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Nearly All U.S. States Reopening as Death Toll Climbs; Japanese Economy Falls into Recession; More Than 100 Cases Linked to South Korean Fitness Class; Pompeo Backs Away from Theory Virus Came from Wuhan Lab; Australia's Trade Row with China Creates Turmoil for Farmers ; White House Criticizes CDC for Early Testing Failures; Self- Described Strong Leaders Stumble in Face of Outbreak; India Extends Lockdown Until May 31; Surrogacy Babies Stranded in Ukraine; Maryland Man Makes 'Miracle' Recovery from Virus. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 18, 2020 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes.

[00:01:05]

And coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, a top White House official criticizing the agency that typically plays a lead role during a public health crisis. We'll have reaction from a senior CDC official.

The world's third largest economy has fallen into recession. We'll have a live report from Tokyo for you.

And after 30 days in the ICU, more than half of those on a ventilator, a U.S. man is alive after recovering from COVID. We'll have his story.

Welcome everyone. As nearly every U.S. state opens to some degree, the American death toll continues to climb, and the U.S. economy now endures an unprecedented recession. But the Trump administration not accepting any blame. Instead, a key member taking swipes at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISOR: Early on in this crisis, the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world, in this space, really let the country down with -- with the testing. Because not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test. And that did set us back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: And we will bring you the CDC's scathing rebuke of those comments a little later.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary claiming states that have reopened are not experiencing a spike in new cases, but here's the thing: That's not really true. One of the most populous stakes, Texas, just reported its single -- biggest single day increase in new cases since the start of the pandemic.

Plenty of new infections are also being reported in the state of Georgia, which was one of the first states to reopen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, ATLANTA, GEORGIA: When I was with you a couple of weeks ago, I said that I look forward to coming on and being able to say that I was wrong, and the governor was right. And I think right now, we're somewhere in the middle. Whereas we were seeing spikes in the number of people testing positive going up between 20 and 30 percent, as well as our deaths over a seven-day period. Right now, we are seeing right somewhere around 15 percent. So the numbers are better, but they are still going up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Across the U.S., the death toll has now risen to just short of 90,000. That's almost 30 percent of the world's confirmed coronavirus fatalities, even though the U.S. makes up less than 5 percent of the global population.

But as Natasha Chen reported earlier, no amount of grim data is dampening the drive to reopen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATASHA CHEN, CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At least 48 states will have partially reopened businesses, or eased restrictions, by tomorrow. And with it comes some familiar sites. NASCAR held a race with no spectators today. Graceland is inviting visitors back.

But also with it, troubling images of crowded bars and boardwalks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It feels like a regular summer right now.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tremendous progress is being made.

CHEN: President Trump has encouraged reopening the country, with or without a vaccine. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar explained.

ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Everything does not depend on a vaccine. We're committed to delivering a vaccine. We're going to put the full power of the U.S. government and our private sector towards getting to a vaccine, but that's one part of a multi-factorial response program.

CHEN: One of the important factors is expanding testing. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was tested during his live press conference today.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): That's it?

CHEN: New York is now conducting 40,000 tests a day. Cuomo said, per capita, that's more than other countries.

More testing is one of the reasons Texas says it saw the highest single-day increase in new cases since the shutdown began. And that has some officials in Texas wondering if they're on the wrong path.

MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D), AUSTIN, TEXAS: What we do know, based on our last six to eight weeks, is that, if we are on the wrong path, we're going to be able to react in time to fix it. And if that happens, I sure hope the governor is on board for that.

CHEN: Georgia, one of the most aggressive in opening high-contact businesses as early as three weeks ago, has not seen a dramatic spike in the seven-day average of daily new cases, but there hasn't been a dramatic drop either.

Wandie Bethune's family has been watching carefully and didn't go out before this weekend.

WANDIE BETHUNE, ATLANTA RESIDENT: It just didn't feel as if we were really ready, and I wanted to feel that the establishments were really taking the proper precautions.

ELAINA BETHUNE, DAUGHTER: It's actually very scary, but it's kind of exciting and happy, that you get to go outside to some places that you enjoy again. But you also have to be very careful.

