Return to Transcripts main page


Record COVID-19 Hospitalizations in 14 States; New CDC Reopening Guidelines Expected Friday; Trump Districts from Navarro on Fauci Attack; Hong Kong Government Condemns Hong Kong Autonomy Act; Twitter Hack Hits Politicians, Business Leaders; Spanish King to Lead Ceremony Honoring COVID-19 Victims. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 16, 2020 - 02:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN, I'm Robyn Curnow.

Coming up, we begin with a plea from America's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He's told Americans to stop the nonsense and figure out how to get control over the coronavirus. He says it's critical to prevent any more surges like we are seeing in Texas, Florida, California and Arizona.

And more than 137,000 Americans have died from the virus as Johns Hopkins counts nearly 70,000 new infections on Wednesday alone.

Plus how hackers hit Twitter and some of its most prominent users with a bitcoin scam.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: Great to see you, thanks for joining.

We begin with a plea from America's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He has told Americans to stop the nonsense and figure out how to get control over the virus. He says it's critical to prevent any more surges like we are seeing in Texas, Florida, California and Arizona.

More than 137,000 Americans have died from the virus. Now more people at Johns Hopkins University counts nearly 70,000 new infections on Wednesday alone, that's not a record but it certainly is close.

More people are going to the hospital as, well in Florida 54 intensive care units have reached their capacity with zero beds available. New infections are rising in at least 38 states. One of the hotspots, Texas, has set new records, with more than 100 deaths and 10,000 new infections in the past day.

Now hospitals in a number of U.S. states are reaching their capacity with COVID patients while the Trump administration continues to push schools to reopen. Here's Erica Hill with more on all of that.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND U.S. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Confirmed cases in Florida have now topped 300,000. In Miami-Dade County, where the positivity rate just hit 31 percent, a number of COVID-19 patients in one hospital system has jumped 226 percent in the last month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are preparing for even more patients over the next several weeks.

HILL (voice-over): Florida is one of 14 states reporting record hospitalizations; 11 of those are also seeing a rise in new cases over the past week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These alarming trends reflect behaviors from 3 weeks ago and it will take several weeks to see if our behavior now, including the rollback of previously opened sectors, slows the spread of the virus.

HILL (voice-over): Texas reporting a record number of deaths and new cases on Wednesday.

DR. ASHISH JHA, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Hundreds and thousands of people are dying in America today because we are distracted by issues that are not the central ones controlling this virus. We have to get our act together.

HILL (voice-over): At least 36 states now require a face covering in public. The latest to add a mandate, Alabama. Nationwide, customers at Walmart and Kohl's can't shop without one, starting Monday.

In Charleston, bars and restaurants can now refuse service to anyone without a face covering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to take this seriously. It matters to all of our citizens and it matters to our economy going forward.

HILL (voice-over): Increasing concern about summer travel fueling the spread and it's not just the Northeast requiring visitors to quarantine. Chicago has a 14-day quarantine in place for travelers from 17 states. Canada will keep the border closed through late August.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do not have a handle on this outbreak.

HILL (voice-over): A new school year is just weeks away. One district in Arizona using these misters to disinfect classrooms. Philadelphia will use a hybrid model this fall, San Francisco will begin the year online. Houston schools will, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've had mainly sleepless nights even up until this moment, wrestling with this decision. Given the threat of COVID- 19, we will not put the health and safety of our students and staff at risk.

HILL (voice-over): Local decisions gaining national attention as uncertainty grows about just what lies ahead.

HILL: In terms of that decision-making, a senior CDC official tells CNN that new guidelines on school reopening could come as soon as Friday. New guidelines from the CDC will feature the most up-to-date science and we are told it will focus on safely reopening.


HILL: Noting that in areas of high transmission, that may not be feasible.

A second set of guidance geared towards parents will be coming from a White House work group that was requested by Dr. Birx. Members of that group include officials from Health and Human Services, the Domestic Policy Council and the Department of Education -- in New York, I'm Erica Hill, CNN.


CURNOW: And it's not just the U.S. school systems around the world that are grappling with what to do about students, that's partly because there is a growing debate over the rate at which children can transmit the coronavirus to each other and to adults.

Now a study at a Berlin hospital found that children may be just as infectious as adults. Several other studies have found that children do not appear to play a big role in spreading the virus.

In one study in Geneva, researchers found that 39 kids infected with the virus in only 3 cases was another child, the first suspected case.

A study in China that followed 68 children with the virus found that 65, likely got it from adults.

And in another city in France, a boy exposed more than 80 schoolmates, not one contracted the virus.

Meanwhile, dozens of coronavirus vaccines are under development around the world and at least one is showing early signs of promise. Drugmaker Moderna says its vaccine candidates did so well in phase one trial with 45 patients, that it will be given a 30,000 people in a much larger phase 3 trial.

