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The Brief with Bianca Nobilo
Coronavirus Outbreak: China Reports Sharp Rise In Confirmed Cases; W.H.O.: Use Caution When Interpreting Case Numbers; China Fires Senior Officials In Hubei Province; CDC Director: A Lot We Don't Know About This Virus; Life On Board Quarantined Cruise Ship In Japan; "Huge Shock" to Chinese auto industry; Barr Criticizes Trump's Remarks About Ongoing Cases; U.S. Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution; Sajid Javid Resigns As Johnson's Finance Minister; Julian Smith Loses His Job As Northern Ireland Secretary; Sudan to pay $30 million to USS Cole Attack Families; Bushfires In Australia's New South Wales Contained. Aired 5-5:30p ET
Aired February 13, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The new season of race for the White House premieres Sunday at 9pm. Only on CNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Tonight on "The Brief" as coronavirus cases spike, one official warns you should stop thinking about this disease being as
seasonal as the flu.
Plus, the U.S. Attorney General says he won't be bullied after President Trump lashes out at the Justice Department. And British Prime Minister
Boris Johnson shakes up his cabinet. We'll take a look at the dramatic comings and goings.
Live from London I'm Bianca Nobilo, a very warm welcome to the show. China is reporting a spike in the number of new coronavirus infections, but that
doesn't automatically mean that things are getting worse.
Health officials in Hubei Province, the center of the outbreak, are changing the way that they can classify local infections. So now they're
counting people who show symptoms and need treatment, or people who died before receiving treatment, even if they haven't been lab tested.
So now there are more than 60,000 global cases of coronavirus and more than 1,300 deaths, most of them in Mainland China. It looks like a dramatically,
but the World Health Organization says there are no new countries reporting infections, and there's no significant change in how severe the virus is or
how many people it kills. They're urging people not to take the numbers at face value.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MICHAEL RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, W.H.O. HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME: We need to be cautious when drawing conclusions from daily reports of
numbers. I think we were having that discussion yesterday and I think the numbers today speak to that.
We need to be very careful when interpreting any extremes, be it's in incubation periods, be in daily numbers. We must take all numbers into
account, we must look at all numbers seriously. But we also must try and interpret what those numbers mean and not react directly to the number
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: So earlier I asked my colleague David Culver to explain more about what's going on in China's Hubei Province.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bianca, first glance, you look at these numbers and the day to day jump is alarming. But then you
have to dig a little deeper. And you realize this reclassification changes a lot of things. It groups, essentially, those who have been confirmed
tested positive cases, along with those who are clinically diagnosed, but have not yet been tested positive for the coronavirus. So that's why we see
this larger number coming together.
Why make that move all together? Well, Chinese health officials say they've done this, so as to grant access to the medications to those who are just
experiencing the symptoms, but may have not been able to get the testing either because of delays or because of lack of testing resources, whatever
it may be, they can now be treated. That according to Chinese health officials.
However, there's a political side of this too, and we've got to dig into that. Because what happened along the same timeline, as this
reclassification, was the firing of two of the most senior party officials within who Hubei Province and the City of Wuhan, the epicenter of all of
And early on, we were saying that the local government was getting a lot of criticism. And folks were telling us, quite frankly, that they felt they
had just dropped the ball at the local level. And it wasn't until the central government came in under President Xi Jinping, he himself saying
that he was going to handle the coordination and deployment efforts of this containment.
And then suddenly, we started to see the local government was going to take the fall for much of this and that is starting to come to fruition with the
firings that we saw with these two senior party leaders. And with the replacement of those individuals, with protegees of President Xi himself.
Now going forward, it raises questions as to how this containment effort will move forward. We know there are extremes already coming into place
that are even more extreme, if you will, than what is currently in place.
And one of them being the City of Huanggang, that's just outside the city of Wuhan, they are now imposing a sealing essentially, of homes and
residential communities, not allowing folks to leave basic necessities will be brought in. There are a few exceptions if they work in the medical
profession, for example. But that is where it's coming to in some of these jurisdictions to stop the spread of this virus, Bianca.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Thanks to David Culver for his reporting. Public health officials in the United States reached out to China six weeks ago offering help with
this virus. But the Chinese government still hasn't responded. Our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta sat down with the Director for the
Centers for Disease Control today. And Sanjay, what did the Director have to say in terms of how optimistic he was that coronavirus could be
contained and eradicated?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, with regard to this issue, the communication with China, first of all, you know
- this is a source of frustration, as you might imagine, because there's so many patients, obviously, in China who've been infected. That's where the
CDC wants to be, to be able to better study this and understand this. There's so many unanswered questions still, Bianca, around this.
I asked Dr. Redfield specifically about this. He said he wrote a letter six weeks ago and has been waiting to hear and has heard nothing. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: I don't think it's a medical decision that we're not being invited in.
