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Prime Minister Boris Johnson Warns of More COVID Infections; Asia-Pacific Also Seeing a Surge in COVID-19; Omicron Spreads More to Unvaccinated; China Prepares for Olympic Games; New York Court Hears Prince Andrew's Lawsuit Case. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 04, 2022 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead here on CNN Newsroom, with COVID hospitalizations on the rise across Europe the British prime minister warning the unvaccinated that soon could be you in the ICU.

Sudan's prime minister resigns amid violent anti-coup protests. Now the military is in full control as the country's Democratic transition is all but over.

The Winter Games now just one month away and with Omicron sweeping the globe. How the Beijing bubble being built to try and shut it out.

UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Good to have you with us.

Well, the ultra-contagious Omicron variant is pushing cases to all- time highs in parts of the world as exhausted countries scramble to slow the spread. The dark red areas are seeing infections surge by at least 50 percent in the last week compared to the previous week.

Israel has announced medical workers and people over 60 are now eligible for a fourth vaccine dose starting today as long as it's been at least four months since they received their third dose.

In Ireland, nearly 4,000 frontline workers are out on COVID related leave as hospitalization saw more than 40 percent. Cases are also skyrocketing in the U.K. where the prime minister is asking someone to follow restrictions to reduce the burden on hospitals. He says the majority of people in intensive care have not been vaccinated.


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


CHURCH (on camera): CNN's Jim Bittermann standing by live in Paris. But first, we go to our Phil Black who is an Essex, England. Good to see you, Phil.

So, a sobering message from the British prime minister to the unvaccinated. What all did he say? And how was it received?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, it is a lesson of the pandemic, isn't it? That if you got a surge in cases about a week or so, later you get lots more people showing up at hospitals needing help. And here in the U.K. over the Christmas and New Year period there was an extraordinary surge. Record numbers. And those numbers are still very high.

So, this is thought to be a crucial week and how the Omicron variant could play out here over the course of the coming weeks and months. Everyone is going to be looking very closely at the hospital admission figures.

Because the concern is while Omicron often results in milder illness as the prime minister pointed out, the case numbers here are simply are so vast that inevitably there will be many more people experiencing serious illness.

Many more people are putting greater pressure on the health system, a system that is already under great strain. Because cases are already rising even ahead of experiencing the expected hit from Christmas and New Year mixing. And on top of that, there is another new strain as well. And that is as strain as in pressure and that is staff absence.

In a relatively short period of time the numbers of health workers calling in sick often because of COVID has really soared. And for some hospitals managing that juggling data alone has already become something of a crisis.

The hospitals are reporting one positive trend. While admissions are going up the numbers of people requiring the most intense treatments that has remained broadly stable. And so, that is why Prime Minister Boris Johnson says we're in a much different position this year compared to last winter because of the vaccines. People are responding differently when they are falling ill.

But it still it is a great list to the health service. There is still tremendous uncertainty about how this is going to play out and how bad things can get. And that is why the prime minister says it would be, quote, "absolute folly" to believe the worst of this is already behind us, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, very good point. And Phil, talk to us about vaccinations there and efforts to get Brits that third shot.

BLACK: That is very much a key focus of this country's attempt to deal with the Omicron variant and this surging wave. And there's been considerable success. There are concerns however that perhaps uptake of that third booster could be starting -- that third dose, the booster could be starting to plateau.

But for the moment uptake remains very high. And the prime minister believes if you take that along with what is called plan b here. These are the somewhat light touch restrictions that have been put into place in response to the Omicron variant, that is working from home where possible, wearing masks in crowded indoor settings, using a vaccination pass to access nightclubs and other crowded venues.

As I say, fairly light touch compared to what other countries are doing. But the prime minister believes if you take those restrictions or those pieces of advice, and add to that the growing immunity in the population which is already is quite significant. Well, the hope is that will be enough to get through this most recent wave without having to increase tougher restrictions. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes. So important. And Jim, let's turn to you now live in Paris. Some tension in parliament over plans to extend the health pass in France. What was the outcome of that?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly a lot of tension in fact in parliament last night. It has been a very surprising move the parliament was suspended. The government had hoped that they would keep on going all night long addressing this bill that they are trying to get passed, the government is trying to get passed which would extend the health pass.

