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Omicron Variant Tightening Its Grip On Europe; Omicron Appears Less Severe Than Delta And Other Variants; Australia's New South Wales Reports Record COVID Hospitalizations; Prince Andrew Accuser's Settlement With Jeffrey Epstein Unsealed; Sources: Army Reneging On Deal Led To Sudan Prime Minister's Resignation. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired January 04, 2022 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm John Vause.

Ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, the Omicron surge. As the highly contagious variant spreads like wildfire around the world, hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID patients including children, almost every one of them unvaccinated.

Could a secret deal between the now dead pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and one of his victims Virginia Giuffre end up protecting Britain's Prince Andrew from his current legal jeopardy.

And at the 2008 Olympics, Beijing promised One World One Dream on the eve of the Winter Games. It seems it's China's world now. And many are learning that dream, more like a nightmare.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with John Vause.

VAUSE: And here comes Omicron. Never before has a virus spread this quickly around the world. Never before has the world see this many daily COVID infections, sending record numbers to hospitals already struggling from an earlier COVID outbreak with frontline health care workers exhausted after almost two years of a pandemic which just won't quit.

The areas here are dark -- in dark red indicate where infections are up by at least 50 percent in the past week, compared to the week before.

Medical workers in Israel and anyone 60 and over now eligible for a fourth dose of COVID vaccine. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says Omicron is a different ballgame altogether. And we must keep our eye on the ball, he says.

Meantime, the British Prime Minister says COVID restrictions must be taken seriously to reduce the strain on the National Health Service, which has also been struggling with staff shortages due to COVID sick outs.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think we've got to recognize that the pressure on our NHS, on our hospitals is going to be considerable in the course the next couple of weeks and maybe more because there's no question Omicron continues to surge through the country.


VAUSE: In the U.S., COVID infections are already at record highs and could hit a million a day in the coming weeks according to one senior public health official.

A similar story across Europe, where infections are shattering daily records from France to Ireland and hospitals are facing shortages because health care workers have been infected all exposed to COVID.

Details now from CNN's Cyril Vanier.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As Omicron continues its steady rise across Europe, France has reported record infections with daily tallies surpassing 200,000 in recent days. Health Minister Olivier Veran told French radio on Monday, that figure in reality could be more than double and about to heap further pressure on a health system already under strain. The government focused on maintaining public services in the face of so many daily infections.

Infected patients who are fully vaccinated must isolate for seven days but may leave after just five days provided they have a negative COVID test.

And no need to self-isolate should a fully-vaccinated person encounter someone with COVID. And with schools reopening, rules have been relaxed.

Children in France will be able to stay in school after a classmate tests positive for the virus, provided they take three COVID tests in four days.

JEAN-MICHEL BLANQUER, MINISTER OF EDUCATION, FRANCE (through translator): Children really aren't the priority in French society, so we must keep the schools open because school is not a small thing, it is not a minor thing. It is crucial for children, so I don't have any regrets opening the schools.

VANIER: Likewise, British Health authorities have urged all secondary school students to get a test before returning to school this week.

Boris Johnson told reporters Monday that pressure on the health service will be considerable over the next couple of weeks as Omicron cases surge.

Nonetheless, the way forward is to continue on the path we're on, he said, resisting calls to impose additional restrictions on large gatherings.

JOHNSON: It will be absolute folly to say that this thing is all over now by the shouting. We've got to remain cautious. We've got to stick with plan B, we've got to get boosted.

VANIER: In Ireland, one in nine ICU staff are on leave with coronavirus, just as hospitals brace themselves for a sharp post- holiday rise in infected patients.

Ireland recorded more COVID-19 cases during the period between Christmas and New Year's Day than all of 2020.


VANIER: Also, on Monday, travelers trapped on a cruise ship for days following positive tests among some passengers and crew were allowed to disembark in Lisbon.

The German operator pulling the plug on the trip on route to the island of Madeira for New Year's Eve celebrations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Well, it's a risk we took. It's our risk. If you travel in these times, you have to expect it. That's why we're actually relaxed.

VANIER: Relaxed or not, as 2022 begins, European countries are firmly in the grip of a new reality, one very much shaped by the Omicron variant.

Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.


