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Top Medical Expert: Remdesivir Drug Shows "Positive Effect"; At Least 28 U.S. States to Partially Reopen This Week; Analysts Expect Another 3.5 Million Jobless Claims; Russia Nears 100K Cases as Putin Admits Shortfalls; Sweden Defends Decision to Not Impose Lockdown; Third Night of Unrest in Lebanon's Economic Crisis; Abe: Olympics Impossible Unless Pandemic Contained; How Airlines are Trying to Get Flyers' Confidence Back. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 30, 2020 - 00:00   ET




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

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM:




VAUSE (voice-over): What may just be a turning point in the pandemic. A drug originally made for treating Ebola is the first having the impact on coronavirus and bringing us hope for a cure.

A pandemic punch to the U.S. economy, end of the first quarter, the economy shrinks by 5 percent. Expectations for the next quarter are 10 times that.

The coronavirus outbreak is so bad in Russia even Putin has admitted that it's a crisis and getting worse.


VAUSE: It may seem incremental a matter of fewer days in hospital, mortality rate a few percentage points. But after months of nothing but grim, depressing news, researchers have found one drug that is effective in treating the coronavirus.

It is an antiviral drug called remdesivir, which was developed to treat Ebola. The leading U.S. expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says that trials show a clear-cut positive effect on the time it takes to recover. This comes with more than 3 million people confirmed to have

coronavirus worldwide. That leaves a death toll approaching 230,000. Still, governments and businesses are battling quarantine fatigue.

Greece says it's willing to welcome back visitors this summer, albeit with social distancing measures in place. The tourism minister says Greece took early steps to lock things down and it remains a safe place for a vacation.

Spain, not so much. Home to the second number highest number of infections. We're told its tourism industry will not be back up until the E.U. reopens its own borders. But one of the world's largest shopping centers is back in business, the Dubai mall. Starting out with just 30 percent capacity, the number of restrictions in place.

Also reopening, nearly 50 malls in 10 U.S. States. They are part of the Simon property group. Their doors will open this coming Friday.

Some call the malls and states reopening irresponsible but they're possibly a canary in a very dangerous coal mine. For those states favoring a more cautious approach, Erica Hill shows us the new moves being made across the country.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Florida ready to reopen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): There is a light at the end of the tunnel. This new phase will start on Monday, May 4th and will, for the time being, exclude Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.


HILL (voice over): Nearly 30 percent of the state's residents including hard hit Miami-Dade County excluded from the Governor's plan giving restaurants and businesses the green light. As the Tampa Bay Times reports the state's death toll may be incomplete. Noting Florida officials have not released information on coronavirus deaths in more than a week. An earlier report in the paper found the number from county medical examiners was 10 percent higher than the state's official count, which now stands at 1,218.

Haircuts in Georgia, one of the first signs of that state's reopening, while in California, any professional trims are still months away. A striking example of just how different the next steps will be.


GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): We have significantly less cases than we had two weeks ago than we had three weeks ago, but it's time to enter a more sustainable phase.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL (voice over): More than half the states in the country announcing plans to ease restrictions, despite none appearing to meet White House guidelines for a 14-day decline in positive cases.

Meantime, new hope for a treatment.


FAUCI: Remdesivir has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery. A drug can block this virus.


HILL (voice over): The next big retail experiment comes on Friday, when 3 dozen Simon owned malls and shopping centers will reopen in eight states. Restaurants in Georgia and Tennessee welcoming diners, yet it's not clear Americans are ready for these changes.

New polling shows eight in 10 thing opening restaurants for onsite dining is a bad idea. Nearly two-thirds say the same about returning to work without further testing, 85 percent say students shouldn't go back to school without more testing. When they do return, it's likely to look much different.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): It's not back to normal. It's modified. That means potentially staggering school times for different cohorts of kids. It means the recess period being radically modified.


NEWSOM: It means the cafeteria being shut down and people getting food around their desk, deep sanitation.


HILL (voice over): The economy continuing to take a hit first quarter GDP down nearly 5 percent. The President using the Defense Production Act to keep the country's meat processing plants open. More than 20 facilities have closed over the past two months because of positive cases. At least 20 workers have died, according to the union representing many of them.


KIM CORDOVA, PRESIDENT, UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION, LOCAL CHAPTER 7: They're absolutely critical and essential to the food supply chain, but you have to protect them.

TOM VILSACK, FORMER AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: It may slow the line down a bit. It may require them to expend some resources for protective equipment and for other safety measures, but at the end of the day, this is essential work for the country and these are essential workers and they deserve adequate protection.


HILL (voice over): In some states, employees who choose not to return may lose government benefits.


