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China Reports Drop in Cases in Locked Down Xi'an; COVID Cases Skyrocketing worldwide fueled by Omicron; Nearly 34,000 New Cases in India on Monday; Authorities Narrowing Origins of Devastating Wildfire in Colorado; Sudan's Prime Minister Resigns After Reports Forces Killed More Protesters. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 03, 2022 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster. If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date with our top stories this hour. More than 1,600 flights have been canceled in the U.S. so far today. With the pandemic fueling shortages amongst airline staff and crew.

Winter weather across parts of the country is also adding to the issues causing cancellations.

And "The New York Times" is reporting, the FDA could approve booster shots for children 12 to 15 years old is soon as today. This comes as the former FDA chief says Omicron is a greater risk to young kids.

China is reporting a drop in the number of COVID cases in Xi'an. The city of 13 million people has been under strict lockdown measures for almost two weeks as Chinese authorities pursue a zero COVID strategy.

India begins vaccinating children from 15 to 18 years old today. This comes as the country reported nearly 23,000 new cases on Sunday.

France announced on Sunday that it would ease quarantine rules for the fully vaccinated. They've also shortened the time between booster shots from 7 months to 4.

Officials in Ireland say they recorded more cases over the holiday than in the whole 2020. More than 120,000 people tested positive between Christmas and new year.

CNN has reporters all around the world covering the latest coronavirus headlines. Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, Vedika Sud is in New Delhi. But first we're going to go, CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau. She's in Rome. Obviously, some concern on hospitals right now not just because more people are going in but because of staff shortages. And this is a problem across the European economies.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's absolutely right. You know, with the contagious rates in these European countries and these surge of new cases, it's not just the people who get it, you know, it's people who are exposed to it. And we're seeing a real problem with hospitals, with doctors, with nurses, with support staff. We're also seeing in the city of Rome problems with garbage collectors and things like that as well. And you know, as the Omicron variant becomes dominant in some European countries -- and it's not in every country yet -- that probably is just going to continue and that's one of the reason, as you mentioned, governments are trying to shorten the quarantine time. If you've been exposed to a positive case or if you don't have symptoms and you test out of it -- Max.


FOSTER: Vedika, in India it's very difficult to sort of get your head around the scale of the issue there because the population is so large. They are so many sparse communities and states are organizing their own systems there, aren't they? But they are making progress in the vaccination program.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Well, yes, there is progress when it comes to the vaccination program, Max. As of now, 65 percent of India's adult population has received two doses of the vaccine. But when it comes to children, today is the first day that the vaccination program gets started for those between ages 15 and 18. That's 19million children in India. So far, we've got all the 3.4 million have registered on the vaccination site which is quite a small number of children compared to the kind of population we have in this age bracket.

But this is the silver lining. Because they remain the most vulnerable of the lot given that they haven't received a single vaccine to date, with Omicron surging in the country. Officially, there's 1,700 cases but today, Max, India has seen over 33,750 cases -- new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. This is the highest India has recorded since mid-September of last year. This is certainly a worry.

And even when you look at the figures from both Mumbai and Delhi, the cases have increased ten-fold ever since last Sunday. So, in eight days the cases in both the cities have increased ten-fold. But whether it remains on two fronts.

First, it's about, you know, the travel that's happening with this holiday season. People traveling all across India. We can expect a surge in cases in the coming weeks. Also, along with that, public gatherings and political gatherings continue. If you remember ahead of the second wave in May last year, there were elections in a few states and Westing Gaul was one of them after which there was a huge surge in cases.

History is repeating itself. The election commission is not banning these rallies and these political gatherings and this is going to be a major cause for concern while politicians are out there on the road campaigning and trying to woo voters to vote for them in the upcoming state elections across India -- Max.

FOSTER: And Kristie, obviously, China, the other big country dealing with this. They have a different policy. It's a zero COVID policy. They haven't quite achieved obviously, but they are having some progress in Xi'an. KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well cases are falling, but

there is rising desperation especially in Xi'an, the northern Chinese city, which is going through its 12th day of lockdown.

Now look, this is what's happening. On Monday we know China reported about 101 new cases of the virus. That is down from 131 new cases from the previous day. But the vast majority of those cases come from the northern Chinese city of Xi'an, home to the terracotta warriors. It's also a major high-tech hub and in industrial center as well. It's also home to 13 million people and the Beijing Winter Olympic games now just a month away, Chinese officials are going all out to end the Xi'an outbreak.