Basically, as a health pass stands now, it's required for just about any kind of public activity including restaurants, bars, any kind of social activity out in public. In any case, that pass is a proof of vaccinations or of a negative COVID test.

The government wants to eliminate that testing required -- testing requirement so that it will be just be for vaccination. Because just as Phil was saying there about the U.K., the government here believes that in fact the vaccination is the touchstone of getting the country out of this COVID mess.

So, they want to make it so that, basically you have to be vaccinated going into any kind of public activity. They have debated this in parliament last night, the opposition parties put up something like 500 or 600 amendments to it. They were plowing through the amendments at midnight and parliament voted to adjourn.

Now, today, the spokesman for the government said it's absolutely urgent that they get this health pas authorized by the parliament. And so, they are going -- the government is going to be trying this to be high in the priority list to get this back on track so they get this installed by January 15th, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And Jim, what is the latest on vaccinations and testing across France and indeed, the rest of Europe?

BITTERMANN: Well, in fact, the vaccinations are pretty good here. In fact, they are around 90 percent or so and at least two vaccinations and not fully vaccinated but at least two jabs. And they are trying to stabilize the situation because in the last four or five days here there's been something like over 200,000 new cases each day.

And in fact, the health minister when he started this debate in parliament yesterday, he said you need to understand that there are two French being infected every second in this country. So, it was something we got to urgently address. So, Rosemary, it's a pretty dire situation and they realize that.

CHURCH: Yes. I have to say though, an impressive vaccination rate. Phil Black and Jim Bittermann, many thanks to both of you. I appreciate it.

Well, the Omicron variant is spreading quickly in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia's most populous state is reporting a record number of COVID hospital admissions. New South Wales now has one of the highest infection rates in the world.

CNN's Blake Essig joins us now live from Tokyo to cover this and more. So, Blake, Australia did such a great job in the initial stages of this pandemic.

So, let's talk about why New South Wales now is struggling with one of the highest infection rates in the world and a record number of hospitalizations.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Rosemary, despite a vaccination rate of about 77 percent across the entire country, case numbers and hospitalizations in Australia hit a new pandemic high. And while some believe Omicron is behind the recent surge, we don't really know. And that's because New South Wales health officials stop conducting genome testing in mid-December.

Officials say that that's because they expected Omicron to be the dominant strain within a few weeks and that genome testing was a waste of time. Now earlier this week more than 44,000 cases were reported across Australia, and just yesterday in New South Wales it's almost 23,000 new cases were reported which is with an infection positivity rate of almost 20 percent as you mentioned. That is one of the highest infection rates in the world.


Now despite the dramatic increase in cases and hospitalizations Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Australia's Channel 7 earlier this week, that quote, "we have to stop thinking about case numbers and think serious illness, living with the virus, managing our own health, and ensuring that we are monitoring those symptoms and we keep our economy growing."

Now here in Japan the daily case count remains relatively low, but earlier this week Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa reported 103 new cases. It's the highest single day total since last September. And Okinawa's local government is blaming the U.S. military for it.

Now, on Monday, the U.S. military reported nearly 3,700 cases across the prefecture and more than 500 cases from a single base. Here is what Okinawa's governor had to say about it last Sunday.


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


ESSIG (on camera): 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. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And Blake, Hong Kong is now tightening vaccine requirements. What can you tell us about that?

ESSIG: Yes. You know, Rosemary, in an effort to contain an outbreak of local Omicron cases in fears of the virus spreading Hong Kong is once again tightening its vaccine bubble program. Now earlier today Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam announce that Hong Kong will require people to be vaccinated before entering museums, libraries, schools.

All of that starting February 24th. But at this point it's unclear if the new requirements will apply to everyone including students or just staff.

Now this announcement comes just a few days after health officials said entering public entertainment venues like theaters, gyms, and beauty parlors would require somebody to have at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

Local Omicron cases are also the reason, Rosemary, that Lam announced last week that the resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and mainland China would, quote, "have to wait a while."

CHURCH: All right. Blake Essig joining us live from Tokyo, many thanks.

Joining me now is Dr. Scott Miscovich, a U.S. consultant for COVID-19 testing, as well as president and CEO of Premier Medical Group USA. Thank you, doctor, for all that you do and for talking with us.


