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The Brief with Bianca Nobilo
World Health Organization Virus Has Pandemic Potential But Don't Panic; Tens Of Thousands Living In Quarantine In Northern Italy; Iran Cancels Friday Prayers As Coronavirus Spreads; Heathrow Plans To Appeal Ruling On Third Runway; Canada To Stop Providing Security To Harry & Meghan. Aired 5-5:30p ET
Aired February 27, 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 HOST, "THE LEAD": The coverage on CNN continues. Thanks so much for watching.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN HOST: Tonight on "The Brief," fears about the Coronavirus drag down global stock markets. We are now on track the DOW's worst week
since 2008. As the virus continues to spread, the WHO warns a pandemic is still possible, but stresses there is no need for panic.
And the Middle East takes extraordinary measures. Some Friday prayers were cancelled in Iran and Saudi Arabia suspends pilgrimages. Live from London,
I'm Cyril Vanier in for Bianca today. Welcome to the show.
We begin with breaking news just in to CNN coming out of Northwestern Syria. A Turkish Governor says that the Assad regime launched an air strike
on Turkish forces in Idlib Province a short time ago, and at least 22 Turkish soldiers were killed.
That is significant not only because it's another escalation between these two countries, but also because it directly challenges the NATO alliance.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held an emergency meeting shortly after the attack. We'll bring you more details on this story, on
all of this as it becomes available to us.
Now to the Coronavirus outbreak where at each hour we are hearing of more new cases popping up around the world. This is wreaking havoc on global
markets. The DOW just closed on the sixth straight day of losses, losing more than 1,100 points at the end of trading. European and Asian markets
closed down as well.
For the second day in a row, we're seeing more new cases outside of China than inside. Many places like the Netherlands and Northern Ireland reported
their first cases in just the past few hours. The World Health Organization says the virus has pandemic potential, but also says that it is important
to stay calm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, W.H.O. ORGANIZATION DIRECTOR-GENERAL: This is not a time for fear. This is a time for taking action now to prevent
infections and save lives now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Let's talk about where it's hitting the hardest. Outside China, South Korea has the most cases in Asia more than 1,700. Officials in Iran
and Italy are trying to contain their own regional epidemics which are connected to outbreaks across the Middle East and Europe.
Saudi Arabia is taking the historic step of suspending pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina, two of the holiest sites in Islam. So far the Kingdom hasn't
reported any Coronavirus cases, but they are choosing to do what Iran is not, closing religious sites that draw huge crowds.
While any of the precautions being taken around the globe are not soothing the global stock market. U.S. stocks are on track for their worst week
since 2008 during the financial crisis. CNN's Richard Quest explains how significant this is.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: This was a continuation of the very deepening of investors and markets of the feeling over the future
direction of the Coronavirus outbreak. The market opened lower and it went sharper down by more than 960 points, but then there was a rally throughout
It was only late in the day that the serious selling began. Investors and markets are focusing on particularly this case of potential community
spread in California. If the California economy was to be locked down in any way, it would be devastating to the U.S. economy.
So now we have a situation of deep worry in the United States, a crisis in Italy in its northern part, the industrial heartland and Asia still not
fully back on stream and worries of where it goes next. In these circumstances, it's hardly surprising that the markets fell out of bed.
VANIER: 17 people have died in Italy and some 650 have been infected. Its European neighbors are trying to keep that hot spot from growing, even
though it's already touching much of the continent.
Still Italy's Deputy Health Minister says they are not going to close the country's borders. He says it's enough that tens of thousands of people in
the hardest-hit northern areas are being quarantined. Ben Wedeman shows us what life is like there.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Beyond this point, the red zone. Without special permission, you can neither enter nor exit. The
Italian authorities cordoned off the zones home to more than 50,000 people after the appearance and rapid spread of the Coronavirus within the last
But just five minutes down the road in this village of - and his family are out for a morning stroll. He works at a company that installs home alarms,
but the company is inside the red zone.
WEDEMAN: The Coronavirus, he worries, is more than just a health hazard. We're already paying a high price, he says. Stores are closed. Businesses
are closed. There will be more suffering from the economic impact than from the virus itself. His wife, Francesca just wants out of the house.
Living tightly together is bad for us she says. He's used to moving around, going to work, not spending much time at home. Half the stores in this
village are closed because they're either owned or staffed by people now stuck in the red zone.
Gaudenzio Sasthi (ph) was the Town's Mayor for 15 years, now retired. Like many on the fringes of t red zone, he's keeping a cool head. We need to
confront the problem in a rational manner he says. There's no point in getting overheated or going crazy.
