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Coronavirus Pandemic; French Economy Sees Biggest Decline Since Records Began; Lockdown Amplifies Divide Between French Cities And Suburbs; Labor Day Protests Expected Across City Despite Police Ban; Hong Kong Leader Warns Against Protest As Pandemic Slows; Democracy Protesters Renew Their Ire Against China After Activist Arrests; Lebanon Seeks IMF Aid Amid Economic Free Fall; Lebanon's Economic Free Fall Fueling Protests; Amazon Whistleblower Raises Safety Concerns Amid Covid-19; London FTSE Starts The Day In Negative Territory; South Korea Has Become A Model Of Covid-19 Containment; Trimming Your Own Hair Under Lockdown. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 1, 2020 - 03:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Open for business. Much of the U.S. is beginning to emerge from lockdown, but it will be a new kind of normal.

Also, this hour, China allegation, U.S. President Trump holds Beijing responsible for the worldwide spread of coronavirus but offers no evidence to back up his claim.

And at his first news conference since his own battle with coronavirus, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the outbreak there is past its peak.

Live from our studio here in Atlanta Georgia. Hello, everyone. This is CNN Newsroom. I'm Natalie Allen.

Thank you for joining us.

There might not be a new vaccine for COVID-19, but for millions of people, there is something new beginning today, a new normal. Stay-at- home orders that had been in place for weeks in the United States and Friday in seven states.

And over the next few days, at least 31 states have planned phased re- openings. For many Americans, it cannot come fast enough. There were nearly four million new jobless claims last week, 30 million claims since mid-March.

Even though the U.S. Has the most reported infections and deaths, President Trump says he is feeling good about how his administration has handled this crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think when you ask how did we do? I have to say, because the news is so fake, and so corrupt, I think we did a spectacular job. The federal government has done a spectacular job.


ALLEN: Elsewhere, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the U.K. is past the peak of the disease and he promises a big plan next week for restarting the economy there.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says that Germany will relax some restrictions like reopening playgrounds and religious services, and Spain is about to let many citizens get outside for exercise starting Saturday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci from the White House Coronavirus Task Force says that governors should have some wiggle mood for reopening their states but not too much. His advice comes as protest in some states become even louder.

CNN's Nick Watt explains.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Armed protestors pack the capital's public gallery, a stand against Michigan's ongoing stay-at-home orders. Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Tweeted one state senator, some of my colleague who own bulletproof vests are wearing them. Just one protest. We're told one assaulted another outside.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you do have a right to fight for your inalienable rights. God gave you those rights.


WATT: More than 30 million Americans have now lost their jobs during this unprecedented national shutdown. Pain and frustration rising.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All but Texas now. All but Texas now.


WATT: By this weekend, more than half of our states will have started to reopen with restrictions. In Texas, the COVID case count isn't falling. Still restaurants and retail can reopen tomorrow at 25 percent capacity.


JULIAN RODARTE, CO-OWNER, BETO AND SON: We're not going to make anything here. It's just for the staff to be able to keep providing for their families on the day to day. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: Tomorrow you'll be able to get a legal haircut again in Wyoming, in Utah, for midnight Friday bars and restaurants can open. In Oklahoma, bars will stay closed but gyms and movie theaters can open.

On the flip side, Louisiana just extended stay home through May 15th. Ohio, extended, no end date given. Boston extended its curfew through May 18th.

Now, the federal social distancing guidelines were issued 45 days ago, advice that expires today. And now it's up to each governor to figure out reopening.


MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And the new guidance that we've issued is for guidance for how they can do that safely and responsibly.


WATT: A draft of possible new CDC guidelines for businesses and institutions calls for a stationary collection boxes in church, in restaurants disposable menus, plenty of sneeze guards, no salad bars. And in schools, desks six feet apart. Hard-hit New Jersey is taking its load, first to open, among other things, golf courses, but one per cart and stay apart.



GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We said you know what, let's open them up this weekend, but let's make sure everybody plays ball. So, this is a real test case for us.


WATT: Here in California, Orange County beaches opened last weekend but the crowds packed too tight. So.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We're going to do a hard close in that part of the state just in the Orange County area.


WATT: This Vacaville barber plans to defy the state's continued stay- at-home order.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to defy all the way to the end. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: In Iowa, a gradual reopening but only in counties with low case growth and a nod to our grim new reality.


GOV. KIM REYNOLDS (R-IA): COVID-19 isn't going anywhere any time soon. The virus will continue to be in our communities, and unfortunately, people will still get sick until a vaccine is available.


