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WHO Shows Coronavirus Did Not Originate in Lab; U.S. approves Remdesivir as COVID-19 Treatment; Dozens of U.S. States Begin Reopening as Death Toll Climbs; South Korea Urges Caution on Kim Jong- un Reporting; Spaniards Allowed Outside as Death Rate Slows; Fauci to Appear before Senate Committee; Outbreak Threatens U.S. Food Supply. Aired 2-2:30a ET
Aired May 2, 2020 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Authorized for use, U.S. doctors get the go-ahead to use an experimental drug to treat patients with COVID-19.
We have not seen him for 3 weeks now but North Korea state media has released pictures they claim show Kim Jong-un attending a May Day celebration.
And a chance to bask in the Spanish sun after being kept virtual prisoners as Spaniards get a bit more freedom.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to Studio 7 here at CNN Center in Atlanta. I am Michael Holmes.
HOLMES: Well, new hope and a new warning as the world comes to grips with the new normal because of coronavirus. The U.S. authorizing the drug remdesivir as a COVID-19 treatment in certain cases.
A large study showed it reduced the number of days needed in the hospital by around a third. We will have more on the key trial in just a moment.
All of that as a group of pandemic experts warn that we should just prepare for that feared second wave. The virus could continue to spread for another 18 months to two years.
As President Donald Trump continues to point his finger everywhere, including China, for the virus, the World Health Organization disputes his claim that it might have come from a lab, saying that there is no doubt that the virus is natural in origin.
In Europe, the U.K. says it has met its target of doing 100,000 coronavirus tests per day. And France and Italy say that the rate of new cases and deaths continue to decline. India, meanwhile, says that it is going to extend its nationwide
lockdown for two more weeks, except in areas that have had no new cases over the last three weeks.
More now on that drug, remdesivir. Doctors in the U.S. hope it could be a reliable treatment and do stress, however, what it is not is a cure. Our correspondent Sara Sidner was in Washington state during the first days of the U.S. outbreak. She is there again as doctors hope to break new ground on treating the deadly disease.
DR. FRANCIS RIEDO, EVERGREENHEALTH: It was now everybody that was potentially at risk.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Francis Riedo is an infectious disease specialist on the front line of the war on coronavirus. From the first confirmed COVID-19 death in the U.S., Reno and EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, Washington, are now at the forefront of finding a treatment.
They are taking part in a clinical trial of remdesivir.
RIEDO: This is an intravenous medication that is given for 10 days.
SIDNER (voice-over): After it was administered to the sickest COVID-19 patients, Dr. Reno says it showed real promise. And that was just phase one of the trial.
SIDNER: When you go into a second phase of the trial, what does that mean?
RIEDO: So the second phase is going to use this as the backbone. So every patient will receive remdesivir because the first trial, act one, showed benefit. Shortened the course of illness and almost statistically significantly showed a decrease in mortality.
SIDNER (voice-over): In phase 2, some patients will also get a companion drug called bemcentinib, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. But every COVID-19 patient in the trial will now be treated with remdesivir.
SIDNER: Why is that a big deal?
RIEDO: It's huge. This is the first scientifically proven beneficial drug in terms of treatment of SARS CoV 2.
SIDNER (voice-over): Trials of the drug are happens across 68 sites, more than 1,000 people have taken part. The result: patients recovered 31 percent more quickly with remdesivir, that translates to four fewer days of suffering in the hospital.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Although at 31 percent improvement, it doesn't seem like a knockout punch in percent, it is a very important proof of concept because what it has proven is that a drug can block this virus. SIDNER (voice-over): Remdesivir was originally created as a potential
drug to treat Ebola. Dr. Riedo was also on the front lines of that battle, traveling to Africa. He hopes the drug works this time around.
But before the second trial was done, the president, alongside the CEO of Gilead, who makes the drug, announced the FDA's emergency use authorization for remdesivir.
DANIEL O'DAY, GILEAD: We'll be with the government to learn how best to distribute that within the United States.
