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Omicron Appears Less Severe Than Delta & Other Variants; Omicron Variant Driving Up Case Counts Worldwide; Beijing Winter Olympic Bubble Begins Month Ahead of Games; Prince Andrew's Legal Team Trying to Dismiss Sex Assault Case. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired January 04, 2022 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, everyone, I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN Newsroom.

Coming up this hour, the Omicron surge as a highly contagious variant spreads like wildfire around the world hospital seeing record numbers of COVID patients including children, almost every one of them unvaccinated.

Could a secret deal between the now paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and one of his victims Virginia Giuffre end up protecting Britain's Prince Andrew from his current legal jeopardy. And breaking barriers, the group of women who went from domestic workers to national cricket stars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with John Vause.

VAUSE: And here comes Omicron never has a virus spread this quickly around the world. Never before has the world seen this many deadly COVID infections, setting record numbers to hospitals which are already struggling with high numbers of COVID patients and with frontline health care workers facing exhaustion from an almost two year long, ongoing pandemic. 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.

Ireland also reeling from an increase in number of new infections along with 3800 frontline health care workers on COVID related leave. A senior health official says he expects these numbers to get much higher. Overall hospitalizations in Ireland up more than 40%. And in the United States, the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus has surpassed 100,000 for the first time in nearly four months.

From Texas to Tokyo, correspondents are tracking the spread of the Omicron variant. Now, countries are responding to this. We begin our coverage with CNN's Cyril Vanier reporting from Paris.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 the 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 classmate tests positive for the virus, provided they take three COVID tests in four days.

JEAN-MICHEL BLANQUER, FRENCH EDUCATION MINISTER (through translation): Children really are 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.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It would be absolute folly to say that this thing is all over now bar 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, then all of 2020.

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 routes to the island of Madeira for New Year's Eve celebrations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): Well, it's a risk we took. It's our risk if you travel on these times you have to expect it. That's why we 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. (END VIDEOTAPE)


VAUSE: With us out is Dr. Lloyd Minor, he has been the Dean of Stanford University School of Medicine for the past decade. 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 a more of an upper airway disease and a lower airway disease. That's good for most Americans. The one group that that may be a problem for is very young kid, very young children, toddlers who have trouble with upper airway infections.


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% 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 probably the bronchioles and now the lungs, and so it could resemble a croup like condition and children means that it is an area of concern.

VAUSE: It will also have kids heading back to the classroom, you know, find 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: The same parents who have adolescence 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, you know, COVID vaccines are only received emergency authorization, they're not fully approved, which just seems to be a sort of a vacuous argument at this point.

MINOR: Well, all the data we have this 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 a 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 Omicron out there but Dr. Ashish Jha from Brown University, he said, "Our kids going back to school this morning. Why in-person school during the Omicron wave? He talks about his kids had been vaccinated. So, the staff, everyone's masking up. The school's approved ventilation. He says the bottom line is with mitigation, we've seen very little in school transmission, but he does sort of set 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 mask therefore, particularly for masks that are cloth masks, there can still be aerosolization and some spread. [01:10:19]

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: Hospitals in the Australian state of New South Wales now have a record number of COVID patients driven by one of the highest infection rates in the world. All of this made worse by a shortage of healthcare workers because of COVID related sick outs. And China's Olympic bubble will soon be put to the test. Beijing now one month out from the Winter Olympics, welcoming 1000s of athletes and delegations from around the world.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is outstanding by live in Hong Kong for more on that. Also, Blake Essig is live in Tokyo, and we start with Blake, with a situation in New South Wales with the hospitals really now under a lot of strain because of the surging number of patients.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you know, John in 77% of Australians are fully vaccinated yet case numbers and hospitalizations across Australia have hit a new pandemic high. Earlier this week, more than 44,000 cases were reported in 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%. 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 5% 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 talk 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's believed that the Omicron variant is more transmissible, government officials say that the push to reopen the economy has to do with milder health impact from this current strain compared to others, reducing the risk to both individuals and the healthcare system.

Now, here in Japan, although the case count does remain relatively low, Japan southernmost prefecture of Okinawa reported more than 130 cases on Monday that is the single highest total since last September. It's an increase to the local communities in Okinawa, which the government in Okinawa was blaming on the U.S. military on Monday, the U.S. military reported nearly 3700 cases across the prefecture and more than 500 cases from a single base. Here's what Okinawa's governor had to say about it last Sunday.

