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President Trump Insists on Reopening of Schools; Sixty U.S. Military Men in Japan Infected with Coronavirus; Tension Between U.S. and China Deepens; England Makes Masks Mandatory; Polls Show Scotland's Handling on Coronavirus Better than London. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired July 24, 2020 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Sanjay, I want to thank you as always. I want to thank Bill gates for giving us not only his time to answer our questions but also, our viewers as well. Thanks to those of you who wrote in with your questions. If you didn't get your question answered tonight the conversation continues at CNN tonight the conversation continues at cnn.com/coronavirusanswers.
The news continues right now.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The United States passes formatting coronavirus cases, adding one million cases in the fullest 15 days alone while lawmaker still want to reopen schools in this fall.
We'll explore that this hour.
Also, in Japan, a CNN exclusive on the island of Okinawa where coronavirus cases are surging on U.S. military bases. We'll take you there live.
Also, doctors in Egypt jailed for speaking out against the government's handling of the pandemic. We'll look at some of the personal stories surrounding that.
Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, hello everyone. I'm Natalie Allen. And this is CNN Newsroom.
Thank you so much for joining us.
Our top story. As the United States wrapped up its four millionth case of COVID-19 Thursday, the U.S. president insisted most of the country is in fine shape, and school children should return to the classroom.
President Trump said he has asked Congress for $105 billion to help schools minimize the risk. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that most schools reopen except in communities where the virus is spreading. And that seems to be almost everywhere.
The head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force privately told a group of health officials that rates of infection are racing in a dozen major U.S. cities. As for the president's showcase acceptance of the Republican
nomination next month in Jacksonville, Florida, events there have now been scrapped because of the coronavirus.
And Florida has now recorded its most coronavirus deaths in a single day.
CNN's Nick Watt has the latest.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One hundred seventy-three people reported dead today in Florida, an all-time high for that state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI: One person was getting exposed or sick, and they are infecting every single member of their household.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: Today, we passed four million confirmed COVID-19 cases across this country. Now, getting to the first million cases took 99 days. The next million took 43 days. The next, 28. And getting from three million to four million, just 15 days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER HOTEZ, INFECTIOUS EXPERT, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY: There is no end in sight in the sense that if there is no plan to control the virus at the national level, it's not going to go away by itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: We're now six months in and the president still thinks testing is overrated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Instead of 50, we did 25, we'd have half the number of cases. So, I personally think it's overrated but I am totally willing to keep doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: Doesn't he realize that a case is a case whether it's found by a test or not? And a known case can be contained. That's largely why we test.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
DEBORAH BIRX, COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Finding and tracing those very early individuals is really critical.
(END VOICE CLIP)
WATT: So, says Dr. Deborah Birx, who right now is privately worried by recent upticks in test positivity rates in these 12 cities. Among them Las Vegas, St. Louis, Baltimore.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
BIRX: I know it may look small, and you may say well, that only went from five to five and a half, and we're going to wait and see what happens. If you wait another three or four, even five days you'll start to see a dramatic increase in cases.
(END VOICE CLIP)
WATT: So, in all of Oregon bars and restaurants must now close at 10 pm. Anchorage, Alaska now reintroducing restrictions on the size of gatherings.
Listen to this from a just published study.
If the United States had collectively waited longer, opened more slowly, and then kept our gathering sizes small, we might have reduced case counts like Europe or Canada and experienced a relatively normal summer.
Instead, baseballs opening day is today, late July, with no fans and no spitting. Last year, opening day was late March. Dr. Anthony Fauci threw out the first pitch at the nationals. Who would have ever thought a mild mannered 79-year-old immunologist would be on that mound? Sign of our times.
Here in Los Angeles, a record death toll, the state reporting 157 people dying of COVID-19 within 24 hours.
Also, past couple of days, more than 12,000 new infections. So right now, Californians are being infected and dying at record rates.
Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.
ALLEN: Let's break down what's happening in the United States with Dr. Keith Neal, an infectious disease physician and professor emeritus at the University of Nottingham in England.
Doctor, thanks so much for coming on.
KEITH NEAL, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM: Good morning.
ALLEN: Good morning to you.
President Trump says the country is doing great in a pandemic that just infected its four millionth U.S. victim and is killing 1,000 people a day. What are your thoughts on the U.S. reaching this benchmark, and the fact that it only took 15 days for cases to go from three million to four million?
NEAL: I think these chasing days from one million to two million and then the rate should be the number of days from two million to four million, because this is an epidemic, and they double in time. Essentially this was seen in the world figures that every time the extra million will occur quicker, because there's more cases for it to build on.
