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Australian Court Holds Hearing on Djokovic's Visa Appeal; At Least 19 Dead & Dozens Injured in Bronx Apartment Fire; High-Profile Officials Detained on Suspicion of Treason in Kazakhstan; High-Stakes Talks Between U.S. and Moscow Hours Away; IRC: 90% of Afghan healthcare Centers on Verge of Collapse; Tianjin, China, in Partial Lockdown Due to 18 New Cases; Vaccinations of Youth Increasing in India; Study: Dogs Can Recognize Different Languages. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired January 10, 2022 - 00:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, everyone. Appreciate your company. I'm Michael Holmes.


Coming up, a court hearing underway, in a case widely watched across the world. Novak Djokovic awaits word on whether he can stay in Australia.

It's being called one of the worst fires in modern history in New York City. Officials now say they know the cause.

And we're learning new details about just how deadly the crackdown on protesters was in Kazakhstan.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Michel Holmes.

HOLMES: And we are following a developing story out of Melbourne, Australia, where top-ranked tennis star Novak Djokovic and his defense team are fighting to have his visa reinstated ahead of the Australian Open. This is all happening in a virtual court hearing.

Djokovic's visa was canceled on arrival in Australia for allegedly not meeting vaccination requirements for entry. It has emerged Djokovic was granted a medical exemption after recovering from COVID-19. But court documents confirm he is unvaccinated.

Supporters of Djokovic are gathered outside the courthouse as the court session is underway. Djokovic was cleared to watch the hearing via video link.

In his native Serbia, his parents joined fans at a rally in Belgrade to show their support for the tennis star.

CNN's Phil Black has been tracking developments. He joins me now, live from Melbourne.

I know, Phil, at one point, the judge asked lawyers, what more could this man have done? What's been the tenor of proceeding so far? PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Michael, it is a legal

argument, so it's two lawyers and a judge essentially trading legal views. It's pretty technical. It's pretty dry.

But there have been a number of notable moments, where, as you point out, the judge has sounded almost sympathetic to the points being made by Djokovic's lawyers, particularly when talking about the evidence and the proof that he brought with him to show that he did believe, in good faith, that he had reasonable grounds for a medical exemption, in order to enter the country unvaccinated.

And also, when talking about the way he was treated at the airport. The way that he was pulled aside, spoken to, questioned. The pressure that was applied to him at that time, particularly at a key moment, when Djokovic says that he asked -- these are in the wee small hours of the morning that he arrived, asked until 8:30 local time to be able to talk to his lawyers before accepting that his visa was going to be canceled. He'd asked for that extra time, and that, according to his account, he was pressured by Border Force staff to, essentially, accept it now, at that time, without seeking, or getting to seek and receive, additional advice.

Again, the judge sounded almost sympathetic there when, essentially, agreeing that he seemed to be placed under some pressure at that point.

What we are talking about here, particularly what Djokovic's lawyers have been talking about, through the proceedings, has largely been about procedure, process. Whether or not Djokovic was handled fairly and reasonably when he was pulled aside, when he was questioned. What was expected of him in those moments.

They argue that he was broadly treated in an unfair way, in ways that were not reasonable.

But, on top of that, crucial to their case, is the belief, they say, that Djokovic did have grounds for entering the country with a medical exemption from vaccination, for the same reasons that he was granted an exemption by a panel of independent medical experts to play in the Australian Open without -- without being vaccinated.

And that is, they say, the relevant guidance from the government's advisory body, which helps set vaccine policy. Well, that points to recent recovery from a COVID infection as being possible grounds for a temporary exemption.

So it was with all of this thinking, all of this reasoning, in all this good faith, they say, that was why Novak Djokovic got on the plane from Serbia and flew here, with the full intention of being allowed into the country and being allowed to play in the Australian Open.

Now, that's what we heard much -- heard about through much of the day. In the afternoon, we've been hearing from the government's lawyer, who has been, essentially, going through the Djokovic case, point by point, and trying to shoot it down. At times being told by the judge that he was a little -- they were

being a little too in the weeds, a little bit too much focusing on legal principle and interpretation, as opposed to focusing on the facts at hand.