VAUSE: With us now is Dr. Lloyd Minor. He has been the dean of Stanford University School of Medicine for the past decade. And Dr. Minor, welcome to CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: OK, so, we're learning more now about why Omicron appears to be less severe for some compared to other variants. I want you to listen to the former head of the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., here he is.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: It does appear now, based on a lot of experimental evidence that we've gotten just in the last two weeks, that this is a milder form of the coronavirus. It appears to be more of an upper airway disease than a lower airway disease. That's good for most Americans.

The one group that that may be a problem for is very young kids, very young children, toddlers, who have trouble with upper airway infections. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And that's the rub because that's the one group which right now cannot get vaccinated. So, in countries like the United States with what, just 62 percent of the population vaccinated, how vulnerable are kids now five and under?

MINOR: Well, overall, John, we've seen a lower incidence of COVID among very young children, but children still can be infected. And in some of those, the infection can be serious.

You know, all of these clinical trials are progressing in the direction of making sure that the vaccine is safe at various different ages. And then, when that data is available, going ahead and granting Emergency Use Authorization as we saw today, for the booster for adolescents ages 12 to 15 Emergency Use Authorization being granted by the FDA for that age group.

So, I do think that although the incidence is lower among children given the high transmissibility of Omicron and as was indicated in the video clip that you just showed, the fact that it is mainly an upper airway problem. So, a problem of the bronchioles and not of the lungs. And so, it could resemble a croup like condition in children means that it is an area of concern.

VAUSE: And we also have kids heading back to the classroom, you know, five and older. Many have been vaccinated, many have not been vaccinated. And that's something which has got Dr. Peter Hotez concern. I want you to listen to this.


PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: And the same parents who have adolescents that they're not vaccinating, well, guess what? Those adolescents have younger brothers and sisters and the parents aren't vaccinating them either. And so, we've got this kind of spiraling situation. So, we need to step up our vaccine advocacy for little kids.


VAUSE: At this point, should vaccination for school children be mandatory? One of the major reasons against that has been that, you know, COVID vaccines are only received emergency authorization, they're not fully approved, which there seems to be a sort of a vacuous argument at this point.

MINOR: Well, all the data we have thus far indicates that these vaccines are among the safest and most effective vaccines ever developed.

Local jurisdictions, different countries, different regions within the United States are going to develop different guidelines and different rules governing schools and other businesses.

Here at Stanford, for example, we do have a vaccine requirement for students, and we have a booster requirement as of the end of January except for those students who have received either religious or a medical accommodation.

So, I think that how people deal with this in a regulatory sense is going to vary, but certainly, the strong medical advice is that when people are eligible to receive vaccination and boosting, that they should take advantage of that opportunity.

VAUSE: One thing which we don't know yet is the impact of long COVID on kids who are infected with the coronavirus. In adults, long COVID can actually impact brain activity. What would be the impact on a child's brain which is not yet fully developed?

MINOR: It's a very good question. I don't think we know the answer to that question as there are so many questions for which we don't have the answer yet with COVID.

Certainly, it's a concern and the long COVID that we're seeing in some adults is indeed a debilitating condition.

Fortunately, that is fairly rare. But for those that do experience it, it can be quite problematic.


VAUSE: And we also have a situation with kids going back into the classroom. And it is harder now I guess to protect them with the Omicron out there.

But Dr. Ashish Jha from Brown University, he said our kids heading back to school this morning, why in-person school during the Omicron wave? He talks about his kids have been vaccinated. So, the staff, everyone's masking up, the school's improved ventilation.

He says the bottom line is with mitigation, we've seen very little in- school transmission.

But he does sort of sidestep that question of vaccination for kids. But is it still safe to send a kid back to school if they're not vaccinated?

MINOR: You know, that's a difficult -- it's a difficult area to a pine on. Certainly, the recommendation is that children who are eligible should be vaccinated. They're -- even with masks, there for -- particularly for mask that are cloth mask, there can still be aerosolization and some spread. And that's a particular concern given that in people who are not vaccinated, children or adults, the viral load in those who have COVID can be much larger, and therefore the potential for spread can be much larger.

So, I do think that it is a concern when there are large numbers of unvaccinated people or even a small number that happened to fall into the super spreader category.

