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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Omicron Cases & Restrictions; Barbados Becoming A Republic; MMA Fighter On Sexual Abuse. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired November 29, 2021 - 17:00   ET


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.

Tonight, new Omicron cases are identified worldwide, with Israel and Japan now locking down their borders to all foreigners.


Then, we're live in Barbados and Prince Charles is there, too, with the Caribbean country set to become a republic.

And a former MMA fighter opens up about his experience with sexual abuse. He tells CNN how he used martial arts to work through the trauma.

Right now, world leaders, scientists and the public have more questions than answers about the Omicron coronavirus variant. Without a doubt, people

are feeling a lot of anxiety and fatigue during the current overload of COVID headlines.

But the World Health Organization tells CNN that some answers could be on the way, and soon.


DR. MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, COVID-19 TECHNICAL LEAD, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: I think we'll get some information on transmissibility and severity in the

coming days, maybe a week or two. I do think it will take some time for us to get a better understanding on vaccines. Our estimate is between two and

four weeks.


NOBILO: But we are learning more right now about how far and how quickly omicron is spreading. Many places in Europe, including England, Scotland,

Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands and the Czech republic all have recorded cases. So have Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, and Canada. One vaccine expert

says that shows it was spreading long before it was identified.

In the weeks since South Africa first reported the variant to the WHO, world leaders are responding at an unprecedented pace, the majority are

focusing on border control.


MOON JAE-IN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The number of new confirmed cases, severe cases and deaths are on the rise, and hospital

bed capacity is tighter. Although it was a difficult start, we cannot undo the phased return to normal and go back to the past.

FUMIO KISHIDA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): With regards to the Japanese national in addition to the nine countries, including South

Africa which arrivals have been suspended, if they're coming back to Japan from 14 areas where infections were confirmed we will respond to the risk

by strictly isolating them at designated facilities.

NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The strain is spreading in more and more places in the world and other countries are

starting restrictions. Yesterday, in the corona cabinet meeting, we started strict steps with the aim of clamping down on the border in order to keep

Israel open internally.

ADAM NIEDZIELSKI, POLISH HEALTH MINISTER (through translator): The second element of the border closing is the change of rules from people who

travelled to Poland from non-Schengen countries. Here we made a decision together with Minister Sajco (ph) to extend quarantine to 14 days.

SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: So, it will require anyone who enters the U.K. to take a PCR test by the end of their second day, after

they arrive, and to self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not yet believe that additional measures will be needed, but so that we are prepared if needed,

my team is already working with officials at Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans for vaccines or boosters if needed.


NOBILO: South Africa's president says his country's being punished for its scientific ability to detect new variants. He argues that the travel ban

damaged tourism-reliant economies are unjustified and unscientific.

World health experts have been quick to praise South Africa for its work detecting variant and alerting the world.


DR. MARGARET HARRIS, SPOKESPERSON, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: South Africa should get a gold medal for the quality of its science and the quality of

its transparency. As I said, we have not seen nearly enough of that, of transparency particularly. And indeed to then make South Africa feel that

doing all the right things leads to a very bad outcome is not good -- not just bad for South Africa and South Africans, it's bad for the world.

Countries will then feel, why would we come out and say we've got this issue, we've got this problem, if they see this consequence?


NOBILO: Big questions we're acting this hour, are countries acting wisely as they wait for more information about Omicron. Should others follow Japan

and Israel's lead with the blanket border restrictions on foreigners? Or are there targeted travel bans on South African countries the right call,

despite the already evident global spread?

These questions are being put squarely on the table here in the United Kingdom, a kingdom that's been less than united in its COVID response.

Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Island have generally had their own rules and regulations. Now, the Scottish and Welsh ministers are making an

appeal to London, urging Boris Johnson to institute eight day of quarantine for arrivals, rather than two. They also called for an emergency Cobra

meeting which the prime minster's office rejected.

The Welsh Minister Mark Drakeford has told me his country is already taking action by implementing Westminster's so-called plan B right now.


That refers to restrictions such as masks as opposed to plan A, which focuses on getting the administration vaccinated.

I talked to Mr. Drakeford about how best to protect people now and why he's calling for a longer quarantine period for U.K. arrivals.


MARK DRAKEFORD, WELSH FIRST MINISTER: Day two test is useful. It will capture a lot of people, but other people will become symptomatic after

they take a day two test. An eight-day test mops up all those other people, and given that this is a new variant that we don't know just how

transmissible it will be, just how serious it might be in terms of impact on people's health, better in my view to be more precautionary at this

stage because I believe it would prevent the need for even more dramatic action later.