CHURCH: Very well. Very well, indeed. So, doctor, the Omicron variant is driving up infections right across the world with each nation of course trying to figure out how to contain the surge in cases and hospitalizations. The overall assessment though, appears to be that while Omicron is more contagious it seems less severe. Now how much comfort should we all take from that?

MISCOVICH: There's no other way to say it but none because of the balance with the rise in cases. Right? That's why we are seeing hospitalizations reach all-time highs, because yes, it is. We now have definitive information that it is more mild, especially we have much better data if you had prior infection or you are vaccinated even two or even three, your chances of severe hospitalization go way down, of death goes way down.

But it is so much more infectious. Remember, right now we are now dealing with the second most infectious virus known to mankind with measles being one. So, when you have maybe one-third or less number of people hospitalized, but the number of infected go up four to five times. It puts a surge on your health care system. It's still so dangerous for those who are not vaccinated appropriately.

CHURCH: And that's particularly a problem for children, isn't it? Because here in America an unprecedented number of children are getting hospitalized, many not yet vaccinated because parents are resisting or some are just too young to get a shot.

But the FDA has now authorized Pfizer boosters for kids 12 to 15. And some immunocompromised kids 5 to 11. What impact could this have going forward on the surge in pediatric cases?

MISCOVICH: Well, you know, a startling number for me, CDC announced that we had 547 children per day being hospitalized last week. And that's a lot. You know, that is certainly a lot. And some of the children are going into intensive care and are on ventilators.

So, any booster we know right now will take you up to that point where the chance of being hospitalized or having severe illness will go down significantly. Especially important as we head into returning to school and it seems like across the country many states are pushing the kids back to school, and I'm all for school but this is a very dangerous time.


So, yes, this will be very important, but if you really look at the overall vaccination rates, they really still need to pick up from that age group for not only boosters but to get the first shots.

CHURCH: Yes. It's a very good point. Because there is a very low pick up on that for the younger kids, isn't there?

So, despite seeing some pushback from anti-vaxxers we are learning now that about 85.5 percent of Americans aged 18 and over have had at least one COVID vaccine shot. Now if all those people go ahead and get their second and third shots in the next few months how soon could we start to see an end to this pandemic do you think?

MISCOVICH: I kind of shudder hearing the word end or normal, or endemic. Because as we saw today there was an announcement that 12 people coming from Cameroon and France were found to have a variant of the Omicron. We are kind of in the middle of the pandemic, most of us believe. Because we still have a large portion of the world that needs to be vaccinated so that we can really see the total risk are down.

So, from my perspective, we are going to start seeing that we'll have less disease in states -- countries like ours that have high vaccination rates. But again, you and I have talked about this before, until we turn and focus on that the poorer countries of the world -- we are still going to have the option that variants popping up and let everybody understand.


MISCOVICH: We'll be (Inaudible). We will need more vaccinations as time goes on. This is not our last one.

CHURCH: Yes. And at the moment countries are still looking at their own citizens, aren't they? They are not sort of looking outward. I mean, some instances we are seeing some being sent overseas but for the most part people are concerned about their own citizens.

And just very quickly, Dr. Anthony Fauci says it's more relevant now to look at hospitalizations rather than infections. If that is the case then we are talking about 100,000 Americans currently hospitalized. What does that tell us?

MISCOVICH: Yes, see, I still have to disagree with that. Because, you know, one, it's a tremendous number and we see the strain on our health care system and all those health care workers. And those poor families that have people, they're sick and on ventilators.

But what we also are not talking about is what about long term COVID? What about those people that are going to have that foggy brain when they're discharge or the 8 percent, we still know that are going to be permanently disabled?

So, focusing on only hospitalizations is not really focusing on the effects of the entire population. So, you know, we have to have a much broader look and it has to be preventing overall infection.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. And of course, all citizens who have access to these vaccines need to take up that opportunity and we can't labor that point enough. Dr. Scott Miscovich, always a pleasure to talk with you. Many thanks.

MISCOVICH: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, for the second time in 14 years China is set to host the Olympics. The opening ceremony for the Beijing Winter Games is now a month away. Ahead of that, officials in China are making their final preparations and launching measures aimed at preventing a COVID-19 outbreak which includes an Olympics bubble.

