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Novak Djokovic Admits To Error On Travel Form To Enter Australia; Novak Djokovic To Clarify "Misinformation" Amid Visa Saga; WHO: Global COVID Cases Up By 55 Percent In First Week Of 2022; Moscow Orders Military Drills Ahead Of Talks With NATO; U.N. Appeals For Record $4.4 Billion For Afghanistan. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired January 12, 2022 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome. I'm Paula Newton.
Ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM, Novak Djokovic tries to clear a few things up. The embattled tennis star fights back against what he calls misinformation surrounding his positive COVID test.
This as Omicron continues its tear right across the globe with new warnings. More than half of Europeans could get infected over the next two months.
And the world's longest school shut down due to COVID-19 is finally over. But for some students, returning to class easier said than done.
So, top ranked tennis star Novak Djokovic he is now admitting mistakes were made on the travel form he submitted to enter Australia. Declaration that is now at the center of his visa saga.
Djokovic put out a lengthy statement on Instagram, saying he wants to address and clarify what he called misinformation about his activities last month ahead of a positive COVID-19 test result.
And one of the key lines from that statement is a mistake. Djokovic claims his agent made on that travel declaration.
We have World Sport's Patrick Snell standing by in a moment for these details and you will want to hear them, but keep in mind, Djokovic is still hoping to compete in the Australian Open which begins next week.
But Australia's Immigration Minister is still considering whether to cancel the Serbian tennis stars' visa and remove him from the country.
Serbia's Prime Minister says she hopes for a quick resolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANA BRNABIC, SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I hope that a final decision will be announced soon. Because I think that this uncertainty is not good for any of the stakeholders in the story. From Novak to the Australian Open in the entire tennis tournament. This whole saga surely does not benefit anyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: We're going straight to Patrick Snell on these latest revelations. Quite a lengthy statement here and yet, it seemed to actually raise a lot more questions than an answer.
PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT (on camera): Yes, you just wonder don't you, Paula, what the fallout from this is going to be because we need it. Let's be honest, we did need to hear from Novak Djokovic himself and now we have and it does include some other candid admissions as well as we break it all down.
I just want to reset for our viewers we're I'd give some context regarding travel to Australia for Djokovic. He declared he had not travelled and would not do so in the 14 days leading to his arrival down under on Australian soil on January the fifth, that according to a travel declaration submitted during the evidence to Monday's court hearing.
However, we did then see various pictures taken during that two-week period appearing to show the 34-year-old in both Spain and his homeland Serbia.
In response, the 20-time Slam champ saying today via his Instagram: On the issue of my travel declaration, this was submitted by my support team on my behalf as I told immigration officials on my arrival and my agent sincerely apologizes for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous trial before coming to Australia. This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur.
So, very, very revealing indeed there, Paula. Djokovic also attempted to clarify the timeline. This around is positive COVID PCR test, which was recorded on December 16th last year according to court documents, Djokovic saying I attended a basketball game in Belgrade on the 14th of December, after which it was reported that a number of people tested positive with COVID 19.
Despite having no COVID symptoms, I took a rapid antigen test on 16th of December which was negative and out of an abundance of caution, also took an official and approved PCR test on that same day.
SNELL: The next day, I attended a tennis event in Belgrade to present awards to children and took a rapid antigen test before going to the event. It was negative. I was asymptomatic and felt good. And I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test result until after that event.
So, Djokovic, they're attempting to try and clear up the timeline. But there's more to it as well, I can tell you.
NEWTON: Yes, absolutely. And again, as all of us try and piece together his schedule, and when he tested positive or negative, there's again this issue of the media interview that he did, which is highly questionable, considering it obviously took place after he knew he was positive.
SNELL: Yes, this is really -- for me, this is what really does stand out. And again, it's when you get through the lengthy statement, you break it all down.
For Djokovic revealing on the 18th of December. So, as you say, after the positive test confirmation at his tennis center in Belgrade, he had an interview and a photoshoot with L'Equipe, with France's L'Equipe saying he canceled all other events, except for that one.
Djokovic saying, he was socially distance, he did wear a mask except for when his photo was being taken. And then these words, while I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period on reflection, this was an error of judgment. And I accept that I have reschedule this commitment.
Yes, that is exactly what I'm talking about, the fallout from this. I accept that I should have reschedule this commitment, those words there. That admission, the fallout from it, you suspect is going to be substantial.
And I do want to point out that we have plenty more to come on the very latest, this whole saga from down under CNN World Sport coming your way. That's with Don Riddell in around 40 minutes from right now, Paula, but this is going to continue, I can assure you.
NEWTON: Yes, as I said, so a lot there to really delve into, especially as a lot of it still doesn't, you know, match up. It's actually --
SNELL: There's so many questions, right?
