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CONNECT THE WORLD

COVID-19 to be a Top Ten Cause of Death in U.S.; U.S.-China Consulate Battle; Iranian Passenger Plane's Scare with Fighter Jet; Historic Friday Prayers at Hagia Sophia. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired July 24, 2020 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:39]

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. And welcome, you're watching CNN. I'm Hala Gorani.

Killing more than 1,000 Americans every day, coronavirus is on track to be a top ten cause of death this year in the United States. We'll look at the

concerning numbers.

Then, tit for tat. China closes a U.S. consulate but threatens to keep its own up and running.

Plus, a close encounter with a U.S. fighter jet causes chaos on the Iranian passenger plane.

And later, the Hagia Sophia holds Friday prayers for first time in nearly a century.

(MUSIC)

GORANI: Well, for the third straight day, the coronavirus has claimed more than a thousand lives in the United States. This as the country's total

number of cases passes 4 million. As you can see, we were at 3 million earlier this month. With numbers like this, it's no surprise that the CDC

says the coronavirus is on track to be a top ten leading cause of death in the United States in 2020.

But it is not expected to top heart disease or cancer, the leading causes in the country by quite a margin.

Jeremy Diamond joins us from the White House with new details.

And, Jeremy, it's the millions of cases, we are talking about 4 million cases, a thousand deaths a day. And you have a Trump administration that is

still, you know, perhaps not clearly indicating that it will lead strategically speaking in how to confront this really deadly pandemic.

What's the latest from the U.S.?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Hala, that's right. And nonetheless, though despite that what we have seen from the president

this week has been a series of reversals, frankly.

He acknowledged earlier this week that things are going to get worse before they get better and yesterday, the stunning reversal on the convention. For

the last several weeks, the president has insisted on having a full blown political convention next month, and in fact, he had his aides move the

convention to Jacksonville, Florida, instead of Charlotte after the governor of North Carolina said that they needed to take social distancing

measures into hand.

But now, it seems with the political reality of his sinking poll numbers and the coronavirus reality of surging cases in Florida, the president's

hands appears to have been forced.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND (voice-over): After months, demanding a crowded in-person convention, President Trump bowing to the coronavirus reality, canceling

convention activities in Jacksonville next month and moving his speech away from this coronavirus hot spot.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I looked at my team and I said, the timing for this event is not right. Just not right with what's

happened recently, the flare-up in Florida. To have a big convention is not the right time.

It's really something that for me, I have to protect the American people. That's what I have always done. That's what I always will do.

DIAMOND: But Donald Trump has downplayed the severity of the virus for months.

Even holding campaign events in Arizona and Oklahoma without requiring masks or enforcing social distancing.

Now, the president is retreating from his defiant stance, as coronavirus cases soared in Florida, and across the United States.

TRUMP: Now, I'll still do a convention speech in a different form, but we won't do a big, crowded convention per se. It's just not the right time for

that.

DIAMOND: A source familiar with the situation says Trump was worried about low turnout, as a growing number of Republican lawmakers say they will not

attend.

And even as he announced much of the convention will take place online, the president is still insisting it's safe for children to return to the

classroom in person in just a few weeks.

TRUMP: Districts may need to delay reopening for few weeks and that's up to the governors, but every district should be making preparations to open.

Again, the children obviously have a very strong immune system.

[10:05:03]

DIAMOND: The CDC releasing new guidelines suggesting the same, saying the best available evidence indicates that COVID-19 poses relatively low risks

to school-age children. But also encouraging officials to keep schools closed if there's uncontrolled transmission of the virus.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: The piece missing was to say, okay, fine, we can do that in

Maine and New Hampshire where they're already getting down to the really low level. But how do you ask teachers and bus drivers to come into the

workplace, exposed to huge amounts of virus?

DIAMOND: Meanwhile, before throwing out the first pitch for the nationals --

ANNOUNCER: Dr. Anthony Fauci.