According to the phase one results in the "New England Journal of Medicine," Moderna's vaccine triggered antibodies in everyone it was given to without harmful effects. The company's chief medical officer spoke with CNN about what happens next.


DR. TAL ZAKS, MODERNA: As the chief medical officer, my first concern is always a safety of our products and in this case, obviously, we are about to embark on a very large phase 3 trial. We have to be sure that we are doing it carefully and I will come back to that.

In terms of what we have seen, the interesting point, about the safety is if you look at the side effect profile, after the first dose, you don't see much. And you see most of these adverse events coming after the second dose. And they are self limited and transient.

And so what it teaches me it is that the component of the adverse event profile is that you are actually activating the immune system specifically to recognize something. And if that something is the hook that this virus is to attach itself to cells, then I suspect that it's the having an effective vaccination.

And so we are left than with the question, is it worth, you know being ill with flu like symptoms for the sense that you will then be protected, possibly, from being ill with COVID-19?

I think that's, you know, for any medicine, better drug or vaccine, it's ultimately a question of benefit risk. I think the potential benefit of protecting people from this vaccine, seeing what this disease and this pandemic is causing around us, is quite significant.

This phase one trial has already enrolled a cohort of older and elderly people. We have not disclosed the data yet but we are looking at that carefully to make sure that both the ability to generate the immune response as well as a safety profile warrants for the development.

And I can tell you that we are looking at that closely as our colleagues of the FDA.


CURNOW: America's leading expert on infectious diseases has had enough with White House officials after multiple efforts to discredit his response to the pandemic. The latest attack came from the president's top trade adviser, who said Dr. Anthony Fauci has, quote, "been wrong about everything."

Although the president has also trashed Dr. Fauci, Peter Navarro's comments apparently went to fire and now the White House isn't -- as Kaitlan Collins reports.



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump is now trying to distance himself from an extraordinary attack by his top trade adviser on Dr. Anthony Fauci.

TRUMP: Well, that's Peter Navarro. I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.

COLLINS: Even though the president and the nation's top infectious disease expert haven't spoken in weeks, Trump insisted they have a good relationship and said Peter Navarro shouldn't have published this "USA Today" op-ed attacking Fauci.

TRUMP: I get along very well with Dr. Fauci. I get along very well with Dr. Fauci. I have a very good relationship.

COLLINS: Dr. Fauci said he found the recent attacks by the White House, including an anonymous memo criticizing him, bizarre.

FAUCI: If you talk to reasonable people in the White House, they realize that was a major mistake on their part, because it doesn't do anything but reflect poorly on them.

COLLINS: As for the president's trade adviser, Fauci said there are no words.

FAUCI: I can't explain Peter Navarro. He's in a world by himself. So I don't even want to go there.

COLLINS: Under the headline, "Anthony Fauci has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on," Navarro cited multiple instances where he and Fauci have disagreed and said he only listens to him with skepticism and caution.


COLLINS: The attack by an official with no medical experience on a task force member while the administration is dealing with an ongoing pandemic was stunning. Hours after it was published, a White House spokeswoman said the op-ed was "the opinion of Peter alone and did not go through the clearance process."

But the same press shop distancing itself from the attack on Fauci was the same one that anonymously distributed a memo last weekend questioning his judgment.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's no opposition research being dumped to reporters.

COLLINS: Tension has been brewing between Navarro and Fauci for months over the use of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug touted by Trump.

While the administration has tried to limit Fauci's appearances, he's continued to speak candidly about his relationship with the president.

FAUCI: My input to the president is now a bit indirect. It goes through the vice president. But, clearly, the vice president literally every day is listening to what we have to say.

COLLINS: Starting today, the Trump administration has ordered hospitals to bypass the CDC by sending all COVID-19 data to a central database in Washington.

The White House says the change will streamline things, but the move has concerned some health experts, like the former acting CDC Director Richard Besser, who told Dr. Sanjay Gupta this:

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: What I worry, with the data going directly to HHS, is that it could be further politicized. And that's the last thing you want. CDC is the nation's public health agency. They need to be getting these data.

COLLINS: And on the flight back on Air Force One, the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said Peter Navarro was speaking for himself when he posted that op-ed. He said they do not agree with the sentiments he expressed.

But one thing he did not answer was whether or not he Peter Navarro going to face any kind of repercussions for posting that op-ed, criticizing Dr. Anthony Fauci, something that in a typical administration could likely get you fired -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


CURNOW: And there's so many U.S. hospitals now nearing capacity for COVID-19 patients. The Trump administration is ordering a sweeping change to how that hospital data is collected.

Instead of reporting directly as we heard there to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as they have for years, hospitals now send their data to the Health Department in Washington. Now former a CDC director called it a step backwards. That first sidelines an agency uniquely suited to handle a pandemic.


DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: CDC is the nation's public health agency.