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

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

And finally, John, there is some good news out of India. Well, India has been slow to approve vaccinations for kids on Monday, the first day of its COVID-19 rollout for children. More than 4 million kids between the ages of 15 and 18 received a shot. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to praise the vaccination, saying that it's an important step forward in protecting the youth against COVID- 19. Nationwide, about 44% of the population has been fully vaccinated with about 61% receiving one dose. India is currently seeing a surge in cases across the country with more than 37,000 cases reported just in the past 24 hours, John.

VAUSE: Blake, thank you. Blake Essig there live for us in Tokyo, let's go to Hong Kong now. Kristie Lu Stout outstanding by there. So, we've got a month now before the curtain goes up on the opening ceremony. That means the closed loop bubble is in operation. What is a closed loop bubble? How does it work?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, in fact, the bubble has already begun. Now, look when the games will be held will all take place under this bubble, this closed loop system that will cover all accommodation, stadiums, venues. All participants and athletes will be required to stay inside and undergo a daily COVID-19 test. And today, China's Global Times' statement tabloid reported that a pre-games bubble has been officially announced and rolled out today to welcome all overseas Olympics participants.


In addition to that, China is also rolling out a special high speed cross province train that will have divided carriages, so it will separate the Olympic participants from the local population. And this is very significant because of the timing. The Beijing Olympic Games will coincide with the Lunar New Year, which of course is the time of year when you have hundreds of millions of people inside China travelling many of them by train to go home for the holidays.

Look, it goes without saying that the Beijing Winter Olympic Games will be arguably the biggest test of China's zero COVID policy in regards to control of the ongoing pandemic. You know, it's been very difficult, and it will be difficult for China given the highly transmissible and highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant. China has only reported a few handful of cases. And experts have pointed out that people in China are very vulnerable because of lack of exposure to the variant. You know, in addition to that, there's concerns about the lack of efficacy with the vaccine. And on top of that, you also have the limits of China's zero COVID policy. I want you to quickly listen to this.


YANZHONG HUANG, SENIOR FELLOW FOR GLOBAL HEALTH, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The problem is not a vaccine, like it's the policy, right? It's just under the zero-tolerance policy, right? Even the best vaccines, you know, cannot fulfil the objectives set by the government.


LU STOUT: On top of that, John, public patients for China's zero COVID policy is wearing thin especially in the northern Chinese city of Xi'an now entering its 13th Day of lockdown. For over a week now. People have been turning to social media, speaking very vocally about their need for food, for basic supplies. In fact, we've been monitoring a certain hashtag it says grocery shopping in Xi'an is difficult. That hashtag has been viewed as of this morning over 420 million times on Weibo. John.

VAUSE: Well, they have every right to be upset. It's terrible what's happening out there right now. But ahead of these games, they're not just keeping a close eye on what's happening with Omicron and COVID- 19. But also, as always, you know, possible protests.

LU STOUT: Yeah, absolutely. Chinese officials will be keeping a very close eye for any possible acts of protest, which in their view would be very politically damaging to them. You know, any political protests about China's treatment of Xinjiang, of Hong Kong, of Taiwan, of the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai. As we've been reporting, the United States and its allies have launched diplomatic boycotts of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games, but athletes from these nations will be able to participate. So, we will have to wait and see, and of course Chinese officials will be closely monitoring situation to see which athlete will have the urge to speak out, John.

VAUSE: We shall see. Kristie Lu Stout live in Hong Kong. thank you.

Well, she claimed her company revolutionize blood testing, but the jury found she lied to a lot of people. The verdict in the trial of Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes, just a moment.

Plus, lawyers of Prince Andrew have a civil claim against him for sexual assault dismissed because of an earlier legal settlement between the woman suing him and the paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.



VAUSE: A California jury has convicted the founder of Theranos on full counts of wire fraud and conspiracy. Elizabeth Holmes claims she revolutionize blood testing using just a few drugs to detect diseases like cancer and diabetes. Turns out the tests were far from accurate that she was lying, lied to doctors, patients and investors, and she face 11 charges was acquitted on four jurors deadlocked on three others. Judge has scheduled a hearing for next week to decide what comes next. Holmes is facing up to 20 years in prison plus fines and restitution each count. During your testimony, she claimed she never intentionally tried to mislead investors.