VAUSE: Dr. Minor, we really appreciate your time and your insights. It's been great having you, thank you. MINOR: Thank you. It's good being with you.

VAUSE: Take care.

Well, the Australian state of New South Wales now has one of the highest infection rates in the world leading to record numbers being admitted to hospital.

CNN's Blake Essig live in this hour for us in Tokyo.

Blake, one of the problems with the vaccination rates in Australia it's very high, but the booster rate is very low.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You know, look, John case numbers and hospitalizations in Australia have hit a new pandemic high earlier this week. More than 44,000 cases were reported despite a good vaccination rate.

And just yesterday, New South Wales, Australia's most populous state reported more than 23,000 new cases and an infection positivity rate of almost 28 percent.

As you mentioned, that is one of the highest infection rates in the world.

Now to put that into perspective, according to the World Health Organization, a positivity rate of five percent or less is required to keep the spread of infection under control. This record breaking number of infection comes about a week after the national cabinet changed the definition of COVID-19 close contact in order to reduce the strain on PCR testing sites across the country.

Now, despite the dramatic increase in cases and hospitalizations, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Australia's channel Seven earlier this week, that "We have to stop thinking about case numbers and think about serious illness, living with the virus, managing our own health and ensuring that we are monitoring those symptoms and we keep our economy going."

And while it is believed that the Omicron variant is more transmissible, government officials say that the push to reopen the economy has to do with its milder health impact compared to other variants reducing the risk to both individuals and the healthcare system.

Now, here in Japan, although the case count remains relatively low, Japan's southernmost Prefecture of Okinawa reported more than 130 new cases on Monday, that is the highest single day total since last September. It's an increase of infection to local communities that Okinawa's local government is blaming on the U.S. military.

On Monday, the U.S. military reported nearly 3,700 new cases across the Prefecture and more than 500 cases at a single base. Here's what Okinawa's governor had to say about it last Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DENNY TAMAKI, GOVERNOR OF OKINAWA PREFECTURE (through translator): I'm outraged because the rise in the number of infected among U.S. military personnel suggests that their management is not enough.


ESSIG: Now, in response to the recent surge in cases among the U.S. military personnel, Marine forces have reinstated mask mandates for everyone on base, regardless of their vaccination status.

And finally, there is some good news out of India. While India has been able to -- excuse me, was slow to approve vaccinations for kids, the good news is that on Monday, the first day of its COVID-19 rollout for children, more than four million kids between the ages of 15 and 18 received the shot, John.

VAUSE: Blake, thank you. Blake Essig there live for us in Tokyo with the latest, appreciate it.

Still to come, a critical moment for Sudan. New details on why the prime minister resigned and his warning about where the country is heading politically.

Also ahead, can lawyers for Prince Andrew have a civil claim against him for sexual assault dismissed because of an earlier legal deal between the woman who's suing him and the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.



VAUSE: A California jury has convicted the founder of Theranos, on four counts of wire fraud and conspiracy.

Elizabeth Holmes claimed her company revolutionized blood testing, could detect conditions like cancer and diabetes by just using a few drops of blood. Turns out the tests were far from accurate. She was charged with lying to doctors, patients, as well as investors. Faces up to 20 years in prison plus fines and restitution for each count.

And in the coming hours, a federal judge in New York with the arguments on whether to drop a sexual assault case against Britain Prince -- Britain's Prince Andrew. His lawyers claiming 2009 agreement between Virginia Giuffre and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein shields the prince from Giuffre's lawsuit. That settlement has now been unsealed and CNN's Max Foster has the details.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is the document that Prince Andrew's team have been waiting for. It's an agreement between Giuffre and Epstein signed back in 2009. She received $500,000 for signing it. And it does say that she agrees not to sue anyone connected to Epstein, who could be described as a potential defendant.

Now, Prince Andrew isn't named specifically in this document. Prince Andrew's team are certainly going to use it to try to have the case thrown out. That'll be heard in a New York court on Tuesday, a critical hearing then. It could be the end of this case, or the judge court could rule that the case continues and we could go on to having depositions potentially from Prince Andrew.

His ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, even the Duchess of Sussex has been mentioned as someone who could be deposed in this case.

But right now, it's all about Tuesday's hearing, and whether the judge feels that this agreement between Giuffre and Epstein means the Prince Andrew case should be thrown out.

