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Gas Leak In India Kills Six People, Hospitalizes 200; U.K. Records Worst Death Toll In Europe; Uber's Rival Lyft Has Announced 17 percent Staff Cut; Gas Leak at Indian Chemical Plant Kills at Least 11; In the U.S., More Than 1.2 Million Cases; Trump Reverses Course, Says Fauci and Birx Will Continue on WH Coronavirus Task Force; The Wuhan Lab at the Center of the U.S.-China Blame Game; New Zealand PM Outlines Next Stage of Eased Lockdown Restrictions. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired May 7, 2020 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Anna Coren.
Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, India's gas leak, hundreds of people in the country's south have become sick from a chemical plant leak. We will have the latest from the region.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are just at the beginning of this pandemic and must focus on the future. There is only one enemy here, a dangerous microbe. It is us against them. Humans against the virus.
COREN (voice-over): A dire warning, the former head of the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention sounded the alarm on where the coronavirus death toll is likely headed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN (voice-over): And war of words, tensions between the U.S. and China continue to rise as theories on how the coronavirus originated are pushed by both nations.
COREN: We begin with breaking news out of southern India, where a gas leak has killed at least five people; 150 others are hospitalized and thousands more could be affected.
This happened at a chemical plant near a village in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Residents are being warned to stay indoors and keep in mind India is under the world's largest lockdown due to the coronavirus.
CNN's Vedika Sud is covering this live from New Delhi.
What is the latest?
VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: What we do have that numbers will rise unfortunately. About 2:30 to 3:30 in between that time there was an alert that was sounded off to the police where this incident has taken place.
That is when the police rushed to the spot; along with loudspeakers, they alerted the villagers in the area as well. We were told about 3,000 residents in that area who were alerted about 3:30 to 4 in the morning about this gas leak.
Remember, India is undergoing its third lockdown phase but there has been ease in restrictions as well because of which this chemical plant was about to restart work and that is when the gas leak happened.
When it happened, about 1,000 people in and around the area were immediately affected. Officials are telling us that, when they got to the spot, they saw a lot of people who had fallen to the ground, they were unconscious because of inhaling this toxic gas.
One of the toxic gases is called styrene. We know it is a toxic gas and, when you inhale it, it leads to respiratory issues, because of which a lot of people in the area, according to officials, they were complaining of breathlessness and were rushed to hospital.
Figures are as going up as I speak, we are told about 200 people have been rushed to the hospital over the early hours of the morning, to which 100 remain serious condition. That is the latest.
We do have for you also, we can tell you at this point the national disaster relief force of India is on the spot. The gas leak is under control. That is the good news. But it's already having its impact.
COREN: Gas leaks, obviously, are a highly sensitive issue in India following the tragedy back in 1984. One of the world's worst industrial disasters which claimed thousands of lives. So as you say, Indians waking up to the news, I mean, this must have been truly frightening.
SUD: Absolutely frightening. The prime minister has also tweeted over this. He has promised that he is monitoring the situation and so was chief minister. He has also reached out to the home ministry of India to make sure the situation is very closely monitored.
Hospitals are also taking in these patients as I speak with you. The death toll, like I said, could go up. We are also trying to find out more details about this chemical plant and we have more details on it. A statement also hopefully should come out. We are trying to reach out to this chemical plant for that statement.
As I said, thousands of people have been infected. Also, thousands are going to be evacuated. That's the figure we had. About 1,000 people were taken to hospital, out of which 100 remain critical. Also, there have been a lot of complaints about eye burns and skin rashes that have been reported due to the inhaling of this toxic gas that we have been speaking about, Anna.
COREN: Vedika Sud, obviously keeping across the story and you will bring us updates throughout the day. Many thanks.
COREN: Well, upwards of 73,000 Americans now dead from the coronavirus, more than a quarter of the world's fatalities. And yet, a growing number of U.S. states are moving forward with plans to reopen. At least 43 rolling back restrictions on retail shops and restaurants.
The former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is predicting the U.S. death toll will hit 100,000 this year, calling it just the beginning. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say at least 19 states are seeing an upward trend in cases over the past two weeks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: To the best of your knowledge, is there a single state that has met the necessary parameters to ease restrictions?
CAITLIN RIVERS, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: There are four criteria that state should meet in order to safely reopen and not all states have adopted these criteria but I will review them just as a starting point.
The first, it's to see the number of new cases decline for at least two weeks. Some states have met the criteria. But there are three other criteria and we suggest they should all be met.
