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India Surpasses Brazil For COVID Cases; DRC: Ebola, Measles And COVID; Disney & "Mulan," A Controversial Release; Refuting Trump's Vaccine Timeline; Spain Passes 0.5 Million Cases; Military Helicopter Trying to Rescue Dozens Trapped by Flames; Hong Kong Police Tackle 12- Year-Old Girl; Two Australian Journalists Pulled from China; Germany May Stop Gas Pipeline over Navalny Poisoning. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 8, 2020 - 02:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

From Big Pharma to the WHO, to his own health officials, all pushing back against the U.S. president and his promise to release a vaccine by Election Day.

Fires are breaking uncontrollably across California, blaming the heat, bad weather and a horrendous lapse in judgment.

Saudi Arabia hands-down punishment for the suspects in the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi, critics condemn it all as a sham.


VAUSE: Big Pharma is pushing back against the U.S. president in his promised vaccine for the coronavirus could be ready by next month. On Monday, President Trump tweeted the vaccines are coming and fast. There is progress on that front but "The Wall Street Journal" reports at least 3 vaccine makers will issue a promise not to seek government approval until that extensive data and safety and effectiveness, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

There are reports other big name pharmaceuticals could join those 3. Pfizer and BioNTech are cleared to start the next phase of their trial in Germany and it's the only vaccine maker that could have late stage results by October but that's not a given.

The World Health Organization is also stressing the need for due diligence and says it will not endorse a vaccine before it is shown to be effective and safe. The former U.S. surgeon general says the Food and Drug Administration has no room for error and must learn from past mistakes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: They've got to avoid making the same mistakes they made with convalescent plasma, hydroxychloroquine. They've got to let the science and scientists guide them in their decision-making here.


VAUSE: The White House on Monday President Trump falsely claimed that the U.S. was "an absolute leader in every way" when it comes to dealing with the pandemic. He's clearly trying to tie the vaccine to the U.S. election.



TRUMP: We're going to have it soon. So now, what they are saying is wow, this is bad news. President Trump is getting this vaccine in record time. By the way, if this were the Obama administration, you would not have that vaccine for 3 years. You probably wouldn't have it at all.

We are going to have a vaccine very soon. Maybe even before a very special day. You know what talking about.


VAUSE: Let me guess: November 3rd, Election Day. Democratic rival Joe Biden was asked if he would take the vaccine if it was offered before than. He said he would listen to scientists. He also warned about a lack of trust.


JOE BIDEN (D-DE), FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the problems is when he's playing with policy, is he has said so many things that are not true.

I'm worried if we do have a really good vaccine particularly before the election it's undermining public confidence. But pray God we have it. If I could get a vaccine tomorrow, I would do it. (INAUDIBLE). We need a vaccine and we need it now.


VAUSE: And then there is another federal official who is familiar with the Trump administration's so-called Operation Warp Speed. He says despite what the president has promised, quote, "I don't know any scientist who thinks we will be getting shots into arms anytime before Election Day."

In New York, France and the U.K., all reporting worrying increases in new COVID numbers. France has the 7th highest death toll in the world right now. There is a possible second wave in the coming months. Officials are looking at data to see what measures may be needed to help the country cope. CNN's Scott McLean has the latest from London. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: British schools are back in session. The government is urging businesses to send their employees back into the office. And now the government is also looking for ways to reduce the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for travelers entering the U.K. for most other countries.

All of this, just as the U.K. records its highest single day of coronavirus case count since May. The British health secretary is blaming young people, particularly affluent young people for the sudden surge in infections. He is worried that if they don't follow the rules that they could pass on the virus to older, more vulnerable parts of the population.

Now there's a similar trend across Europe, especially in Spain, which just became the first country in Europe to log half a million confirmed cases of the coronavirus. If there is any good news here is that European health care systems have not had the massive surge of patients that they saw at the height of the pandemic.


For instance, in the U.K. today, there are 40 times fewer people on ventilators than there were at the height of the pandemic. In Spain, though, there is a worrying trend. Deaths there are on the rise. The country just reported its highest single day death toll since May -- Scott McLean, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Mexico has the world's fourth highest virus death toll, now reporting more than 35,000 new cases on Monday, bringing the total to more than 630,000. But the official numbers do not tell the true extent of the impact of the pandemic. CNN's Matt Rivers reports from Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some startling new information from Mexico's government. Over the weekend, health officials reported that during the period of March 15th through August 1st, Mexico recorded more than 120,000 excess deaths as compared to the same time period from other years, more normal years, non pandemic years.

We know that of those excess deaths, more than 47,000 have been officially attributed to the coronavirus.

But what about the remaining 75,000 or so deaths?

I spoke to the director of a COVID unit here in Mexico City and a prestigious local hospital. He believes that, of all those excess deaths, the vast majority of them, are directly related to the virus. We know that Mexico's government routinely says that the actual death toll in this country is higher than what is officially reported. And part of the reason for that is that because many people going to

hospitals with COVID symptoms simply do not get a test before they end up losing their lives. Mexico is one of the lowest testing rates in a country with a large population around the world.