Many of the Coronavirus patients are being treated here at Milan's Luigi Sacco Hospital set up decades ago to treat an earlier scorch to
tuberculosis. Dr. Giuliano Rizzardini runs the Department of Infectious Diseases and worked before in Africa during an outbreak of Ebola.
Are the red zones effective, I asked him? It's still too early to say. We still haven't found patient zero, he says, referring to the person who
brought the Coronavirus to Italy. It's the first time something like this happens in Europe. It's a virus that spreads easily, made more complicated
because it comes in the same season as the flu. This emergency is only just beginning.
It's important to keep in mind that the Italian Public Health Service is one of the best in the world. This is a system that is geared to dealing
with people's health problems not on the basis of profit, but on need of the people, and therefore the government says they are doing all that they
They are being very meticulous in terms of testing people who may show symptoms for the disease, and Italy does not lack for the resources to deal
with this crisis. What we have seen, however, is a continuing dramatic increase in the number of cases.
The latest 650 cases of Coronavirus 17 people dead and until those numbers start to slow down, people will be obviously concerned. Cyril?
VANIER: And that is Ben Wedeman reporting from Italy. Now for the first time in Iran's modern history, Friday prayers have been canceled as the
Coronavirus spreads. Two government officials are among the 245 people infected there. The death toll stands at 26, the highest number outside of
China. I asked CNN's Fred Pleitgen, if the precautions Iran is taking are helping bring the Coronavirus under control.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Cyril, well despite these measures it still seems to be quite a challenge for the
Iranian authorities to try and come to terms with the Coronavirus in their country.
As we've noticed there are several top members of the Iran's government who have come down with the virus including the Vice President, and including
also of course the Deputy Health Minister as well.
At the same time, the Iranians are saying that they're trying to put additional measures in place just to try and make sure that people don't
congregate as much as they would normally do. The fact that they're cancelling Friday prayers is obviously a huge step it is something that
they haven't not done since the Islamic Republic has come into being.
At the same time if you look at the numbers it's certainly does seem as though the virus still appears to be spreading there. We have had about 100
new confirmed cases of infections with Coronavirus just today in the entire country, and I looked at the map a little more closely.
The Iranians are now saying that there are infections in 22 provinces in Iran. Iran of course, has 31 provinces. So it certainly appears to be the
case that this virus is still spreading out to new areas inside Iran.
So the authorities there are saying that they're trying to come to terms with it by for instance closing schools, by for instance closing
universities, by for instance also stopping those Friday prayers from happening, but at the same time, they're obviously also aware of the fact
that they're going to have to put additional measures in place.
One of the things that they're also trying to do for instance is try to disinfect public transport places just to make sure the virus spreads at
least a little less fast than it appears to have been in the past couple of days, Cyril.
VANIER: Fred Pleitgen reporting from Iran. Authorities in the United States are investigating a mysterious new case trying to figure out where and how
a California resident became infected.
VANIER: The state is now monitoring some people who have returned from countries hard-hit by the virus. The Vice President Mike Pence is trying to
reassure Americans that the administration has this threat under control. He has been tapped to lead the government's response, and he spoke to
reporters a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our best estimate is that the threat to the American public Dr. Fauci remains low, but the President
took the actions he took last month out of abundance of caution, and he has tasked us to take every step necessary to protect the health of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: We're also getting this news just in from "The Washington Post," a whistleblower complaint alleges that U.S. officials sent more than a dozen
workers to receive the first Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China without proper training for infection control or appropriate protective gear.
I'm joined now by CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. This is the latest of many scandals that the Trump Administration has faced and
many potential difficulties. Is there - what is the political mood in Washington over this?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're still waiting for the White House to comment on that whistleblower report. We know that
it's been reported both by "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" so far.
But the White House has not commented yet, but of course, this comes as the White House is having a shakeup of its own in the leadership of who is
handling the response to the Coronavirus of course, in its outbreak that CDC officials say it's inevitably going to spread in the U.S., and that
came from in this room yesterday when the President tapped Mike Pence, the Vice President to instead lead that task force instead of the Health and
Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar.
Something that came after the White House had spent the day denying that was going to happen, and they were going to make any changes to that, and
they were pleased with Azar's leadership, but we were told by sources that actually as the President was flying back from India, he was growing
furious as he was watching this coverage that he perceived as negative and criticizing his administration's response so far.
That's why he made that change, but one thing we should note that's interesting is you're seeing Pence already take over by speaking about this
today, Chairing an HHS meeting on the Coronavirus.