Now joining us now is Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Good to see you, Kristie. So how exactly does this pre-game version of the closed loop bubble work?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the games will be held in this bubble. This closed loop system which covers all stadiums, venues, arenas accommodations all-around Beijing. All participants and athletes will be forbidden to leave the bubble and will also after undergo daily COVID test. And what the Global Times, the state-run tabloid reported today was

the official launch, again, starting today of the pre-games bubble for all overseas Olympic participants and personnel. And they also announced the launch of the special cross province high speed train with divided carriages to separate these overseas Olympic personnel from the general population.

And this is very critical for China especially given the timing of the Beijing Olympic Games to begin one month from now. That's also around the time of the lunar New Year. That is when hundreds of millions of Chinese travels across China to go back home for the holidays.

This moment the Beijing Olympic Games will be a significant test for China's zero COVID strategy for the pandemic control. It will be a test for the pandemic strategy because of the nature of the Omicron variant. It's highly transmissible, it's highly infectious. There's only been a handful of Omicron cases inside China.


And experts have pointed out that this makes the population inside China rather vulnerable because of their low exposure to this variant. Because of the low efficacy of China's homegrown vaccines. And also, because of the limits of China's zero COVID policy. Here's Yanzhong Huang of the council of foreign relations.


YANZHONG HUANG, SENIOR FELLOW FOR GLOBAL HEALTH, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The problem is not the vaccine but it's the policy. Right? Because under the zero-tolerance policy, right, even the best of vaccines, you know, cannot fulfill the objectives set by the government.


LU STOUT (on camera): Now one month before the Beijing Winter Olympic Games and public patience inside China for China's zero COVID policy is being pushed to the limit. It's starting to wear thin especially in the northern Chinese city of Xi'an where residents there are now on their 13th day of lockdown. They are not allowed to leave the residential compounds except for COVID testing. They can't get outside for basic supplies for hygiene products or for food.

And as a result, we've seen these cries for help and for basic supplies on social media including the hash tag that's really going viral in the last few days. A hash tag on Sina Weibo saying grocery shopping in Xi'an is difficult. That alone has been seen over 420 million times on Sina Weibo in China. Back to you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. Unbelievable. And Kristie, just ahead of the games, of course Chinese officials are keeping a very close eye on COVID cases. But also, they're watching out for any possible protests.


CHURCH: So, what more are you learning about that?

LU STOUT: That's right. Look, athletes and participates at the Beijing Winter Olympic Hames will be monitored by the China's government for any acts of protest. Protest against China's treatment of Hong Kong, of Xinjiang, of Taiwan, of the tennis Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, et cetera.

Diplomatic boycotts have already been announced by the United States and a few of its allies. But athletes from these nations are still expected to attend and to participate and to compete in the Olympic Games. So, all eyes will be out on those athletes and participants as well. And whether they feel the urge to speak out while in the Beijing bubble. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Kristie Lu Stout joining us live from Hong Kong, always great to chat with you. I appreciate.

And still to come, Prince Andrew's legal team is trying to dismiss a sexual assault case against him. We will have details of that lawsuit just ahead.


CHURCH (on camera): In the coming hours a federal judge in New York will hear arguments on whether to drop a sexual assault case against Prince Andrew. His lawyers claim a 2009 agreement between Virginia Giuffre and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein shields the prince from Giuffre's lawsuit. That settlement has now been unsealed.

CNN's Max Foster has the details.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the document that Prince Andrew's team has been waiting for. It's in 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 will be heard in a New York court on Tuesday. A critical hearing then.

It could be the end of this case or the judge could rule that the case continues and we could go on to having depositions potentially Prince Andrew. His ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, even the duchess of Sussex is being 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 that 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 settled case against Jeffrey Epstein.

So, the judge will need to decide whether or not this is agreement plays into the trial in New York or what will become a trial potentially in September. Or whether or not it's completely irrelevant and the case continues. Prince Andrew denies all the charges that Giuffre has laid against him.

Max Foster, CNN, Hampshire.