GOV. KIM REYNOLDS (R-IA): It's a voluntary quit and so therefore they would not be eligible for the unemployment, the unemployment money.


HILL (voice over): Farmers unable to process their livestock, creating a damaging ripple effect as the need for food assistance skyrockets.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're alone. Even my neighbor, she's alone, too. So that's why we appreciate it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an experience. The kids, it's hard for them.


HILL: Lines stretching for miles, many Americans turning to food banks for the first time in their lives. In Little Rock, a planned four-hour food distribution ran out in just an hour. Each box offering families the equivalent of 40 meals.

Here in New York state, the number of confirmed cases is just shy of just 300,000, according to Governor Cuomo. This is on Wednesday. He notes that hospitalizations and intubations are down but COVID specific hospitalizations are, quote, "up a tick" and that is not good news -- back to you.


VAUSE: Erica Hill. Thank you for that. Report more on the antiviral medicine and the impact it could have on the coronavirus. There is a question how optimistic should we be. Here's CNN's Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Finally some good news about the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have found that a drug seems to work. It is not a cure-all. It won't take care of the problem but it seems to fight the virus.

It is called remdesivir, they've been studying it for a couple of months. It's been in the news. Let's take a look at what remdesivir is.

It is a experimental drug that was developed for Ebola but it didn't work very well for Ebola. As a matter of fact, it's not on the market for any disease. In the study for remdesivir, more than 1,000 patients in the United

States, Spain, Germany and other center were randomly assigned to either remdesivir or a placebo, a medicine that does nothing. The placebo patients took 15 days to recovery. The remdesivir patients 11 days to recovery.

That is a 4-day difference and doctors say that that is important for two reasons. One is that four fewer days in the hospital means four fewer days where something could go wrong on the ventilator or perhaps getting a hospital acquired infection.

The second reason is that it is an indication that remdesivir is doing something. So they can take that knowledge, they can look at what it is doing. It is blocking an enzyme that is needed for replication and create other drugs that could do a similar thing or maybe there are other drugs that could accompany remdesivir.

So this isn't the end of the road. We are at the beginning of the road. But it's good that they have this first step. The top infectious disease doctor in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, says that remdesivir could become the standard of care, standard versus experimental to give patients this drug -- back to you.


VAUSE: Bill Gates will join Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper for our next global town hall. Coronavirus facts and fears. 8 pm. New York. 8 am in Hong Kong, and on Friday, Abu Dhabi 9 am Hong Kong 1 pm.

The coronavirus saw the U.S. economy contract by 4.8 percent in the Q1. Economists fear that the real action will happen in the next quarter with possible 40 percent decline.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has already interest rates cut down to zero. Fed chair Jay Powell says policymakers will continue to use a full range of tools to try to support the economy.


JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: Both the depth and duration of the economic downturn are extraordinarily uncertain. They will depend in large part and how quickly the virus is brought under control.

The severity of the downturn will also depend on the policy actions taken on all levels of government to cushion the blow and support the recovery when the public health crisis passes.



VAUSE: Unemployment numbers are expected in the coming days. Analysts expect another 3.5 million Americans to file jobless claims.

Australia's prime minister is not backing down in a dispute with China. Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent investigation on how the coronavirus started to spread and China hit back.


SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Australia will continue to take a sensible course of action. This is a virus that has taken more than 200,000 lives across the world. It has shut down the global economy. The implications and impacts of this are extraordinary.

Now it would seem reasonable and sensible that the world would want to have an independent assessment of how this all occurred so we can learn the lessons and prevent this from ever happening again.


VAUSE: Reasonable and sensible is not how Beijing sees it. They are threatening boycotting Australian exports. China's embassy says it doesn't play petty tricks but adds if others do, China will reciprocate.

Beijing is lowering the coronavirus emergency response beginning on Thursday. Travelers arriving in Beijing from low-risk areas within China will not be quarantined for two weeks. International travelers still face quarantine. Beijing has not reported any new locally transmitted cases for 13 days.

Dr. Anish Mahajan is chief medical officer of the Harvard UCLA Medical Center. He joins me now from Los Angeles.

Doctor, sorry I mangled your name there. But I want to start with remdesivir. I want you to listen to Dr. Fauci on how the drug helped with the recovery rates, here he is.


FAUCI: The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery. This is really quite important for a number of reasons.

We think it is really opening the door to the fact that we now have the capability of treating. And I can guarantee you as more people and more companies and more investigators get involved it will get better and better.


VAUSE: He's clearly very optimistic about this. The patients given the drug during the trials saw four days less in hospital, 11 compared to 15; a reduction of about a third.