And speaking of the death toll, it continues to just steadily march higher. The official death toll roughly 30 percent of the total amount of deaths reported here in Mexico have been reported since August 1st -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


VAUSE: Wildfires are burning in California and are labeled an unprecedented disaster. The officials report the Creek fire in their words is 0 percent contained. A military helicopter tried to reach dozens of campers and hikers who were trapped by the flames. But heavy smoke prevented the pilot from a safe landing.

A second rescue attempt is planned with night vision goggles. This is the state's worst wildfire season, scorching more than 2 million acres or more than 800,000 hectares so far. The Creek fire is burning across the state. CNN's Dan Simon was there reporting from the scene.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The fire is getting dangerously close to some of these mountain communities. The town of Auberry, which has about 2,500 people, had to evacuate as the flames basically took over. Hillside above that town, for the most part though, this fire is burning in the rugged here at national forest.

But you do have of course a lot of campers who use this era for recreation. And that's' why you have all of those people who are at that boat launch, who had to be airlifted to safety, about 10 or so people suffered moderate injuries, but hopefully everyone will be OK.

In the meantime, we are getting more information about that so-called gender reveal party in southern California, in San Bernardino County. You did have this couple that went to a nearby park to basically announce the gender of their baby.

And they had a pyrotechnic device and you light it off, it goes pink or blue or any of that sent this wildfire emotion -- Dan Simon, CNN, Auberry, California.


VAUSE: Just last hour we spoke with an official about the conditions on the scene of the Creek fire and the damage so far. Here she is.


STACEY NOLAN, FRESNO COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT: We have 65 structures that are destroyed and this goes on 2 different counties. It's on the Fresno County side and the Madeira County side. And today, obviously we've had stronger winds and it is more with

upper level winds from the northwest and variable lower level winds, which helps the fire increase and growth.

VAUSE: What do you know about that region where the campers are, Lake Edison-China Peak region. The problem seems to be that roads are closed because of the fires. People cannot get out.

How common is that across the region right now?

NOLAN: Right now what we've asked people to do is to shelter in place in a couple of locations like China Peak. You're absolutely right, there are fires on both sides of the road. It's very dangerous for people to either come in and go. So obviously that's why roads were shut down. We would rather have people shelter in place and be in a safe area as opposed to trying to get them out with all the fire.

VAUSE: We are looking at the unprecedented disaster with the Creek fire. Clearly, the terrible heat wave which California is going through right now is not helping. It's making it worse.

Are there any other factors in this particularly unprecedented fire season?


NOLAN: All the dry brush is playing a big factor in that area. It's known for bark beetle infestation so we have a lot of dead and dying trees in that area. That's like 80 percent of the trees that are affected in there helps with that heavy fuel load. That is what we are seeing right now.


VAUSE: To the White House now, where Donald Trump spent the Labor Day holiday launching an unprecedented attack on the military's leadership.


TRUMP: I'm not saying the military is in love with me. The soldiers are. The top people in the Pentagon probably aren't, because they want to do nothing but fight wars, so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.

But we're getting out of the endless wars.



VAUSE: This from a president who is also denying he made disparaging remarks about the fallen U.S. troops on a 2018 trip to France. Donald Trump is criticizing leaders he appointed. He continues to tout military spending as one of his biggest accomplishments. Ron Brownstein is a CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for

"The Atlantic" with us from Los Angeles,

We begin with a colleague of yours, David Frum, who pointed out a critical factor in this latest Trump controversy.

He writes, "Where are the senior officers of the United States armed forces, serving and retired, the men and women who worked most closely on military affairs with President Trump?

"Has any one of them stepped forward to say that is not the man I know?"

At least one administration official has denied the story; otherwise there's been a deafening silence, especially from people like John Kelly.

What's going on here?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: John Kelly's silence is one of the most striking things in this whole episode. He obviously could deny the story.

Jeffrey Goldberg's account of -- I think four different episodes of the president denigrating military veterans in astonishing language. John Kelly could deny that. He has chosen not to. I think that tells you an awful lot, both about the veracity of the story and what John Kelly thinks of Donald Trump.

VAUSE: The president denials are continuing.


TRUMP: Who would say a thing like that?

Only an animal would say a thing like that. There is nobody that has more respect for not only our military but for people that gave their lives in the military.


VAUSE: Yes, who would say something like the military veterans are losers and suckers?

Good question.

Who would say that?

Here we go. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I never liked him much after that. I don't like losers.


VAUSE: John McCain's a loser. The president has made no secret about his views of those who served in Vietnam.


TRUMP: Dating is like being in Vietnam. You're the equivalent of a soldier going over to Vietnam.

If you have any guilt about not having gone to Vietnam, we have our own Vietnam. It's called the dating game.


VAUSE: So there's no one defending the president. They are his own words from the past. The president has lied 20,000 times since the inauguration saying trust me.

Does any of this actually matter before November?