Prince Andrew's team haven't responded to the release of this document yet. Giuffre's team however have issued a statement. David Boies her attorney saying that he firmly believes that this agreement has nothing to do with the current Prince Andrew case in New York.

He said, as we've said from the beginning, the release is irrelevant to Miss Giuffre's claim against Prince Andrew. The release does not mention Prince Andrew, he did not even know about it. He could not have been a potential defendant in the subtle case against Jeffrey Epstein.

So, the judge will need to decide whether or not this agreement plays into the trial in New York or what will become a trial potentially in September or whether or not is completely irrelevant and the case continues.

Prince Andrew denies all the charges that Giuffre has laid against him.

Max Foster, CNN, Hampshire.


VAUSE: Harry Litman is Legal Affairs Columnist for the L.A. Times opinion page. He's also a former U.S. attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General. Harry, good to see you.

HARRY LITMAN, LEGAL AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, L.A. TIMES: Likewise, Happy New Year, John. Thank you.

VAUSE: Now, it feels a little bit like we're in Bizarro World right now where everything is kind of turned around. And all of this is centering on that one statement in the agreement. And it's worth looking at the specific wording, here it is.

Remise, release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge the said Second Parties and any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant from all, and all manner of action and actions of Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre.


VAUSE: OK, that's a really broad statement. Right now, let's start with the argument from Prince Andrew's legal team, which seems to come down to boohoo, can't sue, which is not exactly what sounding declarations of innocence, isn't it?

LITMAN: No, but of course, this is -- this is just an initial sort of procedural jockeying, but they are saying, hey, this covers me.

As you say, though, man, we're talking about broad language. They're the ones who wrote it, they were the sort of -- excuse me, Epstein's folks were the ones who wrote it. They're the rich kind of lawyers here. And so, it gets construed against them. And it seems to read as if it's anybody ever in the world.

And as you probably know, the judge, Judge Kaplan is going to hear that argument tomorrow and decide, because what the -- what Virginia Roberts or Giuffre says is, you know, that doesn't -- that doesn't get Andrew out of the case, that could sort of say anybody, anything.

And look, you've got to construe it carefully. It says anyone who could have been sued, guess what, he could not have been sued, because there wouldn't have been jurisdiction over him in Florida.

So, if you read it strictly as you should, it doesn't help him in any event.

It is true as you say, it's not the kind of thing I think to make the royal family happy with how it makes Andrew now look, and with all the pictures, etcetera. But it's a perfectly kosher thing to do in court, make this kind of preliminary motion saying get me out of here because of this sort of very legal technical arguments.

VAUSE: So, we've got legal world good, which is sort of what the Prince Andrew folks are arguing. And then, there's obviously the real world bad.

But then, we had the other side of the equation, which you kind of touched on, which is, you know, from the Giuffre legal team, because Andrew is not specifically mentioned as someone who would be immune from legal action under this deal. Giuffre lawyers say, that's good news, because he's not covered by this agreement.

But if it had mentioned, Andrew, specifically, wouldn't that imply he done some kind of wrongdoing? And wouldn't it be good for the Giuffre legal team? Virginia Giuffre's legal team?

LITMAN: Right. So, it does cut both ways, doesn't it? To get over this, it would make it seem like she had specifically said I'll give him a pass too.

And they're trying to bolster their argument, by the way, because by saying that, in a deposition in the case, she mentioned the royalty as if that has anything to do with how you construe the settlement agreement.

But all of this for him, it seems to me is kind of a two-edged sword, both legally where arguments he'll make could cut the other way if he doesn't win at this threshold.

And sort of legally and politically, you know, he can -- it's very possible for him to win the battle and lose the war. And I think his sort of current sheepish quiet behavior is, you know, contrast that say with some of the defendants in big cases in the United States these days. He's got the hangdog look, because this is just bad for him however it comes out for the member -- a member of the English royalty.

You would know that better than I but that's -- my sense is this is a lot -- a lose-lose situation for him.

VAUSE: Yes, he win the legal battle, but lose the war overall, as you say, it's a good point. But given the incredibly broad language here, and the one-sided nature of this agreement, could it be considered an unconscionable contract? You know, an unconscionable contract is also a type of abusive contract. Abusive contracts are illegal or unfair.