If the ICU is filled with COVID-19 patients, the time in hospital reduced by a third, that means that the patient load for that ICU is reduced by a lot of with a third as well, right?

DR. ANISH MAHAJAN, HARVARD UCLA MEDICAL CENTER: Yes, this is really the first good news that we've heard about COVID-19. This treatment, remdesivir, at least what we're hearing from Dr. Fauci, suggests that it reduces recovery time. This is very good because it will help our health systems keep up.

VAUSE: So if patient time in hospitals is reduced by a third that seems significant in terms of hospital resources, strain on the health care system.

It is too soon to say that this could be a game-changer?

MAHAJAN: Yes. It's too soon. It's a glimmer of hope, the first good news, a building block to what will eventually be a game-changer. The reason I say this is because we have yet to see the actual data.

Once the data is published in a peer reviewed journal, which Fauci has indicated will be soon, scientists can figure out which patients did the treatment actually benefit and who did it not benefit.

I think everyone knows that coronavirus or COVID-19, of all the people that get it about 20 percent of them will need hospital care and about 5 percent of the overall number will need critical care.

It will be very important to look at the steady results when they are published to see which specific patients benefited, who actually got the benefit. Hopefully many of them did but we have to look at the data.

VAUSE: The breakthrough is being compared to the research in 1897, it took 25 years after that for a medication to be developed to treat HIV. There could be a long road ahead.

MAHAJAN: It's hard to say but this was dramatic news because this study that Dr. Fauci is describing was launched in February in record speed for a clinical trial. It's a randomized, double-blind control trial.


MAHAJAN: What we mean by that is that patients were randomly assigned to either get remdesivir or a placebo drug. And it was double blind, the doctors giving the drugs and the patients didn't know which they were getting. This is the golden standard for a study.

We learned from Dr. Fauci that this drug is effective in reducing the recovery time but it does so by about 30 percent. It does not cure the virus but it helps people get better faster.

The next step is to combine the medication with other medications that can attack the virus in different parts of its life cycle. What happens is, if you can attack the virus in different parts of its life cycle, you're more likely to be able to defeat it faster and faster.

VAUSE: I will show you results from a study in the U.K. that showed the results of 16,749 patients hospitalized, 49 percent survived, 33 percent died. 17 percent still being treated. I should stress, it's a small percentage of the most serious of cases.

It really suggests that there are so many risks, very high risks, especially for people with pre-existing conditions, right?

MAHAJAN: Correct. The patients who do have the highest death rate due the COVID-19 are in fact patients who are older and patients who have other comorbidities or other medical illnesses, like diabetes, obesity, hypertension and the like.

Those patients, when they have such severe respiratory distress, when they have COVID and end up on the ventilator, unfortunately, it is those patients who have the highest rate of death.

Dr. Mahajan, thanks so much for being with us in Los Angeles, we appreciate your insights and your time.

MAHAJAN: My pleasure, thank you.

VAUSE: Still to come, shocking new images have emerged from Russia's hospitals as the country near is 100,000 coronavirus cases.

Plus life without a lockdown may sound great, some in Sweden say the country's decision to buck the status quo has been far too costly.




VAUSE: Europe has seen a patchwork of different approaches in how to deal with the coronavirus, some countries including France and Spain are now starting the process of reopening while Sweden was never lockdown in the first place. The hardest hit countries like the U.K. and Russia saw an end date to a lockdown.

But right now it's impossible to say. For weeks, Russia insisted it ad the pandemic under control but as the country nears 100,000 cases, startling new images have emerged during the strain on Russia's health care system.


VAUSE: Here CNN's Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For weeks, Russia insisted the pandemic there was under control. But these startling images from a hospital in the south of the country show just how overstretched its health service has become.

This cold, tiny room was a laundry storage cupboard, according to the narrator. Now it's a makeshift ward for five coughing women. No room for social distancing here. And these aren't even the hospital's patients. They're medical staff, the narrator says, who have fallen ill with symptoms of the virus and with nowhere else to be treated.

We can't confirm they have COVID-19, but a local government official says the women were later moved to a fully equipped ward and several hospital employees were disciplined. Still, it's a grim picture with a toll this coronavirus is taking on Russia's health workers.

This Russian doctor says she believes a large proportion of medical workers are already sick, and in current working conditions, she says more infections for just a matter of time.

Across Russia, the plight of essential medical staff has become a major concern. Moscow's main coronavirus hospital is reported to have suffered mass resignations of key workers. Like Natalia Lyubimaya, who complaints on social media of excessively long shifts, lasting days on end, lack of equipment, as well as food and salary shortfalls.

