sales. It is cutting him off from his regular annual migrant workforce.
OTTEWELL: It is seasonal work. And British people have wanted to do seasonal work, for whatever reason. And companies like us has relied on migrant workers for decades now.
ROBERTSON: As the lockdown tightened, Ottewell helps flies some of his regular skilled Romanian seasonal workers in early. But he is still down 45 workers. The government says it is acutely aware that the fresh produce picking season is beginning now. They estimate that only one-third of the total migrant labor force is in the country, and are hoping that furloughed workers will help out with the harvest.
Ottewell is skeptical, but giving it a shot with all the 50 local emailed applicants to these (inaudible) for training. The farm needs them until the fall. Sally Penfold, 45, lost her restaurant job. Says she is good to stay.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For me, this is security. This is money coming. And it is giving me something good and honorable to do. I. going to be outside in the sunshine.
ROBERTSON: Daniel Martin, 32, furloughed civil engineer, training to be a forklift truck driver, maybe not.
DANIEL MARTIN, ACCEPTED FARM JOB: I could go back at any point, really. I have a sort of a feeling from my work that is still going to be potentially a couple of months.
ROBERTSON: Industry experts, the alliance of ethical labor providers, say a 55,000 farm job applicants following the outbreak of covid-19, only 150 got placement. Most could not commit the time. Ottewell knows he is gambling. He says, each worker costs him $1,200 to train. Money he can't spare.
OTTEWELL: I am so nervous. Because I have been working in this industry my whole career. And all of my experience tells me people are going to think they can just turn up, treated like a bit of a fun thing to try for a couple of weeks.
ROBERTSON: As we talk, some of his prayers are answered. Three Romanian's arrive, recently covid-19 unemployed, let go by a local restaurant.
OTTEWELL: They were working at an Indian restaurant. The restaurant had to shut down. The first question I asked those three was, are they going to be commit for the summer. And they said yes. So I said, OK let's go.
ROBERTSON: This is a summer like no other. Will there be tossed salads?
Much now depends on the British worker.
COREN: Nic Robertson joins us now, live from London.
Nic, the British government is to reveal the true death toll of the coronavirus isn't revealed.
What are we hearing?
ROBERTSON: It has been coming out in drips. What we get every day from the government is a statistic of those who died from the coronavirus in hospital. The Office of National Statistics produces, several weeks in arrears, statistics for those who have died at home for the coronavirus and for those who have died in care homes.
The government is now going to get those and publish those on a daily basis. We expect they will come out at the daily briefing. But the numbers have been quite startling. It has been estimated that as many as one-third of all deaths that have been happening have been happening in care homes. This has been overlooked.
Care homes, at the moment, perhaps the deaths there have not peaked. They're tracking almost as high as the deaths in hospitals.
When you put this in the government's daily graph that presents the country, where it shows the rate of death in the United States, in Italy and France and Spain, when you add in these other deaths, the ones in care homes, the ones at home as well, it will boost the death toll by as much as 50 percent and make Britain look worse than all those other European countries.
So very clearly, the government now trying to put its statistics out in the open but it has been criticized for hiding what will make it look like it is not handling this so well.
COREN: It will be interesting to see what happens. Nic Robertson, thank you.
Asian markets are mostly up, more easing up with coronavirus measures. There are ongoing concerns about the reopening, triggering a second wave of infections. U.S. futures are up with some investor confidence of businesses opening backup in some states.
The report on the U.S. GDP for the first quarter will be released in the coming hours. It will show just how bad of a beating the economy has taken during the pandemic. John Defterios joins us now, live from Abu Dhabi.
First quarter U.S. GDP, how will that stack up to what we are dealing with in the current economic climate?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: It is good you provide the context, Anna. This is the first phase of a terrible first half. Let's put it that way.
The U.S. woke up late to the call against the coronavirus. As a result, the economy didn't start to slow down until the tail end of the first quarter. We had wide variances in terms of the expectations. Goldman Sachs, a negative 9 percent. Morgan Stanley, 3.5 percent down.
Those are still very sharp. Nothing like what we will see in the second quarter, a collapse of a third of the GDP, looking at 30 percent to 35 percent. Unemployment perhaps going from 26 million right now to 50 million going forward.
Basically, we have consumer spending down. Travel has locked up. Factory output has slowed down tremendously. That's why we think the bad news is front loaded towards the end of the second quarter.
COREN: Obviously, we know travel has been hit terribly hard. Perhaps one of the hardest of all sectors.
COREN: British Airways employees will be paying the price for that in terms of sizable layoffs.
What are we looking at?