CHEN: In New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, a phased reopening didn't begin until Friday, and only in certain regions. The state's seven-day average of daily new cases has been on an obvious downward slide.

CUOMO: Total hospitalization is down. Good news. Net changes down. Intubations is down. And, new COVID hospitalizations are down. So it's a good day across the plate.

CHEN: California, the first to institute a statewide stay-at-home order, is seeing numbers fluctuate in the same zone, but its budget deficit, like in many other states, is skyrocketing due to the pandemic.

The House passed a $3 trillion dollar aid package Friday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated would not pass the Senate.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): The next time they want to salute and celebrate our heroes, our first responders, our police officers and firefighters, consider the fact that they are the first ones who will be laid off by cities and counties.

CHEN: A reality of uncertainty.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez is an internal medicine and viral specialist. He is with us from Los Angeles.

It's good to see you as always, Doctor. I mean, this downward trend in new cases, in some parts of the country, encouraging, but it doesn't mean no new cases, of course. Still thousands a day.

Do you worry that the social distancing that brought the numbers down could change now that states are reopening or these sites of full bars and restaurants and so on?

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE AND VIRAL SPECIALIST: Well, I'm not worried that it might change. I'm concerned that it already has changed.

You know, it's a combination of multiple things. One is people are obviously tired of, you know, being at home, staying at home, so the natural instinct is to break free.

However, there's a certain way of doing it, and there's a reckless way of doing it. I'm seeing patients of mine that should know better that are sort of, you know, tiptoeing into uncharted territory.

And the fact that the cases are not spiking, you have to understand that the cases are still occurring.

HOLMES: Yes.

RODRIGUEZ: And as a friend of mine, another you know, doctor said, the virus will determine what it is that we do from here on in.

HOLMES: You know, and it's interesting to just sort of talk about some numbers. The U.S. has 48 out of 50 states reopening to varying degrees, and the reality is that only 17 states have decreasing numbers; 20,000 new cases every day since March 30; 1,600 people on average dying every day.

But you've got the president and others sort of oozing a sense that the crisis is passing. How worried are you about complacency? I mean, I was reading an article in "The Washington Post." People saying, "It's over, you know? Everything is good."

RODRIGUEZ: Well, it's hardly from over. If you want to think of it this way, on the average, we have four planes full of people dying every day for the past two and a half months. At least four planes full of people dying every day, for least two and a half months. If that were really the case, everybody would be shocked.

The issue is that a lot of people have not seen it personally. And once that starts happening -- and I know have doubt that it's going to impact everybody -- I think the complacency will die down. Because it will become real.

It's real to me. I mean, I see it every day.

HOLMES: Yes, it does seem frightening. I deal with it in my own neighborhood, people who just think that it's -- it's passed by, it's not a big deal. I mean, it was interesting listening on Sunday to senior White House

official Peter Navarro lying blame on the CDC and singling it out for criticism. It's extraordinary to do that to the nation's main disease expert during a pandemic.

And, you know, we're seeing the CDC, which is a world-renowned body, also sidelined in many ways. Its advice on reopening buried. It's not being allowed to speak directly to the public and so on. Do you worry about politics overriding science?

RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. Absolutely. And when you hear Navarro talk, he starts talking and, you know, it's very discouraging. Because you can tell that there is an agenda, and part of the agenda, and just the way that he speaks, is blaming China. You know, the China virus, this and that.

[00:10:12]

And politics. You know, the CDC is the world organization that other countries look to. I see. Things haven't been perfect. But we need other countries to trust us, because this is going to be worldwide sort of team effort to try to get a vaccine and a cure.

Listen, in the old days, the buck stopped at the White House. We can start sharing blame all over the place. You know, the White House did not start taking precautions soon enough. I believe so. Did they not pay attention to this soon enough? I believe so.

And if there is internal fighting between the White House and the Center for Disease Control, I think that should kind of be kept behind closed doors. Because the more of this infighting and pettiness that we see, the less trust that people have on what they're being told.