I can't particularly say that the United States is mounting a particularly coherent response, and in fact, I don't think you've taken the opportunity to learn from what we've done in Europe and even in the United Kingdom, which has been badly affected.
Certain things like mass gatherings remain banned, although we've had things like our professional soccer -- we call it football -- and I don't think Anthony Fauci would have turned up to give the first pitch if he didn't think it was safe for a 79-year-old man.
ALLEN: Yes. And God bless him. The pitch wasn't great, but he's great at everything else, isn't he?
Well, President Trump also continues to insist testing is overrated. That is hard to comprehend that he is saying that still, especially when you consider the testing we do have is inadequate and slow. How is that affecting the crisis in the U.S.?
NEAL: I am surprised that the testing is slow and that it's not being ramped up already. There are difficulties with ramping this test up with the number of reagents.
Certainly, the WHO said test, test, test as the response to this disease. I think you actually need to go further and you certainly need more testing. But it's also isolating and tracing the contacts to prevent chains of transmission, which is a key part of the testing strategy.
In the early days in Britain, we didn't have enough test capacity, and we asked everybody who had even mild symptoms that could be COVID-19 to self-isolate for a week and their contacts to isolate for two weeks. That in effect bypassed on lack of testing and achieved the same thing. And certainly, it probably had an effect in reducing cases.
Given the amount of medical research facilities in the United States, I'm surprised they haven't been co-opted. many medical school and science research labs to do more of your PCR testing because I would have thought you would have sufficient capacity if they were used.
ALLEN: Yes. It just seems like we lack structure on many fronts, whereas you have seen that in Europe and it's made a difference.
NEAL: I think so. Certainly, and also in other European countries. Some countries like Germany have very regionalized structure, which really foresee is very similar to your different states, but there is a much more central leadership in that federal statement.
In Britain, we've got four devolved administrations, but they all sort of attend to the scientific advice and in the early stages, the responses were identical and have only changed slightly. Our biggest changes at the moment is our city of Leicester, which has
gone back into a local lockdown due to a rising number of cases, and another area in the northwest of England, which has had some extra restrictions put on.
What I don't see in places in the states which have high disease rates, people are having significant restrictions put on in the number of states.
ALLEN: Well, certainly, the United States could certainly learn some lessons from how other countries have handled this successfully because something has got to give.
We appreciate so much your insights and your expertise. Dr. Keith Neal, thank you.
NEAL: Thank you.
ALLEN: We want to go now to Japan and an increase in coronavirus cases at U.S. military bases in Okinawa. CNN is exclusively on the frontline of the story with Kaori Enjoji at the U.S. Marine base camp Hansen.
Hello to you, Kaori.
KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Hi, Natalie.
Well, there have been more than 60 cases of new coronavirus among the U.S. marines in the last 24 hours that we have confirmed and they are centered at two bases, one, Camp Hansen where we are right now, and another, Futenma, both on Okinawa.
And this is unnerving for residents who live very close to these bases and also among the residents here as the number of COVID-19 cases across the country in Japan hit record highs.
I spoke to the colonel who runs the Camp Hansen base here and he says that they are -- there are plans in place to test all personnel that are arriving from the U.S. military at mainland. But he can't confirm that those are actually happening quite yet.
Residents tell me that they want that first and foremost. This is really not a military issue. It's the fact that tens of thousands of new infections are happening in the U.S. And they want everyone that's landing from the U.S. to be tested before they come, whether they are asymptomatic or not.
They also want better (ph) disclosure. I mean, this is a base where you have 10,000 people, and about 6,000 of them roughly live on base. The rest live off base. Right now, they are being restricted. It's not a complete lockdown per se, there is essential movement in and out of the base, and when they do go out of the base they are restricted to go home and they can't go to other places within the island. But residents want more information as to where some of these
personnel live, to try and get a better handle on what kind of risk they are exposed to. And I think that concern is real, because the number of cases that we've seen among (Inaudible), the U.S. marines and the bases in Okinawa since July now exceeds the total number of cases the island of Okinawa has seen during the course of the entire pandemic, Natalie.
ALLEN: Yes, it certainly is concerning, understood. The people around this base are nervous. And you know, Kaori, Camp Hansen has had a particularly dark history with the local community after the rape of a 12-year-girl by three servicemen based there back in 1995. Is that opening old wounds?