And you know there are thousands of scientists there, epidemiologists understands data and what it can teach you. And the idea that data would not go to the CDC but would go directly to Washington or the Department of Health and Human Services doesn't make a lot of sense when you think about how response should be taking place.

Typically in a response what you would be seeing and CDC out front leading and you would see Dr. Fauci is standing right next to the director of CDC or the person from CDC who is leading the response.

Dr. Fauci is one of the world's leading experts in infectious diseases and vaccines and viruses and CDC as an agency is the world's expert and how do you respond to a public health crisis and to a pandemic or emergency and they work hand in hand. So you know not having Dr. Fauci is part of that decision and I could understand it.

Not having CDC driving the decision, how do you manage this data the best that I see is problematic.


CURNOW: A Trump official said the reported change was made because the old system of reporting to the CDC was, quote, "inadequate."

Now the U.S. State Department is taking a new swipe at Chinese tech companies, including and especially Huawei. America's top diplomat says the tide is turning against the tech giant and that telecoms companies around the world should consider themselves on notice.

If they're doing business with Huawei, they are supporting human rights abusers.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: State Department will impose visa restrictions on certain employees of the Chinese -- of Chinese technology companies like Huawei that provide material support to regimes engaging in human rights violations and abuses globally.


CURNOW: It's unclear how many employees would be affected, this comes a day after the U.K. announced it was banning Huawei from its 5G networks. Earlier, the chief security officer for Huawei USA told Richard Quest he wants the U.S. and China to fix the tensions behind the crackdown against the company.


ANDY PURDY, HUAWEI USA: I certainly don't think there should be any escalation. I don't think there should be any retaliation by the China government. I think escalation in these situations is a huge mistake.


CURNOW: Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry is not happy about a new U.S. law that would punish China for its actions in Hong Kong. Beijing summoned the U.S. ambassador, announced top office in Hong Kong is accusing U.S. of "gangster logic and bullying behavior."


CURNOW: Kristie Lu Stout is following all of this live from Hong Kong.

Kristie, good to see you. Tell us more about this reaction.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: We are seeing once again a flare-up in this war of words between U.S. and China. This after what Donald Trump did earlier this week as expected, signing that executive order to end Hong Kong's special trading status and signing the Hong Kong Autonomy Act into law.

We have seen a number of events take place since then, as you mentioned, the ministry of foreign affairs in China has summoned the U.S. ambassador over the matter. It was also a strong statement issued by the Hong Kong government, saying it opposes these measures.

And that interestingly worded statement from the liaison office, Beijing's top body here in Hong Kong, accusing them of gangster logic and bullying.

These measures that were just signed in by President Trump this week not only have a geopolitical and diplomatic impact but a deep economic impact as well not just in China and Hong Kong but even in the United States itself. Watch this.


STOUT (voice-over): Hong Kong, the glittering east-west conduit for international trade and finance, is now just another Chinese city to the U.S. After U.S. president Donald Trump signed an executive order ending Hong Kong's special trade status, which means the U.S. will now treat Hong Kong the same as Mainland China.

He also signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, allowing sanctions on businesses that help China restrict Hong Kong's authenticity. China's ministry of foreign affairs writes, "We urge the U.S. to correct its mistakes, refrain from implementing the so-called Hong Kong Autonomy Act and stop interfering in any way in China's internal affairs, including Hong Kong affairs."

This jeopardizes tens of billions of dollars worth of trade between the U.S. and Hong Kong tarnishes Hong Kong's reputation as an international financial hub and causes uncertainties for the over 1,300 American companies that operate. Here.

Rob, you are a American businessman that has been working in Asia for 20, years what does the Hong Kong Autonomy Act mean for business confidence in Hong Kong?

ROB KOEPP, CEOECONOMIX: The confidence has gone, out of what used to be a city with a lot of confidence. No matter what side you take that you have a lot of confidence. Regardless of the side that you take, there are some Western expats that don't see this as all bad. I would say that they are in the minority just because of the far-reaching nature of both the U.S. acts as well as the Chinese act.

STOUT (voice-over): In retaliation, China says it will take necessary measures and impose sanctions on relevant U.S. personnel and entities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In terms of the retaliation, China may not have a lot of choice because China just have a trade deal with the U.S. So China may not like impose any counter action on (INAUDIBLE). However, (INAUDIBLE) I think the thing that China can do might be like also limit the export of China (INAUDIBLE) U.S.

STOUT (voice-over): Analysts also say ending Hong Kong's special treatment could be self defeating for the United States, which has profited from business friendly conditions here. Last, year Hong Kong was the source of the largest bilateral U.S. goods trade surplus, worth some $26.1 billion.


STOUT: China and the United States are locking horns on a host of issues, assertions of sovereignty in the South China Sea, WHO and its relationship with China, trade war, tech, war, Taiwan, and, Robyn, it doesn't seem like there is a diplomatic offramp.