The other is enough public health capacity to conduct contact tracing on all new cases and of diagnostic testing to test everybody with COVID-like symptoms, not just those people severe illness, and enough health care system capacity to treat everyone safely. To my knowledge, there are no states that meet all four of those criteria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: The second biggest city in the U.S., Los Angeles, is opening parks, trails and golf courses this weekend. Florists, clothing, music and bookstores will be among those allowed to offer curbside pickup and car dealers can open as well. With a look at the day's other headlines, here's CNN's Nick Watt.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The New York City subway closed overnight, first time in over 100 years. To clean the cars.
ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK GOVERNOR: We have turned the corner and we're on the decline. You take New York out of the national numbers. The numbers for the rest of the nation are going up. What we're doing here shows results.
WATT: Across the country as a whole, the new case count is not falling, hovering somewhere over 20,000 every single day.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: I think that we need to understand, this may be the new normal. We may not be able to get transmission down much more. I hope we can.
WATT: But many places reopening anyway. Hot spots now growing in cities like Dallas. Some more rural flare-ups too like those in Nebraska and Minnesota. But better testing might just play into all of this.
DAVE KLEIS, ST. CLOUD, MINNESOTA MAYOR: I don't think there's anyone that didn't know there were more cases out there, they just weren't known because the testing was so low.
WATT: A former CDC director told lawmakers today that the U.S. death toll will exceed 100,000.
GOTTLIEB: As bad as this has been, it's just the beginning.
WATT: Airlines now hoping we'll get back in the air. Average passengers per plane is up to 23 from just 17 last week. All but these seven states are now taking steps to get back in business. On Monday restaurants could open in Florida. On Tuesday cops in Jacksonville had to break up a tailgate party at a taco stand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The risk of the coronavirus is a scam.
WATT: One company working on creating therapeutics using blood from the recovered now says it might have something on the market by the end of the summer. DR. GEORGE YANCOPOULOS, REGENERON: We can clone the best of the
antibodies from recovered humans. We've selected the best ones to create an antibody cocktail we call it.
WATT: And who is this coronavirus infecting? Well, around 90 percent of positives in San Francisco's Mission District are people unable to work from home according to a new study -- 95 percent of them Latinx. Another new study finds that black Americans are 13.4 percent of the population. But counties with higher black populations are home to nearly 60 percent of all COVID-19 deaths
LORI LIGHTFOOT, CHICAGO MAYOR: We're still seeing a disproportionate number of black Chicago as people who are dying as a result of COVID- 19.
WATT (on camera): And some good news for the 10 million people of Los Angeles county, stuff will start reopening Friday starting with some trails, golf courses and some nonessential businesses we're told. Florists and car dealerships among the first wave. But we are being warned that this process will be very slow and no beaches, not yet -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.
COREN: Dr. Jennifer Lee is a CNN medical analyst and a clinical associate professor at George Washington University. She joins us now from Washington.
Dr. Lee, great to have you with us.
COREN: All the states across America are reopening despite not meeting the White House Coronavirus Task Force guidelines. You must be extremely concerned what is taking place in your country right now.
DR. JENNIFER LEE, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: And I am really worried. It's interesting that we have these two trends happening that are moving in different directions, so on the one hand, we really see the overall situation, perhaps with the exception of New York, getting worse.
Just today, we had over 2,600 deaths, an extraordinarily high number and yesterday we had over 2,400 deaths and projections are that the number of daily deaths will increase to about 3,000 by June 1st, which is like having equivalent of the death toll of a 9/11 attack every single day in the month of June.
Overall estimates are that we will go over 140,000 deaths in the United States by August, which is higher than we had talked about and heard from these estimates just several weeks ago.
So the overall picture is getting worse and yet, more and more states have relaxed or are planning to relax restrictions by this weekend, about 43 states, the vast majority of states are doing that despite not having met the criteria that the national task force had set forward for states to meet before they do that.
You know, I think part of what is happening is the decisions are being influenced by a lot of social and political pressure. Unemployment has risen dramatically here in the United States. And I think that's a little bit different than what has happened in many countries in Europe, for instance.
We have an unemployment rate that we think could be as high as 15 percent now, when it was 3 percent to 4 percent just a few months ago. People are becoming really, you know, desperate and feeling a lot of economic pressure.
The stimulus bills that have passed, unfortunately, have not relieved that enough to help households and so there is tremendous pressure on governors and mayors to reopen and quickly.