SIDNER (voice-over): The FDA acting unusually quickly. For now, the drug is being used only in hospitals on the sickest COVID-19 patients. It is not a cure. Some of the patients treated with the drug still died.
SIDNER (voice-over): But others felt better, faster.
SIDNER: This could be one major tool in the fight against coronavirus.
RIEDO: But it all has to be proven and we all have to do the science, the careful science.
SIDNER: And we should be very clear that this is still only being given to the sickest of patients who are in the hospital. And it is done intravenously. This is not available right now to the wider public.
But with all the trials going on and the testing going on, there is a possibility that, in the future, they can figure out how to use this drug potentially for much milder cases of COVID-19 -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Seattle, Washington.
HOLMES: Despite a promising treatment, experts warn the virus is not going anywhere anytime soon. A new report from a team of pandemic experts suggested COVID-19 will likely continue to spread for another 18 months to two years. One of the authors of that report spoke earlier with our Wolf Blitzer.
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: We know a virus like this is going to continue spreading until it infects enough people that the results in the immunity of those people and does not have anyone else to go find in an easy way.
This has been true for other influenza pandemics. It was seen over the years where once you get to this level it makes it very difficult for the virus to transmit. I think what may surprise people with this was the fact that today we believe only 5 percent to 15 percent of the U.S. population has been infected with this virus.
And think of all of the pain, suffering and death we have had just with that. It's a long way to get 60 percent to 70 percent.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Yes, that's pretty awful when you think about it. Your report does recommend that the U.S. prepare for a worst-case scenario, a second big wave of the coronavirus in the fall and winter.
What can we do to prevent that second big wave, anything?
OSTERHOLM: First of all, we have to acknowledge that this is a coronavirus and it's not an influenza virus. It acts like a flu virus, so we think it may very well be one, where we would have a big second wave.
If you look at all the major influenza pandemics over the last 200 years, they all appeared and there was sporadic to localized outbreaks occurring within the first months. And then the virus goes quiet for reasons we don't understand. Then, four months later, it comes back with a vengeance in the big wave or a peak wave.
So if this follows previous influenza pandemics, this is what we might expect. We also did offer other alternative approaches that said that, if it doesn't do this, what would it do?
Maybe it will just be a bunch of foothill-like bumps where it's a number of places and a number of cases over time or just a slow burn. We don't know. But we certainly have to be prepared for the big peak.
HOLMES: That report goes on to say that a vaccine could help, of course, but not quickly, saying that it is unlikely one will be available until, at the earliest, sometime next year.
HOLMES: Joining me now is Dr. Jennifer Lee, CNN medical analyst, and clinical emergency medicine expert at George Washington University.
Always a pleasure, Doctor, thank you.
With this curve, the U.S. curve was flat in the month of April, nearly 60,000 died. The number doubled in two weeks. Yet the political trend is towards reopening. It's underway in many places.
Do you fear, given the U.S. trend, this is going to mean the second wave is potentially worse?
DR. JENNIFER LEE, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I absolutely do. We are all afraid that we are going to see a second wave. The thing about it is, we haven't seen the first wave resolve yet in the U.S. Just like you said, we are at a plateau state, a high plateau level,
where we are seeing confirmed cases each day between 20,000 and 30,000 newly confirmed cases. Also, high levels of death, very sadly, around 2,000 in the last several days. So we haven't seen this first wave even completely resolved just like it has in other countries.
HOLMES: That is a very good point. The first wave is not done yet. You hit on a number there that leaps out, 2,000 people a day are dying, in many areas the numbers are growing.
Yet it is like some on the political side of things -- I don't know, they are OK with that. Let's open up, let's take the hit. It's like the numbers are not people or something.
Does that kind of attitude anger you as a health care professional?
LEE: It really makes me worried about the numbers of preventable deaths that might be coming towards us, with many states, as you said, the majority reopening in different ways.
The White House COVID Task Force put out clear guidelines to states about when they should reopen. They were very clear criteria.
LEE: There were three, in fact.