BROWNSTEIN: It's an interesting question. Obviously, for the vast majority of people who are still with Donald Trump, they know exactly what they are getting. It's hard to imagine what revelation about him could cause them to break away from someone who is presenting himself literally as the human wall between them, many of his voters, and all of the changes in American life, demographic cultural, that they don't like.

But it's really not the right question. The people who are still with Donald Trump today are not enough for him to win. He has to add votes at this point. I think that these kinds of revelations and the fact that he continues to kind of stir this pot just makes it tougher for him to do that.

Among other things, we talked about before, he is on track for the weakest showing of any Republican nominee ever among college educated white voters, including college educated white men, who are usually much more Republican than the women.

Those men pollsters will tell you are the single biggest consumers of current events and news. I've got to think that this is just yet another headwind for him as he tries to reverse that historic deficit that he is facing, which is now too big for him to win.

VAUSE: As a side note, back in 2018, it seems the president had time to kill. (INAUDIBLE) at least according to Bloomberg. Trump fancied several of the pieces in the U.S. ambassador's historic residence in Paris where he was staying.

On a whim had them removed and loaded onto Air Force One, a portrait of ambassador Benjamin Franklin, several figurines, were brought back to the White House.

This wasn't actually illegal but it seems, first of all, classless and trashy but also symbolic of how Trump sees government property as his own or the attorney general as his own personal lawyer. There's no lying here.

BROWNSTEIN: It could be trivial in itself. But it is actually revealing on a much larger, more ominous and more momentous kind of shift, which is, as I had written a few weeks ago, Donald Trump basically is weaponizing every aspect of the federal government into a tool of personal and partisan advantage.

It's one thing to treat the knick-knacks of the embassy as his personal property. It's another thing to act the same way about the criminal prosecutors in the Justice Department, about the inspectors general, about the census bureau, which he is using to try to tilt the census to a Republican advantage or even the Postal Service, which he has sought to undermine as a way to improve Republican position in the election.

I talked to a number of scholars in the federal administration who said we have never seen anything like this ever, to basically view the entire federal government as an extension of your personal will and priorities.

What is perhaps most striking about this, is how little complaint or blowback or resistance any of this has faced from Republicans in Congress, watching these norms get shattered one by one.

VAUSE: Yes, and almost deafening silence from the Republicans on the military issue as well. Ron, good to see you. Thank you so much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, John.


VAUSE: Still to come, justice Saudi style. Sentencing day for the suspects in the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, why some say it's just a mockery of justice.





VAUSE: He was a grown man, a police officer wearing tactical gear. She was a 12-year-old girl, out buying art supplies. But in the middle of a pro democracy demonstration in Hong Kong, this girl, you could see it right there, she's trying to run away from the police. She made it a short distance before she was taken down by the big man there. She is a 12-year-old girl. CNN's Will Ripley live in Hong Kong.

It's never a good look when you are tackling 12-year-old kids in the streets.

And the government is defending the actions of this guy?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is not giving her opinion on this. She says the incident will be investigated. Hong Kong police are defending the actions of that officer, saying that the girl was part of a stop and search operation that has now become commonplace, particularly in protesting scenes.

Police will take off a group of people and everybody in the group, whether they were participating or not, will have to submit to a search of their bags and other possessions to see if they have any other items that could be in violation of national security law, people who possess a banner about Hong Kong independence or any supplies that are viewed as seditious or in violation of the law and they can potentially be charged.

This girl, her mother claims, was out with her brother to get art supplies. The mother says she knew that there were a lot of police in that area but she says that is not out of the ordinary because the police are always there pretty heavily. It was one of the hotspots for the protesters in the height of the movement one year ago at this time.

The mother claims that her daughter with simply running because she was terrified. She was terrified of seeing police in SWAT gear and it was her natural instinct to try to get away.

Police say, because that happened, they had to use that certain amount of force to get her to the ground, to make sure that she was not violating the law.

Obviously, there is a lot of outrage in the city. The video, like many videos of Hong Kong police that have popped up over the last year, have had citizens accusing officers of using disproportionate force against unarmed citizens.

You remember, John, one of the first arrests under this national security law was a teenage girl as well. Hong Kong police have shown age, gender is not a factor when it comes to enforcing these rules.

The majority of the nearly 300 people arrested at the protest in Kowloon yesterday, they were arrested for violating the city's ban for gatherings of more than two people. They are about to raise the number up to 4 on Friday.

Protest organizers have said the city is using the pandemic restrictions to also silence the protest movement. Those protesters were out because the elections, the general elections in Hong Kong, were supposed to be held on Sunday. The city is postponing them for a year, citing health concerns.

VAUSE: Will, thank you. What a story. Will Ripley, live in Hong Kong.

Two Australian journalists are back in Sydney after a days-long diplomatic standoff in China. Bill Birtles works for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, based in Beijing. Mike Smith is a correspondent for the "Australian Financial Review," based in Shanghai.