COREN: You mentioned pressure, the financial hardship the people are currently suffering; hence, everyone wants to get back to work, they want to get these economies going again. But if they reopen too soon, which really is what is happening, it could send the states right back to where they were a few months ago.
LEE: That's exactly right. I mean, I understand the economic pressure but we are talking about life and death. We are talking about preventable deaths and losing all of the gains that we have made in the last few weeks with the sacrifice of social distancing and staying at home and not living life as normal. And I'm afraid that what many states will experience is what happened
to the prefecture of Hokkaido in Japan, where they were able to contain a primary outbreak early by closing things down and thought that things were -- seemed like things were in good shape because they had very low numbers of cases. Actually, much better than many of the states here that are reopening.
Then they reopened and, just three weeks later, they had to close down again and that is what I'm afraid will happen, where we will lose all the gains that we have made and, unfortunately, have a lot more infections and a lot more death.
COREN: President Trump, who yesterday said the task force, the Coronavirus Task Force, was going to be wound down, it is now been back up, indefinitely. He has said that he wants schools to reopen. Now this is despite two new studies coming out, offering evidence that children can transmit the virus.
What are your thoughts on this?
LEE: Well, I don't see how these messages are consistent with the guidelines that his own task force put out. And I'm really relieved that the task force will continue to exist. A lot of us were quite panicked when we heard that.
I think dissolving the task force now would be exactly the wrong thing to do because we still need a federal hub, one command and control center, that we can look to for information, for guidance, for direction as, unfortunately, that we will see these regional outbreaks.
And what will we do?
We need to have some more national direction. I think it's interesting when you look at what is happening in Germany, where Angela Merkel has put out very clear criteria.
LEE: That if any region experiences a spike in infections -- and I think she said if I see infections that are over, you know, 50 out of 100,000, then I need to see a plan from that region for how we are going to close back down or get a handle on this.
That is why you need that kind of instruction and oversight. It's why you need a federal proactive guidance and we need that task force to exist. So relieved it's still going to be there but we need more proactive guidance from the federal government.
COREN: Dr. Jennifer Lee, thanks for joining us.
LEE: Thank you for having me, Anna.
Join us for our next global town hall on the coronavirus hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, with guests including director Spike Lee and former U.S. vice president Al Gore. The U.S. secretary of state is again pushing an unproven theory, the
coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab. Mike Pompeo admits the U.S. can't be sure the theory is true but he insists there is enough evidence to support it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I've seen evidence that this likely came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Happy to see other evidence that disproves that, we should get to the bottom of it. It's why we have been asking for months now to give Westerners access to this information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: China denies the virus originated in this lab and says Pompeo has failed to provide any proof. The foreign ministry is now telling Washington to focus on its own problems.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We want to urge the U.S. side once again to stop spreading false information stop misleading the international community, take a good look at its domestic problems and trying to find out ways to control the pandemic and its country as soon as possible, rather than continue to play the blame game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Let's go live to Beijing and Steve and CNN's Steven Jiang.
Steven, this rift is deepening.
I mean, where is it going to end?
STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: Anna, no one knows for sure at this point but I think one thing is sure that this is not ending anytime soon in terms of this daily-for-tat muscling between the two governments. You have heard Mike Pompeo doubling down on his claim this virus may still have come from the Wuhan lab.
The same Chinese government spokeswoman we just saw, on Wednesday challenged him to present evidence and she said he cannot because he has none.
The strategy from Beijing is to really sow doubt a division among governments and people around the world on this issue because they are seeing these assertions or Mr. Pompeo and for Mr. Trump as well on the origin of the virus, increasingly at odds with their own intelligence community as well as intelligence sharing partners.
We have heard government officials and sources as well as experts and scientists from the U.S. and other Western countries basically saying this is not a very plausible scenario. So Beijing authorities are trying to isolate the United States on a global stage instead of being isolated themselves. You know, when she was asked about Mr. Trump's effort to rally U.S.
allies to blame China, the same government spokeswoman said the choice facing these countries is not between the U.S. and China but, instead, it's between lies and facts as well as between bullying and cooperation.
She then pointed out two reports from the U.S. and Europe about first coronaviruses in these places may have occurred earlier than thought, really painting China as the first victim of this virus, whose origin is very much unknown or possibly with multiple origins.