Earlier this, week when Donald Trump was asked by reporters if he is talking with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, he said no and he does not plan to. Robyn?

CURNOW: OK, thanks for that, Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Thanks, Kristie.

Twitter is investigating a hack of some of the top names in politics and business: Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg are among the targets with Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Barack Obama.

Hackers are using the accounts to ask followers for charitable donations by the cryptocurrency, bitcoin. One researcher says the hackers' account received more than $100,000 in just a few hours. John Defterios is covering this live from Abu Dhabi.

Tell us about this. It's the biggest hack against TWITCHELL: in its 14 year history?

What kind of information and access did they get in these accounts?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, it's quite extraordinary how far these hackers got into the system and you talked about the high profile players.


DEFTERIOS: One thing that stood out for me is that they seemed to target progressive players, as if there's a reason behind that. Essentially, they got so far in, to your point, they got the keys to the safe and opened it up, by targeting key employees, which gave them all the access.

So this was very sophisticated. In fact, 2 intelligence sources out of Washington told CNN overnight that it could've been the action of a nation state or actors on behalf of a nation state, right?

The other thing that stands out for me on this is that a lot of it was linked to cryptocurrencies, yes, to try and get money on a quick hit before the actions were brought down by Twitter, so they responded quickly to the challenge.

But those that follow cryptocurrencies or if you have read into this, they don't like regulation, they like to skirt around the world like the U.S. Treasury, which have tough regulations and they hit many Democrats, as you saw there. Maybe there's a submessage going that we don't like the actions and perhaps this power control over the banking system. It is an unusual message but this is not the first time that Twitter has been hit, of course.

And the CEO Jack Dorsey who's come against Donald Trump on a number of occasions for his posts as of late in the last 6 months especially, has suggested they have to do better and they are investigating what happened. They move quickly but they show signs of vulnerability, which is not good for those who use that platform, of course.

CURNOW: That's interesting, fascinating, hopefully we'll get more details on that. Let's talk about China. Of course, China was the first to be hit by COVID-19. Wuhan was the epicenter but it's also been the first to recover economically.

So what are we looking at in terms of the second quarter?

DEFTERIOS: Well, not bad. That's what I have to say here, 3.2 percent beat the expectations by just over half a percentage point, so that's a positive point for the second largest economy.

But there are some lessons to be learned here. China had the coronavirus first, they've been criticized for not releasing the data at least by the White House on that front. But the lesson is if you respond quickly and lock down severely, you could recover at a pace like this.

They did not eat up that loss in the first quarter, which was the worst since they started releasing data since 1992. The Chinese economy opened up, it was a negative 6.8 percent.

I think the challenge for China at this stage though is how robust the recovery might be in the second half of the year it's an export dependent economy and we know the slowdown in the States and Europe are 2 key blocks for Chinese exports.

So this is the 0.2 percent is good, I'm not certain that the current quarter and the next quarter will be nearly as robust.

CURNOW: John Defterios, thanks so much for joining us there.

So some of Mallorca's biggest hotspots have shut down. Tourists were dancing on cars, gathering on the street instead of following coronavirus rules. That story is next.





CURNOW: Welcome back, I'm Robyn Curnow here in Atlanta.

A popular tourist area on the Spanish island of Mallorca has now shut down since tourists weren't wearing masks and complying with social distancing regulations. A regional spokesperson tells us the mainly British tourists there and the bar operators themselves were not complying with the rules.

Journalist Al Goodman joins us now with all of that.

Before we get to Mallorca, where you are now, I understand Spain is honoring those who died from coronavirus but in attendance quite a lot of people, does that pose a risk in itself?

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn, this is a state ceremony as you say to honor the more than 28,000 Spaniards who have died from the coronavirus but also to recognize and thank the doctors, nurses, police and other essential workers who carried on and kept the country running during the pandemic.

Let's take a look, 400 invited guests here, including the top leaders from the European Union, including Ursula van der Leyen, the head -- the director-general of the WHO, the Spanish king but about a fourth of these 400 people are people who have lost relatives to the coronavirus.

The chairs down here, this is the royal palace in Madrid, the chairs in the central patio are spaced apart about 1.5 meters or 5 feet apart. Everybody wearing a mask, I've taken mine off because we are up high on a vantage point.

But social distancing is the message that they want to put out here this day, as they are trying to move ahead. The country lifted its state of emergency last month, after more than three months in such a lockdown across the country.

And now people are getting out and about and they don't want to go backwards but there are quite a number of outbreaks all around the country and in many of the regions that require masks to be worn at all time in public -- Robyn.

CURNOW: I want to talk about that. Let's break down Mallorca, which we understand is tamped down hard on those who've had a few drinks essentially and lose their ability to social distance. It's really a cause of concern, isn't it?