Police raided their homes last week, saying they could not leave the country. Both took refuge inside the Australian diplomatic missions while negotiations were underway to lift that travel ban. China agreed after both reporters were interviewed. [02:20:00]

VAUSE: Now an Australian anchor for Chinese state TV based in Beijing was detained last month. Reasons for that are still not clear.

Now to a barbaric murder in Saudi Arabia. On Monday, the kingdom issued final verdicts for the eight suspects in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the sentences are being widely mocked.

The Wall Street Washington columnist and Saudi journalist was dismembered almost two years ago by a Saudi hit squad with close ties to the crown prince. After Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the cover-up and the international exposure that followed were a massive embarrassment to Saudi Arabia.

Sam Kiley in live in Abu Dhabi, with details.

Did anybody expect anything else?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, maybe not. What is clear, though, is, as far as the court is concerned, this is the last and final verdict. There will be no more appeals, no more investigations and no more picking over this sorry period in Saudi history.

What is slightly odd about this case, John, is the sentences have been announced but they have not been attached to any actual human being. There are a lot of assumptions to be made about what happened in the original case.

You will recall the original case, there were 5 people who were sentenced to death by the Saudi court. Then in May this year, the family of Mr. Khashoggi agreed to commute or offered to allow the commutation of the sentences.

It is now assumed that that is referred to the 5 people who now got 20 year sentences. One other has got a 10 year sentence and the two have got 7 year sentences. We don't know who they are.

But this whole process has been dismissed by Agnes Callamard, the special rapporteur who investigated for the U.N. this case and concluded that there were some very high level members of the Saudi administration indeed, the crown prince himself.

She suggested he certainly had a case to answer, should have been interviewed, if you like, over what he knew and whether he knew what was going on in the embassy. Of course he has strenuously denied knowing anything of this and calling this whole thing a rogue operation.

Let me read you in part how she responded. This is the U.N. special rapporteur on the subject.

She says, The 5 hit men are sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment but the high-level officials who organized and embraced the execution of Jamal Khashoggi have walked free from the start, barely touched by the investigation and trial."

John, she is hinting there at some of the key players that have been identified by investigators and indeed by our own reporting and other investigations. There was a deputy head of intelligence, the consul general in Istanbul, and the very key member of the central court around Mohammed bin Salman. All three of them were acquitted from the get-go. There were no sentences of any kind imposed on them.

Certainly critics of the Saudi government want to see boys argued that these are individuals who should at the very least have been subject to more rigorous investigation -- John.

VAUSE: Yes. Just won't happen, I guess. Thank you, Sam. Sam Kiley, live in Abu Dhabi.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is out of a medically induced coma and being treated in a Berlin hospital for suspected poisoning. Doctors say at this point it's too soon to know if there's any potential long term effects.

The outspoken critic of Russian president, Vladimir Putin became violently ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow last month. Germany says there is clear evidence that he was given the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.

Germany is considering whether to cancel the gas pipeline project in response to the Navalny poisoning. It's been a controversial project since construction began in 2018. The pipeline would bring Russian gas to Germany via Finnish and Swedish waters.

CNN's emerging markets editor John Defterios, live from Abu Dhabi with more.

I guess the question is, how much is he worth? Is he worth an $11 billion project?

It's a big chunk of change. Donald Trump seemed to think not, that the Germans were too weak to go through with. This

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, it's very complex, John, with Russia, Germany and the U.S. involved in this. It's a big power play.

But the German position is hardening. But I don't think it would lead to cutting off that pipeline as you suggested for Alexei Navalny. There are financial interests involved and also political considerations. But I would invite the viewers to listen to the language carefully that we have heard so far, "freezing and halting the project," right?

That is very different then eradicating the project entirely.


DEFTERIOS: Angela Merkel is in a tough position, because she has to be seen putting pressure on Vladimir Putin but also protecting the German consumer from higher prices overall.

This project is over 90 percent complete and the final leg of it is halted by U.S. sanctions in the guise of security and Russia's influence over the European Union. There's obviously a lot more to it. Here is Donald Trump.


TRUMP: When I came along I said wait a minute. We are protecting Germany from Russia. Right?

NATO. We are protecting Germany from Russia. Germany is paying Russia billions and billions of dollars to get their energy and the real numbers are probably 60 percent to 70 percent ultimately if their energy is going to come from Russia.


DEFTERIOS: So Donald Trump playing that security card, John. But the real motivation for the United States here and particularly Donald Trump is to support the oil and gas patch in America from the Gulf Coast of Mexico exports of LNG going into Europe. It's more expensive. This is why the Germans have the pipeline coming from Russia.

He is right about the numbers, though, 30 percent to 40 percent at the top and now going to 60 percent to 70 percent and why, you ask?

Because Angela Merkel decided to get out of nuclear after Fukushima, supported politically on the ground in Germany as she pledged to do the same with coal over the next 15 years in the name of climate change. So she wants a cleaner burning gas from Russia.

VAUSE: How out in front is Angela Merkel on this?

She seems to be the only one pushing for this, more than others within Europe. She doesn't have support from the U.S.