Starting on December 23rd, 13 million people in Xi'an have been living in lockdown. That means they are forbidden from leaving their homes. They're only allowed to leave to get a COVID test. They are not allowed to leave to secure food or basic essentials.

We have also learned that there have been public shaming's of individuals deemed to be breach of COVID-19 protocol rules in China. On Sunday, Xi'an announced that two senior Chinese Communist Party officials were removed from their post because of their handling of the pandemic. And we've also been closely monitoring Chinese social media, Max, just to get a picture of what it's like to live under prolonged lockdown in Xi'an and it paints a very devastating picture of extreme control as well as desperation.

Let's bring up one example for you. And in this video, we see a man who is, and he outside of the residential compound in Xi'an. He is being beaten by anti-pandemic workers. The man was trying to enter a residential compound with a bag of steamed buns. There is an altercation. The man stumbles and the steamed buns that he's holding, they scatter all over the ground. This footage emerged on December 31st. And it has since gone viral on Chinese social media.

And that forced local police to release a statement. And they acknowledge that, yes, there was a dispute. There was an altercation. They also said the two independent workers involved apologized to the man for assaulting him. They have been fined and also been detained for seven days. The Chinese government, meanwhile, has vowed that they will supply three to five days' worth of groceries to people still stuck at home during this prolonged quarantine. Back to you -- Max.

FOSTER: A shocking video. Kristie, Vedika, thank you. Barbie, one last word with you.


As we go into the new year, it's pretty clear that what's very different about Omicron is, yes, it may not be making people as ill but it is causing massive worker shortages and that's having, you know, effectively shutting down large parts of the economy and that's going to affect everyone.

NADEAU: That's absolutely right. That is a big concern right now. You know, is that you're not going to have enough bus drivers. You're not going to have garbage collectors. You're not going to have doctors and nurses. A lot of the governments, a lot of the European governments have had these long quarantines where if you've been in contact with someone who's COVID positive, you've got to self-isolate for ten days.

You know, they're trying to time that out a little bit. And so, you either have to test more often or you have to do other things in order to get back to work. Even if you've tested positive and you don't show symptoms, you know, in some cases mask wearing, things like that, they want people back in the workforce as soon as possible. And that's going to be especially important as schools start. You know, we get all of these European countries are going back to school after the holidays. And teachers are out and, you know, a lot of the students haven't been vaccinated yet. So, this is going to be a problem that we're going to see sort of amplify as January goes on -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Barbie in Rome. Thank you very much, indeed.

The first day of trading in 2022. Here's a look at the global markets. You can see the Dow futures are up, but only very, very slightly. So, a bit of positivity there but not a huge amount.

Sudan's political future is increasingly uncertain amid ongoing mass protests. Prime Minister has resigned. We'll have details on that for you next.


FOSTER: All beaches along the city of Long Beach in Southern California are temporarily closed after a massive sewage spill. Officials say about 8.5 million gallons of sewage spilled after a 48- inch sewer main line failed.


Experts say they're monitoring the water's quality and will continue to do so until the results comply with the state's water quality standards.

Hundreds are still without power in Colorado following last week's devastating wildfire. The Marshall fire tore through Boulder County on Thursday destroying nearly 1,000 homes. The cause of the fire is still under investigation but authorities do have a few clues. CNN's Natasha Chen has the latest.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two people are still missing, one woman from Superior and one man from Marshall the Boulder County Sheriff said it's a difficult task searching the burn zone. Especially given the extensive debris and destruction. Houses reduced to ashes. Some covered in about eight inches of snow in some places. Officials also point out that two missing people out of 35,000 evacuees is quite extraordinary. At the same time. Investigators are working with experts and partners including the FBI to look into how this fire started. A search warrant was executed on Friday on private property but the sheriff would not go into details about the ongoing investigation.

The deadly wildfire ignited on a day with extremely dry conditions, essentially with a red flag notice because of the high winds. Winds reaching over a 100 miles per hour whipped through the neighborhood so fast that about a thousand structures, mostly homes were destroyed.

We talked to families who lost everything they owned. One family said they had just minutes to take their cell phones, dogs and medication as they drove away under an orange sky. A Boulder County commissioner said he had to make a similar escape. Luckily his house is OK but he described being at a lookout point with winds strong enough to nearly knock him over. And he realized it was time to go.

MATT JONES, BOULDER COUNTY, COLORADO COMMISSIONER: all And so, I decided I better get home. And so I went back to the car, started driving home, got a message from my wife that we had an evacuation order. In the meantime, I'm being told by staff that I need to do an emergency declaration. So, it's as I was trying to think and collect the papers that I would need to get out, the legal papers and all the things, the pictures, the heirlooms, I had to sign the emergency declaration too. It was really, really intense.