DIAMOND: -- Dr. Fauci saying it may take over a year with the successful vaccine for life to go back to how it was before COVID-19.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If we could vaccinate the overwhelming majority of

the population, we could start talking about real normality again. But it is going to be a gradual process.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND: And, Hala, after the president made this decision to cancel the in-person convention in Jacksonville, the White House Chief of Staff Mark

Meadows, he went on TV and called this a responsible and really dedicated decision. He also said it was, quote, one of the most difficult decisions

that any president or politician might have to make.

We should note, of course, that this decision is one that the former Vice President Joe Biden made weeks ago, along with the Democratic Party in

deciding to move to the fully virtual convention. The president here not just bowing, of course, to the reality of coronavirus and making a

responsible decision on that front, but also clearly acknowledging what his aides have been putting in his heads for weeks now, which is how much of

his political standing is tied to his handling of the pandemic and right now he is trailing Joe Biden in nearly every major poll -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. And we're seeing it as well in some key swing states.

Thanks very much, Jeremy Diamond, reporting live from the White House.

Well, this is the consulate tit for tat. China is now striking back at the United States. It is ordering an American consulate in Chengdu to close.

Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan province. That is in retaliation for U.S. ordering a Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, to close.

Well, you can see they're clearing out before today's deadline for the Houston closure, but there's a bit of confusion because comments from the

Chinese consul general suggests they may refuse the order.

Fox News asked the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo what the U.S. would do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, they know the rules for diplomats. You're only permitted to be in the diplomatic status with the

consent of the host nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, China is accusing now the U.S. consulate personnel in Chengdu of harming its national security interests and Pompeo says that the

U.S. needs a new strategy for dealing with China. This is part of what he said yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POMPEO: Look, we have to admit a hard truth. We must admit a hard truth that should guide us in the years and decades to come, that if we want a

free 21st century and not the China century of which Xi Jinping dreams, the old paradigm of blinding engagement with China simply won't get it done. We

must not continue it. We must not return to it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, David Culver is in Beijing.

So the question is how is China interpreting this Pompeo speech? What do they believe authorities there will come from it in terms of tangible

measures from the United States?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, the foreign ministry say that Pompeo ignored facts, they say it's an ideological bias that he's showing

there.

If you listen to the speech and I listened to it in its entirety, it runs more than half an hour, and essentially, it's the China threat speech. And

he's at the fourth in a series that he's been giving, and this one was focused on almost rallying the international support as well in challenging

China during these times. And he acknowledged even in that speech that it's difficult to look at even severing ties and he's saying he's not promoting

that because of the economic integration that exists with China and the global community.

But he claims, Pompeo that is, that China needs U.S. more than U.S. needs China. However, what we're seeing is, at the consular level, I mean,

obviously, this tit for tat as you pointed out, I mean, they're choosing this Chengdu consulate for that claim that it was being used by American

personnel to engage in activities that are harmful to the Chinese national security. I mean, you hear that and it's clearly along the same lines of

what the Americans were saying was being done in the Chinese Houston consulate where they say it was essentially a front for illegal spying.

That also the Chengdu consulate for the Americans is quite important strategically where it is, because it's along the -- it's in central China

but along the same border with Tibet.

[10:10:07]

So it's near that region and kind of serves as a listening post, if you will, for that.

So they did though have many options. They could have closed a larger consulate. They could have closed Shanghai. They could have closed Hong

Kong, Guangzhou, but this seems to be the reciprocal response that they wanted to give to the U.S.

What's interesting is, Hala, as we've even discussed, there have been so many different issues that the U.S. has confronted China on that for the

most part in recent months, China has just responded with tough words. They did issue sanctions against a few U.S. officials. This is the first time

where I think they felt motivated because of the nationalism and if rising nationalism within the country and pressure from state media here to react

in some tangible way and this was their response.

GORANI: Right. But I mean, does it go beyond that? I mean, is the sense in China that more measures could be taken because right now, the closure of a

consulate in Chengdu, I mean, we're not talking about anything substantial here in terms of retaliatory measures at all.

CULVER: It's not, and they keep the cards on the table with the other consulates too. I think it could go further than that. And they seem to say

they're prepared for that. And again, they like to go with the tough rhetoric in that. The question is will the actions align with that?