What we do know, at this stage, is that it's all taking longer than expected. We were expecting things to wrap up here right about now, at any moment. The judge has now indicated that it's going to proceed for at least another half hour. That's how long, he says, the hearings will proceed at this point.


But he also pointed to the possibility that it could go into the evening. So it suggested there is still the potential that this could go on quite a bit further today. But, the willingness to do so would perhaps indicate that they're keen to find some sort of resolution on this at some point this evening -- Michael.

HOLMES: And Phil, give us a sense of, you know, just how political this whole affair has become on federal level, on state level, of course, with Tennis Australia, and its actions. I mean, for a lot of people, they're going to say how on Earth do you get a visa if you weren't meant to get it?

BLACK: Yes. And it's not an unreasonable question, really, is it? But I guess the Australian government position is that having a visa is, in no way, a guarantee that you then get into the country.

They say that is still to be determined once you appear at the border and present yourself and, if necessary, asked to make your case, in terms of why you should be allowed to enter.

The Djokovic case is that, you know, he had a visa. He had medical guidance that he should be exempted from vaccination, including from these panels of independent Australian experts that were consulting to the Victorian government and the Australian Open, Tennis Australia.

And in addition to that, he declared all of this up front before he left Serbia, that he did all of this in good faith. But that's essentially the principle that all of this hinges upon, is whether or not he was able -- he was able to -- to present himself and expect, reasonably, that he should be allowed to enter the country. The Australian government says no.

And yes, just quickly, on the point of politicization, the politicization of this. There have been astute political observers here that make the point that a federal election is in the offing here in Australia that central-right ruling coalitions in this country tend to go big on border security issues in the lead-up to this, in the lead-up to federal elections.

And indeed, there has been the observation, the theory that perhaps there is a useful distraction for many of the problems that the federal government is otherwise dealing with right now. But the government would say no, that's not the case. This is just simply a matter of treating everybody the same under the law, regardless of who they are -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Phil, good to have you there on the spot for us. Phil Black in Melbourne. We'll check in with you a bit later.

Let's talk more now about all of this with Sam Phillips in Sydney. He's a sports reporter with "The Sydney Morning Herald" newspaper.

I was reading your stuff today, Sam. So, whichever way this goes, Novak, I don't -- I think it's fair to say, I haven't been living in Australia for many years, but he's not been the fan favorite exactly in Melbourne. Has he been sort of tarnished, in a way, because of this drama for trying to enter unvaccinated, given what Melbournians have gone through?

SAM PHILLIPS, SPORTS REPORTER, "THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD": Yes, I think, regardless of whether he wins his legal challenge or not, you'll find that he will forever be remembered for what he's done in the last week. It's been a long time that Novak has been winning Grand Slams in Australia and no one has ever really quite warmed up to him.

Australians appreciate, really, how excellent he is at his craft, but he's never been a favorite like Rafael or Roger, or a homegrown talent here. So this all -- regardless on whether he's playing on -- in seven days' time or not, this will forever sort of tarnish how Australians view Novak and the kind of guy, and kind of player, he was.

HOLMES: So tell us more about, you know, Australian public opinion, in that way. Because Australians have never liked people getting away with things that they couldn't get away with. Special treatment. How -- how has that ethos played into public reaction?

PHILLIPS: I think, yes, as you say, Australians are known for having a bit of talk, obviously, here where as soon as someone reaches a certain level of profile or status, Australians are more than happy to cut them down. And Novak might be another victim of that.

But I think above all, Australians, as you say, there's a core principle of everyone being treated the same. Regardless of your privilege or regardless of your wealth, that you should not be given special treatment, compared to, yes, the general public and the general men and women who walk down the streets.

So, I think that's the main reason there's been such outrage, is that, as you say, Melbournians went through the longest lockdown of any city in the world. Here in Sydney, we went through a pretty bad four- or five-month lockdown last year. And people don't want to see someone who didn't help get out of that situation, by not getting vaccinated, be treated with, yes, special treatment. That's the basis of the issue here.