NOBILO: So, do you think Boris Johnson was right to restrict travel from South Africa and other African nations?

DRAKEFORD: I do. In the light of all the emerging picture, it is better to be precautionary and to allow things to happen which you could have

prevented. In that sense, I do support what has been decided.

NOBILO: And how have you found throughout the pandemic the coordination with Westminster, how do you feel like that's been with you and your

counterpart in Scotland? Because, obviously, it's very important that you can those strategy meetings, those coordination meetings, those high level

discussions between health ministers and the prime minister and Westminster.

DRAKEFORD: Well, it's been like the proverbial curate's egg. There are some good parts to it and some improved parts to it. We have unfortunately

meeting between the first ministers and Michael Gove, the minister who leads on matters for the U.K. government. That's been a good development

and a useful forum.

But other times, in many ways, this weekend has been an example of it. What you get is a flurry of ad hoc arrangements, one-off meetings, called on

short notice. I understand it's a crisis, and, you know, I'm trying not to be critical of that, but alongside that, we need to have more predictable,

more embedded items of discharging these responsibilities.

Currently, there is meant to be a Cobra system. I regret that the prime minister does not seem inclined to call one, given the serious of the

circumstances we face together.

NOBILO: I was going to ask if you feel like lessons have been learned throughout the pandemic in terms of coordination, but it sounds like from

what you're saying, as far as communication is concerned at least, they haven't been.

DRAKEFORD: I don't think they have been sufficiently learned. My request has always been for a reliable and predictable pattern of engagement,

written down so we all understand how it is going to work. With a bit of a sensible rule book, so everybody understands the terms on which engagement

is being carried out.

Now, as I say, there have been some positive improvements in that. But I don't think the lessons are fully learned, and the way in which this

weekend has evolved, as I say, at short notice, without a predictability about it, decisions being made in a way that has no overall coordination of

them. I think there are more and better lessons that could have been drawn from the experience so far.

NOBILO: And, finally, I'd like to ask you about Christmas. You know, when we look at where we are right now, it is very reminiscent of last year when

it was this difficult balance between trying to preserve public health and people's lives but with the fact this people have been sometimes far away

from family members and are desperate to see them over the holidays, how confident are you that Christmas will be as normal as it can be in Wales?

DRAKEFORD: Well, I certainly think Christmas this year can be better than it was last year, but what I say to people in Wales is every single one of

us has a part to play in helping to make that happen. And that means we must not lose sight of all the small things each one of us can do -- mask

wearing in crowed places, making sure, you get vaccinated, turning up to that booster appointment when it's offered to you, thinking hard about your

own family.

If there are vulnerable members of your family, think hard about making sure that you have had a natural thorough (ph) test before you go to visit

them. These are all small things.


We've all learned to do them. We mustn't forget to do them for this Christmas because those actions collectively add up to a very significant



NOBILO: In the Philippines where health officials have dealt with one of the worst COVID outbreaks in Asia, the battle to beat the virus is focused

on vaccinations, not quarantines. The country is on the mission to vaccinate 9 million people in three days with the health of security

workers and tens of thousands of volunteers. That's a monumental goal for a country where only one third of the population is fully vaccinated.

Geography is part of the problem, the Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is very important. We'll continue vaccinating people who have not yet been vaccinated. We have

continuous second dose, first dose, and boosters available to make sure everyone is vaccinated against COVID.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We still need to take care despite being vaccinated because it's difficult getting COVID, especially

for my baby, whom I'm taking care of alone.


NOBILO: Now in Vienna, Iranian leaders say they're ready for a nuclear deal, but the negotiating has just begun. World leaders gathered Monday for

the seventh round of nuclear talks which have been stalled since June. The previous agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was

abandoned by the United States under the Trump administration. There are no immediate plans but direct negotiations between the U.S. and Iran, but an

Iranian spokesperson says the onus is on the U.S.


SAEED KHATIBZADEH, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): The government has shown its willingness and seriousness by

sending a quality team known to all. And the other sideshows the same willingness, we'll be on the right track to reach an agreement.


NOBILO: Let's take a look at the other key stories making international impact today. In Sweden, a historic first has now happened twice. Lawmakers

have re-elected Magdalena Andersson as the country's first female prime minister, just days after she resigned from the post. Ms. Andersson quit

after her proposed budget was defeated.