DEFTERIOS: Great question. Watch now. She's probably going to use the European Union in Brussels as a front. She does not like to take the risk that I was talking about here, to see if the French will step up as well.

Again, I am very cynical about it. Everybody keeps on focusing on Nord Stream 2 but go back to 2005, Nord Stream 1. The German chancellor was Gerhard Schroder. In the last half year of office he signed a contract with the Russians, very close with Gazprom, the state producer, and Vladimir Putin, since as chairman of the committee of shareholders for Nord Stream right now.

This is a very strategic relationship. By the way, Angela Merkel does not have a good relationship with Vladimir Putin. I saw it firsthand at St. Petersburg, when I chaired a panel with them. But Gerhard Schroder does and Germany has that interest.

He's a very interesting character, very close to the Russians. That's another story for another time. John, good to see.

Coming up, Congo battling a perfect storm of medical emergencies, (INAUDIBLE) photographer and filmmaker has just returned.




VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

India has just recorded nearly 76,000 new cases of the coronavirus. A day after passing Brazil with the second highest number of infections in the world.

India marked here by the yellow line has now reported close to 4.3 million cases, almost 73,000 dead. That's the third highest COVID death toll worldwide.

Medical experts say the true figure is much higher.

We have more now from Vedika Sud.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Monday, India crossed an unenviable milestone. The country surpassed Brazil's COVID-19 caseload and is now second only to the United States in known COVID 19 cases.


DR. SANDEEP NAYAR, BLK HOSPITAL: We are not taking all the precautions, we are not maintaining all the (inaudible) and all the -- we are not following all the instruction given by the government. Not a good idea.


SUD: After restrictions were eased to boost India's frail economy, many Indians have taken the guidelines lightly.

Some can be seen without masks paying little attention to social distancing requests.

The surge in infections is also because of aggressive testing. India has tested around 50 million samples, reaching about a million a day. But experts worry India's death count could be higher than where it stands.


RAMANAN LAXMINARAYAN, PROFESSOR & SENIOR RESEARCH SCHOLAR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: The deaths are certainly being undercounted because a lot of people who die without getting a COVID test are not counted as COVID deaths.

So it's unclear India has a lower mortality rate than other countries in the region. It's certainly lower than in Western Europe and in the United States.

But India's death rate as far as the world is concerned is sort of right up there in terms of an average.


SUD: Despite the surging numbers, further easing of restrictions have been announced for September.

Metro services resume partially with strict safety protocols in place.

Later this month, gatherings of up to 100 people for public functions will be permitted.

While the government has repeatedly cited low fatality and high recovery rates to encourage people to head back to work, experts see the country's caseload is too high to ignore.


LAXMINARAYAN: If you talk about two percent case fatality rates that's still incredibly high.

That's a one in 50 chance of dying from a disease for which you've been tested positive. Which I think is an unacceptable risk for most people.

But I can understand what the government is trying to do here, which is to play this fine balance. Because they do have the concern that the economy will not recover for months if they were not provide that reassurance (ph).


SUD: With the highest daily infections in the world being reported from India, many here fear the worst is yet to come.

Vedika Sud. CNN, New Delhi.


VAUSE: The Democratic Republic of Congo is dealing with three medical emergencies at once. There's the coronavirus, the Ebola and an outbreak of measles.

Now the coronavirus has registered only 10,000 cases which is remarkably low for such a large country of about 90 million people. Still, it remains a major concern for many.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Captioned): Coronavirus has the potential to break my dreams and keep me from going to university next year.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Captioned): Because of coronavirus, I'm not going to school. Sometimes in this situation, I feel like a prisoner.


VAUSE: Freelance photographer and filmmaker, Thomas Nybo has just returned to the United States from Congo. He's with us from Atlanta.

Hey, Thomas, thanks for taking the time.

It's incredible when you think of the timeline here, what's actually happening in the DRC.

Since early last year, the country has been dealing with the world's biggest epidemic of measles. Then in March, the coronavirus was detected.

By June, what was the world's second biggest outbreak of Ebola officially came to an end but that was followed by another Ebola outbreak just last month.

This is one of the poorest countries in the world, they're facing three separate health emergencies.

But that experience with Ebola is kind of paying off when it comes to the coronavirus, right?

THOMAS NYBO, FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER & FILMMAKER: It really is because the people are used to following a certain protocol. Handwashing. They understand how germs are spread.

And, as you know, the fatality rate of Ebola is much higher than COVID.

So what I experienced on the streets every day spending hours amongst the people over the past six months, was they did not really see COVID-19 as a big threat.

You compare it to Ebola which, of course, gets the headlines and the world's worst measles outbreak in the Congo, which killed more than 5,000 kids under the age of five last year.

And you look at the small number of deaths, 260 by last count by COVID-19. So yes, Ebola has in a sense prepared them for this pandemic.

VAUSE: Interesting too. You mentioned the children because they're often spared the worst of the coronavirus but when it comes to the measles, it's taking a really huge toll on these kids under five. I think the death rate is nine out of 10?


NYBO: It's unbelievable. And, as I said, it's the worst in the world.