WATT: Now we're told one might be ready in January. The White House now calling this Operation Warp Speed. They'll start manufacturing while it's still in trials.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Assuming it's going to work. And if it does, then you can scale up and hopefully get to that time line. So, we want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it's safe and it's effective.


WATT: Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

ALLEN: As we wait on a vaccine, a drug to treat patients may soon be available, the Food and Drug Administration says it's in top with the makers of Remdesivir about making it available as quickly as possible.

A recent study shows promising signs the drug might help patients recover more quickly.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer spoke with the lead researcher of that study.


ANDRE KALIL, PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR, REMDESIVIR TRIAL: Based on the preliminary results of our clinical trial, it's showing significant benefits in terms of faster recovery and also a chance of better survival with Remdesivir.

My opinion is that, you know, it would be, certainly it would be a good conservation of the FDA to, you know, be able to offer, to allow this drug to be offered to other patients.

Because the results in our study were so significant that we decided not only to make that public before even the final analysis, but we have decided to remove the placebo group from our study because we believe that at this point, with the data we have, it would not be ethical to, you know, to have a placebo group anymore.

Because now we know that Remdesivir actually has a significant activity. So based on our results, I do agree with Dr. Fauci and with your suggestion that there would be something to be considered by the FDA to move forward.


ALLEN: A word of caution though, the World Health Organization say that it is too early to comment on the trial results. More data from other trials are expected soon.

Let's go to Cillian De Gascun now. He is the director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory at the University College Dublin. Thanks so much, and good morning to you.

CILLIAN DE GASCUN, MEDICAL VIROLOGIST: Good morning, Natalie. Thanks for having me.

ALLEN: Sure thing. What do you make of this promise from this drug Remdesivir as far as potential treatment?

DE GASCUN: I think it's in very early days. There are number of trials ongoing at the moment, and the results today have been somewhat conflicting. So, I think it's good to know that something is coming potentially down the track, but I think it's probably too early to get our hopes up.

We want to see all of the data published and peer reviewed so other scientists and medics can take a look at the data and its entirety and make an informed decision. It is potentially promising, but it is very early days, so we need to be cautious.

ALLEN: Al right. Fingers crossed on that one. Meantime, Cillian, some states in the U.S., seven are opening backup. Dr. Tony Fauci warning that doing so prematurely could lead to a rebound to get us right back into the same boat where we were a few weeks ago. How risky is it to just kind of say, OK, we are back in business with some limitations?

DE GASCUN: I think it's important to acknowledge that this is very challenging and it's not straightforward because there are no easy decisions at this time. We do know that slightly that a large part of the population is still susceptible to this infection.

We also know that the virus is going to continue circulating for as long as there is almost susceptible population and there are people available for it to infect.

So, physical distancing, hand hygiene, all of those measures still remain vitally important. There may be some elements of society and commercial activity that can recommence by maintaining those measures. Because we are not going back to normal, and I think it's important for people to appreciate that.

This is a new normal. All of the new behaviors with physical distancing perspective, from a hand hygiene perspective, or (Inaudible) perspective. All of those things need to be maintained for many weeks and months to come. And there may be some opportunities where things can re-acted or open

up while maintaining that. So, for example, you may potentially let children back to school with a reduced number of students per classroom because we don't believe children are at significant risk at this point in time.


Equally, there are some outdoor activities such as tennis or golf, for example, that may be possible to play where you can maintain physical distancing. But it is very challenging to think of the likes of anywhere that is going to be a high density, or high grouping of individuals, that is still going to be challenging and still a risk.

So, anything that is done that I would suggest should be done cautiously, slowly, and methodically, so that it's a stepwise progression over the coming weeks and months and not a single case of everything flipping a switch and trying to set everything back to normal.

And equally, every time we do introduce some measures or relax some measures we need to be wait probably for two to four weeks to see what impact that has had, so what people will still be looking for is the number of cases per day, the number of people being admitted to hospital, the number of people going into intensive care, and the number of people that are dying. They are the numbers that we really need to focus on.

ALLEN: Right, and as you said, it should be taken in baby steps. We saw what happened with the Orange County, California beach situation, and the governor had to pull back and close them again because people were not distancing themselves.

Let's talk about the race for a vaccine now, Cillian. The world has dozens of significant studies underway right now, the U.S. could have won the very beginning of the year says Dr. Fauci. Do you think that's possible from where you are seeing in the studies?

DE GASCUN: I think that's a challenge. I think it's a very tight timeline. If people -- if people be familiar with the seasonal influenza vaccine, that takes about six months to manufacture and scale up every year, even though we know the influenza virus very well at this point.

The SARS corona 2 virus is a new virus to us. And in principle it should work through our coronaviruses vaccines available in the animal industry. So, in principle, it should be doable, but it's very key when we are developing a new vaccine for use in the human population, safety is really paramount because we are injecting, in essence, healthy individuals.