A lot of folks here are interested in this back-and-forth, even on the domestic level. I mean, they had live stream up of the Chengdu consulate

and they had some -- at 1.17 million people watching domestically. So that tells you there's interest even from the general Chinese national

perspective.

But will they continue to match the U.S. in the actions? I think a lot of the observers are saying, they may in fact wait for November. That's a long

time away in many ways, given how quickly things have been moving. But that may be the exit ramp here depending on who they're dealing with on the

other side of the election.

But even if Biden is elected, they know there is bipartisan support for challenging China on several of these items. I mean, for the Trump

administration it has been economic, but for Biden, it could be national security.

GORANI: Right. Or it could be human rights with what's going on with the Uyghurs. So many topics --

CULVER: Right.

GORANI: So much tension between China and some countries in the western world. David Culver, thank you very much. Joining us live from Beijing.

Do stay tuned though. Ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, a close encounter in the skies over Syria.

Why was a U.S. fighter jet just a thousand meters away from a commercial airliner in the skies of Syria?

Plus, face masks become mandatory in shops across England as Britain's prime minister urges everyone to get a flu vaccine. Too little, too late?

The latest from the U.K. is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:15:07]

GORANI: Well, this was a close encounter of the kind that passengers on one airliner were not happy with. The U.S. Defense Department is now

confirming that one of its fighter jets flew as close as 1,000 meters from an Iranian passenger plane. The Central Command spokesman says it was a

standard visual inspection, quote/unquote.

Iranian state media is reporting, several passengers onboard the Mahan Air flight were injured when the pilot abruptly lowered altitude in the

incident and you see some of the aftermath there. There's a man with a bloodied nose and the oxygen masks came down. You heard screams in some of

that amateur video postage that was posted online, terrifying minutes.

CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley has reported on Iran extensively.

So, what was going on? The U.S. said this was a standard, visual kind of reconnaissance flight. But, clearly, the pilot of that Iranian commercial

airliner was worried enough that he just kind of -- you know, tried to get out of the way as quickly as possible by lowering his altitude pretty

quickly.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. We can understand why, perhaps, in that region, flying over Syrian air space not many months

after the Iranian shutdown coming out with two rockets, the black box for that being delivered, as you know, Hala, a few days ago to Paris for

further examination. Highly intense war zone.

And that perhaps might explain why it was the Americans put up two F-15 jets or had two F-15 jets in the air above the Syrian air space because

they said that they were very close to the al-Tanf base. And that is a special forces base, basically, the special forces base for Britain, the

United States, Jordan and others operating highly sensitive operations inside Syria close to the Iraqi border. That is where the Americans would

not like any kind of reconnaissance or surveillance to be conducted and they have accused Iran in the past of using civilian aircraft to deliver

men and materiel, money, weapons and other supplies, and indeed carrying out surveillance operations in that war zone.

So that might explain why the Americans put an aircraft up. And it might explain why the pilot of this civilian aircraft, Mahan Airways, flying out

of the Damascus to Beirut, put it, it would appear, into some kind of dive. I must say also that the Lebanese authorities however they said they don't

believe everyone was injured but that one person was hospitalized, suffering from high blood pressure and that they believe that may be the

man who is showing that amateur video. Perhaps the others were simply glad to be alive, and glad to be on the ground and didn't report for medical

assistance.

But this is an extremely dense, highly problematic air space. It's the same air space, for example, that Israeli aircraft regularly penetrate to carry

-- carry out attacks, particularly on Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed targets, Hala.

GORANI: All right. Sam Kiley, thanks very much with the very latest on tension in the air space in the Syrian air space over that war zone.

The coronavirus pandemic has largely halted air travel across the world. Rows and rows of planes were parked and left at a total stand still, but

notice as airlines begin to ramp up their schedule back, U.S. regulators have identified a serious problem with the troubled Boeing 737's return and

-- Boeing 737 and its potential return to service.

Let's get Richard Quest who is standing by in London.

What -- is this more bad news for Boeing, Richard?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, the first thing to say, Alex, is it's not the MAX that's involved here. It's the 737 NG, next

generation, and the 737 classic. There are about 2,000 at least of the planes. Any airline that flies them has them in their fleet.