After more than a year of protests, India's parliament is scrapping three hugely controversial farming laws. The move was met with celebrations in

New Delhi. Farmers said the rules left them open to exploitations by large corporations.

And the sex trafficking trial of a former British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is now under way in New York. Maxwell, who was a long time

companion of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, is accused of creating an underground network of underage victims for him to exploit during the

1990s. Maxwell has denied any wrongdoing, telling the court at a recent hearing, quote, I have not committed any crimes. Her trial is expected to

last about six weeks.

A shift in leadership is happening on the social media platform Twitter. The company's chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal, is now the new chief

executive officer. As cofounder Jack Dorsey step down from that post. Dorsey will remain on Twitter's board for a little while longer, but in a

press release he says it's time for Agrawal to lead.

His statement reads in part: I've decided to leave twitter because I believe the company is readied to move on from its founders. My trust in

Parag as Twitter CEO is deep. His work over the past ten years has been transformational.

Barbados is getting ready to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state. Many say it's a long time coming. We'll explain why.

And 12 years after her husband was depose in the a coup, a former first lady appears to take herself into power in Honduras.



NOBILO: In just a few hours from now, Barbados will remove Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic. That means she's going to be

one less realm for the first time in almost three decades. The former British colony will soon inaugurate its first president-elect, a woman, but

it's planning to remain within the commonwealth.

Prince Charles, the future head of the commonwealth, is there for tonight's ceremony, and so is CNN correspondent Max Foster. He joins us from the

Caribbean island's capital, Bridgetown.

It sounds like there's a lot of action going on behind you already, Max. We now know as I mentioned that Prince Charles is going to be attending this

handover, which on the face of it might seem like a slightly awkward part the play. Plus, there's been talk of whether or not he's going address or

apologize for Britain's colonial past.

So, what can we expect to hear from him?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of excitement here, as you described, this is Independence Day. They have been celebrating

independence from the U.K. for 55 years but as you say, a very different tone to it this year, and this is very much about breaking that final link

to Barbados' colonial past.

So, at midnight, the queen's royal standard will be lowered, replaced by the national flag. The queen will no longer reign over Barbados. She will

be replaced by a Barbadian president, appointed by the Barbadian parliament. It's a huge moment for the nation.

And this is something that was inevitable, many people say here, the real impetus coming during the Black Lives Matter movement. And Prince Charles

will speak, us a say. He's representing the queen, and I do understand he's going to have some quite strong words. He is going to acknowledge Britain's

role in slavery, the atrocity of slavery. He'll also talk about how the stain on Britain's past. So, that's further than Britain's gone, but does

stop short of a full apology, which is a frustration to some.


DAVID DENNY, CARIBBEAN MOVEMENT FOR PEACE & INTEGRATION: The royal family contributed to slavery. The royal family benefitted from slavery

financially. And many of our African brothers and sisters died in battle, okay, for change. They were massacred, they were murdered, they were

killed. And because of all of that, I am saying, and my movement is saying, that member of the royal family should participate (INAUDIBLE). It's an

insult to our people.


FOSTER: So British royals not welcome here by many. Defeats the object of this, but also the royal family also saying that this is a moment where

they should be present because there's such a big part of the nation's history.

NOBILO: And, Max, republicanism is popular elsewhere in the Commonwealth. Do you think Barbados becoming a republic is likely to encourage more

countries to want to follow suit?

FOSTER: Certainly, we have seen republican movements elsewhere, particularly Australia, where they say they are going to be celebrating

with Barbados today. It does show you can rid yourself of the British monarchy if there's enough momentum there. I think Australia is probably

top of the list, along with Jamaica, other countries like New Zealand and Canada are less keen to follow in that path.

But they're very much trying to get the energy of the young people really that you see in Barbados who are so excite about this moment. They're not

as gloomy as the older people. They see this as a rebirth.

I spoke to a group of young Barbadians earlier today in Bridgetown, Bianca.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel very good about Barbados becoming a republic.

FOSTER: Why's that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we get to be free and independent.

FOSTER: Do you agree?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree, because I think it's time that we --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Depend on ourselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, we depend on ourselves instead of --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another country for everything else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. So, I'm just glad that Barbados have -- can depend on itself.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, right. So, yeah, I agree with it.


FOSTER: Wherever you go, I had to say, in any commonwealth I might have been to, Bianca, I'm sure you found the same, there's a huge connection

with the queen in particular.