The hospital denies it's using staff, but even the Kremlin is now acknowledging acute shortages of personal protection equipment or PPE despite ramping up production.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In March, 3,000 protective suits for doctors were produced per day. By mid-May, it would be over 150,000. Yes, in comparison with what it was just recently, it is a lot. But in comparison with what is needed now, it is still not enough.


CHANCE: It's been just a few weeks since Russia was exporting assistance overseas to the U.S. and especially Italy, where Russian doctors were shown working side by side with a European comrade.

But at this hospital at home in St. Petersburg, Russia's second biggest city, ambulance drivers said they were waiting up to 10 hours outside just to deliver a single patient.

The numbers, it seems, are already overwhelming, and Russia's peak, according to the Kremlin, is yet to come -- Matthew Chance, CNN.


VAUSE: The U.K. has revised its coronavirus death toll, patients who have died outside of hospitals will now be included. That new criteria saw an additional 1,300 deaths reported on Wednesday and it brings Britain's overall death toll total to 26,000, the second highest in Europe.

Spain says face masks will not be mandatory when the country begins its new normal, they will be recommended, however. The government says the daily recoveries now outweighs new infection by nearly 3:1.

Spain will soon start reopening its economy, which will happen in four phases. France divided in red and green zones as it lifts lockdown restrictions. The prime minister says it will be based on the new cases per week, the capacity of intensive care units and the efficiency in testing and contact tracing.

Unlike France, Spain and other European countries, Sweden did not impose a national wide lockdown. People were advised to keep their distance and to take personal responsibility. Critics now have questioned the effectiveness as Sweden is still recording more than 20,000 cases and hundreds of deaths. We have more now from CNN's Phil Black.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To visit Sweden now is to enter a strange land where people can just hang out together. To seek shelter from the cold and cozy restaurants, go for a drink or a coffee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has been crowded all over. All the bars, restaurants and so on.

BLACK: You can shop for fashion and beauty products, or even allow a hairdresser to invade your personal space.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sooner or later we will get corona, I think, too.

BLACK: So, you've accepted that that will happen?


BLACK: And in the meantime, it's important to look good?


BLACK: That sums up the authorities approach here. COVID-19 is going to be around for a while and society must find a way to live with it.

So, no forced lockdown, instead, an emphasis on personal responsibility. Please work from home, keep to yourself in public. The official rules in bars and restaurants is stay in arm's length apart. No gatherings of more than 50 people, elementary and middle schools are still open, while most high school students and college students, study at home.

Anders Tegnell is the state epidemiologist driving the policies here. He claims success in flattening the curve and keeping serious cases within hospital capacity and he says it's a good thing.


BLACK (voice-over): His agency estimates 26 percent of Stockholm's population has now been infected because in theory, that means more immunity.

BLACK: But you insist that herd immunity has never been a goal?

ANDERS TEGNELL, SWEDEN'S CHIEF EPIDEMIOLOGIST: No, but it will help us in achieving our goal which is slowing down the spread as much as possible so that we can keep in good healthcare. BLACK: But for a small country, Sweden is already paying a big human cost. More than 2,400 people have died here. Vastly greater numbers, the neighboring countries which imposed much tougher restrictions.

TEGNELL: That is true. Even in --


BLACK: What do you take from that?

TEGNELL: Yes. That we need to investigate and try to understand why. We know for sure one of the reasons why is that we have this huge amount of cases in our homes.

BLACK: It's a disturbing trend around heart of those who've died here live in care homes. The Swedish government admits they failed to protect the elderly. The open policies are broadly popular here but there is anger too, especially among those who have lost so much to the virus.

MIRREY GOURIE (PH), FATHER DIED FROM CORONAVIRUS: I'm so sorry. It hurts when I say his name.

BLACK: Mirrey Gourie (ph), buried her father Joseph on Monday. She says he and many others would still be alive if Sweden had just chosen a different path.

GOURIE: There is people dying and there is a human being like me, like you, like my dad. They are not just statistics or numbers.

BLACK: Sweden's experience will inform governments around the world as a plot their exits from lockdown, but authorities here say it is still too soon to judge their actions, because they, like everyone, are struggling to deal with the threat they are only starting to understand -- Phil Black, CNN, Stockholm.


VAUSE: Still to come this hour, a third night of unrest in Lebanon as a central bank tries to defend its response to the economic crisis.

And the coronavirus turns a crisis into a catastrophe, the plight of the Rohingya refugees. That's next.