ENJOJI: It is. And the U.S. military and Japanese local residents here have had a long history. And the case you mentioned triggered one of the biggest protests around Okinawa at the time. And the tensions between the two have festered for a long, long time. And now we are in the midst of the pandemic where there is a lot of uncertainty all around.
And I think that is one of the primary reasons that they want more disclosure from the U.S. military. And they are aware that U.S. servicemen are exempt from local laws. And as you pointed out, there have been long simmering tensions between the two sides. And they would like some kind of exception from some of these rules that have exempt the U.S. military from disclosing some of the details that local residents would have to make.
I mean, I'll just give you one example, and it's not just -- it's not Camp Hansen. There were two reported case in another military base in Japan today in Yokosuka which is not in Okinawa. There were two. One of them was from military personnel, related personnel, arriving to an airport, a commercial airport in Japan.
And remember, there were three other cases like that. When they traveled and they lied about whether or not they were using public transportation as well. So, the mistrust is there, and yes, the mistrust has been there for a long time and I think that this pandemic is reopening some of those wounds. Natalie?
ALLEN: Kaori Enjoji there at Camp Hansen, we appreciate your reporting. Thank you so much.
Now the growing diplomatic dispute between the United States and China as Beijing orders the closure of the American consulate in Chengdu. China says it is a reciprocal measure after the Trump administration ordered China's consulate in Houston, Texas to shut down.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says it's time for the world to change how it engages with Beijing. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Look, we have to admit a hard truth. We invest (ph) in hard truth. It should guide us in the years and decades to come. And if we want to have a free 21th century, and not the Chinese century of which Xi Jinping dreams, the old paradigm of blind engagement with China simply won't get it done. We must not continue it and we must not return to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Let's talk about this with Kristie Lu Stout. She is following it from Hong Kong. Hello to you, Kristie.
This is a very strong statement by the secretary of state and it seems that tit-for-tat is well underway now between China and the U.S.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is well underway, Natalie. China has vowed to retaliate after the announced closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, and China has done just that. In just the last few hours China told the United States to shut down the American consulate in the southwestern Chinese city Chengdu.
We first learned of this development via the web site of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And in the statement, it also details the reasons why China is doing this.
Let's bring up the statement for you.
According to the China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it says, "the measure taken by China is a legitimate and necessary response to the unjustified act by the U.S. It conforms with international law, the basic norms of international relations, and customary diplomatic practices.
The current situation in China-U.S. relations is not what China desires to see. and the U.S. is responsible for all this. We once again urge the U.S. to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track," unquote.
Now, Natalie, again, this move was expected. On Wednesday, Beijing felt that it would retaliate on the back of that closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston. For days now Chinese state media have been pointing to possible American consulates that would be shut down in response, consulates based in China.
The South China Morning Post even reported earlier this week that China may close the consulate in Chengdu because of its strategic value namely where it's located, its proximity to Tibet and its relative proximity to Xinjiang.
Now this move also comes on the back of that fiery speech given by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he slammed China and also slammed the U.S. policy of engagement with China. He called on the United States, as well as its allies to use more creative and more assertive ways to help press the Chinese Communist Party to change its way. So, all eyes now on how the United States is going to respond to the
announced closure of the American consulate in Chengdu and all eyes on what's going to happen to the Chinese consulate in Houston. Because overnight, the Chinese consul general in Houston gave an interview to Politico in which he suggested that they may be defy the order to shut down, and that (AUDIO GAP) and they may remain open until further notice.
ALLEN: All right. Kristie, thank you.
And of course, this is just one issue of many around these growing tensions between these two countries. Thanks so much. Kristie Lu Stout for us there in Hong Kong.
There is much more ahead here, including this. Effective Friday, masks are now mandatory inside shops and supermarkets across of England. Why it's happening now and why some say it's about time.
We'll have a live report from London.
Also, new polling showing rising support for Scottish independence and the coronavirus has much to do with it. We'll go live to Edinburgh for more about it.
ALLEN: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is marking one year in office with a promise he will not let coronavirus hold the U.K. back. His vow comes as face masks become mandatory in shops across England.
For more on this new rule, we're joined by our Anna Stewart. She comes to us from Oxford Street in London. Good morning to you, Anna.
You know, England didn't jump on mask wearing early on, and now that's changed. Why is that?
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: They certainly didn't. Shops like these one is non-essential retail have been open since the fourth of July in England. And its rule comes in on the 24th of July. So, some lag there. And really, this is 360 from the U.K. government on face mask generally. Why early on in the crisis, early in the pandemic?