CHURCH: Paul Callan is a CNN legal analyst and former New York city prosecutor. He joins me now from New Jersey. Great to have you with us.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Nice being with you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So in just a few hours from now a New York federal judge will hear argume,nts on the sexual assault case against Prince Andrew. His lawyers claiming a 2009 agreement between his accuser Virginia Giuffre and the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein protects the prince from her lawsuit because it violates the settlement in which she agreed to a general release of claims against Epstein and others.

Now that agreement was unsealed Monday. So how enforceable is it do you think? And how do you see this playing out?

CALLAN: Rosemary, this i very interesting and complex situation that we often see in civil lawsuits for money damages like this where there are a lot of potential defendants. And what Prince Andrew's lawyers are saying is that when Virginia Giuffre settled this case for $500,000, she agreed that she wouldn't bring a case against anybody else.

Now, that agreement is outlined in a very lengthy general release that is customarily filed with respect to civil lawsuits like this. And this, I have to tell you these agreements are usually upheld by U.S. courts.

CHURCH: But in this situation it's an agreement that would protect the prince against an illegal act. How does that generally stand?

CALLAN: The illegality of the act probably would not necessarily be a factor in the case. Because a lot of times what gets resolved in a civil case involves illegal acts. And sometimes and what -- but when you settle the case you agree that you are not going to continue the lawsuit which is all that the settlement means.

You can be prosecuted for the criminal act. This gives no protection to the prince against being charged with a crime if the statute of limitations is valid. This just simply says because the plaintiff, Virginia Giuffre settled for $500,000 and agreed not to sue anybody else that she has to be held to that agreement. At least that's what the plaintiffs in the case and the defense in the case are arguing before the court tomorrow probably.

CHURCH: So, you feel that this lawsuit, her lawsuit could very well be thrown out as a consequence of this agreement?

CALLAN: Well, I think it's -- there is at least some probability that that could happen. And the reason I say that is because in most lawsuits in the United States where there are multiple defendants agreements like this are quite customary.

Because if you settle with one defendant for a lot of money, the fear is that you might turn around and sue other defendants. And they would bring you back into the lawsuit as a co-conspirator. So, you would have paid a lot of money or more likely your insurance company would have paid a lot of money, and yet you are still involved in the lawsuit.


So the courts will generally uphold agreements like this that hey, you've agreed not to sue anybody else and they won't throw it out. Now a strong argument is being made by Virginia, Giuffre's very capable attorney, David Boies. He says, no that agreement and that approach does not apply here because Prince Andrew never could have been a part of the Florida lawsuit that was settled.

And so this agreement should not applied to Prince Andrew. And he puts a pretty strong argument on the table as well. So I think this is a close call by the judge. And it's a tough one to predict.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Interesting. Also, I did want to ask you this, because given Prince Andrew's lawyers are using this agreement to protect him from Giuffre's lawsuit, are in they essence admitting his guilt and how vulnerable would that make the prince as a consequence?

CALLAN: Wow. That's very interesting observation, Rosemary. They -- I'm sure are very careful when they present their arguments that they are just saying that if hypothetically the plaintiff was able to prove something, she couldn't collect her money because she previously agreed she wouldn't sue anybody else.

So you watch this lawyers, they always are going to be saying alleged, and hypothetically. You'll never see them actually admitting that Prince Andrew did anything of a sexual nature with Giuffre. And as a matter of fact, he of course had publicly denied, not only doing anything sexually with her but he even said the pictures of him with his arm around her are probably doctored. They are probably fake pictures. He doesn't even agree that he has ever met her.

CHURCH: Paul Callan, thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

CALLAN: Thank you, Rosemary. CHURCH: A California jury has convicted the founder of Theranos on

full counts of wire fraud and conspiracy. Elizabeth Holmes claimed her company revolutionized blood testing and could detect conditions like cancer and diabetes with just a few drops. It turns out the test were not very accurate and she was charged with lying to doctors, patients and investors. She faces up to 20 years in prison, plus fines and restitution for each count.

Well, across Europe, COVID records are being shattered as the omicron variant spreads like wildfire. A report from Paris coming up.

And a critical moment for Sudan. New details on why the Prime Minister resigned and his warning about the country's political future.



CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. We want to go back to our top story the global battle against the omicron variant. In the Middle East Israeli lines for COVID tests snake as far as the eye can see. The Israeli government had just approved a fourth vaccine shot for vulnerable people. Israel's Prime Minister predicts new cases there could soon reach 50,000 per day.

Indonesia will now offer booster shots to its entire population starting on January 12th as it struggles against the omicron surge. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkey, also are seeing new infections soar. And today the state of New South Wales and Australia reported record numbers of hospitalizations and new cases. The state now has one of the highest infection rates in the world. Western Europe is also dealing with widespread illness and hampered health care systems.

CNN's Cyril Vanier reports from Paris.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN SHOW HOST (voice over): As omicron continues its steady rise across Europe, France has reported record infections with daily tally surpassing 200,000 in recent days. Health minister Olivia (Inaudible) told French radio on Monday that figure in reality could be more than doubled. And about to heat 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 have to 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 test positive for the virus provided they take three COVID tests in four days.

JEAN MICHEL BLANQUER, FRENCH EDUCATION MINISTER (through translator): 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 the 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 are 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 (inaudible). We have got to remain cautious and we got to stick with plan b. We've got to get boosted.

VANIER: In Ireland, one and nine ICU staff were 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.

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 Madera for free New Year's Eve celebrations.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Well it is a risk we took. It was our risk. If you travel in 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 the new reality. One very much shape by the omicron variant.

Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.


CHURCH: 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 plunging the country further into political uncertainty.

CNN's Nima Elbagir reports.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok stepped down from his role. But not before he issued a dire warning.

ABDALLA HAMDOCK, SUDANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Our country 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 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 Prime Minister Hamdok tell us that the basic principle of noninterference 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 sooner. Announcing a re-branded, renewed intelligence service. NIS as it had formally be known, been known was now to be referred as guest.

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

The worry is that in spite of offer 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 are speaking to in Sudan is moderation with whom, and towards what?

What hope is there for peace process when the soldiers seemed as many of those we are speaking to tell us, seemed hell-bent on returning the country to the previous status quo.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


CHURCH: For more on this, let's turn now to Andrew E. Yaw Tchie in London, he is a senior fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. Thank you so much for talking with us.


CHURCH: So, sources suggest that Sudan's Prime Minister resigned because the army reneged on the power sharing deal. What more are you learning about that?

YAW TCHIE: That is true and that is part of the problem that we've had as well. But also we know that there has been problems with (inaudible) agreement that was put in place. This has been problematic, largely because it didn't have the support of the protests on the street. But also what we do know it that the political leads are divided, the

FCC which is a group that brings together the civilians and other components together had have problems to try and bring things and lead the country forward.

And in essence what does that mean is that, even though the Prime Minister was re-appointed by himself (inaudible). They want to do a support for him, post this (inaudible) agreement. As if it's made out intimacy of his own actions very difficult. But also leading things forward has been very difficult, because in large sense (inaudible) didn't see him as the legitimate person to lead the country forward.

CHURCH: As you mentioned, the Prime Minister's resignation did come amid these violent anti-coup protests. Now the military is in full control. Of course, bringing an end to Sudan's Democratic transition. So what happens now? What is the country's likely political future?

YAW TCHIE: Well, I think it is important to note the military is always been in charge. (Inaudible) what we did see was military try to (inaudible) with itself but also its own goals. And so what we have now is that political -- sort of (inaudible). So, we don't know who is going to take control but whoever is nominated by the (inaudible) will be (inaudible) legitimacy within the forces and (inaudible) its military but also our (inaudible). Because if not, this can (inaudible) and prevents with (inaudible).

CHURCH: So, who would those protesters on the street like to see leading the country?

YAW TCHIE: Well, I think that -- because they are also divided. What they want is force into the end leadership. They do not want the military above and what you saw of what happened, people of the (inaudible). And also because of the military (inaudible).

And that really that requires to get his support from the U.N. mission that is based in the country, the African Union and the (inaudible). But it also needs all parties to come together particularly with the protesters and the head of the protesters. They need a robust and resilient approach to support some sort of form of agreement.

But also put into place, as stabilization strategy that is supported by the African Union, (inaudible). To (inaudible) the country in this case, the U.S., the U.K., and Norway to move the country forward. And I think, if you just look at the elections in the final, sort of political point, then we are going to be in a problem here.