HOLMES: Yes, a lot of people feel there should be more CDC speaking, and less politicians. I mean, the president, speaking of politicians, suggesting a vaccine could be ready, fully approved, by year's end. That's a timeline that you can speak to, has never been achieved. It's never been achieved in twice that time.

What are the risks of fast-tracking a vaccine?

RODRIGUEZ: You know, I hope that it's achieved, but all the dominoes would have to fall in place absolutely perfectly. The biggest pitfalls could be that we are cutting corners. And it seems like we have one best chance to do this correctly.

As other doctor friends of mine have said, Listen, we've been waiting now for 20 years for an HIV vaccine, or a Hepatitis C vaccine. The danger is that we get out a vaccine that is not going to do the job, and we have to start from square one.

At the end of the day, we need something that is safe, first and foremost, and effective. And it may necessitate something that is almost unheard of, which is people volunteering to get the vaccine, and then volunteering to be exposed to the virus. Something that has many ethical ramifications, but if you want to do it quickly, that may be the only alternative.

HOLMES: Dr. Rodriguez, always a pleasure to have you and your expertise. Thank you so much.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you, sir.

HOLMES: Well, the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman is giving a sobering reality check on the health of the U.S. economy. Here's what he said in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME POWELL, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: This economy will recover. It may take a while. It may take a period of time. It could stretch through the end of next year. We really don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can there be a recovery without a reasonably effective vaccine?

POWELL: Assuming there's not a second wave of -- of the coronavirus, I think you'll see the economy recover steadily through the second half of this year. For the economy to fully recover, people will have to be fully confident. And that may have to await the arrival of a vaccine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Now, on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump is set to meet with leaders of the restaurant industry, which of course, has been one of the hardest-hit sectors of the U.S. economy. Among other things, they're expected to talk about government stimulus efforts.

Now, Japan is also facing a harsh economic reality. First quarter GDP data shows the country has fallen into recession.

For more on that, I'm joined by journalist Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo.

I guess, not surprising, given the economic impacts of coronavirus shutdowns around the world, but what is the impact for Japan? What is the plan?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, it means that this recession, which is the first time in four and a half years, and it also means that Japan is staring at probably its worst economy, right now, that it is seen since the end of the world -- world war.

And it means that even before the state of urgency kicked in, in April, the Japanese economy was hurting very badly. It was down 0.9 percent on the corridor, for an annualized drop of 3.4 percent.

And the forecast from some economists is that the analyzed figure could drop to, say, 20, 25 percent, in the quarter that we are in right now.

I mean, consumption has basically evaporated. Even before the lockdown, a soft lockdown started here in Japan. And exports, which are the pillar of the Japanese economy, are also very soft, because the supply chains haven't been there.

I mean, sure, the government has announced a huge economic stimulus package of $1.1 trillion, but buried in that, Michael, is a line that says, Look, we're willing to subsidize and pay you, if you bring back factories from China.

And I think this is going to be a significant move and possibly included again in a new stimulus package that's being prepared right now.

HOLMES: Kaori Enjoji, thank you so much. Good to see you.

We will take a short break. When we come back, South Korean researchers find a -- link a fitness class, linked to another cluster of infections. What their study reveals about infection rates in sports facilities. We'll discuss that.

[00:15:12]

Also, the U.S. Secretary of state no longer confident that the coronavirus originated in this Chinese lab. Remember, he used to be. And he is still blaming China for the pandemic, of course. We'll have the latest on that war of words, after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back. In South Korea, researchers have linked more than 100 cases of coronavirus to a single fitness class, showing how quickly the virus can spread.

Now, they found eight instructors who initially tested positive; went on to infect their dozens of students who, in turn, spread the virus to other people. That's how this thing works.

Researchers believe the warm, moist atmosphere of the sports facilities may have led to the dense transmission.

Well, the U.S. secretary of state is again backing away from a theory he's promoted, and that is that the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, China. Mike Pompeo says the U.S. is still certain the pandemic originated in that city. Most people are. But he doesn't know exactly where it started or from whom.

He insists China hasn't been transparent about the outbreak and says the U.S. still intends to punish Beijing for its response.