And what's happened, Hala, is that whilst they have been stalled because no one is flying at the moment, so as they tried to bring the planes back into

service, they have discovered a corrosion in some cases in an air filter, in the air valve in the engine.

Now, the danger with this one is if it goes wrong because of the corrosion, Hala, the engine will stop and you won't be able to start it again. There

have been several close near misses with this.

So, the FAA is saying these need to be checked, there are thousands of planes, and two engines on each plane, that need to be checked and if

they're found to be corroded, these air valves they need to be replaced.

[10:20:04]

GORANI: All right. But you cover obviously the airline industry, the tourism industry. Later on this hour, I'll be speaking to the Spanish

foreign minister about some countries potentially considering yet another border closure with Spain because we're seeing spikes in COVID cases across

that country.

I mean, how much -- what's going to be the final bill, the bottom line damage to these industries from COVID and could some of them -- could some

big chunks of those sectors not be able to recover any time soon?

QUEST: Yes is the simple answer, because we are still living in some idealistic world that we can go back to 2019 when we get a vaccine, that's

not going to happen. We're in a new normal, and that means for countries like Spain, how do you manage your tourism industry with social distancing,

which you have to do, when, for example, you got the north in Catalonia which has got an outbreak and embers, and you got the south in the Costa

del Sol, where I'll be going in a couple of days filming, and you got masks that have been to worn.

So yes, there will be -- the airline industry will never be the same again, at least not for ten years and even -- even, Hala, when they manage to get

numbers back again, the damage has been so deep.

GORANI: Yeah. Richard, thanks very much. We'll see you on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" in a few hours.

QUEST: Yep.

GORANI: Britain's duke and duchess of Sussex are taking legal action to protect the privacy of their family. Prince Harry and wife Meghan are suing

over intrusive paparazzi photos of their 14-month-old son Archie. The lawsuit was filed in California where the couple relocated after stepping

back as senior members of the royal family earlier this year.

In a statement, their lawyer said no drones, helicopters or telephoto lens can take away a person's right to privacy in their own home.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging everyone to get a flu shot as part of the most comprehensive flu vaccination program in U.K. history.

The program is designed to prevent the NHS, the National Health Service, from being overwhelmed should a second coronavirus wave come. And Mr.

Johnson had a few choice words for those who refused the vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Because it's the anti-Vaxxers now, isn't it?

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: There you have it. I mean, you can imagine the situation, September, October, especially November and December where you start having

the flu to take over. Elderly people get sick, people will start maybe potentially really worrying, even panicking in some cases.

Is this COVID, not COVID? This could really overwhelm hospitals and this is the idea behind really urging people to get the flu shot if they can.

Meanwhile, mask requirements have become stricter here in England. Beginning today, face coverings must be worn in stores, supermarkets and

indoor areas or you risk $125 fine. The U.K. health secretary says everyone must play their part in fighting the coronavirus and keeping the country

safe.

I will tell you, I was in a shop two hours ago, at least two people were not wearing a mask, nobody confronting them, or making them wear one. So,

it might be difficult to enforce. Is it the shopkeeper's responsibility to do this or not? There's some confusion there.

Now, Scotland mandated masks weeks before England and that's one reason leaders there are being praised for handling this pandemic far better than

their English counterparts.

CNN's Nic Robertson explains why that could mean big trouble for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Tourists' favorite, yet, a week from Edinburgh's famous "Fringe Festival," COVID-19

is choking off customary crowds and the cash they bring. Even so, Scots count themselves luckier than the English.

(on camera): What do you guys think about how the government's handling coronavirus here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's been not too bad, to be honest. If I could say so.

ROBERTSON: And yourself?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's better than England.

ROBERTSON: Which is really kind of weird, because the Scots have had COVID-19 as bad as the English. These are the figures. But perception is

proving key.

(voice-over): 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 (on camera): Up here, Sturgeon is viewed as putting health ahead of the economy.

[10:25:03]

Masks are an issue where she outpaces Johnson. They've been mandatory in stores up here two weeks ahead of England.

(voice-over): 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, SCOTLAND'S FIRST MINISTER: The virus is still circulating in Scotland. We allow it to, it is capable of, and will, spread rapidly.