We're also learning that his office says they're going to be taking over all the messaging when it comes to the Coronavirus meaning that all public
statements and appearances about it, whether officials are going on TV or the White House is putting out statements, they're saying it has to going
to have to through them before it can be publicized because essentially they felt like there were too many mixed messages coming from inside the
administration at the time.
VANIER: Yes, certainly over a 24-hour period. It did sound like there were a lot of cooks in that kitchen. CNN's Kaitlan Collins reporting from the
White House, thank you very much.
East Africa is dealing with an unprecedented invasion. Billions of desert locusts are terrorizing the region. Farm lands are now decimated lively
hoods are ruined. And the United Nations warns that this could become a humanitarian catastrophe. CNN's Farai Sevenzo travelled to see the
devastating swarms in person.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For three months now, swarms of desert locusts have been eating their way through East Africa. Here in Kenya's
Laikipia County, people bang utensils to try to ward off any increasing menaces to their livelihoods all to in avail. The locusts keep coming.
A veracious appetite means these locusts eat their equivalent of their own body weight in a single day, and they move with speed on the changing winds
as far as 150 kilometers, almost 100 miles a day.
Beans, maize and pasta for animals nothing stands a chance. Raising fears over food security as the farmlands are decimated. And they keep breeding,
laying their eggs on the earth in pasture in agricultural lands.
Across East Africa locusts swarms are biblical proportions have been threatening life and grazing land and eating all the people's crops. Here
you can see these hoppers are the new generation that will pose a bigger threat to agriculture in Kenya.
The war against locusts is now in full swing. If the swarms aren't stopped, the U.N. says they can multiply as much as 500 times by June. So the Kenyan
government and U.N. agencies are fighting back with pesticides.
In Isiolo North Eastern Kenya, villages say they're seeing billions of newly hatched locusts. How did this happen? After years of drought, two
cyclones hit East Africa in as many years these climate change influence phenomena replenish lands and filled the rivers. But the heavy rains made
the wet earth ideal breeding grounds for locusts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL LESAIGOR, REGIONAL LOCUST CONTROL TEAM OFFICIER: We intend to control it maybe in two, three months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEVENZO: Despite the challenges, they have killed as many as 17 swarms in a day a medium-sized swarm being 30 million to 40 million insects. Farai
Sevenzo, CNN, Isiolo Kenya.
VANIER: $18 billion and years of planning down the drain? Heathrow airports' efforts to build a third runway just got dealt a major blow, but
climate activists are thrilled. We'll dig into this in our climate debrief. Stay with us.
VANIER: So climate activists are celebrating a big victory here in London. The UK's court of appeal is blocking the British government's plans to
build a third runway at Heathrow Airport. A three-justice panel said the government's proposal fails to take into account Britain's commitments to
fight climate change under the Paris accord.
The $18 billion project has been dogged by years of controversy. The government says it will not appeal first day's ruling, but the airport does
plan to appeal. London's Mayor Sadiq Khan says plans for an additional runway should be scrapped altogether.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SADIQ KHAN, LONDON MAYOR: We are facing climate changes, and these plans from the government will make matters worse. I'm not calling on the
government not to review that has plans for runway three, but to abandon their plans for runway three.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Heathrow airport insists that the project is critical for increasing trade between Britain and the rest of the world, and that the
airport's two existing runways are currently at full capacity, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he would lie down in front of the
bulldozers to stop them.
Michal Nachmarry of Grantham Research Institute on climate change and the environment is here with me now. How big a deal is this? Because I did
research and as far as I can tell, this is the first major infrastructure project that is canceled over environmental concerns.
MICHAL NACHMARRY, GRANTHAM RESEARCH INSTITUTE ON THE CLIMATE CHANGE & THE ENVIRONMENT, LSE: This is a major celebration today for those who want a
good process de-carbonizing the economy. The court today did not rule that Heathrow expansion is not compatible.
It said the government has to take this into account, take climate change into account when planning major infrastructure projects and this is
exactly what we want done across the entire economy. This is a major opportunity for the UK to realign its transportation sector in an
innovative way, in a useful way and in a net zero way as it itself has legislated.
More than that, this is a call for all nations, for everyone who had signed the Paris Agreement to do the same thing.
VANIER: So that was going to be my question. What precedent does this set in if you want to build an airport in Kuala Lumpur? If you want to settle
across the roads somewhere across the world, and you were a country and most countries are signatories of the Paris Climate Accord, and you see
this is the lesson?
NACHMARRY: Absolutely, you have to take these things into account. You would have to plan for de-carbonizing your economy. De-carbonizing your
economy, de-carbonizing our economies is not something we should be afraid of. It's something we should be all looking forward to.