GOODMAN: It is in various places but especially on the monitoring islands. The mayor cut which is such a prime tourist destination especially for Europeans. There, the regional government yesterday is closing the bars in the district which is so famous for basically it's mainly British tourists, young British tourists, a whole street of bars, one right after the other.

People are out on the streets, there have been at least one video showing people dancing in the streets, dancing on top of cars. The local authority said that's enough, so they closed all of those bars. They'll say it wasn't just the tourist, it was the bar operators.

Another area closer to the capital, a beach, mainly German tourists there, bars there are also closed. The government in the box in several other regions really trying to clamp down on these potential outbreaks and the outbreaks that do exist in some places to try to avoid a situation that spin lived through in the spring and into June which is what prompted the ceremony they were about to have here in Madrid -- Robyn.

Al Goodman, live in Madrid, appreciated, thanks to you and your team.

You're watching CNN, still to come, Hong Kong is a resurgence of coronavirus cases I was because one expert was working directly with the government to curve the outbreak. That's next.


[02:30:16] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus and developing severe symptoms could depend on the type of blood flowing through your body, according to a team of European scientists.

Their findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine could help explain why some people get seriously ill with the virus, while most barely show any symptoms at all.

The researchers found people with Type A blood are at a higher risk of contracting the virus and getting really sick from it, while people with Type O blood have a lower risk. The researchers can't say if your blood type is the main reason you may be more susceptible to the virus or less. The variations could be associated with a person's immune response and overwhelming overreaction of the immune system is blamed for the deadliest effects of the coronavirus in many patients.


CURNOW: The health experts in Hong Kong, say relaxed social distancing guidelines might be to blame for resurgence of coronavirus cases there. Some people are calling it a third wave of infections.

The city reported at least 19 new cases on Wednesday, the same day Hong Kong rolled out its most severe restrictions since the pandemic began. Local experts warn a new mutation as well could make the virus even more infectious.

Well, Doctor Keiji. Fukuda, from the University of Hong Kong School of Public Health, joins me now. He is the former assistant director- general of the World Health Organization and one of the four experts helping Hong Kong's government respond to the virus.

Doctor, great to have you on the show. Thanks so much for joining me. How concerned are you about this so-called third wave in Hong Kong? I mean, some have said it's actually more worrying this time than it was back in March. Do you agree with that?

DR. KEIJI FUKUDA, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Well, I think it's -- the upsurge is really something to be very serious about, and it's a little bit different than the earlier upsurge that we had because so many of them are made up by cases occurring in Hong Kong.

However, having said that, I think that with the right steps, it is a situation in which could be brought under control.

CURNOW: Yes, I want to talk about that in a moment, but I just want to get your sense of what actually kick-started this wave? I mean, was it locally transmitted cases? People who went to restaurants and kind of let their hair down a bit? What are -- what do -- what do you focusing on here in terms of understanding it?

FUKUDA: Well, I think in a place like Hong Kong, you know, which is a pretty big city with over 7 million people, it's likely that there's always some cases in the city. And a lot of times, these cases are a little bit hidden and they don't cause an outbreak.

And so, when you have pretty strong social distancing measures in place, you basically can keep it under control. And I think that in Hong Kong, you know, there has been an effort to loosen up the controls when the cases were pretty low, and I think there is a kind of balance. And so, I think that probably the controls got a little bit too loose, and so, then, the cases started up again.

CURNOW: And all you concerned then about contact tracing here -- there?

FUKUDA: Well, I think in a place like Hong Kong, contact tracing is done really carefully. But probably the key thing is for the public to understand that if we reinstate some of the social distancing measures and really take, you know, pay attention to try and to prevent infections, that's the key thing to do.

CURNOW: Are you frustrated because, in many ways, Hong Kong really seemed to be on top of COVID a few months ago?

FUKUDA: I rather than say frustrated, I think that we've known for quite a while that this is a long race. And so, we haven't really had any illusions that we've gotten rid of the virus completely. However, you know, it is nice to have a more normalized life, but I think that all of us are resigned to the fact that we're going to be dealing with the situation for quite a long time.

CURNOW: And hence, these stricter measures. Let's just talk -- I understand that there are some experts reporting that this virus has mutated. I know I've spoken to some people who have said, this is not cause for concern, others have said this mutation certainly makes the virus more transmittable. What is -- what is your assessment of this information?


FUKUDA: Well, it appears that the mutation probably does make the virus more transmissible. However, I think the key thing is that even when the virus is more transmissible, we know that the basic measures like wearing a mask, ensuring that you're using the right social distancing measures, and you know, being careful not to go out when you're sick, these measures still work. And so, the mutation is there, but the basic steps can still be completely effective.

CURNOW: OK, and we also know that a WHO team is in China, on the ground, on a fact-finding mission. You, of course, used to work with the WHO. How confident are you that they will get concrete, useful information, especially from the epicenter of the outbreak, and perhaps even more information on this mutation?