So I think this kind of rhetoric, this kind of tactic, Anna, we are increasingly going to see because we are going to see the government here is just determined not to be blamed for causing this global pandemic. Anna.
COREN: Steven, the consensus among medical experts is that the virus started in a wildlife wet market and Wuhan. Chinese authorities initially locked down its wet markets across the country.
What is their status?
Are they trading again?
JIANG: We understand that most of these markets have reopened nationwide but the government here actually has taken issue with the name wet market and its connotations saying this is mislabeling. This is perpetuation of stereotypes or even part of a Western smear campaign against China because the government says the so-called wet markets are not unlike farmers' markets in the U.S. and other Western countries, where you have grocers, butchers to sell fresh produce and products to meet consumer demands.
Most of these markets have never sold wild animals to begin with.
But that is the key here, right?
The worry from the scientists and from experts has long been the proximity between humans and wild animals in unhygienic conditions in these markets.
JIANG: Which could easily make viruses of all kinds jump from species to humans. So this is what the government is saying, that is now they are cracking down on legal wild animal trade, especially on top of their temporary ban of wildlife trade ban after the outbreak.
They are also revising their wildlife protection laws as well as issuing a new livestock list, which will specify what kind of animals can be farmed for their meat. All of these decisions and moves, according to the government, is in the right direction to address both domestic and international concerns.
COREN: There's definitely distinction between wet markets and wildlife. Steven Jiang, great to see you. Many thanks for the update. Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, New Zealand's new steps forward, prime minister
Jacinda Ardern's next plan, new plan, that's next.
COREN: Welcome back.
New Zealand's prime minister has outlined the next steps in relaxing there coronavirus restrictions. At a news conference earlier Jacinda Ardern, referring to our country as a team of 5 million, said they can be proud of what they have achieved as they look to move from level 3 to level 2 of their COVID-19 alert system.
Kristie Lu Stout joins us now.
And Kristie, as we know, New Zealand has been aggressive in the way that they have tackled coronavirus and, obviously, will shortly be reaping the rewards.
What will the easing of these restrictions look like?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: It has been a very aggressive timetable for New Zealand; in less than five weeks this nation has moved from a full lockdown to a cautious reopening under a level 3 alert.
Earlier today we heard from the New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern and she laid out a detailed roadmap of what is going to happen next. We don't know exactly when. But pretty soon, perhaps at least as early as next week, a level 3 lockdown alert in place could be downgraded to a level 2.
What would that look like?
This is what she revealed. Schools would reopen, as well as childcare facilities, playgrounds, gyms, public pools will reopen as well. Public venues like restaurants, museums, cafes, stores. They will reopen but only as long as there is strict physical distancing guidelines in place.
STOUT: We also learned that social gatherings of up to 100 people would be allowed under this new alert system, provided that contact tracing capabilities are available. Let's hear more from Jacinda Ardern about why this decision was made and the playing it safe approach it's taking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: It is very unlikely that we have hunted down every single case of COVID-19. If stray cases start new chains of transmission, we might not find them for a month. So we all have to stay on guard. Level 2 has been designed to get as
many people back to work as possible and the economy back up and running but in the safest way possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: That last line from prime minister Jacinda Ardern, very critical, they want to get the economy back up and running but as safe as possible. We learned that when it downgrades to a level 2 alert, domestic travel will be lifting some restrictions there.
But there will continue to be a ban of overseas international visitors from entering the country. You know that New Zealand is so dependent on tourism, its economy will continue to take a hit. The cabinet in New Zealand will be on Monday about when the new alert system will be put into place -- Anna.
COREN: I guess the huge challenge ahead for New Zealand is when it finally reopens its borders. That's going to be the next challenge. Kristie Lu Stout, great to see you as always. Many thanks.
Germany's chancellor says the first phase of the pandemic there is over. Angela Merkel announced the plan on Wednesday to ease lockdown restrictions. Shops can reopen with more hygiene safeguards. Germans may meet with members of one other household and everyone must practice social distancing and wear masks in public.
The country's top football league will resume play in the middle of the month. But Ms. Merkel said restrictions will return if an area reports more than 50 new infections per 1,000 residents within 7 days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): We have very good developments regarding the new infection rate figures and these have made it possible to take further steps. We have to be careful that we don't lose control of the situation and that is why I have a good feeling about this emergency mechanism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Chancellor Merkel said Germany can afford to be a bit bold but must remain cautious.