Few hours from now, a federal judge in New York will hear arguments on whether to drop a civil claim of sexual assault against Britain's Prince Andrew. His lawyers claim a 2009 agreement between Virginia Giuffre and sex offender and paedophile Jeffrey Epstein means the prince is protected from Giuffre's lawsuit. That settlement has now been unsealed. And CNN Max Foster has details.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a 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 Ms. 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 LA Times Opinion Page. He's also a former U.S. attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General. Harry, good to see you.


VAUSE: Thank you. Now, it feels a little bit like we're bizarro world right now where everything is kind of turned around. And all of this is setting 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 that 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.

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 done exactly regarding declarations of innocence, is it?

LITMAN: No, but of course, this is just an initial sort of procedural jocking, 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 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 makes Andrew now look and with all the pictures et cetera.


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, prince 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 does 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 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 royalty is this 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 form. 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: Yeah, 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, in a clinical contract is also a type of abusive contract. Abusive contracts are illegal.

LITMAN: Man, you're good.

VAUSE: I Googled.

LITMAN: That possible, right? They are unenforceable. I don't think this 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 it. 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 Ghislane Maxwell, Alan Dershowitz and the like. But to be unconscionable, it has to really be like, you didn't have much of a choice or will was over born, she was confused. I don't think that one is going to cut it. But that 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 --

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.

VAUSE: Happy New Year.

LITMAN: No guts, no glory, right?

VAUSE: Absolutely.

Lawyers for the Trump family moving to try and cost subpoenas for Don Jr. and Ivanka in a fraud investigation. Officials also want to question the former President Donald Trump of allegations he inflated his wealth to secure bank loans while at the same time under reported their value to reduce his taxes. We will take a short break. When we come back, we'll go inside the biggest Children's Hospital in the U.S. Resources are stretched thin, as more and more children are admitted with COVID.

And later, after being rushed to hospital, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's condition now said to be improving. Details when we come back.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone.

I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, children are starting the New Year with new vaccine and testing requirements across the United States as COVID cases skyrocket. A number of school districts are back to virtual learning. It all comes as more kids than ever, are in hospitals with COVID.

CNN's Miguel Marquez visited the country's the largest pediatric hospital in Houston, Texas.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): four-month-old Grayson Perry, his tiny belly rapidly expanding and contracting. One of many children here with COVID-19, struggling to breathe.

(on camera): Are you afraid they're going to have to intubate him?

GAYVIELLE GOFF, MOTHER OF COVID-19 PATIENT: Yes. A little bit. It's just really scary. So I just hope that he is able to get better and go home.

MARQUEZ (voice over): Gayvielle Goff, mom to 3, thinks her youngest picked up the virus at a Christmas family gathering. Her only job now? Keeping her son in good spirits.

GOFF: I do talk to him in like la little baby voice. I sing to him -- I can't sing, but he likes it.

MARQUEZ: One of nearly 70 children now hospitalized at Texas Children's. A new record high for the nation's largest pediatric hospital.

In just the last two weeks, hospitalizations here have increased more than four-fold. Most unvaccinated or not eligible for vaccines, from toddlers to teens.

AMY WOODRUFF, MOTHER OF COVID-19 PATIENT: Our COVID journey began -- see, I don't even know my days. My brains are mash potatoes. We began November 29th, me and my daughter both tested positive for COVID.

MARQUEZ: Amy Woodruff's daughter, Haley, her 17th birthday, the day we visited, has been intubated in an induced coma for nearly a month. She also gave birth nearly three weeks ago. She knows none of it.

WOODRUFF: She had a C-section and MRLO (ph) on December 9th to a beautiful little baby girl 3 pounds, 6 ounces.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Who she has not seen yet?

WOODRUFF: She has not seen. And she was COVID negative, praise Jesus.

MARQUEZ (voice over): From Pampa, Texas Haley was moved to Amarillo. then Houston for advanced care. Still unaware her three-week-old daughter Zaila Fay (ph) is 900 miles away in an Amarillo newborn intensive care unit.

(on camera): What will you tell her when you can speak to her?

WOODRUFF: I don't even want to think about it. That's my little girl, being away from her little girl. My heart bleeds for her.

MARQUEZ (voice over): The omicron variant now ripping through the Lone Star State, Texas Children's preparing for even more sick kids as COVID-19 cases skyrocket.

(on camera): What is your sense for what the next few weeks are going to hold?

NICOLE LEATHERS, NURSE MANAGER, PEDIATRIC ICU, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: You know, I think the bar for resilience just keeps moving. If you think that, I don't know how we could do this again. And then we keep doing it again.