Steven Jiang is in Beijing with the details.

The secretary of state, Stephen, he's wanted to have it both ways for weeks now, said intel pointed to a lab. Now says that might be right, might not be right.

How is that mixed messaging going down in China and also, are the Chinese likely to cooperate in any inquiry on the origins?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Michael, I think the Chinese government and state media are very much going to seize upon the latest remarks from Mr. Pompeo as further proof that he is, in their words, a pathological liar who is trying to smear China and shift blame away from the U.S. government.

You know, this particular claim, that this virus was leaked from a Wuhan lab, has been disputed by experts and scientists from around the world. And also, there is not even a great amount of consensus among U.S. intelligence officials themselves as well as those from its closest allies.

So the Beijing government has been trying to highlight all these points, but also increasingly turning the tables on the U.S. government, appointing to its own past elapses and bio safety and bio laps, sometimes going all the way to the Korean War and saying that it's the U.S. government that should be investigated by the international community, especially now there are reports emerging from the U.S. but also in Europe about first coronavirus cases in these places may have occurred before Wuhan.

But I think this kind of rhetoric is also coming amid this international call, growing international call for independent inquiry, as you mentioned, into the origin of this pandemic.

Now, many has -- many have interpreted that as a move against China. So that's why officials here have been pushing back very strongly, saying they're open and transparent and willing to have such an inquiry, but this is just not a time to do so when most governments are still fighting this pandemic.

So they say the appropriate time to have this kind of inquiry is after the pandemic is over, when the international community can sit down to review their experiences and shortcomings, as well as discuss ways to further cooperate as well as enhance the role of the WHO -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. Just -- and just before I let you go, I mean, we're talking the other day about this uptick in Wuhan. What -- what are the latest numbers for China, in particular Wuhan?

JIANG: Well, the latest numbers was seven new cases in the previous 24-hour cycle. Actually, none in Wuhan. The seven cases include three locally transmitted, two in the northeastern province of Jilin, which we also talked about quite extensively. New cluster of cases there. Mystery patient zero.

But the third one, actually, came from Shanghai involving somebody from Wuhan. I think that's why you see the Wuhan authorities continue their citywide testing there with a bit more clarity. They say this is not mandatory, but everyone above the age of 6 is strongly encouraged to be tested. And if you hear from the government, that means you are positive. Otherwise, you are fine.

But they still haven't said how they're going to announce citywide testing results, which is something we are, obviously, we're all watching very closely -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, the U.S. ha only just tested around 10 million people. The Chinese are going to do 11 million in Wuhan in a matter of days, which is just incredible. Good to see you, Stephen. Thank you. Stephen Jiang there.

Let's turn our attention to Australia now. The trade row with China taking a turn for the worse, with Beijing announcing a ban on four major beef processes.

China says the latest developments are not connected to Australia's push for an international inquiry for the coronavirus outbreak as we were just discussing, but state media painting a different story.

CNN's Simon Cullen with more from Stanthorpe in Australia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON CULLEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Australia's title farmers have suffered through prolonged drought and devastating bush fires. Now they're caught in the middle of a diplomatic row with China.

ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, QUEENSLAND PREMIER: What I'm really concerned about is this potential for a trade war to erupt.

CULLEN: Beijing has suspended imports from four large Australian abattoirs because of what it claims are inspection and quarantine violations. Australia's trade minister is seeking urgent talks with his Chinese counterpart.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM, AUSTRALIAN TRADE MINISTER: Look, the ball is there very much in the court of the Chinese government. We have made very clear that I am available and came to have a discussion.

CULLEN: Diplomatic relations between the two countries have soured in the past month, following Australia's push for an international investigation into the coronavirus pandemic.

China, though, insists the beef ban has nothing to do with that.

ZHAO LIJIAN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): These two things are completely different things. Please do not put these two things together and make a wrong political interpretation.

[00:25:00]

CULLEN: But the Chinese state-run "Global Times" newspaper tells a different story. It warns that "Unfriendly moves have thrown bilateral ties into a deep freeze" and that "If tensions continue on their current trajectory, it would be delusional to expect trade relations to remain on track."