HOLMES: What has been revealed in all of this is, at best, shocking miscommunication. A lot of bad global press. I mean, how embarrassing is this for, you know, Australia, the government, and the tournament organizers, in a way? I mean, what does -- sort of put a bit of a cloud over everything?


PHILLIPS: Yes, I think, the -- if Australians didn't know that the majority of the leaders of -- in the states, and especially Scott Morrison at the top of the country, weren't quite as satisfactory as they would have liked at their jobs before the pandemic, they've certainly learned that in the last couple of years.

And this is just all (ph) of that, this great reporting at the moment about how this is being a distraction that the multitude of issues that Scott Morrison is facing right now.

But in terms of Tennis Australia, I think Craig Tiley for a long time has -- he does as little to stay out of the public eye and out of the press as much as possible. His only interviews he really does are on breakfast television on the host (ph), broadcast at 9. And he's now been found out as someone who, yes, quite -- it seems like Craig thought he would get away with this, and he would -- Tennis Australia thought, you know, that may not reveal that he had an exemption, that he'd get in the country, get out of the country, and no one would know any wiser.

So yes, some significant reporting to be done in that space, and it already has been done in that space regarding what Tennis Australia knew and the lack of communication between Tennis Australia, the federal government, and the Victorian government.

HOLMES: Yes. Maybe tried to pull a fast one, as they say in Australia. Sam Phillips, appreciate it. Thanks so much.

PHILLIPS: Thanks very much.

HOLMES: All right. At least 19 people are dead, including nine children, from a fire in New York City. It broke out Sunday morning in a Bronx apartment building. The fire commissioner says 32 people were also sent to hospitals with life-threatening conditions.


CHANASIA HUNTER, APARTMENT RESIDENT: I'm just, you know, sad, because this is like a family, you know. We lost a lot of lives, which it hurts very bad. Especially children and even elders. Like I see these people every day. It's hurtful.


HOLMES: New York's mayor calls the fire one of the worst seen in the city in modern times. CNN's Polo Sandoval with more.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It took only hours for fire investigators to locate what's being described as physical evidence that confirms that it was a space heater that initially started this fire that quickly broke out. It was just before noon on Sunday when that fire broke out.

Investigators say that it wasn't the flames that caused so much death and destruction, but it was the smoke. In fact, some of the pictures that you're able to see from the scene, you can actually see how that smoke was billowing out of windows, even in the top floors of the 19- story building.

We now know that at least 19 people confirmed dead, and there is concern that that death toll could potentially continue to rise. And we also know that many of the dead are children, simply adding to that heartbreak. And much of that heartbreak, the governor of New York, actually, has seen firsthand, as she spoke with some of those affected families.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): We are, indeed, a city in shock. It's impossible to go into that room, where scores of family, who are in such grief, who are in pain. To see it in a mother's eyes as I held her, who lost her entire family.


HOCHUL: It's hard to fathom what they're going through. And I went table to table, helped children make their ramen noodles and eat their pizza. And let them know one thing, and the mayor and I are united in this. We will not forget you. We will not abandon you. We are here for you.

SANDOVAL: In the days ahead, the community continues to come together. In fact, late Sunday night, we could actually see as many members of the community coming together and going into a neighboring school that was serving as a temporary shelter, making sure that those affected families have not just a warm place to say but also a warm meal.

Back to you.


HOLMES: Polo Sandoval there.

A quick break now. When we come back, a swift and deadly crackdown coming in response to the violent upheaval in Kazakhstan. More than 160 people are dead, thousands detained. We'll have details.

Also, a health system on the brink. I'll be talking to a representative from a major aid agency on the state of Afghanistan's health care, and how it's struggling to provide even the most basic care.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.



HOLMES: More than 5,000 people are being detained in connection with the protests in Kazakhstan. The demonstrations, that began over a spike in fuel prices, have expanded to anger over government corruption, poverty, and unemployment.