DEFTERIOS: Anna, I think the best way to say this is the travel industry is in a pole position for the storm of the coronavirus. The parent company of British Airways is suggesting they will shed about 30 percent, 12,000 employees. But this is not limited to that carrier or the carriers within the group.
Air France and Lufthansa are under incredible pressure. The United States has done a 50 billion dollar bailout for the airline industry, two tranches of low interest loans. We know the severity of all this right now.
This is not limited to the hardware of travel. TripAdvisor is now reducing its workforce by 25 percent because governments are not spending on advertising. People aren't searching for trips this summer.
If you think of the largest player online, that has to be Alphabet, the parent company of Google. It put out its quarterly results. They were above expectations at $41 billion and change, a couple hundred million more. Google makes up about $33 billion of that.
The CFO of the group was suggesting that sales going forward on Search for advertising will be much slower. They are giving warnings for the second quarter. Can they resist it?
They are dependent on auto dealers, restaurants, hotels and travel companies as well for their Search advertising. So this is not limited to those in the front face of the consumer spending but also online in a very severe way as well.
COREN: John, thank you. John Defterios joining from Abu Dhabi. President Donald Trump once predicted the number of U.S. coronavirus
cases would go down to zero.
What's he saying now that there are more than 1 million infections in the U.S.?
That's next on NEWSROOM.
COREN: The Trump administration is still playing catch-up on testing for the coronavirus, even as the U.S. president claims it's going very well. As our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta reports, the president is insisting falsely that it was other people, not, him who predicted the pandemic would not hit the U.S. hard.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the U.S. hitting 1 million cases of the coronavirus, President Trump is refusing to admit he got it wrong -- despite predicting back in February the number would be down to zero.
(on camera): You predicted that the number of cases would go down to zero. How did we get from your prediction of zero to 1 million?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it will go down to zero ultimately. And you have to understand when it comes to cases, we do much more testing than anybody else. The experts got it wrong, a lot of people got it wrong.
ACOSTA: Did you got it wrong?
The President is insisting the U.S. has a handle on testing.
TRUMP: The only problem is the press doesn't give credit for that. Because you know, no matter what tests you do, they'll say, oh, you should have done this. You should have tested 325 million people 37 times. Now, the testing is going very well.
ACOSTA: President is complaining about media coverage of the administration's testing woes, even though he made this promise to Americans back in March.
TRUMP: Anybody that needs a test gets a test.
ACOSTA: The White House is training to ramp up testing as do modeling shows a rising estimate for coronavirus deaths in the U.S. approximately 74,000 by August, up from 67,000 projected last week. Even the president appears to be embracing the new estimate. TRUMP: Yes, we've lost a lot of people. But if you look at what
original projections were, 2.2 million, we're probably heading to 60,000 70,000. It's far too many. One person is too many for this. And I think we've made a lot of really good decisions.
ACOSTA: Coronavirus Task Force Dr. Anthony Fauci said the virus has become a global nightmare.
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: What keeps me up at night is the emergence of a brand-new infection likely jumping species from an animal that's respiratory borne, highly transmissible, with a high degree of morbidity and mortality. And lo and behold, that's where we are right now. And the reason is so unprecedented. It exploded upon us.
ACOSTA: Still, the White House is making more missteps with Vice President Mike Pence touring the renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota without wearing a mask. That's despite the clinic's policy that visitors were masks. The head of the Food and Drug Administration Dr. Steven Hahn wear a mask but Pence didn't.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: And since I don't have the coronavirus, I thought it'd be a good opportunity for me to be here, meant to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible healthcare personnel and look them in the eye and say thank you.
ACOSTA: When the President was pressed on some of the early warnings he received on the potential for a pandemic --
TRUMP: I would have to check. I want to look as to the exact dates of warnings.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump tried to point the finger at Fauci calling him Anthony.
TRUMP: You go back and you take a look at even professionals like Anthony was saying, this is no problem. This is late in February. This is no problem. This is going to blow -- this is going to blow over. And they're professionals and they're good professionals. Most people thought this was going to blow over.
ACOSTA: But hold on, back in late February Fauci did say it wasn't necessary for people yet to change their behavior, but he warned the outbreak could be serious.
FAUCI: It depends on the nature of the outbreak. I mean, this could be a major outbreak. I hope not.
ACOSTA: Similar to warnings from other public health officials.
NANCY MESSONNIER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CENTER FOR IMMUNIZATION AND RESPIRATORY DISEASES, CDC: It's not so much about as if this will happen anymore, but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.
ACOSTA: Actually, at that time, it was the president who was saying coronavirus cases would vanish.