It's a warning that has Australian farmers worried.

(on camera): Beef import bans like the ones announced this week have the potential to impact many thousands of jobs and, given that China is Australia's largest trading partner, local lawmakers are keen to ensure a diplomatic fallout doesn't deteriorate.

(voice-over): But it's not stopping the Australian government from continuing to lobby for a coronavirus inquiry.

MARISE PAYNE, AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We're very encouraged by the positive feedback that we've had from many international counterparts.

CULLEN: With one notable exception.

Simon Cullen, CNN, Stanthorpe, Australia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now, Italy will begin to further relax its lockdown measures in the hours ahead, taking what the prime minister minister calls a calculated risk as the country enters the next phase of reopening.

Italy's health minister urging people to remain prudent as they go out and risk contact with someone who might be contagious.

Italy, of course, was hard hit early in the pandemic, one of the hardest hit in the world. The country Sunday reporting its lowest daily increase of deaths since early March.

India's lockdown has been extended again, with a record number of new cases, squashing any hope of reopening for now. We'll head to New Delhi next for a live update.

Also, world leaders who won't admit failure. Sound familiar? How they've stumbled in responding to the pandemic. That's also when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:13]

HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone.

As CNN first reported, President Trump is scheduled to a Ford Motor Company plant in Michigan this week. The automaker says the White House wants to thank its workers for producing medical supplies and equipment during the pandemic.

But while the administration has praise for Ford, it's been critical of one U.S. agency at the forefront of the coronavirus fight. CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it would be remarkable at any moment for a top White House official to criticize a government agency, but particularly remarkable when it's a senior White House official who is criticizing the Centers for Disease Control amid a global pandemic, but that is exactly what we heard from Peter Navarro, President Trump's top trade adviser, who criticized the CDC on Sunday for its early testing failures.

NAVARRO: Early on, in this crisis, the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space, really let the country down with - with the testing. Because not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test. And that did set us back.

DIAMOND: Now, Navarro was actually right in his criticism here, that the CDC made critical mistakes early on that delayed the release of accurate testing kits across the country for several weeks, but of course, that was just one of several early missteps by the Trump administration. So the question is why is Navarro singling out the CDC?

But -- and what we do know is that it comes as there were rising tensions between the White House and the Centers for Disease Control. Part of that tension stems from some disagreements over how the CDC is tracking data related to this virus.

But then there is also those detailed guidelines: 68 pages of guidelines that CDC officials compiled for how businesses and states can begin to reopen. The White House shelved those plans, instead releasing just six pages of far less detailed guidelines last week.

Now, as there is some internal firing in the Trump administration, we are also hearing some criticism from a very prominent voice on the outside. And that is the former President Barack Obama, who we know just a week ago had been criticizing President Trump's response to the coronavirus as anemic and spotty, calling it an absolute chaotic disaster. He offered some more criticism this time, publicly, during an address to graduates on Saturday.

BARACK OBAMA (D), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: More than anything, this pandemic has fully finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing. A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge.

DIAMOND: President Trump over the last week has been repeatedly attacking former President Obama, leveling a series of unsubstantiated allegations against him, including suggesting that he was part of a conspiracy to try and undermine his presidency in the early days against -- for which we do not have any evidence to back up those claims.

President Trump did respond directly to that criticism from President Obama on Sunday afternoon. All he had to say, though, was that President Obama was grossly incompetent as president.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now, CNN did speak with a senior official at the CDC, who noted the agency's director, Dr. Robert Redfield, was appointed by President Trump. The official says if there is criticism of the CDC, ultimately, that's a criticism of the president. Now, Mr. Trump isn't the only world leader facing sharp criticism for

how he's handled the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the leaders being criticized are known for cultivating an image of invincibility.

But as Nic Robertson shows us, a few strongmen have stumbled along the way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Vladimir Putin, as he likes to be seen, tough guy but not riding so high now.

Russia, roiled by coronavirus, has raced to No. 2 spot behind the U.S. For infections. Indications are Putin's early tough-it-out stance, imagining the nation in his own invincible image, even exporting PPE overseas and late lockdown, are coming back to bite him.