So, safety and effectiveness are the two of key measures. And the third aspect of that is actually trying to scale up production, because, obviously, the populated, global population is over seven billion at this point. So, we want to be sure that if we can develop an effective vaccine that it is available for all. So even simple things like logistical challenges of scaling up that

manufacturing capacity, once we have an effective vaccine, will be quite challenging.

So, it will be great to see something in the first half of the new year, but I think it's probably slightly further away.

ALLEN: All right. Until then, the new normal continues. Cillian De Gascun in Dublin, Ireland, thank you so much for speaking with us. We appreciate your expertise.

DE GASCUN: Thank you.

ALLEN: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence did an about face, so to speak. He wore a mask Thursday during his visit to a General Motors plant. Mr. Pence was criticized for not wearing one inside the Mayo Clinic earlier in the week, even though his own task force recommends it, and the clinic requires it.

So, will we see President Trump in a face mask soon? Thursday, he said he have no problem wearing one when he travels next week, if the conditions require it. And he didn't rule out giving his speech in a mask.

Multiple sources tell CNN the Trump administration is drawing up plans to punish Beijing over its handling of the coronavirus. During a Thursday news conference, the U.S. president stepped up his criticisms.


TRUMP: One of two things happened. It's either they didn't do it, or, you know, they couldn't do it from a confidence standpoint, or they let it spread. You know, I would say, probably, it was -- it got out of control.

But you know, there is the other case that how come they stopped all of the planes, and all of the traffic from going into China, but they didn't stop the planes and the traffic from coming in to the United States, and from coming into all over Europe?

I mean, look at Italy, look what happened to Italy? It's very lucky, and this country is very lucky, and I'm very lucky that I put the ban on China.


ALLEN: The president also says he's seen evidence the virus originated at a lab in China, but U.S. intelligence is not so sure.

For more, here is CNN's Alex Marquardt.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a theory about the origin of the virus that has long been out there. The Trump administration has repeatedly pushed the narrative that the coronavirus may have escape from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan, rather than originating with an animal in a seafood market in Wuhan which is deleting medical theory.

Tonight, the president telling reporters he has seen evidence that indicate the virus did come from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.


TRUMP: There are a lot of theories, but yes, we have people looking at it very, very strongly. Many scientific people, intelligence people, and others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What gives you a high degree of confidence that this originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology?


TRUMP: I can't tell you that. I'm not allowed to tell you that.


MARQUARDT: Several sources tell CNN that top administration officials have been pushing the U.S. intelligence agencies for evidence to support that theory. So far, the intelligence community has not come to any conclusion. Saying today, in a remarkable statement, that all they know is that the virus came from China, and that it is not man- made or genetically modified.

The intelligence community will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence, the statement said, to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan. Today, the president seemed to dismiss that statement.


TRUMP: You would know that from national intelligence?


MARQUARDT: The head of the lab in Wuhan has rejected the lab theories, telling Reuters they could not, and would not create a new coronavirus, and that their security is strictly enforced. The experts on the White House Coronavirus Task Force have said that the virus went from animals to humans.


DEBORAH BIRX, COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: It is going to take us a while to really map and trace this particular virus, map through its experience in humans, and get the scientific evidence of where this virus originated.


MARQUARDT: With the U.S. passing 60,000 deaths and over one million positive coronavirus cases, the Trump administration is stepping up its efforts to pin the blame on and punished, China. Multiple sources tell CNN the White House is coming up with long term

efforts to use against them, tactics like sanctions and new trade policies.


TRUMP: China is a very sophisticated country and they could have contained it. They were either unable to or they chose not to. And the world is suffering greatly.


MARQUARDT: This is yet another example of President Trump being at odds with the intelligence community, something that started the beginning of his term and has continued throughout. And this is exactly where the intelligence community hates and is afraid to be involved in politics.

But clearly, they felt the pressure and all of the questions and felt that they needed to say what they know and what they don't, which includes the origin of the coronavirus.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

ALLEN: Britain's prime minister speaks to the news media for the first time since he was diagnosed with coronavirus, he's got good news for the country and also promises of a plan for the future. We'll have a live report from London on what that could be.

Plus, one of Russia's top government figures test positive for the virus. What that means for the Kremlin.


ALLEN: That's British prime minister Boris Johnson joining a round of applause for doctors and nurses. Every week people across the U.K. clap here and play music to honor the healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus.

And Britain's prime minister there says the country has already hit its peak for coronavirus cases and is on the downward slope. But he says, that is no reason for people to lower their guard.