CHEN: Many streets are still closed with hot spots still being managed. So, reopening subdivisions to allow people to take a look at their homes has been a slow process. Back to you.


FOSTER: A suspect is under arrest and charged in connection with a fire at the South African Parliament. It caused extensive damage on the first and second floors of the old assembly building and he third- floor roof collapsed. Authorities say the person was caught with suspected stolen property after entering the parliament building. Authorities believe someone also tampered with the sprinkler system.

Sudan is in deeper political turmoil with the resignation of the Prime Minister there. News came as video shows anti-coup demonstrators running through smoke and tear gas as what sounds like gunfire ringing through the air. But doctors groups say security forces killed three protestors on Sunday. The military ousted Hamdok in October and briefly detained him. He was reinstated in a deal with coup leaders in November. But his supporters denounced the agreement.

Larry Madowo joins us from Uganda with the details. It's a very chaotic scene, isn't it? And very depressing for people living there. But what are you learning?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Max. This appears to be the end, at least for now, of Sudan's march towards civilian rule because Abdalla Hamdok was the last bit of legitimacy the military rulers of Sudan had. As long as he was in power, they could say that they had a power-sharing agreement between the civilians and the military. But in his exit interview -- as you can call it that -- in his address to the nation, he admits this power-sharing agreement between the civilians and the military had failed and he was not able to -- in the six weeks that he was reinstated, he was not able to bring the divided parties of Sudan together to agree on a way to realizes this democratic transition. This is how he explains it to the people.


ABDALLA HAMDOK, RESIGNING AS SUDANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Even after the October 20th coup we signed a framework with the military in an attempt to get back on track to put the democratic transition to put end to the bloodshed, for the release of prisoners and to safeguard what had been achieved throughout the past two years and to adhere to the constitutional declaration that governed the transition.


MADOWO: Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan is now fully back in charge with a military rule of Sudan without any significant civilian commitment to this administration. And he will have trouble and persuading the protesters on the street that this is the best way forward.


He will have trouble persuading the international community, the African Union, the EU, the U.S. That this is a better way for Sudan. So, Still a long way ahead In the road to democratic transition in Sudan.

FOSTER: Larry Madowo, thank you.

Ahead on CNN, frightening moments as a railing collapsed sending fans tumbling at an NFL stadium.


FOSTER: Now the world of sport, Paris Saint-Germain forward, Lionel Messi and three of his teammates have tested positive for COVID-19. The French football club says the four players are in isolation. Their subject the, quote, appropriate health protocol. Paris Saint-Germain is set to play Monday in the French Cup's round of 32.

In the NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown is now out of a job after walking out on his team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers mid-game in dramatic fashion. This happened Sunday as the Bucs played the New York Jets. Brown appeared to be upset on the sidelines. Some of his teammates tried to calm him down. But he pulled off his jersey and pads, threw his shirt into the stands and left the stadium.


Tampa Bay's head coach and quarterback Tom Brady spoke -- both spoke to reporters about Brown's actions after the game.


BRUCE ARIANS, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS HEAD COACH: He is no longer a Buc, all right? That's the end of the story. Let's talk about the guys that went out there and won the game. TOM BRADY, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS QUARTERBACK: I think everybody should

find -- hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that he really needs it. You know, we all love him. We care about him deeply. You know, we want to see him be at his best. And you know, unfortunately, won't be with our team.

I think that will the most important thing about football are the relationships with your friends and teammates and they go beyond the field. And you know, I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic toward, you know, some very difficult things that are happening.


FOSTER: Still not clear why Brown decided to leave the game. He's been suspended -- he was suspended for three games last month after the league said he lied about his COVID vaccination status.

And in another NFL game the Philadelphia Eagles saw some unexpected action after their win over Washington on Sunday. Watch the left side of the video. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is walking off the field when a railing gives way and several fans fall to the ground. Seems no one was injured remarkably and Hurts helped the fans up and took selfies with them. Hurts spoke to the media after the incident.


JALEN HURTS, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES QUARTERBACK: I'm just happy everybody is safe from it. Happy everybody is safe from it. That's crazy. That's crazy stuff right there. That was a real dangerous situation. I'm just so happy everybody bounced back from it. It seemed like, you know, passionate eagles fans. I love you.


FOSTER: The league says it's looking into how the railing collapsed. Thankfully no one was hurt, as they say.

Thanks for joining us here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. "EARLY START" with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett up next. You're watching CNN.