NEWTON: Exactly. And we will try and answer at least some of them. Patrick Snell, thanks for being on top of the story. Appreciate it.
I'm now joined by Ben Rothenberg again in Melbourne. He's the senior editor for Racquet Magazine and the host of No Challenges Remaining podcast.
OK, let's try and go through some of this. The Minister's Office in Australia now says that he will actually -- his office will now have to review a lot of this extra information that they've gotten from Team Djokovic. I mean, do you think that this statement will move the needle at all in terms of whether it convinces the Australian government or Australians themselves that he should be saying in the country?
BEN ROTHENBERG, SENIOR EDITOR, RACQUET MAGAZINE (on camera): You know, I don't think this helps this case in terms of just the public sentiment level. Admitting that he knew he was positive and yet, still went ahead with this interview with L'Equipe to -- which was part of accepting an award. It feels like a very self-indulgent, very selfish thing to disregard
your own possible contagiousness, so you don't disrupt your award receiving schedule.
I don't think it will play very well down here in Australia, frankly. But I think already things were already shifting against Djokovic.
In terms of the government's position, they've already been pretty strong against him. And there was already a sense that they were still reviewing his case. He won his appeal in the hearing back on Monday on very procedural grounds. On various very technical grounds, he wasn't given enough time at the airport while he was being detained to make his case and contact people in the wee hours of the morning.
And so, on the substance of his actual application, whether or not it ever was going to hold water based on the really tough stringent regulations of the Australian Border authorities and the federal government to what they will and won't accept for exemptions. I think he is already in tough position and showing this sort of recklessness or lack of care for others in the pandemic, I don't think it's going to help reputationally.
But this was already something that was probably moving against him still, this might give it a bit more momentum.
NEWTON: Yes. And it's interesting because he and his team must have felt that the statement would help in some measure. You know, the reputation that many elite athletes have and tennis is prime among them.
You know, these are selfish, self-absorbed, tone deaf people. Do you feel at this point that he is actually doing some damage to the sport itself, let alone public health?
I mean, I have to say, the words that stood out for me were, I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone, really?
In the last year and a half of the pandemic, just taking aside what we've seen in the last few days, he was certainly someone who was living his life like there wasn't a pandemic.
For all intents and purposes, I can only imagine the sentiment there in Australia, a place that has had the most stringent restrictions during this pandemic.
ROTHENBERG: No, absolutely. We're not judging people. We're not judging Djokovic just on this one incident alone in this new timeline. He already pretty early in the pandemic, but a pretty flagrant offender in terms of disregarding public health -- global public health sentiments and putting on his own tennis tournament, the Adria Tour which he held it around former Yugoslavian countries during a pretty peak time of the pandemic in the summer of 2020, when no other real sporting events were happening.
Adria Tour happened at Djokovic (INAUDIBLE), full stands, they're going clubbing afterwards in Belgrade, you know, mask-less as they're all reveling and then it turned into a super spreader.
ROTHENBERG: But a decent sized spreader event with many of the players including Djokovic himself, testing positive.
That time, Djokovic came forward in his -- in his -- revealing positive tests and saying he and his wife had tested positive for Atria Tour. This December test, he did not reveal the time. Not even people he was sitting across the table from when it comes to this L'Equipe reporter, who as I feel very right to be aggrieved in this situation from being led along an interview with someone who himself was knew as positive.
So, Djokovic may certainly does not have a good track record on this and it's not getting any better. And you're right, it does reflect on the sport as well. There were other players involved in Adria Tour who disregarded public health requirements and their own sort of rules about quarantining after this.
One player is Alexander Zverev was at Adria Tour said he had tested negative but was self-isolate, and then a few days later was pictured or videoed clubbing at a club in Monaco masklessly reveling with people right after leaving the super spreader event.
So, tennis does not have a good reputation for being good citizens during the pandemic, at least some of the players to put it mildly, it doesn't reflect on all of them. But a lot of the brightest stars have done the darkest things.
NEWTON: And it'll be interesting to see what the professional organization has more to say about this, the tennis, the ATP and we will continue to hear more on this in the coming hours.
Standby, we will have more from Ben Rothenberg in our next hour. For now, though, we'll leave it there. Thank you so much.
Now to some alarming news from the World Health Organization, global COVID-19 cases were up 55 percent in the first week of 2022, compared to the week before.
And yet, that's not all. The WHO's European -- Europe Chief says the Omicron variant is sweeping across the region from West to East like a tidal wave. He's warning that more than half of Europe could catch the virus in the next two months.