One, you should see over 14 days of a decline in the numbers of confirmed cases; second, you should have enough capacity in hospitals to treat patients with COVID without having to ration care; third, you have a robust testing program in place, especially for those at high risk, like health care workers, essential workers.
I don't think any of the states that are reopening have met all of those criteria. In fact, I know that some of the states that are reopening the most aggressively have not. And we are going to see outbreaks as a result.
HOLMES: Georgia being one of them. You hit the big word in that, testing. The thing about testing is that it is nowhere near where it needs to be. Where testing is happening, the number of infected people is stunning.
Without testing, you don't get to do the contact tracing, slowing this thing down. Yet the president, he has downplayed the necessity of testing.
Speak to the importance of it, we don't get ahead of this without widespread testing.
LEE: You are exactly right. I cannot emphasize enough the critical importance of testing. Unfortunately, we are just not where we need to be in the U.S.
We have heard a lot about how we have reached the highest number of total tests, at about 6 million now, higher total numbers of tests than any other nation.
However, that's not the measure we need to look at because we also are the nation that has had the largest outbreak, the most number of deaths. So a measure that we should actually look at instead is the number of tests per confirmed case.
If you look at that number, you start to see the countries that have done a really good job of containing, like Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea, at the high numbers, over 100, 120, or Korea, with 57 per confirmed case.
In the U.S. we are at six. That means you do six tests to find a confirmed case. Actually the U.K. is at four. We know that we are not testing enough people to be able to identify everyone who has the infection, appropriately isolating them so it doesn't spread.
HOLMES: You get this rosy testing line from the White House, that all is well. The president said it's a spectacular job being done. It strikes me, with one notable example, the U.S. Senate is returning this week, there are not enough tests to test the 100 U.S. senators.
So much for plenty of availability; if a senator cannot get a test, where does that leave the rest of us?
How does this happen?
LEE: That is exactly right. It's an indicator right there that there is not wide enough, easy enough, availability of testing. I've experienced same thing in treating my own patients.
There are a couple factors involved. One, there is a whole supply chain behind testing. Not only do you need the test kits but you need every single component in order to do tests.
You need protective equipment for the people doing the tests. You need swabs, the nasal swabs. You need the culture media, the viral culture media. You need the reagent in order to process the test. If at any point, there's a weak link in the supply chain, you can't process the numbers that you need to do.
HOLMES: We'll have to leave it there, unfortunately. Dr. Jennifer Lee, always a pleasure.
LEE: Thanks for having me, Michael.
HOLMES: There have been rumors for weeks that North Korea's Kim Jong- un is in grave danger or even dead. But now, state media has released these photographs, saying that he spoke at a ribbon cutting ceremony, his first public appearance in weeks.
Now this would have been just in time for May Day, also known as International Workers Day. CNN could not independently confirm if these photos are real or when they were taken. Paula Hancocks joining me now, live from Seoul. Paula, what do you make of the photos and what they mean?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael, according to North Korean media, this is the first time that we have had this appearance of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader in 21 days. They do say that it was taken on May Day, on May 1st and they say it was a cutting ribbon ceremony and it was to open a fertilizer plant.
So what we have at this point is just the photos themselves. We are waiting for some images. North Korean TV has just started broadcasting for the day.
Certainly, as far as North Korea media is concerned, this is what happened on Friday. It is not always that they give us a date reference when they are talking about the North Korean leader and what he is doing. But they do at this point.
You can see there from the photo, he appears in fair health and he certainly, if this is in fact from Friday, dispels the rumors that were swirling for weeks since he missed that key date on April 15th, the celebration of his grandfather's birth date, the founder of North Korea. That is really where all of this speculation first started, Michael.
HOLMES: How unusual was an absence like that?
Obviously, what might be necessary now to prove that he is alive and well once and for all?
HANCOCKS: Well, beyond Kim Jong-un holding up a newspaper with today's date and saying that this is today, it is very difficult to say.