LITMAN: Men (PH), you're good.

VAUSE: I googled. Not unenforceable, right?

LITMAN: They are unenforceable, I don't think these cuts it. I used to teach contracts, it really has to be that she was forced into it. She did get and she couldn't possibly understand that she did get $500,000, not a ton of money given everything she was signing away and maybe that's why she's now back suing not just Prince Andrew but Ghislaine Maxwell, Alan Dershowitz and the like.

But to be unconscionable, it has to really be like, you didn't have much of a choice, her will was over born, she was confused. I don't think that one is going to cut it.

But, all the same kinds of arguments, I think will be the sorts of things that Judge Kaplan in New York could consider and saying, I'm sorry, this is just not precise enough to let Andrew walk especially since you're trying to say that Epstein's lawyers, you know, wrote it that way. They weren't at all clear. I'm construing it against them. They're this sophisticated party here and they drafted it, next argument.

VAUSE: And we'll find out in a few hours from now.

LITMAN: So, a lot of people by the way are saying, I'm a little on the outlier here. A lot of people are predicting that she'll lose this one. I don't think so. I think Andrew will lose this one. And he'll say the settlement agreement does not keep -- get him out of the case.


VAUSE: I think my mind is with you, so we'll find out in a couple of hours. Thanks, Harry.

LITMAN: All right. There you have it. No guts, no glory, right?

VAUSE: Absolutely.

Strong overnight winds are being blamed for restarting a fire at South Africa's Parliament on Monday. A 49-year-old man has been arrested for -- and charged for allegedly lighting the fire a day earlier, which left the chamber of the National Assembly guttered, while the roof of another building collapsed.

Sources in Sudan say the sudden resignation of the country's Prime Minister was triggered after the military reneged on a fragile power sharing agreement.

And once again, the country has been plunged into greater political uncertainty.

CNN's Nima Elbagir has our report.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Sudan civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok stepped down from his role but not before he issued a dire warning.

ABDALLA HAMDOK, FORMERE SUDANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Our country is going through a dangerous turning point that may threaten its entire survival if it is not urgently remedied in light of this diaspora and conflicts within the political forces and between all the components of the transition.

ELBAGIR (voice over): His country he believes is at an impasse and moving forward may prove untenable.

CNN spoke to sources both close to the Prime Minister and throughout the country civilian political leadership, and they paint a picture of military rulers refusing not only to come through on their promises, but on broader promises to the international community to push the country through a transition.

Sources close to Prime Minister Hamdok tell us that the basic principle of non-interference stipulated in his November agreement, which was meant to bring the country back from the precipice that it had been broken repeatedly by Sudan's military who attempted to interfere with his choices all the way down from cabinet level to some of the most junior postings.

But beyond that, they say that the Prime Minister was shocked to see a statement released by Sudan's military on the state news agency SUNA, announcing a rebranded renewed intelligence services. NIS as it had formerly be known -- been known was now to be referred to as GIS.

Now, NIS, in its day was among the most feared apparatus of oppression, utilized by both Sudan's current military leaders and the former dictator that they served under Omar al-Bashir.

The worry is that in spite of offers by some within the international community, most notably the U.N., shared with CNN just hours ago, to oversee moderation. The question for many of those we're speaking to in Sudan, is moderation with whom and towards what?

What hope is there for a peace process when the soldiers seem as many of those were speaking to tell us seem hell bent on returning the country to the previous status quo.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, stay the course, no changes in pandemic restrictions despite new warnings from the British prime minister. The NHS is facing an imminent surge of admission because of Omicron.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold his first cabinet meeting of the new year as Omicron spreads like wildfire. CNN's Nada Bashir reports from London, for now, the prime minister says there are no plans for new restrictions to try and contain the outbreak.


NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, as the holiday period comes to a close here in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the government won't be tightening COVID restrictions over the coming days.

There's growing evidence suggest that the Omicron variant is associated with less severe danger than the Delta variant. And the country's set to be in a far stronger position to cope with the virus than it was this time last year.

However, some healthcare leaders have warned that hospitals across the country are facing a perfect storm, with both cases and new patient admissions rising at an alarming rate.