No clearer indication of his discomfort than Russia's apparent dissembling of the COVID-19 death toll in Moscow, effectively under reporting. Although the city's health department says the way it's recording death is extremely accurate.

Putin is not the only strongman leader humbled by his handling of COVID-19. Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's so-called Trump of the Tropics, a populist, pushes back against lockdowns, actively encouraging public rallies to demand businesses reopen and has now lost his second health minister this month over COVID-19 differences, even as Rio's poverty- ridden favelas team with infection, and national rates rise.

[00:35:29]

COVID 19 is no respecter of strongman logic. The reverse: it thrives on ineptitude.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: At was at a hospital the other night, where I think there were a few -- there were actually a few coronavirus patients, and I shook hands with everybody. You'll be pleased to know that I continue to shake hands.

ROBERTSON: Even Britain's rich man's populist, P.M. Boris Johnson, was felled after upstaging the virus. A month later, after he said this, he was close to COVID-19 death in ICU.

President Xi, autocrat par excellence, did what really powerful leaders can do: shutting regions down, stopping the virus in its tracks, and deflecting blame for the spread beyond China's borders.

But even he isn't immune to COVID-19's invisible peril. His outreach of medical aid to the world, some of it faulty, too little, too late for many.

And that, coupled to China's own crippled economy, could downscale his reach. Belarus's Alexander Lukashenko, Europe's longest surviving strongman, embodies the blindness of unchecked power, instructed no cowing to the coronavirus, ice hockey and other sporting events to continue.

When even Putin demurred to COVID-19, canceling his biggest annual power parade this month, Victory Day, Lukashenko went ahead. Thousands marched in tight formation, an extreme un-pandemic proximity.

So far, though, according to the state's own less than transparent stats, Belarus not ravaged as a result of Lukashenko's months-long lockdown rejection.

And as autocrats like Lukashenko were economic with the truth, we may never know the real picture.

Putin, who is his early COVID-19 days, had Russia's patriarch overfly and bless the country, still has the worst to come and won't be able to hide from it easily.

COVID-19 may not finish these strongmen off, but it may well leave them diminished for years to come.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: India is extending its lockdown until at least May 31. On Sunday, the country reporting its biggest surge in new daily infections, close to 5,000 new cases.

CNN's Vedika Sud is standing by for us in New Delhi.

Vedika, bring us up to date on the numbers and this extension of the lockdown.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the government of India has just issued the new numbers, and unfortunately, it stands at 5, 2, 4 -- 5,242 new cases in the last 24 hours.

This, unfortunately, is the biggest jump that India has witnessed in the last 24 hours. The deaths have also crossed 3,000.

But what is to be noted is that another lockdown has been issued. This is the fourth lockdown. We're entering, perhaps, the 55th day today, and we're closing into two months of lockdown.

What's different this time over? What's different is that usually, it's the Indian government that has been controlling the entire country, as far as the guidelines are concerned. They set parameters for the states, and they've told the states now, it's up to you. Use your discretion within the guidelines that we have issued and go ahead and remark the zones according to the number of coronavirus cases there.

As you know, and as we've been reporting, they've been broken down into red, orange, as well as containment zones and green zones. Green Zones, of course, are the places where there are a few cases or no cases at all. And then you go on to orange and red. What is worth noting is that we could see offices going back to the

complete, full attendance, as well, but the discretion of the state comes into force. New Delhi chief minister has also tweeted, saying that today he's going to issue fresh guidelines for Delhi.

This essentially means that relaxations are taking place. There is easing of norms. There's a reset of the economy taking place. Remember, just a few days ago the Indian government also announced -- in fact, it was the prime minister, Narendra Modi, announcing that $266 billion dollars is what he's offering as a stimulus package. This is about 10 percent of India's GDP.

Just a quick word on the migrant workers, as well. Let me just let you know that this remains the second biggest challenge, or rather an equal challenge for the Indian government, along with resetting the economy. We've seen migrant workers walk over railroad tracks, trying to get home.