We have heard from the South Korean unification ministry, almost admonishing some media for speculating and saying that, all along, they had actually said he believed he was alive and well. There is nothing unusual going on in North Korea and that saying baseless information and caused unnecessary chaos and costs to South Korea.
The fact is, he has gone missing for weeks at a time in the past.
HANCOCKS: And there has been intense international speculation in the past. Frankly, if he has a number of weeks' absence in the future, I would like to think that there would not be this intense speculation.
But the fact that North Korea so secretive, the fact that we know so little about it and the information that comes out of it is so closely guarded, especially when it comes to the health of the North Korean leader, I suspect we may be in the situation again.
From the North Korean perspective, the state media saying this was taken on May 1st. So as far as they are concerned, this is what happened. We obviously do not know the exact date; we can just take the photos at face value. HOLMES: One imagines that he is enjoying the attention that is all
sparked around the world. Paula, good to see you, thanks for that. Paula Hancocks there in Seoul.
Less than two weeks after the worst mass murder in Canada's history, prime minister Justin Trudeau taking firm action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Today, we are closing the market for military grade assault weapons in Canada. We are banning 1,500 models and variants of these firearms by way of regulations.
These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only, to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: That ban covers buying, selling, importing and transporting assault style weapons. In late April, a gunman killed 22 people in the province of Nova Scotia. Some died in fires he set. Police say he had several semiautomatic handguns and at least two semiautomatic rifles.
Witnesses described one of those firearms as a military style assault rifle.
People in Spain are now able to do things they haven't been able to do for weeks; that is, just go outside and walk, exercise. Up next, a live report from one of the countries coronavirus has hit the hardest.
Also when we come back, what the world's largest democracy plans to do just before its lockdown is set to expire. We will be right back.
HOLMES: Spain has had more confirmed coronavirus cases than any country except the U.S. But the rate of infection there is slowing. Al Goodman joining us now from Madrid.
Now Spaniards allowed to go out for a walk, which must bring a lot of relief to a lot of people.
AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Michael, not just for walks but for runs or bike rides, as long as you do it individually. I'm in front of the park here in the capital right in the city center.
And you can see that people are out, some of them are running in the streets because there is so little traffic right now. They have been locked down for seven weeks.
[02:20:00] GOODMAN: This is basically the bulk of the Spanish people, 14 and older. Last week, last Sunday, the kids got out, kids under 14, now they are letting adults out to get some exercise. All part of this gradual opening.
There are staggered hours, so that adults who can do these individual sports and take their walks by themselves in the earliest and latest hours of the day, the people over 70 in the late morning/early evening and the kids now from noon until 7:00.
All of this, part of this gradual phase towards what the government is calling a new normal. Michael.
HOLMES: Bring us up to date on the cases and the trend lines there. I think they just closed their largest field hospital.
Does that mean authorities there are confident the worst is over?
GOODMAN: This is why they are willing to go to this new normal but they are saying it will be done in a phased way and is not necessarily going to happen across the country at the same time. They want to make sure that the health systems in each province of the 50 provinces are able to handle any sort of second wave.
The numbers do speak to opening up Spain here after this terrific onslaught of the coronavirus. So the number of new recoveries and people recovering every day, is outpacing the number of new cases, the death rate is down, new deaths are under 300 per day and had been 900 per day at the height of the crisis.
And this field hospital out at the convention center of Madrid by the airport, was just shut down, treated 4000 patients over six weeks. They are, apparently, holding on to some of the beds in case there is a second wave. Michael.
HOLMES: A lot of people are worried about that second wave. Al Goodman, good to see you in Madrid, thanks.
The Irish government has a 5-phase plan for lifting coronavirus restrictions there. The prime minister, laying out the details on Friday in a national address.
Phase one, starts May 18th, each stage will happen three weeks apart and allow for progressively more interactions and openings of public spaces. The final phase starts August 10th. The plan will only continue so long as the virus states under control, Ireland has reported 21,000 infections, more than 1,200 deaths.