And what happens too, if resources are diverted to fight Ebola or to fight COVID then vaccination campaigns can be halted in their steps.

And what also has happened, as I witnessed with COVID, a lot of different agencies fled the country when the pandemic kicked in. Which of course raises the possibility for measles to get even worse.

And as you saw from the two kids that appeared at the start of this segment, what I really appreciate about what UNICEF is doing is focusing on the children.

Not just the physical threat posed by COVID, but the opportunity cost. What is lost by keeping them out of school?

And one of the programs that I really like to see and that I was proud of was the radio program that was broadcasting lessons to millions of children across the country as the country dealt with measles, with Ebola and with COVID.

VAUSE: Those numbers, though, for the coronavirus seem incredibly low. And obviously, there's some doubt if that's what the real numbers are. Because there this a lack of testing.

So what are they looking at here, what's the reality? Do they know?

NYBO: The reality is it's hard to say. I look at the deaths; 260, which is also remarkably low. The deaths in the United States are more than 700 times greater.

So what I was thinking was, oh, there's just not enough testing. Well, testing has been ramped up.

And I'm on the streets every day, I was on the streets every day talking to people. And people weren't dying of COVID, certainly not in the east. Most of the cases are in the west, in Kinshasa, where I was not.

I think what you also have to recognize is the median age of someone in the Congo is 17. Compare that to the United States where it's 38. And young people escape generally the worse of COVID-19. So that also plays a factor.

VAUSE: It also seems that because of the Ebola experience, whatever it is, they're a lot more proactive.

You have to get a COVID-19 test before you get on your flight for traveling overseas. They test you when you get to the airport, they ask you a bunch of the questions. They don't do any of that stuff when you come to the U.S.

You get to the hotel, there you get sprayed with disinfectant and your temperature's taken. And there's a lot of vigilance, I guess, for the very basic, easy

stuff which isn't happening in many of the advanced countries. Like the United States.

NYBO: I have to give it to the government of the Congo.

In the early days of the pandemic --I arrived the first week of March -- they shut down the borders, they shut down the businesses, they shut down commercial air traffic. They cut -- shut down commercial boat traffic across Lake Kivu.

And that's a great thing. Because it's almost impossible to do social distancing in a state like Goma where I was based.

You have a dozen people are more crammed in public transport. People don't have the luxury of just holing up at home and ordering out.

They need to work every day. They might have one, two, three days worth of food, if they're lucky.

VAUSE: Yes, it's tough. But it's amazing how a lot of these countries in Africa have done such a better job of dealing with this pandemic then the Western nations.

But Thomas, we appreciate your reporting. Appreciate you going there. Thank you.

NYBO: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: When we come back. During the credits, the newly released movie, "Mulan."

Why did Disney make a point of saying a big thank you to Chinese government agencies accused of humans rights abuses?



VAUSE: When the credits roll on Disney's much anticipated live action remake of "Mulan," more than a dozen Chinese institutions and organizations received a special big thank you.

That includes Chinese government agencies accused of human rights abuses in the northern western region of Tianjeng Xinjiang.

CNN's Selina Wang is following the story live from Hong Kong.

I would think someone at Disney has some explaining to do.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. We have reached out to Disney and the minister of foreign affairs for comment. We have not heard any response yet.

Disney here is under fire yet again with fresh calls to boycott this movie. The his is for the final credits of the film where they thank several government departments in the western region of Xinjiang where the United States has accused China for detaining up to two million Uighurs and other ethnic minority groups in these detention camps.

Now China has repeatedly denied those allegations saying this is part of their legitimate counter-terrorism efforts as well as calling these vocational training centers.

Now parts of "Mulan" were reportedly filmed in Xinjiang, the production team has given interviews to media where they said they spent months researching filming locations in Zinjiang.

And this isn't the first time that "Mulan" has been mired in controversy.

Last year, the lead actress Liu Yifei made comments supporting the Hong Kong police during the protests last year.

I spoke to Isaac Stone Fish. He's a senior center [sic] at Asia Society Center who told me that this movie is one of Disney's most problematic ones.

He said it is, quote: "deeply disturbing that Disney thought it was OK to partner with and also thank government departments from a region in China that is complicit with genocide."

Now China is an extremely important market for Hollywood and prior to the COVID pandemic, PWC has estimated that China would surpass the U.S. as the country with the largest film market.

And experts have pointed out that this controversy reflects some of the compromises that Hollywood often has to make when they reach the Chinese consumer.

For instance, they say that films are censored and scripts are reviewed several times from the production process.

And Isaac Stone Fish also told me that we are getting dangerously close to this point where studios and Hollywood may have to choose to either reach the Chinese consumer or the American one. They may not be able to please both.

VAUSE: That's the thing. Surely, Disney would have known that something like this was going to happen. And maybe they didn't care because the government of China would be the happy ones.

Selina, thanks for being with us. Selina Wang there live in Hong Kong.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Stay with us. WORLD OF SPORT is next.



PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Hi, there. Thanks for joining us this Tuesday.

News of another historic first for Serena Williams at the U. S. Open. That is just ahead.

But we start right here in Atlanta where American golfer Dustin Johnson has bagged (ph) the sport's biggest prize after winning the prestigious season-ending FedEx Cup title for the very first time in his career.

The world's top ranked player holding off nearest challengers Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele to win the tour championship by three shots on Monday.

The 2016 U.S. Open champion earning a bumper pay packet as well, $15 million for his efforts.

Just remember, though, at the end of a PGA Tour season like no other, a season that was shut down for months due to the ongoing global pandemic.

Well, afterwards, I caught up with Johnson at East Lake to get his thoughts on one huge career victory.


DUSTIN JOHNSON, PGA TOUR FEDEX CUP WINNER: It means a lot. I'm very proud of being the FedEx Cup champion. It's something that I definitely wanted to do in my career of golf.

I think it's right up there with being a major winner, being a FedEx Cup champion.

I have been there very close a couple times. And to finally get it done this year, I couldn't be more excited about it.

SNELL: Before the shutdown, just looking at the stats, you were outside the Top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings. Now you're FedEx Cup champion. What changed?

JOHNSON: Well, so I didn't play any last fall because I had surgery on my knee. And then I played a couple of events. Played OK.

Obviously, the game's in really good form, I'm really excited about where the game is right now.

Even though I just won the FedEx Cup, it'll be nice to -- good to celebrate a little bit with Paulina and the kids and my brother.

But only for a couple of days because then I got to start getting ready for the U. S. Open, which is only 10 days away before it starts or something.

SNELL: Yes, you do. Yes. Speaking of that, two majors to come still in this calendar year. I'm wondering, Dustin, are you playing the best gulf of your life right now?

JOHNSON: Yes, I'm close. I'm playing very well. I'm really confident in everything I'm doing right now. But there's still some room for improvement.

So I'll go home. I'll take a couple days off, let the mind rest. Physically, I'm fine, I can play every week physically but the mind's got to rest.

That's the most important thing in golf. Being mentally prepared.

SNELL: Fair to say it has been a golf season like no other. The golf calendar's been greatly impacted.

We've all been living through very challenging times during this COVID-19 period. I'm wondering, I want to ask you. How do you reflect upon it all?

JOHNSON: Yes, it's definitely been a challenging year. A challenging year for everyone, not just for us. But we did a great job with what we've done and we've been able to come back and play and do it safely.

It's been very interesting not playing in front of all the fans. That's been something that you had to get used to because obviously I've played in front of fans my whole career.

I can't wait till they can come back though. Because it's something that I enjoy doing. I like the fans being here and I'm really looking forward to them coming back. Hopefully next year.


SNELL: Well, as D.J. mentioned, the U. S. Open is just around the corner, in fact at Wingfoot.

The second men's major of the year starting on the 17th of this month.

And in mid-November, we've got the rescheduled Masters taking center at Augusta National, albeit it with no fans on site there.

Staying in the United States where Serena Williams' quest for record- equaling history remains firmly on track at the U. S. Open in New York City.

Williams booking her spot in the quarterfinals of this COVID-19 impacted tournament after seeing off Greek opponent, Maria Sakkari.

In the process becoming the first player ever to win 100 times on the famed Arthur Ashe stadium.

Monday was Labor Day here in the States and the American player certainly made to work for this victory in three sets against the 25- year-old from Athens.

Serena, who needs one more Grand Slam title to draw level with Margaret Court's all-time record of 24, will next be facing the unranked Bulgarian player, Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria who's having a dream run playing in her first tournament after a three-year maternity leave.

Big emotions there for Serena.

In fact, with Victoria Azerenka also advancing, that's now three mums into the quarter finals for the first time in Grand Slam history there.

Serena Williams staying on track.

Now on the men's side of things with Novak Djokovic out of the tournament after being disqualified on Sunday, attention turning to new faces who are now favorites to go on and take the title.


First and foremost, last year's runner-up, Daniel Medvedev, the young Russian player who doesn't have the New York crowd to battle against this year.

He was facing another up and coming star, Francis Tiafoe, who came on to court wearing a Black Lives Matter hoodie and mask. The 22-year- old is the youngest American in the fourth round of the U. S. Open since 2011.

Now Medvedev getting the job done here in straight sets to reach at least the quarter finals there in the Big Apple for a second straight year.

His victory over Tiafoe setting up an over an all-Russian clash next with childhood friend, Andre Rublev for a place in the semifinals of this year's U. S. Open.

Meantime, smooth passage once again for the Austrian star Dominic Thiem, the number two seed. Just too good for the talented young Canadian player, Felix Auger Alliassime.

After a close fought first set, Thiem just powering his way through to the last eight where he'll next face 21-year old Australian Alex De Minaur.

The 27-year old Thiem is a three-time Grand Slam finalist including at this year's Ozzy Open in Melbourne.

He will surely now feel with Djokovic gone he has a great chance of capturing that elusive first career major.