VAUSE: PETERS: out for a third night in Lebanon, angered by rising unemployment and soaring prices. The currency has lost more than half its value since October and the prime minister says the central bank governor is to blame. Here's Jomana Karadsheh.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) [00:30:05]

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These demonstrations turning to riots over the country's financial crisis that is impacting the lives of almost the entire population of that country. Now they're being dubbed the hunger protests.

And we've seen the hunger and the frustration of these protesters being taken out on the country's banks, the central bank and the private bank buildings have been attacked, vandalized in different cities.

On Wednesday we heard from the long-serving central bank governor, Riad Salame, who had this long, one-hour televised address in which he was responding to accusations and criticism that he has come under in recent days, namely by the country's prime minister, Hassan Diab. The prime minister a few days ago accused Salame of what he described as intentional ambiguity, lack of transparency, and saying that the central bank should be audited, raising questions about 5.11 billion U.S. dollars that he says exited the cash-strapped country.

Now, we heard from Salame today denying any wrongdoing. And he said that the central bank doesn't take any unilateral decisions. He coordinates with the government, and he said when it comes to that money that was 5.9 billion U.S. dollars, and the majority of that was used to cover loans. The rest was withdrawn locally.

Now, when it comes to the protesters, people that we've spoken to today said they could not care less about what their countries' officials have to say and that they're determined to stay out on the streets.


VAUSE: It seems the global pandemic hasn't brought everything to a standstill. The U.N. reports Myanmar's military offensive on civilians in Rakhine state, home to mostly Rohingya Muslims is not only continuing but escalating.

In a farewell statement, the outgoing human rights monitor for Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said Myanmar's military is inflicting immense suffering on the ethnic communities in Rakhine and Chin state, systematically violating the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and human rights. Its conduct against the civilian population of Rakhine and Chin States may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity."

This pandemic has seen most countries turn inwards to care for their own, leaving those with less than nothing shut out and ignored. Right now, somewhere in the Indian Ocean, two fishing trawlers crammed with hundreds of Rohingya men, women and children are trying to find safe harbor.

First, they escaped ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Then, they fled the overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh. But despite pleas from the U.N. and in violation of international law, Malaysia turned them away over fears of spreading the coronavirus. And Bangladesh won't take them back.

They are starving. They thirsty. They are dying, and they have nowhere to go.

Kimberly Dozier is a CNN global affairs analyst and contributor to "TIME." She joins us this hour from Washington.

Kim, thanks for being with us. We appreciate that.

This is really -- it's just beyond tragic. And you've been reporting on this. And it seems that these -- these fishing trawlers have even been denied permission to dock and pick up new supplies of food and water.

KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, according to humanitarian workers who have been trying to keep in touch with these travelers, they don't know exactly when they took off or where from, but they think from Bangladesh.

And one of them tried to get to Myanmar, was turned away. Now they don't know exactly where they are. One has been spotted near Thailand.

The fact of the matter is these nations have let it be known that, because of their fears of COVID-19, they're not going to let the refugees land. This is the same thing that happened back in 2015, which led to something called the Bali agreement of those coastal nations, when they said this wouldn't happen again. It wouldn't let starving refugees die on the high seas.

But COVID-19 has really made countries very fearful about refugees. You see in southeast Asia that what they're doing is they're looking at the west. They're looking at the United States. They're looking at Europe with all of the resources in these areas not able to cope with this pandemic. It hasn't really hit very hard yet in southeast Asia. And they're bracing for it and fearful of letting anyone in.

VAUSE: Isn't this simply, though, a violation of international law? I thought refugees seeking asylum from prosecution had to be granted asylum.

When you have, for instance, the Trump administration setting the example, lowering the number of refugees that we'll take, and of course, with this pandemic, President Donald Trump has announced that he wanted to shut off all immigration. Now, that initial declaration was stepped back a bit by the actual policy that was announced a few days later.


But still, the overall message is if the U.S. can shut its doors to refugees. Why can't these starving nations? It -- it means that there are fewer nations with either the moral power or, right now, the political will to stand up for these endangered and threatened populations.

VAUSE: And with that in mind, an editorial in Malaysia's "Straits Times" argues the country cannot take in any more refugees, especially in the midst of this pandemic.

They write, "We must seal all our land and sea borders, step up marine patrols to prevent illegal migrants from infiltrating into the country and speed up the spread of the coronavirus. While we cannot ignore the well-being of migrants and refugees already in the country, we absolutely have the right to reject new refugees and illegal migrants."

And from your reporting, you say aid workers are now bracing for COVID-19 to supercharge, you know, the already existing ethnic and religious divides. What else are they saying?