[00:40:07]

Now the Indian government, along with the state governments, is coordinating to make sure that these migrants get home safely. Because we've been reporting a lot of accidents and deaths, also, that have been taking place while they climb onto trucks in scores just to get home, just to get to their families.

Back to you, Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Thank you, Vedika. Vedika Sud there in Delhi for us.

All right. We'll take a quick break. When we come back, lockdowns and travel restrictions are keeping adoptive parents away from their newborn babies in Ukraine. We'll look at what one father had to overcome just to hold his daughter in his arms.

Also, a not-so-subtle message from hospital workers in Belgium when their prime minister came for a visit. Why they gave her the cold shoulder.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Hospital workers in Belgium gave their prime minister a cold reception. When Sophie Wilmes visited their hospital in Brussels on Saturday, the staff lined up outside and then turned their backs to her as she arrived in her vehicle there.

Representatives for the workers say they're upset with the government's handling of the coronavirus and health care overall, including budget cuts, personal shortages and low salaries.

Dozens of babies born to surrogate mothers in Ukraine are stranded due to the coronavirus. A nationwide lockdown is preventing their adopted parents in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere from traveling to Ukraine to pick up the newborns. Matthew Chance with the story of one American father who overcame all the tight restrictions to be with his new daughter.

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MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: More than 100 babies in Ukraine born to surrogate mothers in recent weeks are stranded in that country's coronavirus lockdown.

But some parents aren't letting closed borders keep them away. We spoke to one American family, who's overcome the lockdown, braved the pandemic, got a special permit from the Ukraine government and reached their newborn child. Take a look.

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JOEL LEINEKE, FATHER: So this is my daughter, Amber Rain Leineke. She's a little tired at the moment.

CHANCE: Amid this lockdown, a family united. One American dad getting into Ukraine just to hold his newborn daughter. She is a very lucky girl, indeed.

J. LEINEKE: I'm a lucky father.

CHANCE (on camera): When you saw her for the first time, what was going through your mind? What were your feelings?

J. LEINEKE: At the same time, I was elated to see her. I was also just -- my heart was broken, right, that I was the only one there for myself. And -- and that my wife wasn't able to be in the delivery room, and it was -- it was both. It was really mixed.

CHANCE (voice-over): Mixed but relieved, because dozens just like Amber Rain born amid the pandemic in Ukraine to surrogate mothers, remain stranded, marooned in a screaming lockdown.

CNN gained access to just one facility in Kiev, where tight coronavirus restrictions mean more than 50 babies here can be collected by their legal parents, mostly locked down themselves in Europe and the United States.

"Some parents have waited 15 years for this dream to come true," the owner tells CNN. "One couple are both 55 years old. Another has tried 36 times for a baby," he says. "They can't wait any longer."

Ukrainian officials say they're trying to speed up access to foreign parents, but the pandemic means the country's borders are sealed. Special permits are a bureaucratic nightmare.

MICHELLE LEINEKE: Doting on these children.

CHANCE: For Michelle, watching ALL this remotely with her two other kids in California, even the thought of being unable to reach a child in another country is agonizing.

(on camera): What must their parents be going through now? Parents who can't get to their children?

M. LEINEKE: I can't even imagine. I can't imagine not being able to be there. We had the same thought before we were able to get there, and so for me it was mind-numbing to know that somebody that we don't even know would be taking care of our daughter.

Luckily, we were able to find a way, but other people, because their countries aren't allowing them to travel into another country, are not being allowed in.

We found a way, and we were lucky. But others aren't so lucky, and I'm sure they're just devastated.

CHANCE (voice-over): At the moment, Ukrainian officials say around 100 babies born to surrogates are stuck in clinics like this one around the country.

But pregnancies are in progress, and they say numbers could soon rise to 1,000 if borders stay closed. The longer the lockdown, the more Amber Rains with nowhere to go.

(on camera): Well, there is growing criticism in Ukraine, because of these stranded babies, of commercial surrogacy in the country. The human rights ombudsman there has called it a massive and systemic problem, and it could be curbed in the future.

But for the moment, the focus is on trying to get the babies already born, united where -- with their legal parents

Matthew Chance, CNN, London.