ROBERTSON (on camera): 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 (voice-over): And in Scotland, that's translating into trust in Sturgeon.

LINDA BAULD, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH: We've not had the debate about face coverings, as happened, for example, at 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 MP: People are willing now 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 the public

health emergency.

ROBERTSON: So significant the shift Johnson's brief visit to Scotland this week, his first since the pandemic began, which even despite the secrecy

surrounding it, drew protesters, was dubbed locally an effort to save the union.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's 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 nine 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 finely balanced.

Nick Robertson, CNN, Edinburgh, Scotland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Now to the latest news on the Ghislaine Maxwell case. In less than a week, the public could see some new court documents in that sex

trafficking case. Maxwell is the alleged accomplice of accused sex trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein. She is charged with helping to recruit, groom

and abuse minors as young as 14 years old. While her lawyers have a few days to appeal, the judge ruled that the public's right to this information

carries a heavier weight than the, quote, annoyance or embarrassment to the defendant.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty in this case. So we'll keep our eye on that.

Coming up after the break, Spain just had one of the highest recorded days of COVID-19 cases since May. I'll be speaking to Spain's foreign minister

as some regions are forced back into lockdown there.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:31:08]

GORANI: We'll be talking about the rise in cases in Spain in a moment, but before we go to Spain where I'll be speaking to the foreign minister, I

want to talk about what's going on in Brazil. There was an explosive rise in cases there, of COVID-19 cases in three states in southern Brazil. In

just the past month, the total number of cases in that area has tripled from 55,000 in June to more than 172,000 cases by the middle of this week.

Adding to the misery -- hospitals are running low on basic emergency medication to treat those infected.

Let's go straight to Nick Paton Walsh, he is live in Sao Paulo with the latest on that.

So, it seems as though this infection curve in Brazil is still, you know, very much on the rise. We're not seeing any plateauing numbers. Why is

that?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Not at all. It may be I think perhaps because the lockdown measures have been put in for a long

number of months here it's hard to expect people to continue obeying them. It may be too that it's moved down towards the south of the country where

before so much of the infections seemed to be concentrated on key cities, particularly here, the largest, Sao Paulo, which in fact has said it's now

over 150,000 recorded cases.

Brazil's nationwide number, reported for 24 hours at the end of Thursday yesterday, it said 59,000-plus cases in just 24 hours recorded there.

That's a startling number, the second highest that the country has recorded in that sort of period since this whole pandemic began.

Of course, key now in the spotlight is Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro. He was pictured by a "Reuters" photographer on the grounds of the

presidential palace recently not wearing a mask as he talked to what seemed to be some of the staff who were working in the garden there is. He was

pictured holding it seems a box of hydroxychloroquine.

To recap, he tested positive for coronavirus about a week or so go. He says he will now, in fact, get tested again by the end of the week to see if

he's now negative. But so much of his conduct, it seems perhaps providing those who don't want to go through the restrictive mask policy, perhaps a

reason to ignore that mandate.

Jair Bolsonaro changed his tune on that treatment, hydroxychloroquine, which he has been seen waving and sort of taunting people with, saying it's

done great for him. He said yesterday he's not recommending it to anybody. It's between the doctor and the patient, but perhaps the damage is done to

some degree. It has been dished out by many doctors under state guidance for a number of weeks, if not months, Hala.

GORANI: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, who's reporting live from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Speaking of rising cases, at least two regions in Spain are re-entering modified lockdowns following one of the highest daily infection rates since

early May. On Thursday, Spain recorded 971 new infections and nearly half of those were in the northern region of Aragon which will bring back phase

two of the lockdown exit plan.

The Spanish health ministry said there were 281 outbreaks across the country, but officials are most concerned with Catalonia and Aragon.

And joining me now is Spain's foreign minister, Arancha Gonzalez Laya. She is live in Madrid.

Foreign Minister, thanks for being with us.

What message do you have for the world here? Because you lifted restrictions, you're welcoming tourists back and, unfortunately, there are

some very worrying spikes in some parts of the country. What would you tell anyone who is considering a trip to Spain in the coming days?