Turning our attention to the U.K., Britain's prime minister is set to deliver a plan next week outlining how his country will start to ease lockdown measures. The U.K. has increased testing over the last week, the goal is lifting restrictions and reopening parts of the economy. CNN's Max Foster with more on that.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: The British government looking ahead to announcing how they are going to ease the lockdown next week, the focus this week has been on testing.
The government is saying that more than 120,000 tests were sent out in just one day. Although, this does not mean that 120,000 people were tested. There is some debate about the numbers there.
But it is a major ramp-up of the exercise, helped by more drive- through testing centers and pop-up centers organized by the military and the establishment of these mega labs around the country, able to process the results.
The next phase is contact tracing, trying to monitor and stop the spread of the virus but for now, Britain is still firmly in lockdown. Some concern as good weather comes is the people may be tempted to break that, particularly as Boris Johnson announced that the U.K. is past the peak of the virus -- Max Foster, CNN, Windsor, England.
HOLMES: All right, we are taking a short break here on the program, when we come back, the U.S. accusing China of letting coronavirus spread while China is blaming the U.S. of shifting blame. The war of words has gone up a notch, we will fill you in.
HOLMES: Welcome back.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House Coronavirus Task Force is to testify before a committee in the Republican-led Senate on May 12th. That is what an aide to the committee chairman is telling CNN.
But earlier we learned the White House is blocking Fauci from testifying next week before a committee in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. U.S. lawmakers are gearing up for an oversight battle.
Fauci, of course, a key figure. He has repeatedly distanced himself from how the Trump administration has been framing the response to this pandemic.
The White House has been blaming a lot of things for the virus spread; in particular, China, even pushing the theory that it all started in a lab in Wuhan. But Chinese officials are pushing back and accusing the Trump administration of trying to deflect blame for its own handling of the pandemic, as CNN's David Culver reports.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chinese state-run media now ramping up its propaganda against the United States, taking direct aim at secretary of state Mike Pompeo.
This week, a near daily CCTV commentary attacks Pompeo for calling out China's mishandling of the coronavirus. One saying, he is turning himself to be the enemy of humankind by spreading a political virus.
On Thursday, the peoples daily, the official newspaper for China's Communist Party, ran an editorial saying that Pompeo's rhetoric makes the U.S. look like it is dealing with a colossal moral deficit. Government controlled Xinhua tweeted an animation further mocking the U.S' blaming of China and portraying it as hypocritical.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you listening to yourselves?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are always correct, even though we contradict ourselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CULVER (voice-over): In the shadows of the coronavirus outbreak, the war of words is creating a deepening rift between the U.S. and China.
TRUMP: China is a very sophisticated country and they could've contained it, they were either unable to or they chose not to. And the world is suffering greatly.
CULVER (voice-over): It is a change from Donald Trump's more sympathetic tone, expressed repeatedly over the past few months.
TRUMP: Look, I know President Xi loves the people of China, he loves this country and he is doing a very good job with a very, very tough situation.
CULVER (voice-over): While still not directly criticizing President Xi Jinping, President Trump is increasingly criticizing China for the virus' devastating and deadly spread, echoing secretary of state Mike Pompeo's hardline stance.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We know it started in Wuhan, China, we don't know from where it started. And in spite of our best efforts to get experts on the ground, they continue to hide and obfuscate. That is wrong and it poses a threat to the world. This is classic Communist disinformation. This is what Communists do.
CULVER (voice-over): The White House now further pushing the origin theory that the virus started in a Wuhan laboratory. Last week, CNN returned to Wuhan post lockdown, traveled to the lab in question, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
We captured a few images from the exterior of the gated campus. Chinese officials dismiss allegations that it started here. In a statement Thursday from the U.S. office of the acting Director of National Intelligence, said that it concluded the coronavirus was not manmade or genetically modified but noted it was still evaluating theories linking to the outbreak to the lab.
