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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Record COVID Cases In Europe; Long-Term Impact Of Quarantine; Bye Bye BlackBerry. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired January 04, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Tonight, milder but disruptive. Record omicron infections challenge European leader to rethink how to best live with COVID.

Then, what's the toll of quarantine? A psychiatrist in Hong Kong says people can develop PTSD for long periods of isolation.

And bye-bye Blackberry. The company pulls the plug on the beloved phone.

Four days into the New Year, and it's anything but a fresh start. Italy, France, Sweden and, Greece all recording their highest daily infections

since the pandemic began. However, while rapid transmission is causing a huge amount of disruption with the society, the World Health Organization

says there's more evidence that the omicron variant causes milder symptoms.

Today, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged the pressure infections are causing on the health-care system but said he didn't want to

add any new measures, rather supporting the continuation of new rules and once again encouraging people to get their boosters.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It's absolutely heartbreaking that as many as 90 percent of those in intensive care with COVID have not had

their booster and over 60 percent of those in intensive care with COVID have not had any vaccination at all.


NOBILO: Across the channel, other European countries are juggling their strategies with living with COVID. French lawmakers today are continuing

to debate on a widespread vaccine pass, and Belgium's health authority says changes will be made to reduce quarantine and isolation policies to

safeguard the testing systems and to manage the societal impact.

Meanwhile, in Romania, infections doubled Tuesday after restrictions were eased over the holiday period.

We're joined now by CNN's Scott McLean in London and Cyril Vanier in Paris.

Scott, starting with you, Boris Johnson, as I just mentioned, spoke earlier about this rapid spread of omicron. Now, he didn't announce any new

measures. He's continuing to encourage people to get their boosters.

But one of the creators of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine had this to say on Sky News today.


ANDREW POLLARD, CHAIRPERSON, UK JOINT COMMITTEE ON VACCINATION AND IMMUNISATION: It's just not a global perspective affordable, sustainable,

or deliverable to give four doses to everyone on the planet every six months. Today, less than 10 percent of people in low-income countries have

had their first dose. So their whole idea of regular four doses globally is just not sensible.


NOBILO: So, obviously, Johnson's encouraging everybody to get their boosters. Is his country strategy going to be sustainable in the longer

term, and does he have the political capital to pull it off?


Well, when it comes to the last point from the Oxford scientist as to whether or not the strategy of having a booster shot every six months is

sustainable, the answer is no. Boris Johnson's chief scientific adviser was asked about that today, and he said, the booster is needed now because the

virus is new, the population is still they're building immunity. But once we move more to the endemic phase of the virus, then the vaccine will

transform into we see with the flu virus, an annual shot targeted at the specific variant or strain dominant that is dominant at that particularly

time. Certainly not what the world is doing now.

So, a fourth shot maybe required or maybe recommended but vulnerable parts of the population, but not for everybody very likely. As for your second

question, which is whether or not Boris Johnson has the political capital to continue with the strategy of relying heavily on the booster shot

program to ride out the omicron wave -- well, he will probably find it easier to do nothing, nothing new in terms of restrictions than he would to

bring in restrictions which, of course, have drawn the ire from a large swath of even his own party.

The reality is the large majority of people who are in intensive care now are unvaccinated and the vast majority have not had the booster shot. Boris

Johnson can only do so much to convince people to get vaccinated. His argument is at the end of the day, the economy has to keep moving.

Education has to keep moving.

Yes, there are going to be staff shortages as people call out sick with this fast spreading variant. Yes, there's going to be pressure on some

hospitals. But if he can provide replacement teachers, provide some help for hospitals, things like that, difficulties with staff shortages are

certainly a lot better than a return to lockdown -- Bianca.


NOBILO: Thanks, Scott.

And, Cyril, lawmakers in France are resuming debate on this vaccine policy, which would ban unvaccinated people from hospitality venues. This

legislation did encounter speed bumps. Tell us what happened and whether or not Macron has public support for his tough stance on vaccine.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Bianca, it really looks like this was a snafu from the president's ruling party at a most inopportune moment.

What appears to have happened is that the presidential governing party counted their chickens before they hatched. They introduced this bill in

parliament, and then when the clock hit midnight, then some of their opposition lawmakers wanted to end the session, which effectively would

postpone the debate and therefore the passing of this bill into law. They didn't have enough numbers -- the ruling party didn't have enough numbers

actually in seats to override the opposition's vote to suspend the session.

Therefore, the session was suspended and therefore this whole time line for passing this by January 15th may have been railroaded. Look, the governor's

still very confident it is going to be able to pass this bill into law, but yesterday showed that they may have perhaps taken it a little bit too

lightly at this stage in the pandemic.