Brazil has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Latin America, with a shocking 10,000 new infections in just 24 hours; 8,500 people have died there and the president is facing harsh criticism for his handling of the pandemic.
He has repeatedly attended large political rallies and called for an end to quarantine measures in the country.
Face masks, not touching doors or elevator buttons; we have picked up a lot of new habits during this pandemic. There are others, more surprising practices that might stick around for good.
Plus, for weeks, London has seemed frozen in time but now the city could get moving again as early as next week. More details ahead.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: An update on our breaking news out of southern India. Six people are now confirmed dead from a gas leak and 200 others are hospitalized, hundreds more have been evacuated. Well, this happened at a chemical plant near a village in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Police say rescue operations are over and the guest lake is now under control.
The Novel Coronavirus has now killed more than 263,000 people around the world according to Johns Hopkins University. With a daily barrage of numbers, sometimes it's hard to keep that grim toll in perspective. So imagine London's Wembley Stadium packed to capacity, now double that, and add in a completely full bird's nest the National Stadium in Beijing will still a few thousand short. More than one in four of those killed by the virus live in the United States.
We've been picking up new habits during this pandemic to try to keep those numbers down as much as possible. So which habits might stick around once it's over? Some of them might surprise you. CNN's Brian Todd explains what our new reality might look like.
BRIAN TODD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At a hair salon in Germany, customers and stylists wear masks. A stylist carefully clips around a man's mask strap. At a bakery and Houston, masks are worn on both sides of the counter, hand sanitizer is right there by the touchscreen.
America's top health experts are saying after the worst of this pandemic has passed, many of these practices may well stay with us.
TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CDC: When we go out, it's not going to be back to normal. It's going to be to a new normal with hand sanitizer and perhaps face masks were spreading widely and no-touch doors and no-touch elevator buttons and lots of ways to engineer risk out of our lives.
TODD: Public health experts hope people keep wearing face masks in public after this and the next waves of coronavirus pass, at least for several months, much like millions of people in Asia did for years after the SARS outbreak passed in the early 2000. And experts say Americans can get used to them.
ALEXANDRA PHELAN, GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERT, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: It is possible that as people get more comfortable wearing masks here in the United States that we will see that acceptance and that we'll see people feel more comfortable wearing masks in the future particularly during flu seasons.
TODD: Top positions say it's important to remember what masks are used for, usually not to prevent you from getting COVID-19, but to prevent you from transmitting it to others if you're infected.
PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Just through the act of speaking, you're actually shedding virus into the environment. And that mask keeps those virus particles from spreading out -- spreading any appreciable distance. So you greatly reduce the likelihood that you're going to spread virus at your place of work, or if you're at a restaurant.
TODD: Masks have become so critical that cottage industries have popped up to get them in circulation. And sports gear manufacturers and clothing lines like Brooks Brothers and Gap have pivoted to mask making. But many are still resisting mask-wearing and flouting distancing guidelines like at this Cinco de Mayo gathering in Jacksonville.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, six feet means different things to many people.
TODD: But health officials say distancing has to be part of the new normal. And as for handshakes, America's leading voice in this pandemic says, never again.
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: As a society, just forget about shaking hands. We don't need to shake hands. We got to break -- we've got to break that custom.
TODD: And one expert says there are practices we haven't thought about during this pandemic that we should get ready to adopt.
HOTEZ: We're finding people who've been in places where there's a lot of virus around, like in hospitals, have significant amount of virus on their shoes. So possibly taking off our shoes when we walk in houses. That may become kind of a new normal.
TODD: Dr. Peter Hotez says another part of the new normal may very well be that we get used to hearing from our top scientists more and more, maybe even looking to them more than our elected leaders. He says, for decades, scientists have been largely invisible. But now and going forward, they may very well become some of our most popular public voices. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
COREN: After just passing Italy for the highest death toll in Europe, the United Kingdom could begin easing its stay at home measures as early as Monday. Well, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs the government will review the latest data and announced formal recommendations on Sunday.
According to the telegraph, Mr. Johnson will also encourage people to return to work if they can do so safely. This all comes as he continues to warn us a possible second wave.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Will be working with the opposition with unions, with business, to make sure that we get the unlock down plan completely right. And you know, what he says is absolute common sense. It would be an economic disaster for this country if we were to pursue a relaxation of these measures now in such a way as to trigger a second spike.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Well, the U.K. has reported more than 202,000 cases in over 30,000 deaths, according to John Hopkins University. CNN's Isa Soares joins us live from London. And Isa, the Prime Minister obviously telling the public to prepare for a different type of normal after six weeks in locked down. Is Britain prepared?