ARANCHA GONZALEZ LAYA, SPANISH FOREIGN MINISTER: What I would tell anyone considering traveling to Spain is that Spain is a safe country, that Spain

like any other country around the world that has managed to control COVID has outbreaks.

[10:35:10]

But that the government, national and regional, are working to isolate the cases as soon as they appear, trace the contacts and make sure we treat

them. We separate them so that the rest of the country can get on with their lives, that the economy can continue and that tourists can continue

to enjoy Spain.

Always being very careful. Always respecting health and safety recommendations. For as long as we don't have a vaccine or a treatment,

this will be the new normal. Identify cases as soon as we can, isolate them, treat them and let the rest of the country get on with their lives.

GORANI: But Spain has been criticized for not doing exactly what you're describing. Some experts, for instance, one professor at the University of

Singapore and "The New York Times" was quoted as saying that tracing and tracking asymptomatic patients in Spain has been -- has not been very

effective because of poor contact tracing and testing.

How do you respond to criticism from health experts who say your country is not doing enough in that regard?

LAYA: Well, I would say that the country is one of the highest in the world in terms of testing, that we've got tracing mechanisms in place which

is why we are identifying these outbreaks.

But I would also say that the outbreaks we are identifying is basically instances where people that by and large have followed the recommendation,

relaxed their habits of keeping the social distance or wearing a mask or keeping to hygiene measures.

This is happening around two basic areas. One is family reunions, two is night life. This is why we are also being very careful at recommending

family reunions to take care of following the health recommendations and night life, being restricted, also to ensure that there is no spread of

cases.

But I would say we are doing everything we can on tracking, on tracing, on treating and on testing.

GORANI: Uh-huh. Got it (ph).

If it's everything you can and you're telling visitors that they should be confident, that message is clear, but it seems like leaders in Europe are

not too sure about it because the French -- the new French prime minister, Jean Castex, there are reports in the French press that he says he could

close the border, that France could close the border with Spain.

Here in the U.K. press, I'm sure you have seen it as well, that the U.K. could consider removing Spain from its list of safe countries.

Are you in touch with your counterparts in Spain and the U.K. about this? And is there a possibility the borders will close or that quarantine

measures will be reimposed for people returning from Spain?

LAYA: Well, we are all the time in contact with our counterparts. I am with my European counterparts and my European counterparts are in touch

with me.

Again, this is the new normal. We don't have a vaccine or a treatment, and it is clear that in every country we are seeing outbreaks. But the

contacts, the dialogue we have at the level of foreign ministers, health ministers is helping in building confidence.

We ourselves in Spain are restricting movements of certain regions, of certain villages, of certain neighborhoods. We are taking these measures in

order to protect those infected but also those that are COVID-free. And our neighbors and our friends in Europe will be doing the same vis-a-vis us.

And we will be doing the same vis-a-vis them.

So, this is the new normal, it's building trust through constant dialogue, to make sure we protect the ability of our citizens to move in Europe but

also we protect their health.

GORANI: But just to be clear then, are there discussions between you and France in particular about your border? I mean, are you concerned at all

that France might consider closing the border or reimposing quarantines. Has this been brought up to you by your counterparts in the French

government?

LAYA: No. No, we are not, but what we are seeing with France, but we are also doing this in Spain is recommending that our citizens be cautious

about going to areas where there is an outbreak. And this is what we are doing in Spain, and this is what our French neighbors are also saying is,

do not go to areas where there are cases. Limit your movements to those areas.

This is what we are telling our own citizens. This is what our neighbors are telling their citizens, perfectly normal.

[10:40:03]

We are not talking about closing the borders and again, perfectly normal in a situation where there are instances of outbreaks around our country like

in other countries around Europe.

GORANI: Thank you very much. The Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya joining us live from Madrid with a message to the world, Foreign

Minister, that Spain is safe and doing everything that it can. Thank you for joining us.

Colombia has reported its highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day. Sorry, didn't mean to cut off the foreign minister there. On Thursday,

the country's health ministry reported that 315 more people had died, raising the total number of lives lost to the disease in Colombia to more

than 7,600. Around 5 million people are in lockdown in the capital, Bogota.