Now, the president has explained today in no uncertain terms the philosophy that underpins this bill, the bill, to remind our viewers, is one that

would transform France's current health pass into a vaccine pass, and that would prevent, exclude anybody who is not vaccinated from accessing

hospitality services, concerts and many areas of public life.

This is what the French President Emmanuel Macron just told the French daily, "Le Parisien". This is my translation here. He's saying we're

putting pressure on the unvaccinated by limiting access to social life as much as possible. Only a tiny minority is resistant. He means resistant to

the vaccine.

So how do we reduce that minority? Well, we reduce it by, pardon my language -- pissing them off even more. The unvaccinated, I really want to

piss them off, and that's what we're going to do until the end. That is the strategy.

So, that's the philosophy, Bianca, of this vaccine pass, which should become law some time in mid January which will effectively ban the

unvaccinated from many areas of public life -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Thanks, Cyril. And bonus points to getting the word snafu and some colorful language into the live hit.

Scott McLean in London, Cyril Vanier in Paris, thank you.

The omicron variant will be quieting the weekend in one of the world's most bustling cities. India's capital, New Delhi, is imposing a citywide curfew

hoping to quell surging COVID cases. That could be difficult because millions of residents have jobs that they can't do from home, but the city

has seen 11,000 new cases during the past week and a half, and on Tuesday, some 20 percent of the entire `s country's new infections.


MANISH SISODA, NEW DELHI DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER (through translator): There will be a curfew on weekends, which means Saturdays and Sundays in Delhi. I

appeal to people not to step out during curfew. Only step out if extremely necessary and follow the curfew and stay in your home, work from home.


NOBILO: Not everyone in India is getting with the program. The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh says omicron is a simple viral fever and after he

said, he went to speak at a gathering of thousands of people.

Now, in just two weeks, Australia has posted half of all the COVID infections it's seen so far, including 47,000 cases on Tuesday alone. This

drastic spike, as you can see on this chart coming as the country switches gears from its zero COVID strategy. The rate of infections is crippling

Australia's rigorous testing program. Wait times to get test ready lengthy, and the government asked people without symptoms to get a home test


But many complain they can't find those, and if they can, merchants are price gouging. And with elections late they are year, that's become harder

for the opposition.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, AUSTRALIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: So you can't get a booster shot, only if you have an appointment. You can't get access to a PCR test

because testing sites are closing and the queues go for six or eight hours. You get told to get a rapid antigen test, but you can't find one. If you do

find one, it's not affordable, and they won't do anything about price gouging. That's the record of this government.


NOBILO: Responding to the backlash, Australia's antitrust regulators said it will review the price hikes in COVID-19 antigen tests.


In the Chinese city of Xi'an, people are becoming desperate for food and other necessities as a lockdown marks the two week mark. All 13 million

residents are banned from leaving home unless they're going to a testing site. Multiple people posted on social media about loved ones being denied

treatment at hospitals, saying some of them later died. Other residents say they're running out of groceries despite the city's promise the help

deliver crucial supplies. Officials say they're working the fix the situation.

Throughout the pandemic, several countries have aimed for a zero COVID strategy. As we noted, Australia now ditched that approach. But China and

its special administrative region Hong Kong are committed to keeping their lines on this chart from spiking.

Hong Kong is set to tighten its vaccinate requirements even further. Chief executive Carrie Lam says people must be vaccinated to enter venues

including museums, libraries and schools from February the 24th. That's on top of strict border rules.

So what toll are all of these restrictions taking?

CNN's Will Ripley looks at the impact of the long-term travel quarantines.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In zero COVID Hong Kong, pandemic protocols have paralyzed this once busy travel hub. The arrival

process that used to take minutes now drags on for hours. Mandatory testing at the airport, waiting hours for the results. The lucky ones test negative

and spend up to 21 days in self-paid hotel quarantine.

Darryl Chan is not one of the lucky ones.

DARRYL CHAN, TESTED POSITIVE FOR OMICRON IN HONG KONG: I had both of my jabs. I've been boosted. I didn't think -- didn't ever think I would be a -

- actually test positive on arrival.

RIPLEY: Thirteen hours after landing in Hong Kong, Chan was in an ambulance. His luggage left at the airport. He tested positive for the

omicron variant, even without symptoms his minimum hospital stay is nearly a month.

Do you worry about your mental health as days turn into weeks?

CHAN: Yeah, absolutely, because I've never been in a situation like this before.

DR. ELISABETH WONG, HONG KONG PSYCHIATRIST: In general, there's a sense of isolation, anxiety, and in some severe cases even post-traumatic stress.