And while the prime minister has said he believes the government is taking the appropriate course of action, he did issue a sobering message of caution.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Looking at the pressures on the NHS in the next couple of weeks, and maybe longer, looking at the numbers of people who are going to be going into hospital, it would be absolute folly to say that this thing is all over now but the shouting. We've got to remain cautious. We've got to stick with Plan B. We've got to get boosted.

BASHIR: And that really is the key focus now for the government. Driving forward its vaccination campaign as a key line of defense against the Omicron variant.

According to government data, more than 90 percent of people over the age of 12 have now received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. And more than 34 million booster doses have now been administered.

And it's important to know that the majority of people currently hospitalized with COVID here in the U.K. haven't been vaccinated.

But the prime minister's also urging people to strictly adhere to the Plan B guidance, and that includes wearing face masks in indoor public settings and on public transport. And for those who can, working from home.

And there's also new guidance for schools, too. Students over the age of 11 are now being advised to wear face masks in classrooms. And the government is also recommending more frequent testing for both students and teachers.

Meanwhile, government ministers are being tasked with developing contingency plans to mitigate the impact of staff shortages, particularly in the education and healthcare sector, in anticipation of a growing number of cases and, in turn, a growing number of people required to self-isolate.

(on camera): For now, though, the government says it's sticking to Plan B for the way ahead. The prime minister has cautioned that the government will keep the data and its COVID measures under constant review.

Nada Bashir, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Israel is rolling out a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for those 60 and over, as well as healthcare workers, while at the same time, lifting some quarantine restrictions, just as Omicron pushes the country's case load to levels not seen in months.

Details now from Elliott Gotkine, reporting from Jerusalem.


ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fourth time's the charm? Israel's immunosuppressed began receiving their second booster shot on New Year's Eve.

On Sunday evening, almost two weeks after trumpeting the plan, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said they'd now be joined by those over 60 and healthcare workers.

NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israel will once more be pioneering the global vaccination effort. Omicron is not Delta. It's a different ball game altogether. We must keep our eye on the ball, act swiftly and decisively, if we want to continue engaging and working with an open country as much as possible throughout this pandemic.

GOTKINE: To that end, Bennett also announced that quarantine requirements would be lifted completely on people exposed to an Omicron carrier, so long as they tested negative and their vaccinations are up to date.

Here with long lanes outside testing centers and cases doubling every few days, Israel is bracing itself for the full force of its 5th COVID wave. The only bright spot: it may not last.

ERAN SEGAL, ADVISER TO THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT ON COVID-19: Our projection is that this wave is going to be rather quick and that within about three weeks, I estimate that at least two million people here in Israel, which is about one-fourth of the population, is going to -- is going to be infected. And that may lead to a sort of herd immunity after which we may see a slowdown.


GOTKINE: For now, though, Israel is hoping Omicron's possibly lower level of severity, together with the rollout of the second booster, will help keep the number of serious cases down. And that, like other COVID waves before it, this one, too, shall pass.

Elliott Gotkine, CNN, Jerusalem.


VAUSE: Still to come here, from 2008 and the Summer Games, to 2022 and the Winter Olympics, how China has changed, and not for the better.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Leading up to the 2008 Olympics, China was opening up. Now we're literally seeing it closed up.



VAUSE: While being rushed to hospital, it now appears that the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro's health is actually starting to improve just a little. That's according to the hospital where he's being treated. It's the latest medical issue linked to a 2018 stabbing, which he received on the campaign trail.

CNN's Matt Rivers has more now from Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, despite the fact that he is hospitalized, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro does appear to be doing OK.

Bolsonaro himself tweeting out a couple of different tweets during the day on Monday, one of which had a picture of him in his hospital bed. You can see a tube there, running into his nose.

He said that he first started to feel bad during the day on Sunday after lunchtime. And it was sometime after that that he and his team made the decision that he should be hospitalized. He was eventually admitted to a hospital in Sao Paulo around 3 am. local time on Monday morning. It was sometime after that that he sent that tweet. And he gave an

update on his condition, basically saying that tests needed to be run to see if there was some sort of internal blockage, intestinal blockage, that would require surgery.

We did get an update from the hospital later in the day on Monday that said, as of Monday evening, it had not yet been determined if the president needed surgery, but that he was able to get up and take a short walk around the hospital.