TRUMP: When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Jim Acosta with that report. Well, Russia is extending its nationwide lockdown for at least a couple more weeks with President Vladimir Putin warning the country's peak has yet to come. Russia has quickly become one of the world's worst-hit countries with over 93,000 cases. But as Matthew Chance reports, there are still questions surrounding those numbers.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage Russia, the country has extended its strict lockdown measures that are expected to be lifted at the end of this month. In an address on state television, the Russian President Vladimir Putin said the lockdown would now be enforced until May the 11th through traditional holiday period in the country.
And earlier, Russian authorities said more than 93,000 people had been confirmed as infected with the virus. Meaning, Russia now has more cases than China has. But the skepticism of the figures including 900 deaths in a country of more than 140 million people are accurate.
According to President Putin, the peak of the outbreak in Russia is not yet behind us and he warned Russia that they must face a new and grueling phase of the pandemic. The Russian leader who faces some criticism himself from official handling of the outbreak, also acknowledge shortages of protective gear or PPE for Russian medics.
Production of PP said was high compared to what it was before, but still not enough he warned what was needed in the future. Matthew Chance, CNN.
COREN: Anger and frustration boiled over into violence in Lebanon on Tuesday. Demonstrators battle with security forces during protests over escalating unemployment and soaring food prices.
The shutdown for the coronavirus is only making the situation worse. Our Jomana Karadsheh is tracking the turmoil. She joins us now. Jomana, as we know, Lebanon facing the most severe economic crisis in decades. Tell us about this latest violence.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anna, over the past few days, we've seen these protests erupting in different Lebanese cities. We saw that again last night in across different cities including the Capitol Beirut where people protested outside the central bank. Also in the southern city of Sidon, some dramatic scenes unfolding there.
But the most violent, intense protests and clashes took place in the northern city of Tripoli. This is where we have seen the focus of these protests. People were gathered outside the central bank branch there. A protester said a dumpster is on fire, they lobbed rocks and Molotov cocktails at that bank building a clash with security forces who were using rubber bullets and tear gas to try and disperse the protesters.
Were told that there were several protesters who were injured, some who are treated on the scene and some taken to hospital. Of course, it's a very, very desperate situation there. Despite the coronavirus lockdown, people were defying that and still going out on the street just as they got the hint that the government is beginning to ease that lockdown.
People, Anna, say they are fed up. They are hungry. They're calling these protests right now the Hunger Protests. The country's economy has been struggling. It was really fragile before the pandemic. Of course, like other economies around the world, when you had the lockdown come into effect, it had a serious impact on the country's economy, increase in unemployment, people who rely on daily wages lost that money, people were struggling to pay rent.
And now they say they are hungry. They're struggling to feed their children. So they've had enough. They're fed up with the -- with the situation. And you know, the numbers are truly stunning before the pandemic. The World Bank was projecting that about 45 percent of Lebanese were going to be living below the poverty line in 2020.
After the crisis, we're now hearing from the Lebanese government that they expect, they anticipate that 75 percent of their population now is going to need financial aid, Anna.
COREN: Yes, just staggering. Jomana, we know that this began back in October, this unrest. Last year, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets over corruption. The Prime Minister there was forced to resign. As we've seen, this lull because of the coronavirus outbreak, but this recent violence, what is the trigger?
KARADSHEH: Well, I mean, if you look at what has been going on over the past few weeks, Anna, since this lockdown, the Lebanese currency, the Lebanese lira has tanked. You know, people's wages there basically cut because they've lost the value of the Lebanese lira. And it is on the verge of collapse it seems right now.
And you know, you look at the economic situation, you had these businesses that were already struggling because of the country's financial crisis, because of the liquidity issue that the government has had there. And this is all been compounded. It's been exacerbated by the lockdown, businesses that have been impacted.
You know, a few weeks ago we were doing a report with our team in Beirut on the impact of the lockdown there. And you know, some of the people that they had interviewed, they are on the streets were telling us at that time that, you know, for them going out on the streets means paying rent, means feeding their children. But now they had been locked in their homes, so they were unable to feed their families.
So you can really see how much of an impact this has had on people's lives there. So the government is saying that they're dealing with basically two crises right now that have turned into one. You've had the ongoing financial crisis in the country. And then you've got this crisis from the coronavirus lockdown that they have to deal with.
You know, one government minister telling CNN that they're working on solutions, they are trying, but as you can see from the scenes on the streets, Anna, people are fed up. Yes, this is a government of technocrats, they're backed by political parties that is only been in power for a few months, but people's patience. is running out.