MARQUEZ: As Texas Children's readies for a fourth coronavirus wave, already it's ER is seeing a spike in kids suffering mild symptoms. Their parents seeking testing, bogging down triage for the seriously ill.


DR. BRENT KAZINY, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: We are seeing a lot of patients present with mild respiratory symptoms -- cough, congestion, fever, known COVID exposures, et cetera that really I think a lot of them are really seeking testing.

MARQUEZ: Like previous waves, the sickest kids, those needing hospitalization, are having a tough time breathing.

DR. MELANIE KITAGAWA, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, TRANSITIONAL ICU, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: So they're getting a lot of respiratory symptoms as we have been expecting. Pneumonia, needing respiratory support to help them breathe better.

MARQUEZ: Viral spread expected to intensify in the weeks ahead, and even if the omicron variant isn't as severe.

DR. JIM VERSALOVIC, PATHOLOGIST IN CHIEF, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: The problem is that with so many children, and adults infected, even if the percent hospitalization rate is lower, we are still -- we could see more children hospitalized over a short period of time. So that certainly puts a strain on our health care resources.

MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN -- Houston, Texas.


VAUSE: Around the world, hospitals are either struggling now or soon will be, with a huge increase in the number of pandemic patients. Like in Melbourne, Australia where "The Age" reports "Emergency departments under extreme pressure from COVID surge".

In the U.K., "The Mirror" reporting on staff shortages leaving "The National Health Service is crisis as skyrocketing omicron cases see nearly one in 10 staff off sick."

And in Germany where just days ago, the country's leading coronavirus expert was optimistic over a relatively normal winter, but as "Bloomberg" reports, "Germany girds for omicron with steps to shore up hospitals.'

Right now, ERs appear to be in the midst or soon will be of a perfect COVID storm.

For more on that, Dr. Megan Ranney is with us now. She's a professor of emergency medicine, and associate dean of the public health at Brown University. And she is with us from East Greenwich in Rhode Island.

Dr. Ranney, thanks for being with us.

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, CNN MEDICAL ANALSYT: Thank you for having me on. It is a pleasure to join you.

VAUSE: Ok. So on top of these big increase in the number of patients, you've got health care workers who are out sick or they're quarantining because of COVID exposure. Many have quit because of burnout.

At the same time, many people also turning up, wanting to get tested in the ER for COVID, because they can't get them anywhere else. Throw in the seasonal flu. At this point, couldn't it get any worse?

DR. RANNEY: It is difficult to imagine, John, how it can get much worse than it is now. You know, many of my colleagues are saying that this is the straw that has broken the camel's back.

It is not just COVID cases, it is also all the other medical and trauma and psychiatric illnesses that are filling our emergency departments. Folks that have put off care for two years and are coming in too sick to be able to turn away. When you combine that with the existing staffing shortages, the current shortages from omicron, and the fact that we're all just exhausted of caring for this virus. It is a bad space that we are in really across the world. But certainly, across the United States right now. And we don't see it getting better for weeks, if not months, to come.

VAUSE: And the vast majority who have been admitted to hospital, right now, for COVID and anything up in the ICU were dying, they're unvaccinated, right?

DR. RANNEY: That is correct. Now, I can't tell you, in the moment, whether those patients have delta or omicron because we don't know that right away in the clinical space.

But what I can tell you is that I, personally, have not admitted anyone who is vaccinated and boosted to the hospital for COVID really, in the last month.

And certainly, not prior to that either. In general across the United States only around 10 percent to 15 percent of patients who were hospitalized for COVID have been vaccinated and very few of those have gotten their booster.

VAUSE: And so, in countries like the United States where vaccines are readily available, they are free, and those who are unvaccinated doing so by choice for the most part. Is this essentially a result of their choice? If 95 percent of the population was in fact vaccinated and had boosters will hospitals be facing the same number of sick?

DR. RANNEY: It will be a very different scenario, if we had 95 percent vaccination rates here in the United States. We know that the vaccines work marvelously well to keep people out of the hospital, particularly if they are boosted.

But where we are in the United States is not a space where most of us have shown up to get vaccinated. Only about 60 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, and only around 10 to 20 percent have gotten their boosters which are so essential at protecting against omicron.

Can I blame the people who are unvaccinated? I blame the people that are purveyors of myths and disinformation. The politicians, the hucksters who are spreading fringe lies on social media.

I can't blame the individuals who are gullible or who got taken in.