DOZIER: That's an article I've just written for "TIME" magazine about how, whether it's a U.N. refugee agency or Human Rights Watch or Doctors Without Borders, they are already trying to rush not just aid but education into various communities to displaced people who are perhaps minority religions countries, whether it's Iraq or Afghanistan, or Southeast Asia, so that they know how not to get the virus.

Because the fear is, if the virus breaks out in these already unwelcome communities, that will further make the local populations want to reject them.

The other thing that they're seeing is that extremists like the so- called Islamic state are already taking advantage of what they see as the higher economy nations not being able to take care of their own, and they're saying to Syrian refugees, for instance, in northeastern Syria, we will help you. What do you need?

They're using this as an opportunity, perhaps not for recruiting, but to be there for already marginalized populations. That's a kind of a message that people remember who showed up for them at their darkest hour.

VAUSE: Absolutely.

DOZIER: And that means gives organizations like the Islamic State, that were on the wane, a new breath of life.

VAUSE: Yes, it gives them sort of credibility, if you like, as well, with many people who they help out under these circumstances. But we're also seeing in Myanmar this pandemic or, you know, it's a global tragedy. It's also a global destruction. And the military in Myanmar it seems to be using that to increase and escalate an assault on Rakhine state.

DOZIER: Well, there had been fighting that had displaced 75,000 people last year. There's a new spike of fighting between insurgents in Rakhine and the Myanmar military that the U.S. State Department has decried. The U.N. multiple humanitarian organizations have said, Look, if you want us to try to rush aid into these remote areas ahead of the pandemic, you can't do it while everyone is under fire.

And the thing is they're fighting against time. They're fighting against the coming rainy season. A lot of these places are so remote, where these displaced populations are, not just branch Muslims but many Buddhists who were displaced by this back and forth skirmish. And some of them are, you can only reach them by going two days on boats up a river. Those passageways will be impassable when the rains come.

VAUSE: Kimberly, it's good reporting to do right now, because it is so easy to forget about these other issues in light of everything else. This is still ongoing and something we need to watch.

Kimberly Dozier, CNN global analyst and a contributor to "TIME." Thanks for being with us, Kim. Stay well.

With that, a short break. When we come back, another plot twist in the story of the Tokyo Olympics. Why plans for next year, well, may have been a false start.

Here in the U.S. baseball's first pitch could be just weeks away. America's past-time could be about to start up.



VAUSE: Good news for sports fans in the U.S.: a baseball prediction from Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking with the Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman. Here it is.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: I think that there is pathway there, Ryan. I hope that there's some form of baseball this summer, even if it's just TV.


VAUSE: Turns out Major League Baseball is making plans to start a modified season in about two months. CNN's Erin Burnett spoke to Bob Nightingale of "USA Today." He broke the story.


BOB NIGHTINGALE, "USA TODAY": Hopefully, by early June, the players will report to spring training, the 2.0 version. And then, within three weeks, play regular-season games, hopefully in their own ballparks. So every team will still be able to use their own facilities, and it would realign baseball in the sense where there will only be three divisions of 10 teams apiece, instead of six divisions of five teams apiece. This will limit travel, and also players would not have to go on cross-country trips. In just very short trips, in some cases bus rides.

At the start, it looks like there's almost zero chance of fans being permitted into stadiums. Just a lot of states will not allow that. They are hopeful by the end of the season, you know, late summer, you know, allow some fans in, maybe 1,000, close to 2,000, 5,000. And perhaps by the post season, which would take place in late October, al the way through the Thanksgiving weekend, then you would have, you know, a large amount of fans. You know, probably not sell-outs, keep the distancing. But at least it would make it more like a real baseball game, the way everybody is used to.


VAUSE: "USA Today's" Bob Nightingale there, speaking with our Erin Burnett.

A growing number of medical experts are warning, without a vaccine for COVID-19, then it would not be safe to hold the Tokyo Olympics, and now Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has warned what was once unthinkable is now possible.


SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In regards to the Olympics and Paralympics, we've been saying that the games must be held in a complete form. And that the athletes and spectators can all participate safely. It would be impossible to hold the games in such a complete form unless COVID-19 is contained.


VAUSE: Kaori Enjoji, live for us in Tokyo this hour. So Kaori, you know, why is this a binary choice? Either it happens or it doesn't happen. It's been postponed once. Why not postpone it again?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, this is a question that Japan has addressed for the first time with those comments that you heard from the prime minister. And he has been insisting all along that they take place in a complete form, and by that, he means thousands of people filling the stadiums.

But remember, John, it took weeks of pressure from athletes, from sporting federations, to government officials around the world to get them to postpone the Olympics to next year to begin with.

A lot is running high, not only politically for the prime minister but also the fact that he's got $3 billion of sponsorships lined up, which is the highest figure for any Olympics that have been -- ever been held.