The question is whether or not there's the same connection to the British monarchy when Prince Charles is king and whether or not there will be more

realms turn into the republics.

NOBILO: I certainly have noticed that Max especially when I speak to fellow Kiwis.

Max Foster, thank you so much for joining us. You'll be witnessing history this evening and thanks for sharing it with us. See you soon.

Honduras is on the cusp of making history, too. It appears set to have its first ever female president and she's promising some major policy changes.

Leftist Xiomara Castro claimed victory after Sunday's election.

It's not official yet, but partial results show she has a commanding lead over the ruling party candidate. Castro is a former first lady of Honduras,

whose husband was overthrown. She won the support of voters fed up with rampant corruption, drug trafficking and what they consider failed



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Sadly, men have lost credibility after mismanaging corruption, abuse of power, personal ambition, leadership

battles, and special interests. Today, history is being written in Honduras, and I think women should be proud of having a woman guiding a

country marred by poverty and corruption.


NOBILO: CNN's Patrick Oppmann has been covering Latin America for years and he's following the story from Havana, Cuba.

And, Patrick, tell us more about Xiomara Castro, her political career, but also critically in this instance, her husband, too.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, because she was known, as you said, as the first lady. She and her husband forced out in a military

coup 12 years ago, forced them into exile. And so, this is really for any country at an incredible political comeback, that will, it appears, make

history, that she will become Honduras' first female president. It's something very unusual in Honduras, where you have -- so few women in

positions of power, and that she will after 12 years bring back a leftist government.

It appears if she does take office, she's leading in the polls and doesn't appear leading in the vote count, doesn't appear at this point any way for

her to lose the election. But it's not been made official. And, of course, the question become is which Xiomara Castro takes office. Is it what her

critics have been saying, the candidate -- her critics have been saying that will align the country with Venezuela and Cuba? Or will it be the

candidate that we saw during this campaign who has sought the assistance and the help of the business community in Honduras, who said she will fight

corruption and drug trafficking?

And that is a reference to the sitting president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, although he's not on the ballot. This is been an election, a referendum

about him, because he is accused of using Honduras as a transshipment point, of essentially letting drug traffickers bring drugs through his

country to the United States. He's denied those accusations, but his brother was convicted of bringing tons of cocaine into the U.S. He's been

implicated in the court feelings.

So the next question becomes, will Honduras' sitting president, the man who's about the leave one way or the other very soon, will he face drug

trafficking charges? We'll be watching that very closely.

Again, he's denied the accusations, but whatever happens, it appears history's been made in Honduras.

NOBILO: Patrick Oppmann in Havana, thanks so much.

You're watching CNN. After the break, how an MMA fighter fought his biggest battle.



NOBILO: I want to highlight a really powerful report by CNN's sport team. Tom DeBlass is a former MMA fighter who while strong in the ring is proving

stronger when it comes to his personal battles. Hen he was 7 years old he said he was molested by an older child. In an extensive interview, he told

CNN that the incident affected how he developed relationships with the people as a young man at school. He says it's taken him decades to process

the sexual abuse but is now opening up in a new peace about his trauma in his new autobiography.


TOM DEBLASS, FORMER MMA FIGHTER: When that happened I thought it was my fault. That's probably one of the things that changed me most, because in

order to cope and deal with life, I had to, like, make myself kind of emotionless. I had to make myself not care.

And, you know, now, I mean, as an adult, I understand, like, life is life and it happens, you know? And I'm thankful for all my experiences including

that, because if I never went through that, I wouldn't quite understand someone who did. And you know, I accepted it and I said, you know, I will

take what I could from it and learn and try to make myself a better person.

One of the things that always helped me is I remember, like I'm not the only one who went through it, you know? Like, what really helped me come at

peace, I probably truly didn't truly didn't come really at peace with it until a book (ph). I was like if I talked about it, how many other men is

that helping?


NOBILO: Since sharing his story with CNN, DeBlass posted on social media about responses he's received. One person wrote to DeBlass that he also

found healing in martial arts. While another user commented on that post, saying that while it's known many women in the martial arts community have

experienced sexual assault, it's less common to hear from a man, and that it might be inspiring for those who have suffered similar trauma.

You can find the full article about DeBlass's story at These are very important conversations to have and ones we'll continue to. We'll

highlight them here on THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

I'm Bianca Nobilo in London. Thanks for joining us. Good night.