And Japan is reporting the highest number of daily infections since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. We are seeing a -- this is a trend,

right? Whenever the country starts to open up again, there are the spikes in cases.

In Japan, for instance, the health ministry reported 981 new cases and two deaths on Thursday nationwide, and the total number of domestic infection

cases nationwide is nearing 28,000.

This is the challenge going forward for any country opening back up and welcoming visitors, opening up borders. What will the numbers tell you

about your strategy and what do you do if you see spikes in cases?

Local lockdowns, national lockdowns, closing borders once again. Those are the big questions of our time.

Next at the crossroads of east and west and in the center of a controversy.

Friday prayers once again echoing through one of the world's most famous landmarks. Why that's causing some international dismay, just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:46:45]

GORANI: Well, this was a controversial move by President Erdogan.

In Turkey, the Muslim faithful are celebrating as well as social distancing. Friday prayers were held for the first time in nearly a century

in the Hagia Sophia.

Turkey's president ordered the Istanbul landmark converted back into the mosque from the museum. For 1,500 years, it has carried a sacred air not

only for worshipers but also to millions of art lovers. Yet even though the Turkish government says the world heritage site remains open to all, the

reconversion has sparked some widespread criticism.

Well, and a lot of reverence. Some historians say the ancient Byzantines believed God had actually held the monument's dome.

Becky Anderson takes a closer look at this treasured icon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hagia Sophia, the history of the sixth century architectural marvel is as rich as the land on which

it was built. It's been at the crossroads of religion and politics since the inception. Its journey taking it from cathedral to mosque to museum and

now as a mosque once again.

Constructed as a Christian cathedral during the reign of Byzantine emperor, Justinian I, in what was then Constantinople, it took 10,000 workers just

under six years to complete. No expense was spared in creating it.

The interior richly decorated with gold frescos and mosaics made from materials that highlighted the wealth and prosperity of the Byzantine era.

With a massive dome that appears to simply float.

Its first conversion from the cathedral to a mosque was in 1453. A minbar, a mihrab indicating the direction of Mecca and a great chandelier were

added, as well as minarets, not only for religious purposes, but to fortify the structure itself.

Centuries-old frescos were covered with plaster and the main mosaic in the center of the dome, believed to be that of Jesus Christ, covered in

intricate gold calligraphy.

Turkey moved toward secular rule in World War I and President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk declared the holy site a museum in 1934, beginning a period of

recovering and restoring much of the mosaic artwork that had been obscured for nearly 500 years. From the site of coronations to the most powerful,

visits from world and religious leaders as well as everyday worshipers and tourists, Hagia Sophia has welcomed them all.

Nearly 1,500 years after the completion, millions a year travel from all over the world to take in its beauty. And it remains a remarkable feat of

design and grandeur.

[10:50:02]

Now, Turkish President Recep Erdogan has ordered Hagia Sophia to be returned to a functioning mosque. The site whose name means holy wisdom for

now will serve a dual purpose, a place for visitors to marvel at its wonders, as well as a place of Muslim worship.

But these storied interiors who were borne centuries of power struggles are once again in limbo, with a question mark over whether they'll undergo

metamorphosis once again.

Becky Anderson, CNN, Abu Dhabi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: World Sport update is coming your way and there's some premier league news and also baseball is back.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Baseball is back in the United States four months after it was supposed to start at Nationals Park in Washington. Dr. Anthony Fauci threw

the ceremonial first pitch.

The good doctor showed he's better at targeting disease than he is at targeting the strike zone. The country's top infectious disease expert wore

a Nationals cap, jersey, and, of course, a Nationals face mask. The New York Yankees won the game in this coronavirus shortened season 4-1.

As we were discussing with our producer, just now, some people on Twitter were joking that, you know, Anthony Fauci doesn't want you to catch

anything, not even a ball.

So good to see yet another sport return to action. The NBA too is set to resume the season next week in Orlando.

Let's bring in -- is it Patrick Snell?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: It certainly is, Hala.

GORANI: Hi, Patrick.

SNELL: Hi there.

GORANI: I thought I heard Alex Thomas in my ear before my break so I got confused.