One of their chiefs, sort of medical advisers told the British public they worry that face coverings could actually promote spreading the virus by encouraging people to touch their face. So, this really is an about turn.
Now failure to wear a face covering in a shop, at an airport, in a train station, could result in a fine of 100 pounds. That's a little over $125. However, enforcement, how strict will it be, unlikely to very, Natalie.
Lots of retailers today have already come out and said they will not be policing this themselves. They are hoping the public just sort of, there is sort of public shaming and people will just wear a face mask because they know that's the right thing to do.
The ones that can, sort of enforce the fine is the police. Peace forces in the country including London's Met police have said they are not on face mask patrol. They will intervene as a matter of last resort.
For instance, if someone refuses to wear at shop, when they told you because they're not wearing a face covering, should there some sort of be aggressive incident, then they will step in. But unless it gets that sort of level, the police will not be enforcing this.
In terms of how many people already face -- wear face coverings in the U.K. and England specifically, very few if you compare it to other countries. There was a poll that was released yesterday from Ipsos MORI and it showed that 9 out of 10 Brits support wearing a face covering in a shop out and about, they understand the importance of why. But currently, only 3 out of 10 actually do. So, there's a quite sort of gap, I guess to make up there. Natalie?
ALLEN: All right. We hope that they will.
Anna Stewart in London, Anna, as always, pleasure having you. Thank you.
To the north in Scotland, the coronavirus is not just a public health crisis. It may be creating a new political crisis as well.
Many in Scotland are very pleased with their government's handling of the pandemic, but very dissatisfied with London's. And that is raising a familiar call.
And to tell us more about it, CNN's Nic Robertson joins me now from Edinburgh. Hello to you, Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Good morning, Natalie.
Well, this really is a case of just how the two principal politicians, their leader here in Scotland, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister in London, are handling the coronavirus. Both countries, England and Scotland are having pretty similar experiences, but their leaders are handling it differently.
ROBERTSON: Tourist favorites, yet, a week from Edinburgh's famous Fringe Festival COVID-19 is choking off customary crowds, and the cash they bring even so. Scotts count themselves luckier than the English.
What do you guys think about how the government is handling coronavirus here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's been not too bad, to be honest compared to staying safe.
ROBERTSON: And yourself? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just better than England.
ROBERTSON: Which is really kind of weird because the Scotts have had COVID-19 as bad as the English. These are the figures, but perception is proving key.
Compared to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is getting a thumbs up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very clear, people first. And that's how it should be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No confusion, straightforward leadership. How it should be.
ROBERTSON: Up here, Sturgeon is viewed as putting health ahead of the economy. Masks are an issue where she outpaces Johnson. They've been mandatory in stores up here two weeks ahead of England.
Another COVID-19 comparison, boosting Sturgeon's polling, getting back to work.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It's very important that people should be, you know, going back to work if they can now.
NICOLA STURGEON, FIRST MINISTER OF SCOTLAND: The virus still circulating in Scotland. If we allow it to, is capable of, and will spread rapidly.
ROBERTSON: And it's not just here in Scotland, it's in Wales and Northern Ireland too, where 20 years ago, the British government devolved substantial powers including health, education, and transport. Political pollsters say those governments are now getting a chance to shine.
MARK DIFFLEY, PRO-INDEPENDENCE POLLSTER: This is really the most significant time where devolution has been the most obvious to the ordinary citizens.
ROBERTSON: And in Scotland, that is translating into trust in Sturgeon.
LINDA BAULD, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY of EDINBURGH: We've not had the debate about face coverings, that's happened, for example, at the U.K. level. People have been more positive about the whole approach.
ROBERTSON: All of this, recent polls show, driving up a desire for independence for the first time in generations, a majority want to leave the U.K.
TOMMY SHEPPARD, SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY M.P.: People are willing to look at the prospect of independence with fresh eyes, and many people who never even thought of it before are now aware of the differences between Scotland and England because of the different responses to public health emergency.
ROBERTSON: So, significant to shift, Johnson's brief visit to Scotland this week, his first since the pandemic began, where achieving despite the secrecy surrounding it drew protesters was dubbed locally an effort to save the union.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is your mask, Boris?
JOHNSON: The union is a fantastically strong institution. It's helped our country through thick and thin.
ROBERTSON: According to pollsters, Johnson has a lot of ground to make up.
DIFFLEY: Nicola Sturgeon's approval ratings up over 80 percent, and the prime minister in kind of negative, quite significant negative territory.
ROBERTSON: With Scottish elections just months away, Sturgeon's party can almost taste the freedom they've longed for.