Our affiliate, CNN Brazil, also spoke to the doctor that has been attending Jair Bolsonaro since 2018, after he was actually stabbed on the campaign trail when he was running for president.

The doctor said that he would be returning from vacation to Sao Paulo at some point on Tuesday. He said he did not expect that Bolsonaro would need surgery. but he did say he would need to complete an evaluation before he could say for sure.

And you know, this is not a president who is not used to being in the hospital, even since he became president, with Bolsonaro tweeting out that he has had four major surgeries since he was stabbed in the abdomen back in -- during his presidential campaign, and he has been hospitalized twice for similar symptoms.

It was actually last year that he was hospitalized for what was called at the time severe hiccups. He's also had COVID-19 during this pandemic.

So a Brazilian public very used to its president ending up the hospital from time to time, but at least, as of now, the president does appears to be doing OK.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


VAUSE: Apple is the first company in the world to hit $3 trillion dollars in market value. Shares briefly rose from an all-time high on Monday before pulling back.

Overall, Apple's stock was up 35 percent last year, driven by strong iPhone sales and subscriptions to Apple Music and Apple TV.

For the second time in 14 years, China will host the Olympics, with opening ceremonies for the Beijing Winter Games now a month away.


But relations with the U.S. have been strained going into these games. Washington planning a diplomatic boycott over China's human rights record, a boycott which has joined by a number of countries.

CNN's David Culver has more now on how China has changed since the Summer Games back in 2008.


CULVER (voice-over): Mention Beijing Olympics, and for many, this mesmerizing production that was 2008 still comes to mind. A celebration as China stepped onto the global stage, seemingly embraced by the rest of the world.

Photos show a very different U.S.-China relationship. Then-U.S. President George W. Bush in the stands, sitting shoulder to shoulder with Chinese officials, passionately cheering on Team USA, and grinning as he shook hands with a smiling Xi Jinping, then China's vice president.

BOB COSTAS, VETERAN SPORTS COMMENTATOR/ANCHOR: And in 2008, President Bush was there.

CULVER: As veteran sports broadcaster Bob Costas reminds us, in 2008, China's human rights record had already come into question, particularly its treatment of Tibetans. But still, there were hopes that the Olympic gathering might help it change course.

COSTAS: Now, here is China hosting an Olympics again, what, a decade and a half --

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, HOST, "SMERCONISH": You were prescient. Nothing's changed.

COSTAS: -- after the last one. And one of the big questions now that you can't evade is what is it with the IOC and their affinity for authoritarian nations?


CULVER: Some critics say the International Olympic Committee is turning a blind eye to grave offenses by allowing the 2022 Winter Games to go ahead.

The IOC says it recognizes and upholds human rights. And, quote, "The IOC must remain neutral on all global political issues."

But widespread criticism of the Chinese government, especially over alleged human rights abuses of the Uyghurs in the far western Xinjiang region, have led the Biden administration to announce a diplomatic boycott of the games. Still letting Team USA compete, but don't expect any photos like these.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No one would care whether these people come or not. And it has no impact whatsoever on the Olympics.

CULVER: Under an increasingly powerful and undisputed ruler, Xi Jinping, China is on a different path from what the West had hoped. From a trade war, to threats of an actual war in the South China Sea. Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong were quickly squashed. Taiwan, a self-governing democracy, now facing mounting pressure to come under Beijing's control.

And many countries still questioning the origins of COVID-19, along with China's initial mishandling and alleged cover-ups of the outbreak.

We recently went to Beijing's Olympic village from 2008.

(on camera): Guess we can't go through. Blocked off.

(voice-over): Many of the structures repurposed for the 2022 Winter Games. The joyful cheers now feeling like a distant memory.

(on camera): Leading up to the 2008 Olympics, China was opening up. Now, we're literally seeing it closed up.

This is a pedestrian pathway that was supposed to take you up to where you see the torch and several of the competition venues, and, yes sure, because of COVID, you can't go there. But also, it's symbolic of the geopolitics that have China shutting off to the rest of the world.

(voice-over): A nation stronger and prouder than ever before, hosting its second Olympic games. The warm camaraderie of 2008, long past. Frostier relations as an increasingly skeptical global audience watches on from afar.

David Culver CNN, Shanghai.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

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