RIPLEY: Hong Kong psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Wong says longer quarantines can be more traumatic.

WONG: And then we have a lot of changes between 7 days, 14 days, and 21 days. That's when people reported a lot of stress with the longer period of


RIPLEY: Darryl's day begins with a wakeup jingle.

ANNOUNCER: Attention, please.

RIPLEY: He takes his own vitals. Calls and messages with friends and family to help pass the time.

CHAN: Social media's really helped actually. Definitely makes you feel less alone.

RIPLEY: One of his greatest struggles ---sharing a room and a bathroom, with two strangers.

CHAN: But I think what has definitely impacted me the most so far is the feeling of just not having the freedom and regressing into almost feeling

like you're back at school with controlled wakeup and bedtimes, not being able to control what you can eat.

RIPLEY: Hospital meals often consist of mystery meat. The bigger mystery, Chan's release date. He's supposed to start a new job, a new life in Hong


What's the worst part of this?

CHAN: I think the worst part is not knowing when I'll be able to get out.

RIPLEY: For now, all he can do is wait. From his hospital bed, freedom feels like a lifetime away.

Will Ripley, CNN, Hong Kong.


NOBILO: Hope he gets his hands on some non-mysterious meats soon.

Let's take a look at other key stories making international impact today.

We're learning the U.S. military conducted air strikes in Syria after troops were faced indirect fire. That's fire where there isn't a direct

line of sight between the gun and target. An official says that the fire posed an imminent threat to troops near a based in Eastern Syria. While the

U.S. hasn't formally confirmed it carried out the strikes, a defense official acknowledges American forces were the only ones in that region

with that capability.

A Mexican official says people seeking asylum in the country nearly double in the 2021 from just two years earlier. Haitians and Hondurans were the

main nationalities that were applying. Many Haitians wound up stuck at Mexico's northern border last year, hoping for asylum in the U.S. as they

fled a devastating earthquake and political chaos.

It's known as an upside down forest and plays a crucial role in climate change, but now scientists are sounding alarm about its destruction.


The Cerrado in Brazil suffered an 8 percent rise in deforestation last year, losing more than 9,000 square kilometers. To put that in perspective,

that's well over ten times the size of New York City. Some scientists blame President Jair Bolsonaro and his rolling back of environmental laws. This

despite his pledge at the COP26 summit in November to end illegal deforestation by 2030.

Israel's health minister calls it a historic day in the long struggle for LGBTQ rights. The Israel government has lifted restrictions barring same

sex couples and single men from becoming parents through surrogacy. Activists have been campaigning for these rights for year.

Israel's Supreme Court declared the ban unlawful back in 2020 and gave the government a year to amend it. That never happened, so the court took up

the law again last July, ordering the ban lifted within six months.

Lawyers for Prince Andrew trying to block a sexual assault suit against him in New York. We'll take a closer look at the case and their arguments,



NOBILO: Lawyers for Prince Andrew are trying to convince a judge in New York that a sexual assault case against him is baseless and should be

thrown out. The judge now says that he'll make a decision, quote, pretty soon, but didn't give an actual timeline.

Virginia Guiffre, who's suing the British royal says the late Epstein trafficked her to Prince Andrew and others. The duke of York denies the

allegations against him and his lawyers are focusing on this -- a settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein signed in 2009 that was

unsealed on Monday. It chose Epstein, who die in the prison more than two years ago, paid Giuffre more than $500,000 to drop a case against him.

Prince Andrew's attorneys argue it protects their client from legal action.

I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Paul Callan and our royal correspondent Max Foster.

Paul, let's start with you. How normal or unusual is this expectation on the part of the duke of York's attorney, saying that this should now be

thrown out on the basis of this 2009 agreement?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This type of agreement, Bianca, is actually quite common in civil cases for money damages in the United

States. It enables a single defendant to settle a case and not have to worry about being dragged into subsequent cases should the person starting

the lawsuit in this case Virginia Giuffre, go after other targets. So it's a very, very common kind of agreement that is normally upheld by courts

throughout the United States.

NOBILO: And with that in mind, Paul, would it be an unusual expectation for Prince Andrew's team to think that the case should now be dropped on

the basis of that agreement? Which legal team do you think has a stronger argument in this case?

BEGALA: Well, the defense has a very, very strong claim here, because these kinds of agreements are normally upheld. But, of course, this is a

high profile case, and they've put a couple of good arguments before the judge. One is that because Prince Andrew is not named in the agreement as

someone who is protected by it and because they say he could not have been included as a defendant in the Florida action that was then being brought,

and that that creates a problem that might make the thing illegal.