SHEPPARD: From our point of view, to be honest, those who wish to see Scotland become an independent country welcome as many trips as possible by Boris Johnson to Scotland. Because every time he sets foot in Scotland, support for independence increases.
ROBERTSON: It's been a long time since the future of the union was this finally balanced.
ROBERTSON: And what was really interesting about Boris Johnson's visit, he didn't do any public engagements. And the two places that he did go to were not constituencies held by the SNP. So, he wasn't there actually trying to change people's minds. And that really feeds into the perception here in Scotland that the prime minister doesn't understand the scale of the issue and the troubles that he faces here.
ALLEN: Yes. And we'll wait and see what is next play, if he has one planned might be there. It doesn't look good for him right now.
Nic Robertson, I really enjoyed that really. Thank you so much.
Tens of thousands of new coronavirus infections in Brazil in just a day. Ahead here, how the country is coping with the pandemic that shows little sign of slowing there.
Also, Egyptian doctors are struggling to battle coronavirus outbreaks in their country. Now, some face jail time for criticizing the government's response. We'll have a report from our Ben Wedeman.
ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. You're watching CNN Newsroom.
The coronavirus has now infected more than 4 million Americans. That is one million more than just two weeks ago. Almost 69,000 new cases were reported just on Thursday. Yet, U.S. President Trump, on Thursday, once again downplayed the crisis and said millions of American schoolchildren should get back into the classroom.
But the president will not be traveling to Jacksonville, Florida next month after all to publicly accept the Republican nomination. Those events have been canceled as the state reported 173 deaths on Thursday, its highest one day total so far.
The U.S. economy is showing troubling signs once again even as Republican Senators argue over the details of a new stimulus plan. New unemployment claims are up for the first time in almost four months. 1.4 million Americans applied for first-time unemployment benefits last week.
For more on this, CNN's Eleni Giokos joins me now. Hello to you, Eleni. Let's talk about this more in detail. To what extent are the latest unemployment claims pointing to a faltering economic recovery?
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN MONEY AFRICA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it is such an important question right now where you have a number that disappoints at the market. It wasn't expected. You've also got to remember that we've had a downward trend in initial claims for the past 15 weeks.
So, that was really encouraging. But this number is sobering. It is a reality check, also joined with strong correlation between the states that we saw the highest initial claims coming through and the rate of coronavirus cases.
It means businesses aren't able to go back to normal economic activity. It also means that people are not feeling comfortable to go and spend because there are still so much uncertainty.
Now, in terms of the stimulus, it basically means that an economic recovery in the U.S. is still very much dependent on intervention by the Federal Reserve, by the administration, stimulus recovery plan being debated by Senate Republicans and the White House.
Now, a lot of worry about where to from -- yes, you have got enhanced benefits that are coming to the end -- at the end of July, and that is a big risk.
I want you to take a listen to what Secretary -- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said after talks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: The president's priority for the moment is to get money into Americans quickly, and one of the problems with the payroll tax cut is that it takes time. So, we are much more focused right now on the direct payments. We are going to come back again, you know, there may be a CARES 5.0. The president, again, has focused on money in American workers, in American pockets, right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: And if they're that focused, they absolutely have to make a decision very soon. The one mixed total (ph) is Republicans and Democrats needs to decide. Democrats are talking about $3 trillion. The Republicans are saying $1 trillion. And of course, an enhanced benefit, I cannot stress than enough, means that over $600 will be taken out of vulnerable Americans pockets.
ALLEN: And also, Eleni, U.S. markets took a hit yesterday, and today in Asia, it is right across the board. How have the US-China tensions impacted sentiment?
GIOKOS: Yes, I mean, this is such an important question because any bad news that comes through with regards to China and the U.S. means that it could actually disrupt any economic activity. This was a tit- for-tat scenario where you had the U.S. asking China to close down its consulate in Houston, and then China doing the same, announcing that the U.S. needs to close down its consulate in Chengdu.
You've got red across the board in Asia. Deep losses coming through. It's impacting European trade. And overnight, of course, we also saw the U.S. markets taking a big hit right across the board, those initial claims numbers playing a big role, the uncertainty with regards to the stimulus. And then you also had tech stocks really coming under pressure, the NASDAQ taking a big drop. That sentiment feeding through into the race of the markets as well.
Earnings are going to be important. China-U.S. tensions are going to be important. And of course, stimulus plans, what is going to be put on the table to ensure that there is no hiccup in terms of the recovery. And Natalie, so much at stake right now.