CNN's early reporting of this revealed that China's covering up and silencing of whistleblowers. Our reports put into question China's official number of cases, which have been revised repeatedly and is widely believed to be vastly under reported. CULVER: However, China believes that the U.S. and the Trump administration in particular is trying to deflect for its lack of preparedness in battling this virus in the United States.
Until you have this heated rhetoric, this increased blame and the world's two largest economies no longer looking at international collaboration but rather, in the midst of this animosity filled face off -- David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.
HOLMES: Thousands of workers at food processing plants across the U.S. have tested positive for coronavirus.
How do you keep workers in these places safe while also preventing a food shortage?
We will discuss when we come back.
HOLMES: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Michael Holmes.
Smithfield and Tyson Foods in the U.S. each say they will reopen one of their pork processing plants in the midwestern U.S. with limited production. This comes after President Trump this week ordered plants to remain open to prevent a meat supply shortage.
The plants are also protected if the employees get the virus at work and sue, they will not be allowed to. Business anchor Julia Chatterley explains why this is a complicated situation for all concerned.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: There are two things going on here. Our changing consumption habits, we buy more, because we're cooking more home and eating less at restaurants, which matters for packaging and processing.
But the processing aspect of this is huge. The latest weekly data from the Department of Agriculture sees beef production is down by a quarter, pork production is down by 15 percent, compared to the same time last year.
This is huge. This is way more than a blip. The truth here is the government should have stepped in earlier, should have protected the farmers, too, because we might see prices rising for consumers, farm, cattle prices are falling because they have nothing to do or don't know where to put the cattle because the processors can't take it here.
Now the government is responsible for workers and is responsible for safety in particular and ensuring food supply.
HOLMES: Julia Chatterley there.
Now the CDC is reporting that nearly 5,000 workers at meat and poultry processing facilities in the U.S. have contracted the coronavirus. That is only the ones that have been tested. CNN Miguel Marquez is at one of the hardest hit plants and has this report.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dakota City, Nebraska, just across the state line from Sioux City, Iowa, Tyson's beef processing plant there. Massive, one of the country's largest, 4,300 employees.
The person I'm speaking to is one of them.
When you hear the number of people getting sick every day, they say, you just wait your turn.
Out of fear for losing their job, we are not identifying this person who said it was clear something was wrong at the plant for weeks.
(on camera): How many have gone missing in the last several weeks?
(voice-over): Three, four or 500 they say.
Tyson has now tested everyone at the plant, but this person says the company could have done more earlier.
(on camera): They only started giving you masks a couple of weeks ago. Only masks. Yes.
No other protective gear?
(voice-over): No gloves, no face shields, no gowns they say.
(on camera): So well into the crisis over COVID-19, this was the only protection offered to employees at the plant in Dakota City. It is something that we also heard from officials at another Tyson plant in Waterloo.
SHERIFF TONY THOMPSON, BLACK HAWK COUNTY, IOWA: We walked out of that plant knowing that we had an enormous problem.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson and health department officials inspected Tyson's Waterloo, Iowa, plant on April 10th.
THOMPSON: A third of the staff was wearing masks at that point, some of them had masks but they were dangling around their necks.
MARQUEZ: Thompson says his county is in a full-on health crisis. Black Hawk County has more confirmed COVID-19 cases than any other county in the state.
THOMPSON: Our front line of defense is all kind of fallen back now to the E.R. front doors, to the long-term care facility front doors to my jail front door.
MARQUEZ: And now concerns about reopening parts of the state to regular business and forcing meat packing plants back to work too hastily.
THOMPSON: President Trump does this Defense Production Act telling the Tyson plant they got to open back up. I don't know what that is supposed to say to the citizens here that have contracted the disease or the citizens here that are at twice the risk of catching the virus than anywhere else.
MARQUEZ: And that Tyson employee in Nebraska also has a message for the President.
I just want him to know, they say, we are human and we have families that care about us and we care about them, too.
MARQUEZ: A spokesperson for Tyson says that they did have trouble sourcing masks and protective gear early on, even chartering a plane at one point to fly overseas to pick up protective gear but the company does have 140,000 employees.