FUKUDA: Well, you know, my understanding is that it's a small team that's there. This is two people. And China is quite a large country, and so, the degree to which they can really come away with an understanding of how this virus originated is going to depend on, you know, how well they're able to work with their counterparts in China.

And so, that is -- you know, that remains to be seen. We're going to have to see what the report says and whether it really sheds anything more specific in what we already know.

CURNOW: OK. Thank you very much, Doctor, for joining us. Dr. Keiji Fukuda, appreciate you giving us your expertise and your time. Thank you, sir.

FUKUDA: Thank you.

CURNOW: Tokyo is raising its alert to the highest of four levels after a surge in infections there. The city reported 165 new cases on Wednesday alone. Health experts say many of the new cases of people in their 30s or younger. The governor is urging everyone to remain vigilant and avoid businesses that don't follow prevention guidelines.

Officials in Okinawa, also reporting 36 new cases in an outbreak across six U.S. military bases in Japan as well. Japan's defense minister is urging the U.S. to take action.

Kaori Enjoji has more on this growing rift between the Japanese officials and the U.S.


KAORI ENJOJI, TOKYO BUREAU CHIEF, CNBC: Mistrust is mounting in Japan as more U.S. service members in the country test positive for the coronavirus. The majority of the cases are in Okinawa, with more than half of U.S. troops in Japan are stationed.

In an interview with CNN, the governor said he flew to Tokyo with this plea.

DENNY TAMAKI, GOVERNOR, OKINAWA, JAPAN (through translator): First of all, please stop people from the U.S. mainland from coming to Okinawa. I would like the alert level to be raised to the highest level at Futenma and Camp Hansen in order to put those two facilities into lockdown.

Honestly, I have doubts about whether adequate precautions are being taken to prevent the virus from spreading.

ENJOJI: It's the latest strain in a troubled relationship. The presence of U.S. bases in Japan dates to the end of World War II and is the bedrock of Japan's security policy. Complaints about noise, accidents, and crime have tested the bond over the decades.

TOBIAS HARRIS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, TENEO INTELLIGENCE: There's a long history of distrust between Okinawans and the U.S. military. And of course, Futenma, the base that is at the heart of this outbreak is also the base where locals have wanted move for a long time.

ENJOJI: In unusually terse terms, Japan's defense minister called it an extremely serious situation, as fears grow that military personnel could be spreading the virus at the very moment that Japan is grappling with the second wave.

KOICHI NAKANO, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, FACULTY OF LIBERAL ARTS, SOPHIA UNIVERSITY: Do you really highlights the special status that is given to the U.S. military personnel? When the -- there is a general traffic restriction even outside of a base, their behavior come across as being arrogant and behaving like colonial masters of a sovereign nation.


ENJOJI: Japan has a travel ban with more than 100 countries, and America is on that list. But an agreement dating back to 1960 exempts U.S. military personnel, raising questions about how effective Japan's border controls really are. Kaori Enjoji, for CNN, Tokyo.

CURNOW: India recorded its highest daily rise in new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. More than 400 million people across the country under lockdown again as it inches closer to 1 million confirmed cases. Restrictions were eased back in May, but some of the most populous states are now reversing course.

And Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has again tested positive for the virus. He told reporters, he's doing well and is anxious to get back to work. He also said the unproven drug, hydro -- chloroquine made him feel better.

President Bolsonaro has downplayed the virus for months, yet more than 75,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil as the number of infections nears 2 million.


CURNOW: And a massive fire has damaged, at least, seven ships in a port city in Iran. It's the latest in a series of mysterious explosions and fires at key locations around the country, and it comes just two weeks after a fire at a nuclear complex.

Jomana Karadsheh is following the story from Istanbul. Hi Jomana, so tell us more about this.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Robyn, what we're getting is information coming from state media and they are quoting local officials, they say that on Wednesday afternoon, a fire broke out at the shipyard, at a port in southern Iran.

As you see from the images that have emerged on state media, it looks like a massive fire that seems to have engulfed seven ships. Officials say that there were no casualties, they were investigating the cause of this.

But as you mentioned, the -- it's very interesting because this is obviously the latest in the string of incidents that we have seen taken place across the country since the end of June.

Initially, you know, there were questions about whether we are seeing some sort of a coincidence here with these fires and explosions taking place. But the more we are seeing of these incidents, the timing of this, the sites where this is happening, it is starting to look less of a coincidence, and more of a pattern here that is emerging.

If you look at the sites, we have seen this happening, at industrial sites, military production sites, and perhaps, as you mentioned there, the most significant, a nuclear complex -- the Natanz complex about two weeks ago. This is a very important facility in Iran's nuclear program, key to its uranium enrichment, and there we had a fire break out and it seems that this was a substantial -- it was a left substantial damage.