GUPTA: What do you think it is?
REDFIELD: Well, I think it's above the medical.
GUPTA: You think it's a political decision?
REDFIELD: Well, I think it's above the medical. I don't think this - the Director of CDC is making that decision.
GUPTA: You think it's a political decision?
REDFIELD: Well, I think it's - all I can say is I think it's above the Director of CDC, because I know he would love to have assist system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: So you know - there you go. I mean, part of getting this thing - this virus sort of getting as much information as possible, is allowing
some of these other institutions to come in and study this, not that the Chinese health officials can't do it, it's just that there's so many
patients, Bianca, right now that they have to basically understand how to take care of those patients, and getting some assistance and actually
studying this would be of great benefit.
I also talked to Dr. Redfield a fair amount about where does this go? I mean, is this something that he believes is going to be contained? Is - are
these quarantine strategies working? Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REDFIELD: I think this virus is probably with us beyond this season or beyond this year, and I think eventually, the virus will find a foothold,
and we will get community based transmission, and you can start to think of it in the sense like seasonal flu.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: So, you know, this idea that it's going to start to transmit around the world, I think he feels that is likely to happen. These other
strategies may slow that down by some time. But you know, this is something that's going to start circulating. Luckily, he describes it more as a flu
like virus, as opposed to a big lethal worldwide pandemic.
NOBILO: Well, that's something, at least. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you very much for your time today.
GUPTA: Yes. Thank you.
NOBILO: Another 44 people onboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for coronavirus, and makes the total of confirmed
cases on that ship 219. And certain passengers, 80 years old or above, who have tested negative, will get to disembark early. But most will have to
wait for the end of the quarantine period scheduled for next Wednesday.
The cruise lines Chief Medical Officer warned additional measures may be needed. CNN Will Ripley talks to a man on board the Diamond Princess with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is what a cruise is supposed to be like. For parents with young children on the Diamond
Princess, this only happens for about an hour, every few days. All those other hours are spent like this, waiting for the daily delivery of fresh
toys, coloring books, crayons, colorful beads.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have this bracelet and also this one.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Arts and crafts can keep the kids busy for hours. Every morning, local jet skiers try to boost morale. Every evening, bunk
beds become trampolines.
HARVEY: Being trapped in this cabin, it makes you think and realize what we should appreciate, like the little moments, little details of life.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Harvey is a young dad, who asked us not to use his last name. He's on the quarantined cruise ship with his entire family.
HARVEY: There's 11 of us and then 5 kids.
RIPLEY (voice-over): The youngest, 3. The oldest, 8.
RIPLEY: What do you tell your children about why you guys are sitting there for this long?
HARVEY: We say there's like this invisible monster called the coronavirus and we can't go outside.
RIPLEY (voice-over): That invisible monster may have the parents more spooked than their kids. Nobody in Harvey's family is showing any symptoms
of novel coronavirus. He thinks they should all be tested anyway.
HARVEY: The numbers are kind of strange to me. I'm also worried because, even though I trust my own health, I don't want to be like an invisible
RIPLEY (voice-over): The Japanese government has only tested a few hundred people out of more than 3,000 on the Diamond Princess. Many are asking, why
not test everyone at once?
Japan can only process around 300 test kits per day. The nation expects to more than triple its capacity by early next week. One day before the end of
the quarantine. The question many are asking, is it too little, too late?
HARVEY: If we are worried that we might be carrying, then it will affect our daily life when we go back. That's one of the major concerns that we
don't want to be carrying it, like, and we don't want to spread it to the communities.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Harvey worries what could happen when they go back to Hong Kong. Could he and his children be stigmatized? Could they pass the
virus to their neighbors, family and friends?
Peace of mind, he says, can only come if everyone on board is tested and if those tests come back negative. Will Ripley, CNN, Yokohama, Japan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: The coronavirus outbreak is having an increasing impact on the global economy. Chinese automakers say new car sales dropped 18 percent in
January. Automakers say the virus has delivered a huge shock to the industry and they expect February sales to be even worse.
And British rapper Stormzy has canceled the Asian leg of his world tour, because of concerns about the virus. He was supposed to visit five
countries at the end of March. The hip hop star says that he will reschedule those shows.
And we have a lot of questions about the novel coronavirus. In about 10 minutes' time we'll discuss them further with Laurie Garrett, author of
"The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance," so do stay do stay tuned for that.
Now a rare public rebuke of U.S. President Donald Trump by his Attorney General William Barr. Barr is pushing back against Mr. Trump's criticism
involving Justice Department cases, saying that President's tweets make it impossible for him to do this job. Listen to what Barr just told ABC News
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: To have public statements and tweets made about the Department, about people in the Department, or men and women
here about cases pending in the Department, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts
and the prosecutors and the Department that we're doing our work with integrity.