With regard to the president and is ordered to reopen these plants, always be first and to that point, we did speak to a union representative and a health department official in Waterloo, they believe Tyson now understands what is at stake here and what needs to be done. The company will do everything it can to avoid further infections -- back to you.
HOLMES: Miguel Marquez there.
Joining us now for more on the impact on the virus on our food supply, Maximo Torero is the chief economist at the food and agricultural organization at the United Nations.
Great to have you on. When we talk about the so-called farm to fork system, you see these meatpacking plants hugely impacted, despite being ordered to stay open and farmers dumping produce. We see this around the world. In general, how fragile or exposed to potential failure is the system?
MAXIMO TORERO, UNITED NATIONS: Thank you very much, it's a pleasure to be here.
The system has shown some problems. What is important today is that in most of the world, staples such as corn, wheat and rice, are being courted as resources, people are operating now properly, even the last restrictions are important there and they've never been relieved. So the prices will start to fall.
But what is occurring, is mostly the high value fruit vegetables and meats. In most areas, we have to make problems. One, labor, they are laboring differently to those people and the labor has been restricted because of the lockdown.
But also it has been restricted because of produce. And secondly, it is more difficult for them to maintain quality and relay transportation. Depending on what is happening, our position was to reopen and to keep the health issues.
What we are observing in the meat sector in the U.S. is because of significant numbers of people testing positive, which creates a problem. It is OK to open them but you have to be very careful in wearing masks and using gloves to protect employees in every sector and you need to use something extra.
HOLMES: What has coronavirus exposed about the current global food chain system that needs to change in a post COVID world?
TORERO: It has shown that it is a vulnerable to these kinds of difficult issues. Especially, when we look to a specific plant with high value food commodities, we see that people are working too closely to each other.
What needs to change now, is we need to have physical distance. It is also shown a crucial part of the transportation, specifically in the high value ends such as top meat and fish. They almost through cargo and the airport in the airline. It helps to understand what our vulnerabilities are and to talk about how to prevent this from happening again.
HOLMES: In the U.S., some of the issues, they might be inconvenient or some things may run out at grocery stores but in other countries is it is more critical.
It is alarmist to talk about potential hunger or social upheaval over food, are those things possible?
TORERO: Of course. What is important to understand is that it is not currently a problem with food availability, as you've seen that local food is still coming together but the worry is about food active.
We are worried for the next 12 months or even more is a significant recession. This means the capacity of the households and family incomes, of being able to procure their food. It's more of food access.
It is talking about those who have been significantly hampered and there are many countries in Africa like Nigeria, Chad, Libya, who are focused on exports, which are being significantly risky reduced because of this.
So those countries go into recession. And the revenue that a continent like Africa produces is significant. These are continents who are dependent on food and they need the revenue.
If you look at the -- most countries spend more on tourism, which depends on land, which depends on physical land. So they are facing the worst and these are the countries where we are concerned that there could be an increase of hunger and situations related to hunger.
HOLMES: Maximo Torero, thanks for coming on, it's an important issue, thank you.
TORERO: A pleasure.
HOLMES: An augmented reality company in China has join the fight against coronavirus, it has developed goggles that use an infrared camera to detect the body temperature of people up to 3 meters away so people responsible for spotting fevers and potential coronavirus infections can do their jobs hands free.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Compared to a thermometer, it is more convenient and safer. We can keep a safe distance.
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HOLMES: The company is developing an enhanced version that can take the temperatures of several people at once for busy places like airports and shopping centers.
Finally, even in the pandemic, we are pretty sure it is going to be a special Saturday for a special girl in Great Britain.
Princess Charlotte turns 5. To mark the occasion, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, better known as William and Kate, released new photos of Charlotte that shows her helping to deliver meals to those in need, along with her parents and brothers, Prince George and Prince Louis. By the way, the photographer was the duchess herself.
Thanks for watching everyone, I'm Michael Holmes, "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" is next. I will see you in about 20 minutes with more news.