And that facility, Robyn, about 10 years ago, there was a cyberattack that hit Natanz, and according to experts, they believe it was Iran -- Israel, and the United States who were responsible for that cyberattack. So, there's been a lot of speculation about who or what might be behind these incidents, and, you know, a lot of experts here speculating at this point that it might be some of Iran's foes, perhaps, Israel and the United States, who might be responsible for this.

We heard from the Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, saying that not necessarily everything that happens inside Iran is linked to Israel. The Iranians have said that they're investigating these incidents, when it comes to Natanz, it was quite a vague statement that they came out with saying that they know what caused it, but they are not going to release this information at this point for security reasons.

You know, and we can't, at this point, dismissed the possibility here that maybe some sort of domestic group could be involved in these incidents. If they are linked, is this some sort of sabotage that they are trying to carry out.

According to BBC's Persian service, they say that after the Natanz fire, they received an e-mail from a group unheard of before, calling itself the Cheetahs of the Homeland. And they were claiming responsibility for that incident.

So, we'll have to wait and see, you know, this is obviously hitting Iran at a time where the country is looking quite weak at this point. It's dealing with multiple crises at the same time. It's struggling with the coronavirus pandemic that seems to be, at this point, in a second wave, where we're seeing the death rates increasing again in Iran.

And then, you've got the economic situation, they're really struggling with that U.S. maximum pressure campaign and U.S. sanctions. So, this is definitely creating a lot of you know, uncertainty within the country. People are questioning what is actually happening, and whether their government is in control of these facilities, and what is taking place on the ground.

And we heard a few days ago from President Hassan Rouhani, saying that this, Robyn, is the toughest and hardest year in Iran's history.

CURNOW: Yes, he's not the only one. Thanks so much. Jomana Karadsheh, there.

So, coming up, images that hit hard. Ahead, how one war photographer is battling COVID, one photograph at a time.



CURNOW: The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting pretty unique challenges for photojournalists. How do you cover a crisis defined by social distancing and an invisible enemy?

At the beginning of the pandemic, National Geographic photographer Lynsey Addario, tried to access hospitals in the U.K. to capture images of healthcare workers and patients, but she was turned away. So, she shifted course and began covering funerals and documenting victims of the disease.

Well, Lynsey joins me now from London to share more of her journey which is documented in the latest issue of National Geographic. Lynsey, great to see you. Thanks for joining us.



CURNOW: You write that you had to cover this pandemic backwards, from the dead first, essentially, and then, you eventually got to the living and the sick. Why is this pandemic just been so hard to photograph?

ADDARIO: You know, I can answer that. Usually, I'm working abroad, I rarely work where I live, it's a way to sort of separate my personal life from my professional life. And I think this is the first time I've worked in the U.K., and I was really surprised at how difficult to access was actually it seemed pretty straightforward to me as a National Geographic photographer to ask for access to hospitals and ICUs and I just couldn't get it.

CURNOW: And so, that's why you have these extremely powerful images of coffins, of burials, of bodies wrapped up in shrouds. And they're familiar in many sense, particularly, if people have followed your work in war zones. But they're also jarring, as you say, you're in England and many of these images were in rural England.

You know, the England of village churches and rose gardens and old pubs. So, the visual contrasts are really powerful, aren't they?

ADDARIO: Yes. I mean, one thing that I think, you know, we all were looking at frontline workers and naturally, those are the medical workers. And I thought, you know, who are the people who are responsible for ensuring a respectful and dignified death to those who have died in the pandemic, and also those who didn't die with COVID- 19, just to ensure that families can have -- you know, can say goodbye to their loved ones during a pandemic with social distancing and all of the other restrictions that were put in place. So, I started looking around me and accessing what I could access and really ended up with an interesting view on the pandemic because I was able to look at Muslim funerals, Hindu funerals, just regular English protestant funerals, Christian funerals. And for me, it was really important to show how people were burying their loved ones.

CURNOW: And also, you captured very on in -- early on in the pandemic the inequalities, the disproportionate effect this was having on, on minority communities.

ADDARIO: Yes. I mean, that was something I was interested in looking at, of course, because we kept hearing the numbers. I mean, for a journalist like myself, who is used to being sort of in the middle of a story, I was sort of watching T.V. every night, trying to figure out what was going on, I was reading all the local newspapers, and really trying to figure out how I could tell the story, and that took a very long time before I could actually start shooting.


CURNOW: Yes, I'm sure. So, when you did eventually get access to the sick? Not just the dead, you also had some very intimate photographs to showing how health care workers really cared for these patients, even though they were completely overwhelmed.

ADDARIO: I mean, they're extraordinary. You know, the doctors and nurses who work with the NHS and with any -- you know, any doctors and nurses around the world right now are unbelievable. It takes, you know, it takes five, six doctors or nurses to tend to one patient. They're in full PPE, they're wearing that PPE for 12 hours at a time or however long their shift is. And they never lose sight of what they're doing.