VAUSE: Yes. So where we're at right now it is hard to believe. This pandemic is almost two years old. And yet again we are talking about hospitals facing an overwhelming number of patients whilst vaccines are readily available. This just seems incredible.


DR. RANNEY: It is exhausting, as much as incredible. You know, as a health care worker, we have been through the first wave, where we had virtually no personal protective equipment. We went through that second wave in the fall and the winter of 2020

into early 2021 when we felt like we were just holding out for the vaccines.

Then this summer and early fall we thought it was finally we were going to get through delta and be done and back to a normal holiday season.

And here we are. We are just as exhausted, and worn out by this pandemic as everyone else except we don't have the choice of staying home. We have to go back and face the disease day after day. And frankly, we don't see an end in sight.

VAUSE: And you touched on this just a little bit earlier about the patients who have other issues, other concerns, other diseases which need (ph) being treated and are turning up at the ER because they're so far down the path of needing treatment, they have no other option.

But what about those who continue to put off much-needed care? How are they being impacted by this continually having their treatment delayed?

DR. RANNEY: John, that's one of my biggest concerns as a physician, and it's something I hear from my nurses and respiratory therapists and social workers. It is our inability to care for all of the other folks, because of the crush of COVID cases.

My own hospital system has recently put off any non emergent surgeries. So things like cancer surgery or heart surgeries or aortic repairs, gallbladder surgeries -- those are all being put off. And those end up showing up in the ER.

And then those folks have to wait -- 6, 10, 12 hours out in the waiting room with potentially life-threatening illnesses, not because we don't want to care for them, but because there simply isn't space.

This points to so many larger dysfunctions across the health care system that we have papered over for so long just by working hard and showing up and caring a lot, about our patience. But right now, we can't work any harder. And there just aren't enough of us.

I fear that bad things are going to happen, if they haven't already, to some patients across the world because of the crowding level in our hospitals and emergency departments.

VAUSE: Surging numbers of patients, falling numbers of health care workers -- it's not a good combination to begin with.

Dr. Ranney, thank you so much for being with us.

DR. RANNEY: Thank you.

VAUSE: Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM. The political upheaval in Sudan. Fears are growing over a return to military rule now the prime minister has resigned.


VAUSE: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro remains in a Sao Paulo hospital while his condition appears to be improving. According to a statement issued late Monday, he was able to walk briefly and does not have a fever.

Earlier, he was rushed to hospital for tests, after suffering abdominal pain. All of this linked to a stabbing attack on Bolsonaro in 2018 while on the campaign trail.

CNN's Matt Rivers has more.



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 some time 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 3:00 a.m. local time on Monday morning.

It was some time 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 2019 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 came president. It was Bolsonaro himself tweeting out that he's had four major surgery since he was stabbed in the abdomen back 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 the Brazilian public very used to its president ending up in the hospital from time to time. But at least, as of now, the president does appear to be doing ok.

Matt Rivers, CNN -- Mexico City.


VAUSE: Fighting between rival guerilla groups in northern Colombia has left at least 23 people dead. The violence erupted Sunday between the leftist group ELN and dissident factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia FARC.

The fighting apparently over who controls the drug trafficking.


IVAN DUQUE, COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): To strengthen the capacity of public forces, I have ordered the deployment of two battalions for the next 72 hours to support the job of territorial control. Also I want to announce that we are strengthening intelligence, and counter intelligence.


VAUSE: According to Human Rights Watch, more than 850 people killed and 58,000 displaced from fighting between these two groups between 2006 and 2010.

Sudan is facing renewed uncertainty after the prime minister's resignation. But some Sudanese are vowing to continue to fight against military rule.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it comes to unease on the ground, staying or leaving doesn't make a difference. Our issue is now bigger than him and our battle is greater. So whether he stays or goes, it doesn't really make a difference to us. We will continue on a revolutionary path.


VAUSE: Meantime sources in Sudan say the prime minister's decision to step down was triggered after the military reneged on a fragile power sharing agreement.

CNN's Nima Elbagir has our report.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sudan's civilian prime minister Abdallah Hamdok stepped down from his role but not before he issued a dire warning. ABDALLAH HAMDOK, FORMER SUDANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator):

Our country is going through a dangerous turning point that may threaten its entire survival if it's not urgently remedied. In light of they asked for (INAUDIBLE) conflicts within the political forces and between all the components of the transition.