It is something that reduces our risk, that reduces many other risks including air pollution and noise pollution and other things which the
Heathrow expansion protesters were advocating for, but climate change puts us all at risk, and reducing that risk is something that big business is
The Governor of the Bank of England is calling for that, advocating for disclosure of climate risks and for planning based on - based according to
the Paris Agreement.
VANIER: But the thing is that business still has to happen, right?
VANIER: The economy's still got to run, and business and the economy rest on good infrastructure. So things like roads, airports, travel hubs, things
like that. I mean, those are just critical. So how do you balance those two things? Because, you know, it's easy to just look at it in a silo and be
blind to the needs of business and say, this is good for the environment. I totally get that, but how do you make the two coexist?
NACHMARRY: The two coexist and more than that, big business and we see the largest investors in the world today calling for de-carbonization because
they know that what is good for business is only things that are sustainable over time.
You don't build infrastructure that leads to extreme weather events and to the reduction of travel because economies will be collapsing because of
climate change. Big business is calling for sustainable, good infrastructure, and this is exactly what the ruling today says. It says
we're not saying no to business. We're not even saying - we're not even saying no to airlines.
VANIER: But that's the immediate impact though.
NACHMARRY: The immediate impact is not expanding Heathrow which is very different from shutting it down.
NACHMARRY: Right? The climate change committee in the UK which advised the government on its net zero targets allows for a 25 percent increase in
order to meet that target in air travel by 2050. Not a problem, just plan and do it right.
VANIER: Is it possible to build the third runway without increasing or without damaging the environment and increasing your carbon footprint?
NACHMARRY: For that, the government will have to invest heavily in technology and in efficiency improvements that will allow us to do that.
VANIER: With the tech that we have today and what we know today, is it possible to build airports or in this case, a third runway for Heathrow
without adding to the impact on the environment or we're not there yet?
NACHMARRY: The UK's climate experts and Climate Change Committee have said that we're probably not there quite yet with existing technology, but we
have to do two things in parallel. We have to constrain demand, we have to invest in energy efficiency improvements and we have to invest in new
technologies that will de-carbonize that.
All of that, we have to do in parallel and make sure that we're doing that so we meet our targets, our long-term targets but also our short and
medium-term targets so we're not violating our own legislation, the UK's own legislation of net zero.
UK is hosting the next Climate Summit in November in which it has to shepherd all countries to increased ambition, and doing that, you also have
to implement the policies that meet your targets and not just talk about targets.
VANIER: All right. Michal Nachmarry thank you very much. I think this is one that we need to remember because I don't think anybody can faithfully
answer the question today of what impact it's really going to have medium- term, whether it is going to have impacts on other countries other infrastructure projects. If it does, it's a very consequential decision.
VANIER: Michal, thank you very much.
NACHMARRY: Thank you for having me.
VANIER: The toll continues to rise in the deadliest violence in India's capital in decades. Hospital officials say at least 33 people have been
killed and more than 250 others wounded since fascists erupted in New Delhi Sunday between Hindus and Muslims over the controversial new citizenship
The law makes it easier for non-Muslims to facing religious persecution in neighboring countries to get Indian citizenship. Opponents say it is part
of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts to marginalize India's nearly 200 million Muslims.
VANIER: When "The Brief" returns a one of kind discovery is changing the definition of what an animal can be. Why this tiny creature is making a big
impression on researchers when we come back.
VANIER: You probably know the face, but do you still know the name? From now on, Prince Harry is hoping to drop the salutation and just go by Harry.
It's all part of the soon-to-be Former Royal Couple's step back from the British Royal Family, but they're giving up more than just titles. Canada
announced Thursday that it would no longer be helping out with the couple's security. Their year-long transition period starts in about a month.
A new discovery might just change our perception of the animal kingdom. You think that all animals would need oxygen to live, right? Well, not quite it
turns out. Researchers have discovered a unique microscopic organism that does not need to breathe.
A tiny parasite lives inside salmon muscle tissue. Salmon muscle tissue. International researchers say that the parasite has evolved so that it
doesn't need oxygen to produce energy. Instead it likely absorbs molecules away from its salmon host.
The team behind the discovery says that they expect there are many more species out there that can survive without oxygen. For now though, this
parasite is expanding the definition of what an animal can be, and that is "Your Brief" for today. I'm Cyril Vanier. Up next, you have got "World
Sport." stay with CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Behind closed doors, how the ongoing Coronavirus concerns continue to take their toll. Five-Star United Boyhood dreams do
come true, you know. How one Nigerian footballer just made his own very special and emotional piece of history? And Becks is back. Major League
Soccer getting set for the return of one David Beckham.