Not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody and I said - whether it's Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the President, I'm going to do
what I think is right. And the, I think, the - I cannot do my job here at the Department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Just a few days ago, Mr. Trump's criticism of prosecutors recommended prison sentence for his longtime ally Roger Stone, apparently
did have an impact. Whilst Justice Department intervened hours after Mr. Trump tweeted, overruling their own prosecutors to lighten the
And Mr. Trump didn't stop with criticizing those prosecutors, he is also attacking a juror in Stone trial, accusing her of bias. Escalating
concerns, he's attempting to manipulate the judicial system, and independent branch of government.
Let's bring in White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins to discuss all of this. Kaitlan, what do you make of those comments made by the U.S. Attorney
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They're absolutely stunning to see a cabinet official going on the record criticizing the President and
his tweets and saying that they make his job harder. And also making clear, he says, he is not going to be bullied into taking any action in the
Department of Justice.
Which of course, we know, throughout Donald Trump's time in office that has been the one Department that he has gone back time and time again, either
wanting certain investigations that he's publicly floating or criticizing their behavior. And of course, everyone knows how the President's
relationship with his last Attorney General Jeff Sessions, ended.
Sessions once pushed back on the president tweeting, saying he was going to continue to do his job to the best of his ability. And now we seem to be
viewing that version of this, in the light of Attorney General Bill Barr's comments to ABC News.
Because he has been at the center of a firestorm that has been going on inside the Justice Department that has really caused a lot of upheaval
after you saw those four prosecutors who'd been working on Roger Stone's case, recommend that sentence of seven to nine years on Monday night, only
four hours later, top DOJ officials, including the Attorney General Bill Barr to overrule them and say actually, they believed that sentence was
excessive and that Roger stone should go to jail. They just didn't specify for how long.
Now, that, of course, caused a lot of uproar among the rank and file members at DOJ. It caused those four prosecutors who had signed their name
to sentencing recommendation to resign from the case. And now you're saying Bill Barr go on the record, essentially trying to say, he is going to
protect those people who work in the Justice Department.
But the big question is going to be how does the President respond to this? Because these are pretty stunning criticisms. And essentially, it's going
to put the President in a difficult place, because this is right now his favorite cabinet member.
NOBILO: Kaitlan, always good to speak to you. Kaitlan Collins there for us in Washington. U.S. Senate has passed an Iran War Powers Resolution, in a
rare bipartisan rebuke to President Donald Trump. Eight Republicans crossed party lines and voted in favor of the measure, despite Mr. Trump's
opposition and a White House vowed to veto it.
The resolution seeks to rein in the President's ability to use military action against Iran without the approval of Congress. It was introduced in
the Senate last month following Mr. Trump's decision that ordered a strike, which killed the Iranian Commander Qasem Soleimani.
To Britain now, where Boris Johnson has dramatically reshuffled his cabinet. After sacking many of his own MPs last year, he's still showing
his party who's boss. The key figure in all of this is the controversial aide, Dominic Cummings. Gone is the man who held the number two in
government, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid said he was left with no option to resign from his job after the conditions put on it by the
Prime Minister. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAJID JAVID, FORMER BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER: The conditions that were attached was a requirement that I replace all my political advisors, and
these are people that have worked incredibly hard on behalf of not just the government, but the whole country. Done a fantastic job. I was unable to
accept those conditions. I don't believe any self-respecting minister would accept such conditions. And so therefore, I thought the best thing to do
was to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: 39-year-old lead campaigner Rishi Sunak is in. A vocal supporter of Johnson, his background is more diverse with Indian parents by West Africa.
But his path to power is textbook. He studied PPE at Oxford, like many a conservative minister. He then went into banking and then became an MP.
And that wasn't all today, well respected Northern Irish Secretary Julian Smith was unceremoniously cut. That's only a few weeks after he helped get
Northern Ireland's rival parties back into power. Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Smith was one of Britain's finest. Others were luckier.
Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab; Home Secretary, Priti Patel and Michael Gove, all stay in place.
When "The Brief" returns, coronavirus is scary, but it's not a pandemic - at least not yet. I'll talk to a pandemic expert about what to look out for
in just a moment.
NOBILO: The sheer numbers behind the novel coronavirus are staggering. But as we look at the map showing where its victims can be found. It is clear
that the outbreak is mainly seen in one region of the world. One country - China. Still, a speed at which this virus has spread, and the number of
people infected has the entire world on guard. Health officials stress this is not a pandemic, at least not yet.
In today's "Debrief," I'm joined by one of the world's leading experts on pandemics. She is Laurie Garrett, the author of numerous books on the
subject, including the honestly titled "The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance." Great to have you on the program.
LAURIE GARRETT, AUTHOR, "EBOLA: STORY OF AN OUTBREAK": Hi, thank you.