ALLEN: Yes. Sounds like we have very risky and probably volatile times ahead for the economy and the markets. Eleni Giokos, thank you so much.
It is proving to be yet another very bad week for Brazil as it sets daily records in coronavirus cases. Health officials Thursday reported almost 60,000 new infections. That is second only to Wednesday when they reported almost 68,000.
CNN's Shasta Darlington has more about it from Sau Paulo.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brazil reported another big spike in daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday, almost 60,000 new infections and more than 1,300 additional deaths. This, a day after the interim health minister declared the virus seemed to be under control, with what he called, an effective response preventing a collapse in the health system.
While the rate of infection appears to plateau in big urban centers like Sau Paulo, the virus continues to spread in smaller cities and towns in Brazil south and inland with the total number of cases nearing 2.3 million. In the three southernmost states, the number of infections has tripled in the last month.
Meanwhile, a new study led by researchers in Brazil found that the use of a controversial malaria drug, touted by President Jair Bolsonaro, does not help COVID-19 patients. According to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, hydroxychloroquine did not improve the conditions of hospitalized patients with mild to moderate COVID-19.
Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sau Paulo.
ALLEN: And let's look at other countries now. Columbia reporting its highest daily death toll yet, 315 COVID-related deaths, Thursday alone. It also reported almost 8,000 new cases. Columbia's capital, Bogota, has put five more parishes on lockdown. That means about 5 million people from 13 parishes are now on lockdown in the city.
Bolivia is putting off its presidential election, again. It was originally scheduled for May, then put off until September. Now, with coronavirus cases still on the rise, it has been pushed now to October 18th. The head of Bolivia's supreme electoral court says it is appropriate the elections be held with adequate and solid measures of health protection.
The virus is hitting Mexico's border communities hard. In some places, the mortality rate is in the double digits. And the country has the fourth highest death toll in the world.
CNN's Matt Rivers is in Tijuana with more on the strain the virus is putting on resources there.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We had another record day here in Mexico with health officials on Thursday evening reporting more than 8,400 newly confirmed cases of this virus. That is the largest day-to- day increase in Mexico since this outbreak began. And we know that the effects of this outbreak have been felt severely in border communities like this one.
Right now, we are in the Mexican state of Baja, California. It sits just south of the U.S. State of California. And this was one of the first areas to really feel the effects of this epidemic in Mexico going all the way back to the early days of April.
And the effects of those early cases are still being felt right now consider the mortality rate here in the state. It's roughly 23 percent of all people that have contracted the virus have died as a result. That's one of the highest mortality rates in all Mexico. And Mexico was one of the highest mortality rates as a country, of any country, worldwide.
We've spoken to doctors who have routinely told us over the past few months that hospitals here in Baja California have been overwhelmed by COVID patients. That's part of the reason why we know that people here in the city of Tijuana had actually traveled across that border behind me to the U.S. State of California to try and seek treatment which, of course, has put a strain on the health care system in California.
And on the other side of this coin, you've got governors in Mexican Border States who are concerned over rises in cases, severe rises in U.S. states like California and Arizona. They don't want Americans who are infected coming across here. And this is the challenge in border communities and the situation on both sides of the border is the stated reason why both the U.S. and Mexican governments have announced that border closures to all nonessential travel that had been in place since late March will be continued until at least August 21st.
Matt Rivers, CNN, Tijuana.
ALLEN: Hong Kong, once again, seeing a rise in cases. Part of what is now its third wave. Thursday, brought 118 new infections. Authorities say all but seven of them were locally transmitted. An additional death also was recorded bringing the total to 15.
Authorities say family and workplace transmissions appear to be the biggest risk with several of the outbreaks linked to restaurants. The government says it is evaluating if distancing restrictions now need to be tightened.
Belgium is tightening its coronavirus containment measures as the country sees a spike in new cases as well. The country's Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes says that cases have risen dramatically with an average of 193 new infections a day last week and 370 cases on Monday alone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOPHIE WILMES, PRIME MINISTER OF BELGIUM (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Reproduction number, which indicates how fast the virus is spreading, has risen above one since last week. This is a parameter that should be treated with caution, but it indicates that the epidemic is spreading again.
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ALLEN: Ms. Wilmes announced that face mask will now be required in public places including outdoor markets and shopping areas. Contact tracing measures will also be put in places for bars and restaurants. And those standings in these establishments will be required to wear a mask. The new rules also requires shops to close by 10:00 p.m.