But this conversation about what happens next year if the pandemic is not contained really kicked off earlier in this week, when the head of the Japan Medical Association, JMA, which is a very powerful body, the president came out and said, Look, unless there is a vaccine for COVID-19, it is going to be difficult to hold the Olympics altogether next year. And he does not hope that will happen, but the vaccine is going to be critical.

And that started off a chain reaction that sparked a comment for the head of the organizing committee of Tokyo 2020, who said, look, when he was asked what happens if the pandemic is not contained next year, he said, Look, if it's not next year, it's going to be never. So I think this is a conversation that really started happening

earlier on in this week. And maybe it's something that they do need to address, when you consider that one of the main venues for the Olympics, right outside of Tokyo, is now being prepared, potentially, for a big hospital to house the increasing number of COVID-19 patients, and funding is underway.

So you know, it's a conversation that probably needed to happen, but the prime minister probably didn't want to happen at the stage.

VAUSE: We are hearing from the IRC, John Coates, who's an Australian. He's a member of the International Olympic Committee. He's saying there is no need for a vaccine for the games to go ahead, and he says that information is coming from the WHO. He doesn't elaborate about how, you know, 10,000 athletes can all be crammed together in the athletes' village and not get ill.

But, you know, that does seem to be sort of at odds between the Japanese Olympic Committee, the IOC, and those who need a vaccine, you don't need a vaccine. It seems to be going beyond the medical side of things here.

ENJOJI: It does, and I think that goes to show that the Olympics is just such a big political event, in the sense that, you know, prime ministers stake their legacy on these events. A lot of money is involved, not only in the construction of the venues but sponsorships, as I mentioned before.

I mean, for the health of the athletes, which was one of the biggest reasons why they postponed to begin with, and money. You would think that a vaccine, should this pandemic continue, will be critical.

And I think a lot of hope right now is -- excuse me -- riding on this Gilead -- Gilead, excuse me -- drug called Remdesivir. And the Japanese government here seems to be putting a lot of emphasis on that starting from earlier on this week, in that they are saying that if it is approved somewhere else, they would fast-track it so that they don't have to wait a year. And maybe they could give it to patients in about a week's time.

But you know, I think the fact remains that Japan -- the number of cases in Japan is still low compared, relatively, to the world, but you still have 14,000 people infected. You have more than 400 people dead. And the number has been waning a little bit. But I think with these global economies that we're in right now, people are trying to make sure that people do adhere to the lockdown -- soft lockdown rules so that they can contain us -- contain this and go ahead with the preparations.

VAUSE: OK, Kaori, thank you. Kaori Enjoji for us in Tokyo, as always. Thanks, Kaori.

South Africa's Rugby-World-Cup-winning captain knows what it's like to grow up poor. Now Siya Kolisi wants to give back. He's using his foundation to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. And he spoke with CNN's WORLD SPORT's Christina Macfarlane, along with his wife.


GRAPHIC: South Africa rugby captain Siya Kolisi has returned home to help fight COVID-19.

SIYA KOLISI, SOUTH AFRICA RUGBY WORLD CUP CAPTAIN: It's our first project, obviously. It's my home. It really means a lot, and I've seen the people struggling. My friends are giving me feedback. So we've got a special permit. We're going to come and feed, make sure this is sorted out.

GRAPHIC: The Kolisi Foundation is helping to provide food parcels to South Africa's townships. The foundation also helps source personal protective equipment for frontline workers.

S. KOLISI: For me, it's personal, because I know there's nothing worse than hunger. There's nothing worse than listening to your stomach before you go to bed. And you just hear it grumbling. You have nothing to eat; you've got no other choice.

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN SPORT: How fearful are you both of the damage that this COVID-19 could cause in South Africa?

S. KOLISI: It could be huge. That's what gets me going and keeps me motivated to work as hard as I can to try and help the frontline workers.

RACHEL KOLISI: It's so important for him, and I know this because he wants to make sure that he sees that food going into the right people's hands.

MACFARLANE: It feels like a lifetime ago, doesn't it, that we were in Japan now, celebrating your historic Rugby World Cup win? How often have you watched your highlights from that Rugby World Cup final?

R. KOLISI: I made the whole family sit down, like, a couple of weeks ago, when the lockdown kind of started, and we watched it all over again and got all the goose bumps all over again.

S. KOLISI: Thank you so much!

When I was playing, like you don't see the people and everything that's going on. You're just in the zone. I mean, our coach's speech before the game, it hit home. I remember everything he said, which at that time was just exactly what we needed, you know?