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think if you look at some of the main papers this morning, some of which are going with magic Monday, many people feeling very restless have almost seven weeks at home under lockdown, and many people are celebrating this.
But it's important here to point out, Anna, this is not going to be a full unlock. These are going to be baby steps, given the precarious situation that you just pointed out that the U.K. is in topping the 30,000 mark more deaths in the U.K. rather than anyone else in -- than any other country in Europe.
So what we are hearing is the prime minister will speak to the nation on Sunday in a televised speech, and he will tell the nation that there's some measures will be eased. Now, I think the expectation -- I think the expectation of people in the U.K. that the lockdown will still be in place, but perhaps even according to media reports, what they're saying here in the U.K., is that people have longer to go outside to do exercise rather than just the one hour they have right now.
Construction workers will be able to work because they can keep the social distancing. They're outdoors, which is also a good thing. And school have been told, may start thinking about phasing in returning pupils in June. When we're talking about restaurants, we're talking about bars, that is still closed. This might be for phase three of what Boris Johnson has been outlined.
But the plan is so far as that the lockdown will stay in place is somewhat, and the government, according to British media reports here, they will do away with the slogan of stay at home. If you remember slogan, stay at home, protect NHS, save lives.
So people, euphoric some of them, if you look -- if you go by the pope and morning newspapers of whatever happening. But I think people need to take with those expectations because I think it's just going to be baby steps at this stage, Anna.
COREN: Isa, Britain's response to the coronavirus has been labeled by some as the biggest failure in a generation. Is that anger palpable? I know you speak of the excitement, but can you also sense that that anger or is everyone just trying to deal with this crisis and recriminations will come later?
SOARES: It really depends who you ask, Anna. I think you're starting to see -- at least you started to see in the last two weeks heavy criticism here of the handling of this crisis. Many will say the government has been complacent, others say the government has grossly underestimated the gravity of the crisis right from the get-go.
If you listen to Keir Starmer yesterday who was the leader of opposition speaking of Prime Minister's questions, and really probing the Prime Minister quite harshly yesterday, he basically said that the Prime Minister had been slow to act every stage of the crisis. I'm going to quote him. "Slow into lockdown, slow in testing, and slow on protective equipment."
So many people, you know, feeling the same way what how the Prime Minister and his government has acted, especially when it comes to testing, which has been a major problem still. We heard yesterday, the government only testing 69,000. That's under the 100,000 limit. And then also, care homes, clearly completely forgotten, neglected. And that has been a huge criticism.
Having said that, the Prime Minister yesterday was defending himself and defending his government action, saying this is not a time to be making comparisons of how the U.K. has acted in light of the rest of Europe. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: At this stage, I don't think that international comparisons and the data is yet there to draw the conclusions that we want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: So comparisons are not the time for comparisons, perhaps, but the time for comparisons later in the year. The reason you know media making comparisons, Anna, is because the government themselves have been making comparisons when they do the daily press briefings comparing the U.K. to other countries. And really, some would say they're not time for comparisons because the comparisons are perhaps not at all favorable. Anna?
COREN: Isa Soares, as always, lovely to see you. Thank you for the update. With the pandemic driving demand down, Uber is the latest ride-sharing company to sideline full-time jobs. That story ahead.
COREN: Well, the pandemic is battering the ride-sharing business. Uber is laying off thousands of staffers. The company said it will cut 3,700 jobs, full-time jobs. That's about 14 percent of its global customer support and recruiting staff.
Uber CEO will waive his base salary for the rest of the year. Well, last week, it was rivaled lifts announced it will cut 17 percent of its staff. John Defterios joins us now live from Abu Dhabi. And John, Uber and Lyft, they both seem to have common traits. They need to slash costs, obviously lay off thousands of workers because they're not profitable and they're not going to be profitable in the current climate.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes. And under this new narrative, Anna, it's slower for longer because of the COVID- 19. And I thought the interesting twist to this is that the ride- sharing groups were quick to put the brakes on here on their employees and overall costs reacting pretty quickly. 14 percent for Uber, but that may not be the last of it, they're saying. After two weeks, we'll have the final word. The earnings will come out later Thursday.