Next, we head to Egypt, where coronavirus cases are in the tens of thousands, and yet, some doctors face jail time for speaking out about the country's response to COVID-19. Ben Wedeman looks at exactly what's going on for us, next.
Also it's the first day of Friday prayers since Turkey's controversial decision to churn an iconic museum into a mosque. We take you inside the Hagia Sofia, coming up.
ALLEN: South Africa now has the fifth highest number of coronavirus cases in the world. The country passed the 400,000 mark on Thursday, and its death toll is now more than 6,000. This is what a funeral in Soweto looks like. Mourner's staying in long lines of their cars.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa now has the fifth highest number of confirmed corona cases in the whole world. And currently accounts for half of all of the cases on our beloved continent of Africa. The coronavirus storm has indeed arrived, as we said it would.
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ALLEN: Doctors in Egypt had been jailed for publicly criticizing the government's pandemic response. Some even facing terrorism charges. That comes as Egypt now has more than 90,000 cases of coronavirus.
Let's go to senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, he has been looking into this for us. It is not like doctors and frontline healthcare workers have enough to worry about, now this, Ben.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly, Egypt has been struggling with this coronavirus outbreak for months now. And the job of these beleaguered doctors trying to bring this outbreak under control has made all the more difficult by the heavy hand of Egypt's pervasive security services.
WEDEMAN: The message from the Egyptian army is clear. The military has mobilized its considerable resources to fight the scourge of coronavirus. Providing citizens with state-of-the-art facilities and treatment. Pull back the curtain, however, and it's a different picture.
The doctor appeals online for donations of masks. More than 120 Egyptian physicians have died from coronavirus according to the general syndicate of Egyptian doctors. But those who speak out, pay a price.
According to the doctor syndicate, at least six doctors and one pharmacist have been arrested for criticizing the government's efforts, accused by state security of being members of a terrorist organization, spreading false news and misusing social media.
A representative of the syndicate who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation told CNN detention for those arrested is being renewed every 15 days, then another 15 days, then another 15 days.
In a statement, the syndicate said the arrests are spreading frustration and fear among its members. For doctors, it is a stark choice, says Amnesty International's Egypt Researcher.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And for them, it's either going to be risking death, risking contracting the disease and death, all to less jail if you speak about what the situation that they are face with.
WEDEMAN: Officials in Cairo didn't respond to CNN's request for comment. Egypt has reported around 90,000 cases of coronavirus and almost 4,500 deaths. Yet, the pandemic has inspired private initiatives to help those in need.
Masimu Mustafa (ph) prepares meals for people with mild cases of COVID-19, self-isolating at home. She started a Facebook group to organize a network to make and distribute meals throughout the twin cities of Cairo and Giza, with a combined population of around 20 million. The response to her call for volunteers, she recalls, was an explosion.
The explosion happened, she says, because at the time everyone felt they were alone, that if they got coronavirus they have to confront it alone.
Before the meals are picked up for delivery, she writes a message on each. Made with love, we're with you, we love you.
WEDEMAN: The actual number of people who are doctors, nurses, and others, pharmacists, who have been arrested is not actually clear at this point, but it is believed that it is well over six. Other doctors who have spoken out have been transferred far away from their homes in their original places of work for speaking out about Egypt's challenges when facing this virus. Natalie?
ALLEN: Very troubling indeed. Thank you so much for that report senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, for us. Thanks.
Friday prayers are set to begin in Turkey's historic Hagia Sophia, just about three hours from now. We have live video coming into us from Istanbul. This will be the first time prayers have been held there in decades. Turkey's president ordered the world heritage site converted back into a mosque, a move that has drawn widespread criticism.
CNN's Arwa Damon has been following this story for us and she is in Istanbul.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is Hagia
Sophia, truly spectacular, and inside, breathtaking, at the crossroads of both Christianity and Islam, but now, at the center of a growing controversy.
Now, Hagia Sophia started out as the Christian empire's first catholic cathedral. That is during the Byzantine era. Then when the Ottomans took over what was then Constantinople, they transformed it into a mosque.
But since 1935, under the government of modern day Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, it was then transformed into a museum. It is a UNESCO world heritage site.
But, now, it has been converted back into a mosque by Turkey's current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. That is because the courts annulled the earlier decision to transform it into a mosque, paving the way for the administration of Hagia Sophia to be moved from the Ministry of Culture to the Presidency of Religious Affairs.
This is a move that has resulted in many expressions of disappointment, some of condemnation, ranging from UNESCO, to the Pope, to the other senior government leaders around the world.