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HOLMES: Well, a miracle discovery from a deadly disease. The case of a man from Maryland leaving doctors scratching their heads.

We'll have that after the break.

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HOLMES: Welcome back.

A man in the United States battled coronavirus for nearly a month in intensive care. Well, now he's sharing the story of his remarkable recovery and what made -- motivated him to keep on fighting.

CNN's Miguel Marquez reports.

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KEVIN SWINK, RECOVERING FROM COVID-19: I'm a miracle. Yes, I'm a miracle. A lot of people in the hospital call me a medical miracle.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Eighteen days on a ventilator, nearly 30 days in the ICU.

SWINK: I'll take the syringe here.

MARQUEZ: Three times intubated, a tracheotomy. His throat healing, he still leads through a tube.

SWINK: Right here is my stomach tube.

MARQUEZ: At the worst, his heart merely stopped beating. The miracle: he's alive.

(on camera): Is there a point where you realized this may be it?

SWINK: There was a point where it hurt to take even one breath. And I did actually, at one time, just want to die. But then I heard a voice in my head that said you're being selfish.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Selfish because he thought he'd mar graduation for one daughter and a birthday for another. He had a wife, two parents, a church and friends that loved him.

He also had a team of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists caring and pulling for him.

DAVID GOLDSBOROUGH, RESPIRATORY THERAPIST, MEDSTAR FRANKLIN SQUARE MEDICAL CENTER: You know, the whole time that he was here, you know, I don't know if our patients can hear us or if he even heard it, but I used to tell them, Don't give up. And I don't know if you heard that. But I would like to know if he heard me saying that to him.

MARQUEZ: Kevin says he does remember that. He wasn't sure if he imagined it, but he remembers it and a nurse named Beth.

SWINK: She's the one that comes up and told me, you know, I was there the night you almost died. And you know, I'm like, I knew nothing about that.

MARQUEZ: COVID-19 keeps patients like Kevin sedated and separated from loved ones. Medical staff wear masks and gowns. Hard to know who's who. Beth Gelston was in the room on Swink's worst day.

BETH GELSTON, NURSE: He started to crash.

MARQUEZ (on camera): This is when his heart nearly stopped.

GELSTON: It did, so I was caring for him that day. And in the room with him, while all of this was happening, and when I saw him on the day that he left the hospital, I told him that. I told him that he almost died, and I thought he was going to die. And I just am so thankful that he didn't.

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MARQUEZ (voice-over): Kevin Swink now an inspiration for the staff that saved him.

(on camera): How do you cope with patients as sick as Kevin?

GELSTON: In the beginning of all this, it definitely wasn't easy, and a lot of us left in tears a lot of the time. But I really believe that we've become together as a support for each other. And also seeing people improve, it's helped. Like, the fact that Kevin is home and doing so much better, it -- it helps. It really helps us to know that we're making this much of an impact.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Kevin Swink, not typical in another way. Fifty years old, no underlying medical conditions, otherwise healthy. Another COVID-19 mystery. Some, for reasons still not understood, get deathly ill, while others barely know they have it.

DR. MIMI NOVELLO, V.P. MEDICAL AFFAIRS AND CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, MEDSTAR FRANKLIN SQUARE: It's very confusing to us. And you know, I think there are people that are looking into why this might be.

You know, could it be related to genetics? Could it be related to the viral load or the amount of virus that the person is exposed to?

MARQUEZ: Kevin's recovery, as mysterious as his illness. His father also tested positive and may not recover. Other family members got it, too, and were barely affected.

SWINK: It just blindsided me. I didn't think I'd get it. I didn't think there was any possibility or anything like that.

MARQUEZ: When he was discharged, his church organized a drive-by parade. Kevin will see graduations and birthdays. He's looking forward to solid food. A double portion of Maryland crab cakes.

(on camera): How sweet is like?

SWINK: Nice. Very sweet. Very sweet.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Miguel Marquez, CNN, Baltimore, Maryland.

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HOLMES: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM, spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. I will be back, though, after the break with some more news for you.

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