We saw the earnings from Lyft, which were not promising, revenues are up nearly a quarter, but they lost in the first quarter were nearly $400 million, which is pretty extraordinary. So they're trying to cut their overhead by $300 million. This is particularly a bone of contention here in the Middle East because they were early round investors into Uber, for example.
Saudi Arabia back in June 2016 put three and a half billion dollars and has been a terrible investment because there's been no profitability. So they're transformative, they've got a great following internationally, especially in Saudi Arabia, for example. The service is great, but it's not a profitable structure at all for both Lyft or Uber.
Uber is in the restaurant delivery business who gets that revenue stream. Lyft has not gone into that space, so taking even a harder hit, Anna.
COREN: And John, if we can now turn to the U.S.-China tit for tat that's going on, that deepening rift. President Trump, he is going off to China is the source of the coronavirus, but he's also wanting to lean on Beijing to deliver on their bilateral trade agreement. Can he do both?
DEFTERIOS: Well, it's a dual-track approach, as you're suggesting here, even pointing into this lab in Wuhan and having a secretary of state serving as the attack dog against China. And we're hearing blowback from Beijing saying this is not helping bilateral relations.
At the same time in an election year, particularly, President Trump is leaning on China to live to the spirit of the January 15th phase one of their agreement, calls for $200 billion over two years. But the President is particularly focused this year in 2020 on the $77 billion. Farm products, oil and gas exports to China, very important to resonate with his base.
But we saw the latest survey coming from China, the Caxton survey, very closely watch anything below 50 means it says still in trenching itself in a recession. And it was at 44, another report or sub-report as part of the survey suggested that, where exports are going down sharply in April at the same time. So you can see why China could make the case. Look, we've contracted
6.8 percent in the first quarter. We can't spend this much when our export orders are down. So basically, our earnings are down. We're slowing down here domestically, and we perhaps may not deliver. The Trump administration says they'll have the final word on that one in about 10 days or two weeks' time, as well, Anna.
This is very dangerous geopolitically and the bilateral relations during a pandemic that the President is putting this much pressure on China to live to that, to the letter of that agreement that was signed in January.
COREN: John Defterios, we appreciate the update. Thank you. Well, soon Nintendo is expected to release its annual fiscal earnings. The company's products have been -- have been especially high in high- demand because of the pandemic. The Nintendo Switch is sold out on multiple Web sites. Nintendo is the current market leader selling more consoles than Microsoft or Sony.
Well, journalists Kaori Enjoji joins us now live from Tokyo. Kaori, what are we expecting?
KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Anna, the Nintendo Switch is a phenom of the lockdown. And the numbers that we're getting in about 15 minutes are going to show that. And it is going to be a bonanza quarter from Nintendo with operating profits probably up in let's say, 80 percent.
Now the Switch console has been sold out for weeks now, and even if you want to get when you probably have to pay double the retail price. The problem started back in February with COVID-19. The factories that make the components that go into the console were shut down so they couldn't get them down to Vietnam where they're assembled. So they had that punch as well. It was a pretty stark reminder of how important the supply chain management systems are in the COVID-19 era.
And then March 20 came along, and you have Animal Horizons, animal -- the new software. And then what happened on March 20th with new crossings was the fact that 1.88 million copies were sold in three days alone. That is a phenomenal number. And everyone was scrambling to get this because parents were sitting in their living rooms, and this is a game where people sit in an island utopia, you grow turnips, you know, you can breathe digital fresh air, and there's no violence, there's no nastiness and it was something that parents could live with.
So the demand for that was so strong, they haven't been able to keep up with the demand. And that is why the first quarter numbers were phenomenal. And the question is whether they will be able to continue to do this in the months ahead and whether they will be able to meet the demand by putting out more consoles. Anna?
COREN: A distraction from the lockdown. I'm sure parents would welcome that for sure. Kaori Enjoji, good to see you. Many thanks. Well, the coronavirus is keeping many of us cooped up indoors. One company is bringing the great outdoors to you. We'll go live to South Africa next. [02:50:00]
COREN: Tourists from around the world typically traveled to South Africa to see the animal kingdom up close on a Safari. But the coronavirus pandemic has kept most people inside and shut down wildlife tourism putting jobs at risk and earnings at stake. But one company is adapting with a different approach. It's gone virtual, streaming animal sightings online, and its popularity is skyrocketing.
Well, CNN's David McKenzie joins us now live from Sabi Sands in South Africa. David, obviously after weeks in lockdown, people are desperate to reconnect with nature.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's true. And everyone is in a much more reduced space stuck in apartments and houses all across the world, often just able to get out by going to the grocery store and then come back. It's a tough and traumatic time for many, many millions around the world.