ELBAGIR: 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 the 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 (ph), announcing a rebranded, renewed intelligence services. NISS as it had formerly been known was now to be refired to as GIS.


ELBAGIR: Now NISS 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 those soldiers seem, as many of those we're speaking to tell us, seem hell-bent on returning the country to the previous status quo.

Nima Elbagir, CNN -- London.


VAUSE: 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 and charged for allegedly lighting the fire a day earlier which left the chamber of the national assembly gutted while the roof of another building nearby collapsed.

Well, what appears to be a clear warning from the Taliban in Afghanistan on one of their many crackdowns, this one on alcohol. Video from a so-called intelligence director shows a team basically pouring booze into a canal. New Afghan rulers say a raid was conducted in Kabul. Three dealers were detained. Busting booze has the support of some

Islamic hardliners. Alcohol was banned under the previous western- backed government but the Taliban had a mixed record on illicit substances. There were times they publicly forbid the farming of opium poppies but they've also been accused of taxing and cashing in on narcotics.

Still to come, how women migrant workers are taking Hong Kong's world of cricket by storm.

Plus, ahead David Bowie's entire catalog up for sale for top dollars. Who's the lucky buyer? How much did they spend? Those answers inquiring minds would like to know after the break.


VAUSE: Well, they had virtually no experience playing cricket, very little training, but yet in Hong Kong, the women's cricket team made up of domestic workers are taking the city by storm.

CNN's Don Riddell reporters their future as athletes looks very bright.


DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Migrant workers are often made to feel like outsiders. And in Hong Kong, they look like outsiders too.

Every Sunday, you will find thousands of foreign domestic helpers all over the city. It's their only day off and many have nowhere else to go.

But these Filipino women have ripped up the script. Every Sunday they are out playing cricket and their team has taken the city by surprise.

ANIMESH KULKAMI, DIVAS FOUNDER AND MANAGER: When it comes down to empowerment of those ladies, the best option is playing sport as a team. It will be beneficial to them.

RIDDELL: It's an extraordinary success story. In 2017, the team was created solely from domestic helpers from the Philippines, a group of vulnerable workers who are known to be exploited. Known as the Divas, they were a smash hit and quickly ran promotion from the city's development (ph) league, up through Division 2, and now they are playing in Division 1.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think for Hong Kong cricket, it's really helpful because it makes more people to know about cricket. Any job or any nationality can play cricket in Hong Kong.

RIDDELL: Typically the players only have Sunday to either practice or play. And they make the most of it.

JENNIFER ALUMBRO, DIVAS CAPTAIN: Playing cricket is very different. I'm very proud because this is new. Everyone was looking for us that this is the domestic helper. How can they do it. How can they train? And why they win in every game?


ALUMBRO: So for us it's very honor that we play cricket every Sunday. When I start playing cricket, I distance myself from the negative going outside like gambling or dancing in the club or whatever there doing bad.

This is a huge opportunity for other domestic helper that they involve themselves for the sports or other activities that makes them positive.

RIDDELL: In a short period of time, these players have created a future they could never have imagined.

Jennifer Alumbro played softball at university in the Philippines and always dreamed of being a successful athlete, although this wasn't exactly what she had in mind.

In 2015, she left her young daughter and ailing parents back home in the Philippines, moving to Hong Kong to try and provide for them.

Cricket was an unexpected highlight and it has led to the creation of a national women's team in the Philippines. 9 of the 11 players are domestic foreign workers in Hong Kong.

ALUMBRO: When I started to try out this game, I didn't expect that much when I was in tertiary level and college level. I was about to play for national competitions, but suddenly I stopped my schooling.

So when I play cricket for international, it makes me very happy and so much fun. My dream is about to begin, and I play for my country.

RIDDELL: Jennifer doesn't know when she will return home to the Philippines, but when she does she will be returning as an international athlete with a strong desire to grow the game for girls and young women.

Don Riddell, CNN.


VAUSE: David Bowie's estate has sold his entire catalog that include hits like "Heroes", "Ashes to Ashes" and this one you may remember --


VAUSE: Warner (INAUDIBLE) Music bought the global rights for an undisclosed amount. "New York Times" though reporting it was roughly $250 million. The catalog spans sis decades and all 26 of Bowie's studio albums released as well as the material which came out after his death.

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

CNN NEWSROOM continues after a very short break with my friend and colleague Rosemary Church.

I hope to see you right back here tomorrow.



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

And I'm Rosemary Church.