NOBILO: So we have seen this staggering spike, as I just referred to, in the number of cases out of China. Now, that's been attributed to the fact
that the way that cases are diagnosed and the way that they're referred to has changed, that's because they don't require a lab test. It's fine if you
have the symptoms, which are consistent with coronavirus, then you may be counted. Do you think that that is the full explanation behind the rising
GARRETT: No. To be honest, I don't. I think that's part of the explanation, because they're recognizing that there is transmission from people who have
very mild symptoms, not the extreme of pneumonia and so on.
But, honestly, there's been a backlog of testing. Many parts of the country have reported running out of test kits. In Wuhan, before he died, the great
Li Wenliang, the physician who sounded the alarm, and was punished for doing so, was asking on February 2nd, February 3rd, before he died, "we
desperately need more test kits. We're running out."
I think we're seeing a surge of backlogged testing coming forward. It doesn't seem to fit the kind of very strict definition of the cases that
they're talking about. And then the other issue is, why did the death rates bump up as well?
You know, if all they were doing was adjusting for mild cases and creating this larger number, the death toll should have stayed at the same
incremental increase daily that we've seen for a long time. Why did deaths go up as well? Yes, I mean, didn't make sense.
NOBILO: Does it have the possibility to be confused as well with other influenzas? Because if you're not being lab tested for coronavirus, and you
have respiratory symptoms, or as you mentioned, even gastrointestinal symptoms and others that haven't really been spoken about, it surely could
be a myriad of other problems and diseases and viruses. So is it even an accurate way to go about this?
GARRETT: Well, that raises another point, Bianca, which is that we don't have any data about people dying of other causes in Wuhan, in Hubei. We
know that people are, you know, quarantined into their homes and may or may not be getting medication for underlying diseases they have. We know that
people don't have access to health care if they're not part of the epidemic response.
So it's very confusing to try and understand what are we looking at? Who who's dying? How is it verified? Which - why is the death rate not held at
one level and the new infection rate at a completely new level? It's all rather confusing, actually.
And - I mean, I think - look, if this was happening in the United States on this scale, we would have a hard time keeping up with the data and handling
it properly - any country would. So I'm prepared to cut a lot of slack here. But we have seen over the course of this epidemic, some pretty
egregious misstatements of data, misstatements of numbers, downplaying the scale of the epidemic for a very long time. And I think a certain amount of
skepticism is merited.
NOBILO: I interviewed last week, a scientist working on a coronavirus vaccine. He said that they expect it to be in circulation by early next
year. But I was looking on your Twitter earlier and you made the important point that there's no vaccine for SARS or MERS and they've been around for
many years. So do you think that's overly optimistic?
GARRETT: I am led - I must wonder why it's taken us 17 years and we still don't have a candidate vaccine for SARS? Why it's been 6, 7 years, we still
don't have a candidate for MERS? And what makes us think that this coronavirus is something that we can suddenly, you know, conjure a vaccine
It either means that the financial incentives are now sufficient that the pharmaceutical industry is willing to go for it big time. And that for
SARS, and MERS, there were inadequate profit potentials involved. Or it means that there's some miracle coming out of a laboratory somewhere.
But you know, it's very hard to conduct clinical trials and get through Phase I, Phase II, Phase III clinical trials and get a vaccine into
widespread use on that kind of a time table. I find it unimaginable, really.
NOBILO: Laurie Garrett, thank you for joining us from New York today. Appreciate your time.
GARRETT: Thank you.
NOBILO: Sudan has agreed to pay $30 million to families of the victims of the USS Cole terror attack, hoping to end the legacy of its former
government. 17 American sailors were killed, 39 others were wounded when suicide bombers rammed the vessel in 2000.
A U.S. Court found the Sudan helped al Qaeda in the attack. Sudan explicitly denies the allegations, but is desperate to be removed by the
U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Sudan's Justice Minister says, "We entered into this agreement out of a keenness to settle the historic
allegations of terrorism created by the former regime."
When "The Brief" returns, three months of misery may finally be over, as bushfires in Australia's New South Wales are finally contained. But there's
NOBILO: You remember the scenes, apocalyptic visions of fires ravaging huge parts of Australia, killing dozens, ruining thousands of homes and
endangering millions of animals. But finally, after three months, all fires in New South Wales all contained. But when mother nature gives, she also
can take away.
The main reason that this has happened is a huge rainfall that's blasted the Australian East Coast over the last week, bringing damaging winds and
floods. Sydney has seen the highest sustained run of rainfall in 30 years.
The severe weather of all kinds has led to a big conversation in Australia about the effects that climate change is having on the country and
criticism of the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Whether it's burning fires or crippling floods, one thing is very clear, Australia has suffered
That's all for "The Brief" tonight. I'm Bianca Nobilo. "World Sports" is up next.