COREN: Yes. It's just pure desperation, isn't it? Jomana Karadsheh, great to see you. Many thanks. Well, next on CNN NEWSROOM, never again, South Africa vows to learn from past mistakes fighting HIV and use those lessons to tackle COVID-19.
COREN: South Africa has a dark path when it comes to fighting viruses. Well, years ago, its own government touted strange and unknown conventional ways of treating HIV and AIDS. But the country has since moved on developing life-saving measures to fight HIV. And it's now counting on that experience to contain COVID-19.
There are a handful of countries in Africa with more than 1,000 coronavirus cases, the ones you see here in red. South Africa is one of them and nearly 5,000 cases and 93 deaths. Well, David McKenzie joins us now from Johannesburg. David, authorities have managed to flatten the curve very quickly. What did they learn from the HIV AIDS epidemic?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anna, any one of a certain age here in South Africa will remember those dark days of HIV AIDS when there was denial and distrust of medical solutions that were out there. And this new pandemic for this country is bringing back those memories. But you know, the officials here are determined not to make those same mistakes again.
MCKENZIE: In Thokoza Township, there's no denial of COVID-19.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lockdown but the clinic is doing -- is open.
MCKENZIE: Only fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are just scared. Otherwise, if I've got Corona, I will die.
MCKENZIE: Here they know exactly how a virus can destroy the very fabric of the nation. They live through the worst of the HIV AIDS epidemic.
ANITA PATO, COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER: That was big because the people, they were scared of testing, is scared of paying, so we didn't -- couldn't do much.
MCKENZIE: Health worker Anita Pato wants to make sure people know that this virus is different, and so too is the government's initial response. In the early 2000s, when HIV AIDS spread uncontrollably in South Africa, it was managed by a president and a health minister who failed to grasp AIDS for what it was.
THABO MBEKI, FORMER PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA: How does a virus cause a syndrome? It can't.
MCKENZIE: Failed to listen to experts when it came to life-saving treatment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I say garlic, I say lemon, I say beetroot.
MCKENZIE: You remember those days and I remember them in South Africa. Were you thinking about that when COVID look to strike South Africa?
YOGAN PILLAY, DEPUTY DIRECTOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Every day, every day. You know, we can't get last numbers of people died. You know, we came from a period where we had large numbers of South Africans dying from HIV. We can't repeat that clearly, and we shouldn't.
MCKENZIE: So the current government listens to its own experts like Yogan Pillay in taking decisive action, including a swift nationwide lockdown.
PILLAY: If we had a very robust economy that could withstand the shock, we could say that, you know, it was an easy decision -- easier decision to take.
MCKENZIE: It was a tough decisions.
PILLAY: This would -- this was a very tough decision for the government to take but they took it because they didn't want to repeat the mistakes.
MCKENZIE: South Africa still has the world's highest number of people living with HIV, close to eight million. But thanks to anti- retrovirals and an army of community health workers, with funding and advice from the United States, the disease is no longer the death sentence it once was. 35,000 of them trained for the fight against HIV now containing the spread of COVID-19.
What she's explaining to them is that even though there's a lockdown, that they should go to the clinic that's open 24 hours if they feel the symptoms of COVID-19.
PATO: I feel like I'm a bullet to shoot. This disease must stop -- must not control us. We have to control this corona.
MCKENZIE: And it's why here, even in the poorest communities where social distancing is impossible, there is hope that the curve can flatten and lives can be saved.
MCKENZIE: Well, Anna, this area's like Thokoza, you can just say how difficult it is to self-isolate to be under lockdown. And that shows the challenge that South Africa faces as a middle-income country. But for now, experts say that it's leading the way in these efforts thanks to support, and thanks to this experience of HIV AIDS.
It's early days yet, but it is certainly flattening the curve. And we will be entering into our final day of the strict, strict lockdown tomorrow. And that might mean that South Africa will begin slowly cautiously to open up but they are very cognizant of the fact that this country faces big challenges with that HIV population, but that experience they believe will help them as they continue this battle. Anna?
COREN: As you say, David, the true test will be when those restrictions do ease. Devin McKenzie joining us from Johannesburg, many thanks. A U.N. Human Rights experts says the coronavirus pandemic is emboldening the Myanmar military to carry out what she calls war crimes during recent fighting with insurgent ethnic groups in Rakhine State in western Myanmar,
the outgoing U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar says the military is targeting civilian ethnic minorities during the clashes with the Arakan army, a Rakhine Buddhist militant group. The military is also known as the Tatmadaw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YANGHEE LEE, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON MYANMAR HUMAN RIGHTS: It really is taking -- actually it's emboldening the Tatmadaw. And already they have a strong arm. And now they have these additional powers in the name of enforcing or preventing the spread of the pandemic. Then they are -- they really given another layer of greater higher level of power to do what they've done always in the past few decades, but in a more severe and horrific manner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Well, CNN has reached out to the Myanmar government regarding those comments, but has not yet received a response. Its April 21st statements on the clashes said the military is fighting against a terrorist group which has engaged in destructive activities. The statement added that the government was deeply saddened to learn of civilian casualties in Rakhine, and Kachin state and says it is resolved to continue with efforts to take the peace process.