Johnson is urging people to stick to social distancing restrictions, and says he is going to offer a plan in the coming days.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I will be setting out a comprehensive plan next week to explain how we can get our economy moving, one, how we can get our children back to school, back into childcare, second, and third, how we can travel to work and how we can make life in the workplace safer.

In short, how we can continue to suppress the disease, and at the same time, restart the economy.


ALLEN: All right. Boris Johnson there speaking to the news media.

Nina dos Santos joins me now from London. It's interesting to watch him closely, Nina, to see how he is governing now after going through this himself.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. This was the first press conference where we saw Boris Johnson out and about in public in Downing Street and back in command of the country after of course, he had to spend the number of nights in intensive care suffering from coronavirus himself over the last month of April.

He also more recently this week had a happier visit to hospital when Carrie Symonds, his, fiance gave birth to their son earlier this week. So many reasons there to defend and applaud the National Health Service that's at the frontline of this. And he was out there clapping yesterday evening for what has become a sort of national symbolic show of unity every Thursday evening for the National Health Service.

But the big question everybody wants to hear now from the prime minister is when will this end, and what is your plan? As you said in your introduction, he does plan to update people as early as next week, with some kind of strategy of how to ease the lockdown that the U.K. has imposed. We don't yet know exactly what that could involve.

One of the things that it could involve of course is this continued push for testing not just of key workers but also contact tracing of everybody who's tested positive for the virus, so that it doesn't manage to continue to proliferate inside the U.K. community.

Now one of the things that Boris Johnson and his key scientific advisers spoke about in the press conference yesterday, was the so- called R rate of infection. This is the transmission rate, if you like.

What they want to do is keep it below the level of one, so that means that if one person is infected, they can only infect one more person. If they can infect two to three more people, then the growth of the virus becomes exponential again.

Currently, this level is below one. They want to look at however they ease the lockdown, how they can find ways to try and keep it below one. So that may mean that big social gatherings could still be off the cards in the near future, but the children may be able to go back to school in slightly rearranged classrooms that could be seeing them at a socially acceptable distance where they couldn't transmit the virus between each other.

Going back to the issue of testing which of course will be the key to unlocking the economy. Today, remember, is the day by which the government set its own self impose target of testing 100,000 people in the U.K. There's been a lot of concern that the U.K. is likely to miss this

target. Yesterday evening the transport secretary went to the British television saying that they've manage to massively ramped up testing and that they may be close to that 100,000 person a day target, if not to reach it today.

But again, big questions about the U.K. strategy, was this country too slow to implement lockdown measures, was it too slow to get his hands on testing and protective equipment for key staff, and really, the question is, where do we go from here to try and save the economy whilst of course continuing to save lives.

An updated death toll as per yesterday, Natalie, was that more than 26,700 people in the U.K. had lost their lives to coronavirus. Remember the first fatality was less than two months ago in this country. Natalie.

ALLEN: I know. So fast. It happened so fast. Nina dos Santos for us in London. We appreciate it, Nina. Thank you.

Well, Germany is starting to pull back more restrictions. Here's jus some of what Europe's largest economy is doing. Religious services can now be held under strict hygiene measures. Playgrounds, museums, galleries, and memorial sites will also be allowed to reopen. But they will need to present hygiene plans.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says more measures are due Wednesday, the government is looking at how to open daycare centers, more schools, and put the German soccer league back on track.


Australia is looking to ease its lockdown earlier than planned. Prime Minister Scott Morrison pointing to the need to restart the economy and society.

In a Friday news conference, Mr. Morrison said the national cabinet would meet at the end of next week to discuss relaxing restrictions. Several states already began easing local restriction this week.

Protesting in the time of coronavirus. This is live video coming in from Athens, Greece and a demonstration commemorating this May Day. The annual holiday celebrates workers around the world and draws attention to the issues they face. This year, workers are unified by insecurity about their jobs with millions out of work as the pandemic has shut down businesses.

Russia's prime minister has tested positive for coronavirus, he made that announcement during a video conference with President Vladimir Putin Thursday.

Matthew Chance has the latest on what this means for Russia.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a turn of events in Russia that underlines how the pandemic threatens everyone, even the powerful aren't immune. The country's prime minister Mikhail Mishustin was only appointed in

January. He appeared on state television in a video call with Vladimir Putin where he informed his boss, the Russian president, about his coronavirus status. Take a listen.


MIKHAIL MISHUSTIN, PRIME MINISTER OF RUSSIA (through translator): It just became known that the coronavirus test I took came back positive. So, I must oblige by the self-isolation rules, and it's mandatory that I do that for the safety of my colleagues.