But for Turkey, this is not really a big issue. Even though there is a fair amount of support for this conversion among the Turkish population, even for those who oppose it, they are not really causing much of a fuzz.
Some analysts though are saying that this, right now, is a move by Turkey's current president because of the countries plummeting economy, because of a range of domestic issues. But others will say that this conversion is not really going to sway the political balance.
And the Turkish government, right now, is trying to assure all of the critics and skeptics out there that even though Hagia Sophia may officially be a mosque, the Christian artwork, the historic frescoes, those are not going to be touched. They are simply going to be using technology to try to cover them up during the Muslim prayer times, and that Hagia Sophia will always be open to all.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.
ALLEN: CNN Newsroom will be right back.
ALLEN: A 3D printing company is helping doctors in the U.K. get a better understanding of the effects of coronavirus. This is a CT scan of a patients lungs at the height of infection. Axial3D used this information to create a life size model of the internal organs. Areas of scarring, and inflammation, that are preventing the patient getting enough oxygen are shown in yellow. The model can be split into eight different parts to reveal the scale of the damage. Axial3D hopes it will highlight the severity of the virus.
It is play ball again for baseball after a three month time out due to the COVID outbreak. The shortened 60-game season opened Thursday with the New York Yankees beating the Washington Nationals 4 to 1 in a rain-shortened game. No fans were in the stands. Both teams, as you can see right here took a knee before the game in a sign of unity for racial equality. They later stood when the U.S. anthem was played.
Top U.S. disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, frankly blew the ceremonial first pitch. God bless him. Look at that. Thankfully, of course, he does much better in the lab than on the diamond. By the way, he is precious, and what a great choice for throwing out the first ball.
The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics were supposed to start this weekend. Remember that? But because of COVID-19, officials postpone the games until next year.
CNN's Coy Wire spoke with two-time Olympic gold medalist, an indoor Heptathlon record holder, Ashton Eaton, about the Olympics and how he will handle the delay.
ASHTON EATON, TWO-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: One thing that sport really taught me, which applies to this scenario, is challenges caused growth and vice versa. You know, growth is a challenge. The Olympics now a year later, I think it is just one of the situation where two things can probably happen. You can be extra hard on yourself, and say, well, I'm going to use this time to double down, or you can say, I'm going to use this time to actually take a step back and rest a little bit, both mentally and physically, and get ready at a later date. And kind of slow my cadence. I think that is probably the approach I would take for myself.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Who are some of the athletes and events you are looking for to watching at the Tokyo games?
EATON: I don't want to pick favorites but -- because I love all sport, really. Every athlete and every sport is just super unique in their own rights. And it's really like art. You're watching somebody who has a unique ability, a unique gift, to put their body and mind to the test. I am definitely partial to track and field for sure.
WIRE: I'm looking forward to watching Simone Biles.
EATON: Yes, you know, I've met Simone, and she is just -- you can feel the power when you stand next to her. You can just like feel that her body has so much energy. It's wild. WIRE: In the Olympic Games, my favorite event to cover, because you quite literally see the power of sport and that it can bring people from all walks of life, different backgrounds together to celebrate and hug, how do you think that athlete demonstrations at the Olympic games could help raise awareness around the world for certain issues?
EATON: There's very few things that bring the entire world together. I think the postal system, the Internet, you know, maybe the space station is a good example of kind of global collaboration and partnership. But the Olympic games is really is the pinnacle of that, especially to celebrate human performance. Whatever athletes choose to do, I think if we just hope it is in the spirit of the Olympic Games, which is, you know, peaceful and having the globe in mind, if you will.
WIRE: Since you transition from sport, from being a decathlete -- the decathlete, on the entire planet, what have you gotten into? Would've been up to since you hung up your cleats?
EATON: So, after transitioning from sport, I was always interested in science and technology and I had the opportunity -- really presented with the opportunity to join the Intel family. The project that I'm working on, particularly, we are focusing on two things, human performance and celebrating sport through kind of more advanced understanding.
The way we are doing that is we are taking camera systems, aiming them at athletes or a certain events in track and field, and we are able to -- with just cameras, no sensors -- get the skeletal data when athletes are in motion. And truly fascinating about that is for the first time, we are able to know, precisely, what the body is doing. And so we hope to show that kind of information through a broadcast and really, some storytelling.
ALLEN: Such a talented athlete. Thank you for watching, I invite you to follow me on social media and Instagram, or Twitter. I am Natalie Allen. Kim Brunhuber is up next. Thanks for watching.