Forces from a Russian-led military alliance are right now on the ground at the Kazakh president's request.

State media reports say high-profile officials have been detained, on suspicion of treason, prompting questions about an internal power struggle.

Fred Pleitgen with details from just over the border in Kyrgyzstan.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Several days after those protests began in Kazakhstan, the scale of the crackdown that happened there is becoming ever more clear.

The Kazakh authorities are now saying that more than 5,000 people have been detained in relation to the protests. Of course, they're being accused of being part of those protests.

The Kazakh authorities have also now said that the death toll is 164, and they say 100 of those killed, or more than 100 of those killed --

(voice-over): -- were in one city, and that is Almaty, which of course, in many ways, was the hardest-hit city by those protests.

At the same time, it seems as though, after what was possibly somewhat of a struggle for power, that the current president, Mr. Tokayev, appears to be cementing his grip on power. In fact, a spokesman for the former president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has come out and said that Mr. Nazarbayev, he voluntarily gave up his seat as the head of the National Security Council and also now fully supports Mr. Tokayev and is urging the Kazakh nation to rally around Mr. Tokayev.

(on camera): Now, it certainly seems as though the Kazakh government, in no way, is looking to speak to the protesters, or to try to give into their demands. In fact, Mr. Tokayev is saying that he believes that the protests were, at least in part, steered from abroad.

And of course, he's saying that there will be a very, very tough crackdown.

Of course, that's also one of the reasons why the Kazakh government has called in for outside help, especially from Russia. The Russians very quickly moving in around 3,000 troops, mostly paratroopers, using a lot of planes to do that.

There was a phone call between Mr. Tokayev and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, where the Kazakh president thanked the Russian president for moving those forces in and for moving them in very quickly.

At the same time, cross-border traffic between where I am, right now, in Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan is almost completely shut down. The Kazakhs are saying that they are not going to allow foreigners into the country at this point in time. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, at the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border.


HOLMES: Well, as Russian troops pour into Kazakhstan, the U.S. is hoping dialogue can keep the Kremlin out of Ukraine. High-stakes talks between the U.S. and Moscow are set to begin in Switzerland, just under three hours from now.

Russia's troop build-up near Ukraine is stoking fears of an all-out invasion.

Now, this was the scene of the Russian delegation touchdown in Geneva on Sunday. It's being led by Sergey Ryabkov, who will meet with the U.S. secretary of state [SIC], Wendy Sherman.

The U.S. says they've already discussed what's on the agenda for today's talks. Sherman will also lead the U.S. delegation at meetings between NATO and Russia. They will happen on Wednesday.

Well, for more on how we got here and what's at stake going into these talks, CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson reports from Geneva.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Russia's troop build-up on Ukraine's border triggered tensions. By mid-November, close to 100,000 troops. U.S./NATO fearing an invasion of Ukraine.


Russia denied hostile intent, claiming legitimate training on their own soil, and demanded talks.

As Ukraine reinforced front lines, report of a covert Russian plan to topple Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

President Vladimir Putin got President Joe Biden's attention and a video call. Biden warned Putin an invasion would trigger massive sanctions. U.S. allies backed him up.

LIZ TRUSS, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: We made clear that any further military incursion into Ukraine would bring massive consequences.

ROBERTSON: Days later, Russia responded, submitting separate security demands to the U.S. and NATO, wanting, among other things, legally- binding guarantees NATO deny Ukraine membership, a nonstarter for NATO.

Russia's track record of invading neighbors -- Georgia, 2008; in 2014, annexing Crimea in Ukraine and backing breakaway separatists carving out territory in the country's east -- leaving Putin's credibility on the eve of talks at an all-time low. JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: The capabilities, the

rhetoric, and the track record, of course, that sends a message. That is a real risk for a new, armed conflict in Europe.

ROBERTSON: From Putin's perspective, the collapse of communism, and NATO's expansion since finally hit his red line: Ukraine.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Are we deploying missiles near the U.S. borders? No, we're not. It was the USA who came with missiles to our house.