Patrick, Dr. Fauci is stealing the headlines -- stealing the headlines there. Maybe -- I felt a little bad, because it was really off but a great

thing to have him throw the first pitch.

SNELL: Absolutely, it really was, and that should be the most powerful story line, no question. By the way, we do have Alex Thomas. I was trying

to keep him as a surprise, but there you go.

You said it. Look the Twitterverse is having fun with the first pitch, no question, but there's no question in my mind at all that sport can bring so

much joy and laughter that's why we love it so much. But this is an opportunity to address the rather serious social issues as well that the

world is seeing currently.

Let's stay with baseball. As we have been seeing on the football pitch, players are making their own powerful statement when it comes to the Black

Lives Matter movement. This sat the Yankees/Nationals game. Players kneeling before the U.S. national anthem there in Washington, D.C.

Meantime, elsewhere, we can show you in Los Angeles that the Dodgers/Giants game, some players knelt during the anthem as well. That's pretty

significant.

Our own Amanda Davis is catching up with Olympic legend Michael Johnson. In a recent Instagram live interview, the gold medal winning sprinter saying

that athletes must raise their voice while also praising the people who are also changing the world right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL JOHNSON, 4-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: The people that are doing that work, you know, that we don't know their names. We don't know who they

are. They're not famous.

They're out there marching. They're out there organizing. They're out there highlighting these issues.

[10:55:02]

If you have the ability, you have a platform, you're not using it, then you're hurting people and you're not -- you're complicit.

(END VIDEOI CLIP)

SNELL: All right. Powerful words there from Michael Johnson.

All right. Alex Thomas has been teased so we better get to him in England.

If you're a Liverpool fan, it has been a hugely emotional Wednesday night at Anfield as the Reds were officially crowned champions of England for the

first time in three decades.

Alex, to you in London, final round of matches in the slate, the race for those lucrative Champions League spots is thrillingly intense to say the

least. European places in general.

Well, Alex, who needs to do what exactly? Explain it all?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT: Patrick, we are seeing the end of the English Premier league season, two months later than planned because of the

coronavirus issue. But, although, there's no fans in the stadium, there's no less excitement and there's just as much at stake as ever.

Of the ten fixtures on the final day this Sunday, all 20 Premier League Clubs in action. We have picked out the three most important ones starting

with Chelsea against Wolves. Crystal Palace against Tottenham, and Leicester City against Manchester United, the really big one.

If we show you the Premier League table, the top half of it, you'll understand why. Liverpool Champions, Manchester City, second. The next two

will qualify for the Champions League and there's a place up for grab at the Europa League. We'll explain what needs to be done, simply, Manchester

United only have to avoid defeat, but could lose if Chelsea do as well, Leicester must win or draw if Chelsea lose.

Chelsea needs to at least match Leicester results. Remember, Chelsea's goal difference far in theory. So, let's this wolves must at least match spurs'

results if they're to get into the Europe League. The relegation battle between Aston Villa and Watford and Bournemouth, but it's really that race

for Europe that's so crucial, Patrick.

SNELL: It really is. It's going to be very, very exciting indeed.

More on the coveted Champions League. Alex, tell us why qualification is so important in the modern era to the clubs.

THOMAS: Well, quite simply, it comes down to three things really, and that is money, prestige and the size of your squad.

Let's show you a graphic explaining more about those Champions League benefits by using the latest figures that UEFA published from last season's

competition. Barcelona, even though didn't reach earn the semifinals, more than $132 million.

Manchester City with the lowest earning English club that season, but they still got nearly $105 million. So if you get into the champions league

group stage and progress to the knockout rounds you're guaranteed $100 million plus.

On reason figures, Chelsea, for example, in the second tier, you wrote still made $52 million having gotten to the final and winning it, really

crucial for teams coming into the final day of the season -- Patrick.

SNELL: Yeah. Alex, thank you so much. Much appreciated. Exciting times ahead.

Alex Thomas there in London.

All right. Hala, back to you on a big weekend at home in the Premier League. Back to you at home, Hala.

GORANI: OK, we'll enjoy it. Thank you, Patrick and Alex.

I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:00]

END