It is really about how do we (inaudible) legitimate -- legislative council but also been rightly that could lead Sudan forward and that would take time. That's what we (inaudible) we will find out tonight.

CHURCH: Alright. Andrew E. Yaw Tchie, thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

Well, strong winds are being blamed for restarting the fire at South Africa's parliament complex. Firefighters returned Monday to battle flames just a day after the initial fire caused extensive damage. The roof of one building collapsed and the chamber of the national assembly was gutted. A 49-year-old man is under arrest and charged with arson and theft. He is expected to make his first court appearance today.

Well, coming up next, Brazil's president is in the hospital but his condition is said to be improving. We'll have the details for you coming on the other side of the break, stay with us.


CHURCH: Twenty-three people killed in fighting between rival guerrilla groups in Northern Columbia. Colombia's president says the leftist group ELN and Dissident Factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia or FARC we're fighting over control of drug trafficking.


IVAN DUQUE, COLUMBIAN 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.


CHURCH: Human rights watch says more than 850 people were killed and 58,000 displaced in the fighting between the two groups, between 2006 and 2010.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is in hospital for an intestinal obstruction. It is the latest medical issue linked to a 2018 stabbing on the campaign trail.

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


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, despite the fact that he was 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 if 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. It was sometime after that he and his team made the decision that he should be hospitalized. He was eventually admitted to a hospital in Sau Paulo around 3:00 a.m. local time on Monday morning.

Sometime after that that he had sent that tweet and he gave an update on his condition basically saying that tests needed to be run to see if there were 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 determine 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 Sau Paulo 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 can 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 himself tweeting out that he has 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 also had COVID-19 during this pandemic. So a Brazilian public very used to its president ending up in hospital from time to time. But at least as of now, the president does appear to be doing OK.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


CHURCH: And still to come, how women migrant workers are taking Hong Kong by storm on the cricket field. Back with that in just a moment.


CHURCH: A winter storm dumped 8.5 inches of snow in Washington D.C. area forcing ground stops at airports. Thousands of flights were canceled as the storm pummeled the northeast. The storm also forced federal offices and schools to close and knocked down power for thousands of customers.

In Hong Kong a women's cricket team comprised of migrant workers is taking the city by storm. And as CNN's Don Riddell reports, their future as athletes looks very bright.


DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Migrant workers are often made to feel like outsiders. And in Hong Kong they look like outsiders too. Every Sunday you'll find thousands of foreign domestic helpers all over the city. It is their only day off and many have nowhere else to go.

These Filipino women have ripped up the script. Every Sunday they are out playing cricket and their team has taken the city by surprise. AMIMESH KULKARNI, 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. Quickly they got promotion from the cities development lead, up through a division two, and now they are playing in division one.

UNKNOWN: I think for Hong Kong cricket is really helpful, because it makes more people to know about cricket. Any job or any nationality can be welcomed into Hong Kong.

RIDDELL: Typically the players only have Sundays 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. So, everyone is looking for us that, oh, this is the domestic helper, how can they do it? How can they train? And why they win every game?


So, for us it's very honor that we are play cricket every Sunday. And I start playing cricket I distanced myself from the negative going outside like gambling or dancing in the club, or whatsoever that everyone is doing bad. This is a huge opportunity for other domestic helper that they involve themselves for the sport or other activities that makes them possible.

RIDDELL: In a short period of time these players have created a future they could never have imagined. Jennifer Alumbro, who 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. Nine 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 in college level I was about so play for national competition. But suddenly I stopped my schooling so when I played cricket for international, it makes me very happy and so much pride. My dream is about to begin and I played 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.


CHURCH: I love that story. Oh, David Bowie estate had sold the late singers entire songwriting catalog, including hits like "Ashes to Ashes" and this one you may remember.




CHURCH: Warner Chappell Music made the purchase for an undisclosed amount although "The New York Times" reports it was for roughly $250 million. It includes songs from all 26 of Bowie's studio albums released during his life. Plus material released after his death and other projects.

Thank you so much for your company, I'm Rosemary Church. Have yourself a wonderful day and of course, a very Happy New Year. "CNN Newsroom" continues now with Isa Soares.