So, you know, there are arguments on both sides of this and the judge is going to be under a lot of pressure because it's a high profile case.

NOBILO: Very high profile indeed.

Max, that brings me to you. Obviously the royal family in Britain don't like airing their dirty laundry, but they have had to do that a lot

unwillingly over the last couple of years. How are they responding to these recent developments and what kind of long term impact do you think this is

actually having in terms of public opinion?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're not responding at all because they can't be seen to be interfering with a legal case. So, they

just have to sit it out. And, obviously, behind the scenes, they're worried about it.

Prince Andrew inextricably linked to the royal brand, and is -- damage is being done there. The longer this goes on, the more difficult it is for the

royal family, the royal brand, but they can't speak out against it. They have to let it happen.

You were talking earlier about the fact that this was a secret agreement between Giuffre and Epstein. It was interesting today, we're just hearing

the sort of arguments that are being laid out today. The judge did seem to be leaning towards Giuffre's argument when he said this was a secret

agreement, only meant to be between Epstein and Giuffre, so only one of those two can enforce it.

So, the fact that Andrew thinks that he can enforce it might be wrong fundamentally. So, I think that's the sort of thinking that what we're

seeing the judge leaning towards. It could be more positive for Guiffre if he continues with that thought process as he comes back with the ruling.

NOBILO: Thanks, Max.

And, back to you, Paul, just on that last point. Do you think that's likely based on what you've heard?

CALLAN: Well, it's just up to this federal judge. I mean, he certainly sounds like he's leaning in favor of letting the pursuit proceed. I have to

say, though, the fact that the agreement was secret normally would not be a bar to its enforcement. As I said, these kinds of agreements are -- they

happen all the time in civil cases because nobody would settle a civil case if they thought five years down the line some other suit would be started

and they thought they could get drawn back into the case.

So, if the judge rules against the agreement, it's going to have affect a lot of cases across the United States.

NOBILO: Max, as we were discussing now, the ramifications of this case are enormous, especially for the brand of the royal family. How corrosive do

you think it's been in terms of how the family is regard in the Britain and around the world?

FOSTER: I think, fundamentally, the monarchy comes down to the Queen, and I think people do separate the Queen from Prince Andrew, and I think as

long as the Queen is queen, the monarch, then I think the brand remains pretty strong.

We're always, aren't we, looking towards the next generation. What happens when the Queen moves on and Prince Charles becomes the king? And then how

does Prince Charles deal with Prince Andrew, and Prince harry? That's a sort of debate that's upcoming.

But I think right now, people still revere the Queen. They still look up to the Queen. All those countries that have her as head state are still quite

confident with her as head of state. So, we're really forward, looking at how this is one of the elements that may long-term damage the royal brand.

And Prince Andrew, Prince Charles aren't close, frankly, so we'll wait to see how Prince Charles responds to this. The Queen currently allowing to it

ride out in the courts.

NOBILO: We shall wait and see. Max Foster in Windsor, Paul Callan in New Jersey, thanks so much for joining us.

CALLAN: Thank you.

NOBILO: You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back after this.



NOBILO: David Bowie's estate sold the publishing rights to his entire music catalog, and there are plenty of hits in there you might recognize.

That's of course "Rebel, Rebel". Just one of the iconic songs from his six decade career. Warner Music bought it for an undisclosed sum, bust it's

estimated to be upwards of $250 million.

The company says they're immensely proud to, quote, be the caretakers of one of the most groundbreaking, influential and enduring catalogs in music


It's been said the future isn't what it used to be. Case in point, the Blackberry phone. Once upon a time, the Blackberry was all the rage for

those who wanted to communicate on the go. It had the nifty typewriter keys for texting and emails. It's how many learned to type with their phones.

But now, it's being retired with the company canceling service to almost all the devices.

Barack Obama loved his BlackBerry. Even when he went to the White House, he insisted on keeping and it wasn't the only devotee.

Check out this clip from CNN's story from 2008.


REPORTER: Looking for a vacation? In goes the bathing suit, flip-flops, book, and more often than not --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here it is. Never leaves my side.

REPORTER: Never leaves your side. Do you take it with you on holiday as well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. Can't sleep without it. I sleep with it. It goes under my pillow.

REPORTER: At work or play, they won't put their BlackBerrys away.


NOBILO: But alas, the makers of the BlackBerry got buried under smartphones and so it goes the end of an era for a phone that was once the

greatest thing. Well, you can use your well-trained opposable thumbs to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, give your thoughts on the


Until tomorrow, good-bye.