He spoke about all the struggles and things that you've experienced in your life and how you can use that on the day so you can change the future of the other people coming behind you. I will never forget that feeling.


MACFARLANE: When all of this is over, how -- how good will it feel to be back with them and for the world to have sport again?

S. KOLISI: Yes, that's going to be amazing. We're only going to fight this thing together, and we need to stand united together as humanity. And the sooner we realize that, the better it'll be. The sooner we help one another, the better it's going to be.



VAUSE: We'll take a short base. When we come back, with a 95 percent decline in air travel, the airline industry now facing some tough choices and a new reality.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Let's take a quick look at the Asia markets here. The Nikkei up by almost 3 percent. Hong Kong, the Hang Seng is up by almost -- or just over a quarter of one percent. Shanghai Composite, up by one and a third. And Seoul KOSPI up by almost 3 quarters of one percent.

Happy day. It's green across the board and green for the futures, as well, in the U.S. Dow futures up by almost 1 percent, NASDAQ up by just over 1 percent. S&P 500 up by almost three quarters of 1 percent. Let's see if those numbers hold.

Well, this pandemic has hit the airline industry harder than 9/11 and the financial crisis combined. Boeing was already struggling to recover from the 737 Max crisis before it even began with this pandemic. Now it says it's cutting 16,000 jobs and reducing production because of the coronavirus.

Air Bus is also burning cash, warning suppliers are going bust. And G.E.'s jet engine business slammed by the virus, by almost a billion dollars in earnings.

Airlines are changing their policies, as well, to respect social distancing guidelines. One example is Lufthansa, announcing all passengers and flight attendants will have to wear face masks, starting next week.

CNN's Pete Muntean looks at whether these steps are enough to reassure travelers, as well as flight attendants and cabin crew.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A scene too similar to travel before this pandemic: new videos of packed planes, passengers bottled up in rows and aisles, raising new fears about social distancing when flying and new calls to restrict air travel even further.

JetBlue this week became the first airline to require passengers to wear masks. Its COO calls the move "the new flying etiquette."

United followed suit, announcing that it will give passengers masks, though not requiring that they be worn.

The leader of the Association of Flight Attendants told CNN there must be an across-the-board mask requirement and a federal ban on leisure travel by air.

SARA NELSON, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: We're seeing more and more full flights without policies that really address proper social distancing or required wearing a mask.

The nation's air travel is at a virtual halt. Nearly half of all commercial jetliners are now parked. The TSA says only 5 percent of passengers are passing through checkpoints compared to a year ago.


MUNTEAN: I set up to see what it's like to fly right now, traveling from Washington D.C. to Atlanta and back.

(on camera): It's hard to find someone not already wearing a mask.

(voice-over): Airlines are stepping up their use of electrostatic sprayers to disinfect passenger cabins.

(on camera): Crews handed out this Purell wipe when we got on board

(voice-over): Airlines are also not booking middle seats --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In accordance with social distancing --

MUNTEAN: -- hoping to keep up social distancing on board.

Industry groups say the average domestic flight is now carrying 17 passengers, up from 10 passengers just over a week ago.

ELIZABETH CHRISTIE, FLYER: I think the people that are traveling are probably healthy. They're most ill, or critical, or in a bad situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody should be wearing a mask.

MUNTEAN: The Department of Transportation give airlines permission to start scaling back service to small-city airports. Plane maker Boeing CEO is forecasting a years'-long recovery for airlines. Even still, the industry is holding out hope that new measures will mean a new normal of flying again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're hopeful that that will happen.

MUNTEAN: From what I saw, passengers do seem keen on social distancing, not only on planes but also here in the terminal. Delta and United have both done away with boarding by zone, instead now boarding by row, starting with the back of the plane first.

At Reagan National Airport, Pete Muntean, CNN.


VAUSE: Air travel was already on the top ten list of the most miserable experiences in the world. So what will it be like post- pandemic? Well, robots for cleaning, temperature checks, and, best of all, full-body disinfection.

Hong Kong International Airport says it's the first to try the full- body disinfection booth. Apparently, it has a special coating that can remotely kill viruses and bacteria on clothing, as well as the body, in just 40 seconds. Smile.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. I'll be back in about an hour from now with more news. In the meantime, "AMANPOUR" is up next.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Coronavirus has now killed more Americans than were killed over two decades in the Vietnam War, while the economy shrinks for the first time in six years.

Former Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp on the struggle facing small, rural businesses.

And we look at farm communities falling on hard times here in the U.K.

Plus, the untold stories of coronavirus around the world. The prime minister of Barbados tells us about the unique challenges facing her small island holiday destination.