ROBERTSON: By pitching the U.S. and NATO separate demands and seeking separate meetings, Putin wants to weaken NATO.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: They want to draw us into a debate about NATO, rather than focus on the matter at hand, which is their aggression toward Ukraine. We won't be diverted from that issue.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Going into these high-stake talks Monday, U.S. officials say they're going to share Russia's tactics, with their allies. So when they go into talks with NATO later in the week, they can be better united.

But Biden has told Putin, if he de-escalates tensions, then progress can be made. The challenges for the U.S. will be finding a compromise that's agreeable for European allies that's strong enough for Putin to sell at home.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Geneva.


HOLMES: And this just into us here at CNN. A court in Myanmar has sentenced the ousted civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to another four years in prison on three criminal charges, which included the possession of unlicensed walkie talkies.

She's been on trial for nearly a dozen charges after the military took over in a coup last February, all of which she denies. The latest in a live report next hour.

The war-torn country of Afghanistan is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. In an article by the International Rescue Committee, published on Friday, the aid organization warned that more than 90 percent of the healthcare centers in Afghanistan were on the verge of collapse.

This is due largely to the withdrawal of international aid or suspension of aid since the Taliban took over in August. The lack of resources threatening the country's ability to respond to public health emergencies like COVID and other major disease outbreaks, as well as malnutrition and other preventable deaths.

Aid groups have seen much of the suffering firsthand. Let's turn now to Anna Cilliers. She's a medical coordinator in Afghanistan for Medecins San Frontieres, Doctors Without Borders. She joins me now from Khost in Afghanistan.

And thanks for doing so. A huge amount of funding from international donors, the World Bank and USAID, for example, suspended after the Taliban took power. What has that done on the ground to the country's healthcare system?

ANNA CILLIERS, MEDICAL COORDINATOR IN AFGHANISTAN, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: Good morning, Michael. Thank you for this focus on maintaining context in Afghanistan.

And on the ground, of course, a huge amount of money and funding came in, but the void cannot be filled by the international organizations for the hospital care, and the healthcare system that is really under a great pressure. So much so that salaries wasn't paid for many months. There was a lack of supplies. The government was unable to procure medication and supplies.

And some facilities had to close, and others are not optimally functioning. So there is definitely a big pressure on the healthcare structure and system.


HOLMES: In Lashkar Gah, just as one example, I think there's only one fully functioning public hospital in the entire province. Now, that's just one province.

Country-wide, how perilous is the situation, the system nationally? What is a worst-case scenario if nothing substantial changes?

CILLIERS: The worst-case scenario, the hospital in Lashkar Gah, is the MSF. The MSF is running that hospital. It's a primo (ph) backed hospital.

If -- if the funding is not going to be secured, and the government will be unable to pay salaries, and to procure supplies, they will -- he health system will collapse. And people who cannot afford private health care will not have access to health care.

And we will see an increase of malnutrition cases. That is already high in the country. Two of our facilities, they receive 80 patients per week, with severe malnutrition. And, it's comparatively higher to its last year, the same period.

We see an increase in measles cases. And for that, it's not because vaccines are unavailable. Vaccines are available. But if a mother have to make a choice of buying food for the family or buying transport to go to a facility, she will pay food for the family. And she will use that money to feed the family.

So therefore, we also see an increase in diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.

HOLMES: Yes. And on top of that, the U.N. development program has said 97 percent of Afghanistan will be below the poverty line by mid-'22. Ninety-seven percent. Groups like yours are seeing the human face of this. You know, I spent

a lot of time in Afghanistan, too. How difficult is it to communicate to outsiders that human factor, the suffering of so many people, children, families? The people you see, how does it put a face to them?

CILLIERS: You know, it is really, really difficult to put a face to it, Michael, because the people of Afghanistan in the first place is beautiful people, and they're really resilient people. So they continue with coping.

But as I wanted to mention last night, for instance, we received the body of a woman who delivered at home. She could have delivered safely at our facility. But most likely, she did not have the transport to -- to come to our facility and then she complicated at home, and she died at home.