CHANCE: Well, Putin seemed pretty unmoved at the news, but he wished the prime minister a speedy recovery, and asked him to call back when he gets to the hospital.

In the meantime, an acting prime minister was appointed. While this is the highest profile coronavirus case in Russia so far, where official figures put a number of infections at over 100,000, a strict lockdown enforce across the country has been extended as growing numbers of cases threaten, you know, to overwhelm the Russian health service.

Earlier this week, President Putin informed Russians that the peak of the crisis has not yet been reached, and he warned them that they are about to face a new and grueling face of the epidemic.

Matthew Chance, CNN.

ALLEN: Just ahead here, we head to the suburbs of Paris where growing tensions during lockdown is sparking violence. We'll tell you what's behind that.

And then, we go to the streets of Hong Kong, the city bracing for renewed ire against Beijing, as Hong Kong's chief executive warns against the return of protests in the streets. We'll take you live to the scene.



NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN Newsroom, I'm Natalie Allen in Atlanta. France has seen its biggest plunge in GDP since it began keeping records in 1949. The countries coronavirus lockdown restrictions are being blamed for the 5.8 percent drop. Our CNN's Melissa Bell reports for us, the strict measures are also amplifying the divide between cities and suburbs.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For some, France's stay-at-home order means living in fear. Diallo Boubacar, one of the 600 people who live in this social housing complex just outside of Paris, says that covid-19 arrived here in early March. One apartment is being disinfected after its occupant suspected of having coronavirus was found dead inside. Many including Boubacar were sick with covid symptoms and told to stay in the building, where people live, four or five to a flat, but where many more will gather in the kitchens at mealtimes because, he says, many of them lost their jobs, and have nothing to eat.

DIALLO BOUBACAR, FRENCH RESIDENT (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): They have abandoned us, and yet, here we are, the workers. We participate in the enrichment of France, and we contribute to social security, and pay taxes. So, when it comes to contributing, we are not excluded. But now, with this crisis, we are. Our rights have been suspended.

BELL: At the local train station, people continue to travel in and out of Paris, for many of them work from home is just not an option.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They are postman, train workers, supermarket employees, hospital workers, nurses, delivery men, and self-employed. It is they who bring sushi to the guys in their homes. It is they who allows society to continue to function. They are carrying society, and bearing the greatest toll.

BELL: It's only six minutes on the train from Paris' Galdunal to the station at San (inaudible), and yes it feels like a different world. One simple figure in the first week in April, mortality rates inside Paris were up 174 percent on a year before. That same figure here in Saint Denys De L'estree (ph) is 295 percent. At the Saint Denys De L'estree church, the priest has just held his third covid funeral in his many days.

VINCENT LASCEVE, PRIEST, SAINT DENYS DE L'ESTREE (through translator): What I can say is that maybe the confinement is harder here because of the living conditions for many. There is a much higher density of population with many more people living in each residence than say in the fancier apartments of Paris.

BELL: A stay-at-home policy that is not only harder to endure here, but one that is also more heavily enforced. France's interior minister says the number of coronavirus police checks in Saint Denys De L'estree is twice the national average.

Taha Bouhafs told me that the epidemic has only amplified differences all too keenly felt here. He shows us a spot where last week, that sense of injustice turned into several nights of confrontation with the police.

TAHA BOUHAFS, FRENCH JOURNALIST (through translator): There is already this social tension, because people here are considers second- class citizens. They have the impression that they are abandoned and that there is a sustained in this violence that is unleashed upon them.

BELL: Taha says it is only a matter of time before the violence he documented here last week erupts once more.

Melissa Bell, CNN, (Inaudible).


ALLEN: Hong Kong is bracing for Labor Day protests in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Police are already in position as marches are planned in multiple locations. Let's go there now, live, our Anna Coren is out and about in the streets. Anna, hello to you. What are you seeing there? What are you expecting?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Natalie, it's a very interesting question. Behind me, you can see a few riot police, obviously the police vans are just located there in the middle of the road. We have been driving around here, and you can see on the Kowloon side which I should remind viewers, last year, this is where running street battles, violent street battles were taking place here in Hong Kong.

It is business as usual, no sign of protesters whatsoever. We are seeing lots of police, but no protesters. Labor Day protests had been called for today, the request was made by the union to hold marchers, police rejected that request. And now, we are hearing that perhaps the protest plan for today has been canceled.


Instead, protesters are being asked to go to shops that support the protesters, support the anti-government movement. So, no sign of protesters at this stage. Police however are remaining vigilant. We know that 3,000 officers have been deployed across Hong Kong in anticipation of things that are ramping up here. Natalie, as I say, I mean, last year we witnessed ugly, ugly violent scenes.