And they're here in Sabi Sands, right in southern Africa, which normally draws thousands of high paying tourists every year. There is a company that is providing a window, some respite for people to see the big five up close and personal.
MCKENZIE: In South Africa, the elephants at least are free to run.
TRISHALA NAIDU, WILDLIFE GUIDE: It's just beautiful. The light is just stunning.
MCKENZIE: But its conservation tourism industry is under lockdown, which means Trishala Naidu and the cameraman are some of the last people left in Sabi Sands.
They broadcast animal sightings twice a day for free.
NAIDU: The trunk seems to be stuck on its tusk.
MCKENZIE: That people would normally pay thousands of dollars to see in person. It's live.
NAIDU: You still have this feeling like you know what, I can do it. I can do it. Oh, oh --
MCKENZIE: And unscripted.
What do you -- what do you see over there?
MCKENZIE: Wild dogs. I had a dog feeling today.
MCKENZIE: So there's a pack of wild dogs just come in the middle of our interview to this small den, and this is incredible to see. I mean my entire life of coming to the bush, I've never seen wild dogs like this
NAIDU: Beautiful puppies. Just gorgeous. We need to give them a space.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 30 seconds.
MCKENZIE: WildEarth was around long before the pandemic, but now it's viewership of Safari live has shot up fivefold.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jemeson, at six in the USA.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So birds were alarmed.
GRAHAM WALLINGTON, CEO, WILDEARTH TV: For our viewers, they're able to be here with us sharing this experience.
MCKENZIE: Graham Wallington never imagined his company's success could signal a collapse of the industry. Across Africa, nearly eight million tourism jobs are now at risk.
WALLINGTON: That's what we got to figure out now. We have to figure out how we can build private Safari experiences, how we can create online experiences that can get revenue you know, down here to the people and keeps this -- keep this whole conservation engine running.
JAPIE VAN NIEKERK, OWNER, CHEETAH PLAINS: We need people to sustain this nature to sustain these businesses.
MCKENZIE: Owners here know it's not as easy as locking their front doors and coming back when the pandemic is over.
VAN NIEKERK: Tourism keeps the rhinos alive, keeps the elephants alive, keeps the lions alive, the leopards. Tourism pays for that. No one else will.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this. We've manage to come right with our kitty cats.
MCKENZIE: Someone stuck in their apartment in Italy or in New York. What does this mean do you think for them?
JAMES HENDRY, WILDEARTH GUIDE: I hope that it means some kind of healing. The whole of our species has been infected or affected by one thing. And there's a tremendous feeling of solidarity. Nature is just doing its thing. Nature just carries on.
MCKENZIE: But for this iconic reserve to survive, they desperately need to adapt.
MCKENZIE: Well, you know, just to put it in perspective, Sabi Sands, this world-class reserve where I'm standing, employ some 3,000 people, mostly from local communities, Anna. This freeze on travel, there are no flights coming into South Africa, even within South Africa, you can't cross state borders, means that everything is now shut down. And those jobs and even the animals that we've seen in the last few days are all at risk.
COREN: Yes, very tough for the industry. David, tell us about that the long-term impact that the coronavirus is having on conservation.
MCKENZIE: Well, coronavirus is impacting so many businesses, so many aspects of our lives. Outside of the health, obviously, that's the major impact, but in the tourism industry and the conservation world, people are really concerned. Because, you know, as you heard there from (INAUDIBLE), money from terrorists means conservation makes sense to people in these communities. Many of them are communities that need the money for their daily lives.
If you see several months, even up to a year, which is what people here are projecting of this being shut down, then it becomes a different calculation. What is an elephant worth? What is a lion worth to people living here in South Africa and the rest of the continent? If you take away that monetary impetus, conservation could certainly be a threat.
COREN: David, great report. Thank you for bringing this story to us from the Kruger National Park. I'm very envious of your assignment there. David McKenzie joining us.
Before we go, take a look at this. A restaurant in Amsterdam tests out glass booths. Once meals are ready, waiters serve food on long boards to limit social contact. The restaurant says the so-called quarantine greenhouses are being tested on family and friends of restaurant staff. That would be a little bit different.
Well, thanks so much for watching this hour. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. CNN NEWSROOM continues with my colleague Rosemary Church after the break.