Well, El Salvador's president has authorized police and military to use lethal force against gangs. Dozens of people were killed throughout the country last weekend, and gang members were blamed for the violence and taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Well Meanwhile, new images have emerged from the country's prisons showing a harsh crackdown on inmates as CNN's Matt Rivers reports.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, some pretty shocking images are coming out of El Salvador after that country's president shared images showing some changes inside the country's maximum security prisons on his Twitter account. We can show you some of these images now. You can see things like jail cells being shuttered with metal and also inmates basically lined up on top of each other during a search of the Izalco prison that's about 40 miles outside of San Salvador.
The images basically show dozens of shirtless inmates with masks lining up, sitting down back to front, a pretty shocking stuff there. The government basically saying that these are part of changes that they've put into place after a particularly violent weekend in El Salvador which saw some 50 murders take place.
Gang members who have already been arrested are now being put in a 24- hour lockdown across the country's seven maximum security prisons. There's some additional measures including putting metal sheets over jail cells and housing prisoners who are members of different gangs together.
The president saying that they did this basically because they believe that a lot of the murders that took place over the weekend were ordered from gang members who were inside of these prisons already, and that's just what's happening inside the jails. The President also gave the right to the army and the police to use lethal force against what he called, "terrorists who are carrying out imminent threats against the physical integrity of the population."
Now, human rights groups looking at this situation across the board, have criticized the president here for several different reasons, not the least of which being that as you can see in these images, there's obviously no social distancing going on inside that jail. You know, this is a president who took office last year after campaigning on curbing what is undoubtedly one of the world's worst gang problems that being in El Salvador, and so he's clearly willing to show the world that he is taking drastic, controversial, and what he would probably call necessary action to stop the spread of violence due to gangs inside his country. Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.
COREN: Brazil's highest court has ruled an investigation can move forward into allegations President Jair Bolsonaro tried to interfere with police probes. Bolsonaro is accused of political interference after he replaced the head of the country's federal police. Anti- corruption crusader Sergio Moro who stepped down as Justice Minister in protests last week, says Bolsonaro wanted a police head he could influence. Bolsonaro calls Moro a liar and denies any wrongdoing.
After the break, moments that would bring tears to even the toughest Kiwi rugby players. New Zealand families reunite as lockdown restrictions ease.
COREN: Welcome back. Well, he's captured hearts around the world. And now the 99-year-old world war two veteran who's raised millions for Britain's health care workers is in for the surprise of a lifetime.
Well, Captain Tom Moore has received more than 125,000 cards for his 100th birthday on Thursday, enough to fill the grand hall of a school. Early this month, Moore worked 100 laps in his garden to raise money for the NHS. His goal was about $1,200. Well, he shattered that raising more than $36 million and counting. How incredible.
Well, meanwhile, in New Zealand, family and friends are reuniting after lockdown restrictions ease this week. For a nice dose of feel- good moments, here's Imogen Wells.
IMOGEN WELLS, JOURNALIST: This Wellington family is together again for the first time since lockdown started.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You got cuddles?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got a million.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you got a million cuddles.
WELLS: Mom Jennifer is a police officer so the kids have been staying with nana and granddad just to be safe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm good.
WELLS: No screaming but the hugs justice ties in Oakland. Leilani's work may (INAUDIBLE) wasn't able to be in her bubble until now. The temptation for a quick visit was there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I didn't want to make her angry. I thought about coming after work one morning or something but I just didn't want to risk it.
WELLS: (INAUDIBLE) one of many grandparents rejoicing in seeing their many family members.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I missed you.
WELLS: And (INAUDIBLE) means this tight knit family can ditch the video chat for one on one time again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't have children and she's just been a real special part of our lives.
WELLS: And after almost five weeks, Houston the dogs, only slightly excited to see her human extended family. (INAUDIBLE) getting a little bigger and a lot happier. Imogen Wells, 1 News.
COREN: Yes, the four-legged children just as important. To find out how you can help others and how you can get help during this coronavirus pandemic, go to cnn.com/impact. Well, thank you so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren. CNN NEWSROOM will continue with my colleague and friend Rosemary Church after this short break.