The last real clashes that we saw here in Hong Kong were November last year, then it was a low. We had Christmas, and Chinese New Year, and then of course then, the coronavirus hit. But we are expecting things to ramp up, and the government is certainly ramping -- expecting things to ramp up.

The chief executive, Carrie Lam, she posted on Facebook overnight that while the Hong Kong government has done an exceptional job in handling the pandemic, and they have, there's only been over 1,000 cases and four deaths in Hong Kong being on the doorstep of China, that is quite an extraordinary number. And we are also on day five of no cases, but she did say, I worried that Hong Kong may be unable to withstand the resurgence of violence of the continuous devastation caused by politics.

Now, Natalie, protesters anger certainly hasn't gone away. Just last month 15 democracy activists were arrested, including the father of Hong Kong democracy 81-year-old Martin Lee. People are seething, people are furious, but when will they take to the streets? We just do not know. Also, this week, there were dozens of people who staged a flash mob in a high-end shopping center in central. They were singing and chanting anti-government slogans, but police were quickly on the scene declaring it a crime scene, and arresting people for violating those social distancing laws. Which means that people in Hong Kong cannot gather in groups of more than four people.

So, to date, Natalie, I just want to remind viewers of what it is taking place in Hong Kong. 8,000 people have been arrested during these protests, more than 1,200 have been charged. And we have also heard that police have received millions in additional funding, 2.5 thousands new recruits to deal with upcoming protests. The governments, the protesters, the police, everyone is anticipating in the weeks and months ahead we will be seeing ugly and violent scenes return to the streets of Hong Kong. Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. And police seem ready to bear down on them. Anna Coren, in Hong Kong, Anna, thank you so much for your reporting.

Lebanon is asking for help from the International Monetary Fund, describing its economy as free falling. The coronavirus pandemic has only exposed and worsen decades of deep rooted corruption and appalling governance. As CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports, the economic problems are fueling unrest and violence.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The streets of Lebanon's second city are transformed into a battle zone at night. Protesters lobbying petrol bombs at the military, undeterred by the tear gas and rubber bullets as they defy the nighttime coronavirus curfew. Picking up where they left off before the pandemic, an uprising against the ruling establishment and living conditions that have gotten even worse. A currency that has lost more than half of its value, soaring food prices, and rising unemployment.

We are out to demand our rights, the dollar now is 4,000 lira. These young men have no food at home. They cannot afford food, this protester tells us. They chant, revolution.

Daytime brings an uneasy calm to the streets of Tripoli, the country's poorest city. No surprise, it is at the heart of the so-called hunger protests. The unemployed in the hungry gather in Clock Tower Square, there is a lot more than the global pandemic on people's minds here.

If the situation remains like this, there will be escalations, this man says. If your child is hungry, you will eat your rulers to feed your children.

The nearly two-month coronavirus lockdown, hidden economies already on its knees. Staying at home for most here are meant losing their livelihood, their daily wages. Before the pandemic, World Bank projections out the country's poverty rate at 45 percent for this year. Now, the cash struck government says, three quarters of the population needs aid.


Everything has gotten more expensive, the street vendor tells us. We don't know how we are living. When I go to sleep, I pray I never wake up. It is a desperate situation, and Ahmed wants to show us what poverty really means in his city.

Under this centuries old (inaudible), families living, if one can call it that in an underground, rundown structure. Two families, crammed into this. The makeshift kitchen and toilet blend into one. Even this miserable existence comes with $25 a month rent. Ahmed, a taxi driver says he can no longer afford his baby girls formula, it is doubled in price. He doesn't take part in the protests, nothing comes out of them he says. Far from the chaos on the streets, Lebanon's poorest, and most vulnerable, suffer in silence, and out of sight. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN.


ALLEN: Coming up here, business may be booming at Amazon, but one whistleblower accuses the company of not protecting its employees from the coronavirus. He speaks with CNN, next.


ALLEN: Amazon faces a series of allegations from workers around the world about unsafe working conditions amid covid-19. On Friday, some frontline retail workers across the United States say that they will take part in a nationwide strike. It comes as an Amazon whistleblower claims he was fired after raising safety concerns. CNN Suzanne Malveaux has the story.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 31-year-old Chris Smalls worked his way up the company in Amazon Staten Island warehouse, even becoming an Amazon volunteer, teaching kids how to code. But then, the coronavirus arrived at the facility.

When did you first become concerned when you are working in Amazon?

CHRIS SMALLS, FORMER AMAZON EMPLOYEE: Late February the beginning of March, I noticed that some of my employees around me began to fall ill in a domino effect. It was very alarming for me. So, I decided to raise my concern to my local H.R. department.