You know, they are constantly, I was at the Royal Free, I was at Royal Papworth. I went to a hospital in Coventry, and I was (INAUDIBLE). I think, you know, it never sort of cease to amaze me how incredible these doctors and nurses are because they're also putting their own lives at risk. You know, 218 NHS workers have passed away since the beginning of this pandemic.

CURNOW: And the patients, I mean, when you eventually did get to go into some of those ICU units, you followed a few people. How -- were they able to verbalize to you their distress? Did you have conversations with them? What was the message they gave you? I mean, they must have given permission for you to take their pictures, so, what did they say to you?

ADDARIO: Of course, and before I could even walk into their room and be able to take photographs that show their face, of course, I needed consent. And initially, that was procured by the hospital, and then I, of course, had to do my own consent.

So, I had to make sure that -- we all had to make sure that they were cognizant and well enough to give that consent. And so, when I went in, one of the gentlemen, William, who I photographed, he had a harder time speaking, but he was able to nod, he was able to blink, he was fully aware, it was very clear.

And Faisal, another gentleman who I photographed, who's 51. And in one of the images, he sort of sitting up, getting ready to stand to do his physical therapy. He was able to talk. They gave him a device that he puts to his throat and he was able to speak, actually.

And Faisal, I spoke with his son yesterday -- is doing so well, he's been taken off the ATMO machine after, I think, more than 60 days on it. And has -- is out of critical care, which is really incredible.

CURNOW: Yes, it is fantastic. All of these images, very, very powerful. And as you say, for a war photographer to be having to take these kinds of images in your own backyard just adds something to them in many ways.

So, Lynsey, always good to speak to you. Thanks so much.

ADDARIO: Good to speak to you. Thank you, Robyn.

CURNOW: So, for more of Lynsey's images, visits @natgeointhefield and @natgeo on Instagram. Her full story can be found at

You're watching CNN. Still to come. The statue of a slave trader was torn down and dumped in a harbor. You remember this. Well, have a look who's taken over his place. That's next.


CURNOW: Now, to Bristol, England, where a statue of a notorious slave trader was torn down last month. Well, this week it was secretly replaced with a depiction of his polar opposite. Salma Abdelaziz has the story.



SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL FIELD PRODUCER: Bristol woke up to a surprise today, and everyone here is celebrating. With the statue of a slave trader once stood, now, there is the sculpture of a proud, Black, female protester with her fist high in the air. It's created a moment. The atmosphere is electric, and this group of friends wants to remember it forever.

Do you all feel inspired?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Group -- the group chat was buzzing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was -- it was popping off. (INAUDIBLE). So, there was a lot of excitement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, a black woman -- to be raise of a black woman -- (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Call black woman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A black woman. I mean, that's something that we're going to tell our grandkids about it.


ABDELAZIZ: That woman is Jen Reid. Her likeness was created by the artist Marc Quinn.

MARC QUINN, VISUAL ARTIST: Well, I mean, it happened because I was looking at Instagram and I saw a picture of Jen standing on the plinth with her arm up in a black power salute. I just felt, oh my God, this -- she's created a sculpture.

ABDELAZIZ: Jen posed for the photo shortly after protesters tore down the likeness of Edward Colston, a 17th-century merchant of enslaved Africans. For decades, the cities' black community had called for its removal, and then, it was finally done. The statue dragged into the harbor and thrown into the water. Jen felt triumphant.

REID: When I climbed onto that statute and I raise my fist, I raise my fist for all the slaves that died at the hands of Colston. I raise my fist for George Floyd, giving them power. I raised my fist for every black person who is facing injustices.

ABDELAZIZ: The two and their team erected the installation under the cover of darkness, and a guerrilla-style act of defiance.

REID: It was really nerve-racking. Obviously, last night was the first time I came face to face with the sculpture of myself. And yes, that was a very surreal moment. Also, really emotional.

ABDELAZIZ: The fate of the artwork is now in question. Bristol's mayor says no permission was granted by local authorities. But Jen and Marc say it was the discussion, not the sculpture that was meant to be permanent.

QUINN: Three-year debating, take this debate all around the world from this one act. So, it's already functioning, isn't it? This is being --


REID: Yes, it's doing what it was supposed to do. So, which is great.

ABDELAZIZ: What it has done is create an event around this piece called surge of power and every one of all backgrounds is invited. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, Bristol.


CURNOW: And we do actually have an update on the fate of that statue, the Black Lives Matter sculpture has now been removed and is being held at a museum for the artist to collect or donate. That's according to a tweet from the Bristol City council.

The mayor, says the future occupant of that plinth must be decided by the people of Bristol. And we are live in Bristol in the next hour for an update on that story.

So, thanks for your company. I'm Robyn Curnow. The news continues with Rosemary.