We shall see.

All right. So no fans then at this year's U. S. Open due to the global pandemic but that's not going to be the case at the rescheduled French Open which gets underway in less than two weeks' time.

Despite the rising numbers of coronavirus cases in the country, organizers saying the tournament in Paris will be open to fans. Here are the key takeaways. Roland Garros to be divided into three

zones with a maximum of 5,000 people in each of two zones and then a maximum of 1,500 in the third.

Spectators over the age of 11 will be required to wear face coverings. And all players will only be approved to play if they test negative when arriving in the French capital and again 72 hours later.

Players will also then be tested every five days and must stay in one of two pre-approved hotels.

And we can tell you that top ranked Ashleigh Barty who's not playing in the U. S. Open will also not be defending her French Open crown this year citing the health risks that still exist with COVID-19.

Barty saying it's not a decision she's taken lightly.

Adding in a statement that reads in part:

"It's been a challenging year for everyone. And although I am disappointed on a tennis front, the health of well-being of my family and my team will always be my priority.

Thank you to my fans for your continued support. I cannot wait to play for you again."

So no Barty then at Roland Garros but what about Serena Williams? Well, the three-time French Open champion appears to be still weighing things up.

But the American great did give this take on fans being allowed to attend there at Roland Garros.


SERENA WILLIAMS, 23-TIME GRAND SLAM CHAMPION: That's interesting, because there's no private housing but there's fans. So I didn't -- but I kind of knew that.

It's just for me, I'm super conservative because I do have some serious health issues. So I try to stay away from public places.

Because I've been in a really bad position in the hospital a few times. So I don't want to end up in that position again.

So I don't know. I'll just do my best to continue to keep -- for me, I try to keep a 12-foot distance instead of six.


SNELL: Serena Williams there.

The latest from the NBA post season in the Orlando bubble just ahead this Tuesday.

Where one superstar made an epic play to save the day and just wait till you see how he did it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Flu season and COVID-19 are about to collide.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FMR. U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: There symptoms will be hard to distinguish from COVID symptoms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both are contagious respiratory illnesses but are caused by different viruses.

It's already known that these viruses can spread through droplets in the air and from touching infected surfaces.

But a new study suggests the flu and potentially other viruses like the coronavirus may be carried on small particles of dust that float in the air.

The research published in the journal, "Major Communications" determined animals could infect one another in a lab through the virus on their fur.

And dried tissues soaked with the virus could send off potentially infectious particles through the air with they're crumpled.

Adding in another layer of concern as health officials are already bracing for flu season amid the pandemic.

SNELL: Welcome back to CNN WORLD SPORT.

Now later on in Paris, France's national football team will take to the field of play.

This is in UEFA Nations League action Croatia.


But "Les Bleus" will do so without World Cup winning superstar, Kylian Mbappe.

On Monday the French Football Federation announcing the Paris Saint- Germain forward had tested positive for COVID-19 while on international duty.

The 21-year-old who played for France against Sweden on Saturday scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory is the seventh PSG player to have tested positive for coronavirus in recent weeks.

Mbappe's representatives have not responded to CNN's requests for comment about his test.

From France to Spain where Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi back in training with the club.

This after last week looking as though he was actually on the brink of a move away from the Catalan giants. The Argentine revealing though late last week he would continue at Barca telling he'd been wanting to leave all year.

The 33-year old's decision coming just over a week after the South American sent a letter to the club informing them he wanted out.

Barcelona who now have a new head coach in Ronald Koeman beginning the new La Liga campaign at home to Villareal on Saturday on September 27th. A date for your diary.

Let's get you caught up now on the very latest from the NBA playoffs which are taking place inside the Orlando bubble right now.

Some really cool impactful video we've lined up for you.

We've called it the "One Finger Block," a really crucial block it was too.

Take a look. L.A. Clippers star Kawhi Leonard taking center stage here. This is in the fourth quarter.

The Clippers and the Nuggets game on Monday night, game three of the Western Conference semis.

It's the Nugget Jamal Murray who's denied -- look at that -- his dunk attempt by Leonard's extended figure doing the denying there.

The block sealing the 113 points to 107 victory for the Clippers who now lead 2-1 in the series there.

All right. A reminder of our top story this Tuesday as a PGA Tour golf season like no other comes to a close.

With the number one men's player in the world celebrating a title he'd wanted all along. And he wanted it very badly indeed.

We're going to leave you now with our latest Rolex minute.


MARK DIXON, CEO INTERNATIONAL WORKPLACE GROUP: There's been a marked change clearly during this crisis in terms of where people work and how companies want to Supreme Court workers.

So more people working at home. There's more demand for real estate in the suburbs and small towns and villages all over the world.

So the workers of the future are actually using space as they need it and they use it from their homes. They take an office where and when they might need it.

And this, we believe, will be a trend for the future. Certainly, in many of our conversations with our larger corporate customers they're certainly thinking this way.

This is their new strategy.

Which is to really provide workplaces wherever people need them rather than force people to commute long distances into downtown city locations.