MALVEAUX: He said the response he got surprised him.

SMALLS: Their response was, you know, nonchalant. They said that they were following safety guidelines, they understand my concerns, our tables in the cafeteria were still together, and we were still piling on top of each other.

MALVEAUX: Small says, he was urged by supervisors to stay quiet, even after an Amazon employee in the building tested positive for the virus.

SMALLS: They told us, don't tell the employees. Don't tell the employees we don't want to cause a panic.

MALVEAUX: Amazon responded saying, when a covid-19 cases confirmed in one of our buildings, we communicate this news to all individuals who work at that site.

According to Smalls, a couple of weeks later, during his lunch hour, he let a small group of coworkers to leave the building and demand better protection from the coronavirus.

SMALLS: All we wanted to, originally, it was just to have the building closed down and sanitized, that's all we wanted. We would return back to work after that happened. After realizing the entire week that we were just given excuses, and we weren't getting anywhere, that's what force me to mobilize, that walkout I did on March 20 -- March 30th.


MALVEAUX: Smalls was then fired. The single father of three children decided to take on the massive corporation, and hired a top civil rights lawyer.

CK HOFFLER, SMALLS' ATTORNEY: Amazon has to be held accountable for wrongfully terminating Chris Smalls. This is a life or death situation, you cannot play with covid, and it is completely disingenuous of Amazon to take that position.

MALVEAUX: Amazon is fighting back, saying we did not terminate Mr. Small's employment for organizing a 15 percent protest, we terminate his employment for putting the health and safety of others at risk, and violations of his employment. Mr. Smalls received multiple warnings for violating social distancing guidelines. He was also found to have had close contact with a diagnosed associate with a confirmed case of covid-19, and was asked to remain home with pay for 14 days. Despite that instruction, he came on site, further putting the teams at risk.

According to Smalls, that's not true. Small say he was not informed that he was being placed on quarantine until days after his contact with the infected colleague.

SMALLS: The colleague that I sent home, she was allowed to come back to work positive because of their own policies. I was exposed, because that happened.

MALVEAUX: New York States Attorney General has sent a letter to Amazon saying, it may have violated whistleblower protections and safety regulations, and is investigating. Amazon has since ordered temperature check as well as mandatory masks, and Smalls tells me that this walkout will begin at the Staten Island facility and go on to the New York governor's office. He ensures me that mass will be warm, that they will practice social distancing and he wants everyone to know that this movement is not about being insubordinate, or rebellious. He says it is a cry for help to protect workers, as well as everyone's families. Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Let's talk more about it with CNN's Hadas Gold, she joins me now live from London. And good morning to you, Hadas. Amazon has faced allegations like these in the U.S. and Europe. How do they address the concerns during their earnings call?

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Right, Natalie. They have seen these accusations really all across the world actually. In France, Amazon was forced to shut down by a court order after a union made a very similar complaints from what you just heard in Suzanne's report there. Saying, that they needed to do a risk assessment of their warehouses before they can continue selling all of their items.

Now, we did hear quite a strong response from Amazon in their earnings call yesterday. Jeff Bezos started this call by saying, if you are a share owner in Amazon, you may want to take a seat. Now why? Now, while Amazon had, you know, another stunning 75.4 point billion dollars in revenue, they say they are going to spend $4 billion in revenue in by June, all fighting covid just within Amazon.

Now, that money will go towards covid-19 test for its workers, it's going to go though personal protective equipment for its workers, they say for better cleaning, for higher wages, and also beefing up its delivery network, because as we've all seen, if you're trying to order something on the Amazon, often the shipping times have been delayed just because the pure number of people trying to order things.

And actually Amazon has also said that they will spend at least one billion in 2020 further on fighting covid within their warehouses, because they are seeing this pressure, not only from their workers, but as we have seen in France, from court orders coming down. Telling them they have to make some changes.

Now, Amazon has always said that they have proper protection in place. That they do temperature checks, but clearly, we are seeing from these workers further complaints that it was not enough, and today is May Day. We are expecting some walkouts from Amazon workers in the U.S. It is not clear though how these new measures announced yesterday in the earnings call will affect the turnout of those protesters, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. We will wait and see. Thank you so much, Hadas Gold for us in London this morning.

Well, checking the latest market numbers for you here, most markets across Europe are closed for May Day. However, London FTSE is open and starting the day in the red. It is currently down more than 2 percent. U.S. Futures also showing red arrows across the board.

When we come back, cutting your hair in the age of coronavirus, I just got mine. I cut at it really. We take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. Next.