And this is daily stories that we -- that we receive about people who are really suffering and cannot access health care because of problems with income, problems with transport, and inaccessibility.

HOLMES: I mean, that is heartbreaking and -- but powerful and important in order to get that human side of it across.

I'm curious before we go, because I think a lot of people would want to know. Have there been any issues working with the Taliban in terms of being able to operate on the ground? I know you don't want to get into politics. But in a functional sense, have there been any problems?

CILLIERS: We have been operating throughout. We never stopped our operations during the change of regime. Many -- and our facilities are -- we are staffed by women and men, and male and female staff. So -- and we are functioning without and throughout.

HOLMES: Yes. I mean, it is a difficult, difficult situation. And I really want to thank you for being with us but also for the work you and the organization are doing. Anna Cilliers, thanks so much.

CILLIERS: Thank you very much.

HOLMES: Important story.

OK. The Omicron variant is pushing COVID case counts through record levels, from Mexico to the Philippines. The latest on the pandemic, from all around the globe, coming up here on CNN.



HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

The Omicron variant is pushing COVID case numbers to new records in a number of countries. The Philippines reported nearly 29,000 new cases on Sunday, according to state-run news. That is a pandemic high.

Mexico also setting a new daily record, with more than 30,000 new cases on Saturday. And health authorities warned the lack of widespread testing means that number is probably low.

Starting on Monday, Italy is requiring a super green pass to access most public areas. It's only granted to those who are fully vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID.

Italian officials say the number of people over 50 who are getting vaccinated has tripled. Last week, the government made the shots mandatory for that age group.

Meanwhile in China, the city of Tianjin is under partial lockdown due a handful of cases. Our Steven Jiang is standing by in Beijing.

We also have Vedika Sud in New Delhi for the latest on the situation in India.

Steven, let's begin with you. How worried are Chinese authorities about Omicron spread?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, this is really a nightmare situation for them because, as you know, they stick to this zero COVID policy. And given how highly transmissible the Omicron variant has been around the world, and given Tianjin's proximity to Beijing, where the Winter Olympics are going to open in three and a half weeks, this is really a double whammy for the authorities in that city.

That's why you've seen them largely cut off travel between the two neighboring cities, which usually sees a large commuting traffic with high-speed trains running between the two cities almost every 30 minutes throughout a day.

Those services have now been suspended, with Tianjin authorities telling its 14 million residents not to leave town unless absolutely necessary. And Beijing officials telling commuters from Tianjin to work from home until further notice.

And in Tianjin, as you mentioned, they are adopting strategies and policies we've seen play out throughout China whenever local outbreaks emerged, you know, not only mass testing but also snap lockdowns and extensive contact tracing.

But one -- another thing they're doing there is to ensure the supply and deliveries of daily necessities, including groceries and medicines, so not to repeat the fiasco we saw in the city of Xi'an during its recent strict lockdown because of a local outbreak.

This cluster in Tianjin, Michael is first -- was first detected among schoolchildren in the after-school care center. So a lot of patients are very young.

And now officials also saying there could be so-called hidden transmissions for at least two weeks. Because at least two more cases of Omicron have now been confirmed in the central province of Hunan.

So domestic transmission of this variant has definitely begun. And that, of course, is worrying a lot of officials throughout the country, especially ahead of the lunar new year travel season which, as you know, is usually the world's biggest annual human migration -- Michael.


HOLMES: Yes. Indeed. Steven, thanks so much, there in Beijing for us. I appreciate it.

Let's bring in Vedika Sud, standing by in New Delhi.

And Vedika, more than 30 percent of children, I understand, between 15 and 18 have been vaccinated in India. Obviously, some pretty heartening news there. Bring us up to date on the developments.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, impressive news there Michael. Because there is a population, eligible population of about 74 million children between this age group that we're talking about, 15 to 18, that can take the dose. And almost a third of that population has taken it. This is indeed heartening news for a country that today has seen almost 180,000 new cases of COVID-19, Michael.