ALLEN: South Korea was hit hard by coronavirus when it first emerged with the spike in case tied to a religious groups in Daegu, yet on Thursday, they reported no new locally transmitted cases. CNN's Ivan Watson takes a look at what they did right.


traffic jams, open mega churches. Not exactly what you would expect in a country that just reported no new local coronavirus infections, and only for imported cases. Yes, this is South Korea, viewed by health experts as one of the few countries that did most things right from the beginning of the disease outbreak to flatten the curve, and save lives.

In the wake of an initial spike in infections in February, largely centered around a religious group in the city of Daegu, the country adopted widespread testing measures, pioneering the drive-through method of diagnosis that allowed for faster testing with less exposure that is now become common around the world. One that I had, the unfortunate pleasure to experience.

Oh, that's really uncomfortable.

After a slight, initial hiccup in supply, and after an apology from the government for that failure, uniformity and mask distribution with mask availability, and affordability, and aggressive contact tracing, social distancing, and quarantine enforcement.

The government mandated that I had to install an app on my phone from the South Korean ministry of health and welfare which forces me to conduct a daily health check, and theoretically, contract me if I don't cooperate.

The U.S. and South Korea both reported their first laboratory confirmed cases of covid-19 on January 20th. Since then, South Korea has reported just under 11,000 cases and only 247 deaths, and next to zero new infections recently. While the U.S. now has a total of more than a million cases and more than 63,000 deaths. With new cases in many states still continuing an upward climb.

A stark contrast between two nations who began the fight to combat the virus at the same time. Even more remarkable, while schools were closed in the public advised to avoid large gatherings, the country held a parliamentary election with the highest turnout in 28 years. And, restaurants and shops have remained open throughout the pandemic. The Korean outbreak has so far proven to be much smaller, and far less deadly than in countries like Spain and Italy, which eventually enforced full lockdown measures to quell the fled of illness that brought their health care systems to the brink of collapse.

Despite what appears to be somewhat of a victory over the spread of the virus, the South Korean Center for Disease Control remains cautious, amid concern for what the future may hold, the president feels pretty relaxed. The golden week holiday, now bringing many South Koreans together, even though government guidelines advise them to celebrate apart. Ivan Watson, CNN.


ALLEN: All right. But let's look at our major issue for this pandemic, and that is our hair. With barbershops and beauty salon still shut down across most of the U.S., people are taking matters into their own hands, and the results, well, they are not always pretty. Here's Jeanne Moos.



JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Forget having a bad hair day, it's a bad hair spring.

ANDERSON COOPER, BREAKING NEWS SHOW HOST: And I gave myself a giant bald spot over here.

MOOS: Gentlemen and ladies, start your engines. Put on your kids lie in bed, but close your eyes, so you don't see them coming at you with a scissors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't go too high with the razors. OK? Why are we going too high, why are you going too high?

MOOS: Even for a neurosurgeon, it's not brain surgery, it's harder. Say hello to uneven ends and a devil horns haircut. Even a long- distance dye job or a buzz cut by a stylist in a hazmat suit are technically off-limits. It's the age of do it yourself, #Coronacuts. Gwen Stefani, and Blake Shelton did it on TV. Paying tribute to Jimmy Fallon.

BLAKE SHELTON, SINGER: I'm literally putting your initials in my head right now Jimmy, I'm not kidding.

MOOS: Celebrity chef Jaime Oliver posted spiky father-son haircuts with his 3-year old, and it's not just celebs, Jennifer Schansberg (ph) took it all off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This might not be for everybody, I literally have always been curious what I look like bald.

MOOS: People say it brings out her eyes. When Star Trek actor Anthony Rapp shaved off all of his hair, fans remarked that the droppings resemble the other worldly creatures notice Tribbles. The singer Pink gave herself a drunk cut.

PINK, SINGER: When I drink, I get really, really brilliant ideas. I can cut her. Look what I had done.

MOOS: Painted herself, and her 8-year-old daughter helped do dad. The kid says daddy now looks crazy.


MOOS: Things may seem like they're going downhill, but at least quarantine hair gives brothers an excuse to exchange digs.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You look like you've been cutting your own hair.

MOOS: Corona cuts not for the faint of heart.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was so liberating. I love -- I can't stop touching my head.

MOOS: New York.


ALLEN: Yes. Good luck with the scissors, all of you. All right. We have some exciting news to share from our own Anderson Cooper. He is now a dad. Anderson welcomed a healthy baby boy, his name, Wyatt Morgan Cooper, on Monday. He is so tiny. Wyatt was Anderson's father's name. He passed away when Anderson was just 10 years old. The announcement came during CNN's coronavirus town hall, Thursday. Cooper said it is important in times of trouble to hold on to moments of joy. That is certainly one. I will be right back with another hour.