This is a tenfold increase, over a tenfold increase in just 10 days. And it is worrying for India, given that there are elections coming up in five different states. And those elections will take place between the months of February and March.

Another piece of heartening ness, while we're talking about it, is that the election commission has banned public gatherings and political rallies until the 15th of this month, after which they'll take a call because of the surge in cases that is taking place.

The last time India witnessed a high as large as this, as big as this -- we talk about almost 180,000 new daily cases in the last 24 hours -- was last year in May, the last week of May. And that's when India was witnessing a brutal second wave, Michael.

Also, another piece of news, and this is developing in India, is since this morning, local time, a booster shot has rolled out for healthcare and frontline workers. And those above the age of 60 with co- morbidities are also eligible for this vaccine.

These numbers are really rising, Michael. And the worry will be that this may cross, like a lot of experts are saying, the peak of the second wave, because we are already at 180,000 almost cases. And the highest that the cases went to on a daily basis was in the month of May last year when the second wave was on, and it crossed 400,000 cases back then, Michael.

HOLMES: All right, a great round-up there. Vedika, thank you. Vedika Sud in New Delhi.

SUD: Thank you. HOLMES: Still to come here on the program, what a new study reveals

about how dogs process multiple languages. We'll have details of that research, after the break.


HOLMES: Well, no one can forget the agonizing scenes of Afghans desperate to flee the country when it fell to the Taliban back in August.

But one heartwarming story has emerged from that tragedy. An infant boy separated from his parents during that chaos of the American evacuation has been found and reunited with his relatives in Kabul.


What happened is a taxi driver found him amid that chaos in the airport. The child was on his own. The taxi driver picked him up, Took him home, and cared for him.

But finally, he's been handed back to his relatives, his grandfather. They are hoping to reunite him with his parents, who were evacuated months ago to the U.S.

Now even if you don't speak more than one language, your dog, it turns out, could be bilingual. A new study out of Hungary indicates dogs may be able to tell the difference between languages.

CNN's Lynda Kinkade explains.



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR (voice-over): When Kun-Kun, the border collie, and his owner moved from Mexico to Hungary, both were immersed in a new language.

LAURA V. CUAYA, ETHOLOGY DEPARTMENT, EOTVOS LORAND UNIVERSITY: Here people are really friendly with the dogs. So they are talking all the time to Kun-Kun. But I was wondering if he can detect this different language.

KINKADE: So Kun-kun's owner set out to find an answer. She and a team of researchers in Budapest designed an experiment with 18 dogs to see if they can differentiate language.

With their owners present and the ability to leave the scanner at any point, each of the dog's brains were analyzed with MRI scanning as they heard either Hungarian, Spanish, or scrambled speech.

Two of the pups were familiar with Spanish. The other 16 were used to hearing Hungarian. ATTILA ANDICS, NEUROSCIENTIST, EOTVOS LORAND UNIVERSITY: What we see

from these results is that they do pay attention, they do pick up on these auditory irregularities that characterize a certain language.

KINKADE: Scans show different parts of the dogs' brains were activated when a familiar language was spoken, versus a nonfamiliar one, as well as when nonsense was spoken, versus authentic speech.

The researchers also found that the older the dog, the better its brain was able to distinguish between languages.

CUAYA: It's a fact how dogs are social beings. So they are all the time picking up information about the social world. For the dogs, humans, we are an important source of information.

KINKADE: Kun-Kun, who was one of the study participants, already knew as much.


GRAPHIC: Kun-Kun, do you speak Spanish?



GRAPHIC: Are you sure?



GRAPHIC: Kun-Kun, do you speak Hungarian?

KINKADE: So while Fidos may not be exactly bilingual --


KINKADE: -- they may be hearing much more than you think.


KINKADE: Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


HOLMES: It's all "woof" to me.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, @HolmesCNN. Do stick around. Patrick Snell with WORLD SPORT coming up next. I'll see you in about a 15 minutes.


[00:44:55] (WORLD SPORT)