Now, on Tuesday, France and Italy recorded their highest daily case count since the pandemic began with nearly 370,000 new cases in France, 370,000, incredible numbers there. Italy coming in with 220,000. Here's more from the WHO European Chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. HANS KLUGE, W.H.O. REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE: At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts that more than 50 percent of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next six to eight weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Dr. Eric Topol is cardiologist and Professor of Molecular Medicine at Scripps Research, and he joins me now from La Jolla, California, really good to see you.
And I hate to remind you, I'm sure you don't need reminding. You have been tracking this so closely for the better part of two years. What strikes you about the latest data on this variant?
And I will add here that in the United States, Dr. Fauci as well also said that this virus will, in his words, find just about everybody.
DR. ERIC TOPOL, CARDIOLOGIST AND PROFESSOR OF MOLECULAR MEDICINE, SCRIPPS RESEARCH (on camera): Well, good to be with you, Paula and thank you.
I think the main thing that we have to keep in mind is while these case counts are horrifying in terms of numbers and transmissibility of this version of the virus, like we've never seen, on the good side, the countries that have really high vaccination rates, and booster rates are holding up pretty darn well.
And so, as you mentioned, France, and we've already seen in Denmark and Norway, the U.K. So, it's a much better scene there than it is in the U.S. And as this moves East, across Europe, is going to be more trouble because of the lower vaccination rates and much less in terms of the third dose of vaccine.
NEWTON: Yes, and again, there's those low vaccination rates that everyone talks about. You know, a few studies out now basically indicate that Omicron likely leads to half as many hospitalizations, far fewer end up in ICU, people are spending less time in hospital as well, which is interesting than they did with other variants.
I mean, do you think the trajectory of Omicron now is going to be something that should give us some optimism? Could this be a more manageable phase of the pandemic?
And if it is, what's your best guess? You know, with Omicron in the driver's seat, is it two months? Is it spring? Is it late spring?
TOPOL: Yes, those are tough questions, Paula. I think there are two things that we're lucky about. One is that the vaccines are holding up. In fact, it's not 50 percent, it's 88 to 90 some percent reduction of hospitalizations with the third shot.
So, we're lucky because the immune escape of this version of the virus of Omicron is really extensive. The second thing is your getting at is we're going to create a whole lot more immunity throughout the world with this. And that's not going to get us to any sense of endemic state by itself, but it's going to help us get that way.
So, I guess what I'd say is if we don't get another version of the virus, it's worse than Omicron. Hard to be more transmissible, but it could escape our vaccines more, that would be even more trouble. It could induce more severe disease.
TOPOL: Fortunately, it's much less in terms of severity, about 60 to 70 percent less. The problem, of course, it's compensated by five, tenfold more cases. So, it's almost like awash.
So, that's what we have to look forward to. If we get a lot more immunity, and we don't have a variant that turns out to be a worse than what we are seeing right now, then we should be moving towards a much better situation.
NEWTON: And I want to drill down on that a little bit. You know, the only way to describe this virus, if you asked me is it's been terrorizing. And I say that because it is humbled and divided even the most brilliant scientists.
And case in point, you know, you tweeted today about a very provocative editorial on the Wall Street Journal. And you can see the headline there, it said slow the spread, speeding it might be safer.
Now this article, just to boil it down to the basics, it argues that slowing the spread of this Omicron variant may create a super variant or doomsday variant in future.
You know, I kind of want to get your take on this because this kind of goes back to that old-fashioned idea, well, if we all get it, then, this pandemic will finally be over. What are the flaws in that thinking?
TOPOL: It's totally flawed. We -- to think that we're going to nurture a variant by trying to slow the spread is the opposite of what this is all about.
The problem we don't know about yet is the more people who get infected, the more we could be looking at long COVID. You know, this disabling protracted state, they can be really a problem and has affected large numbers of people throughout the world.
So, no, this editorial was really what I considered reckless, and a lot of reactions have been put out on social media about it.
You know, I think that the essential thing is we don't want to be -- the sense of inevitability, the sense that we should be having things like chicken pox parties, which was referred to in that piece. These are just completely illogical and not based on any data that shows that suppression of the virus at this point will help containment not make it worse. We haven't ever achieved containment here in the United States. And hopefully, we'll get there someday.
NEWTON: Yes, and you can see Dr. Topol that given the debate among doctors and scientists that the rest of us are having a really hard time with this. I will -- I'm going to have to leave it there for tonight, Dr. Topol. But I do want to let everyone know that your Twitter feed is excellent. I have it on notifications and the studies in there make it abundantly clear where this variant is going on a day to day basis.
Dr. Eric Topol for us in California. Thank you.
TOPOL: Thank you.
NEWTON: Now, a new poll finds two-thirds of British adults think Boris Johnson should resign. The Prime Minister is under fire once again over parties at Downing Street while the rest of the country, yes, was under lockdown.
The latest allegations surfaced in a leaked e-mail from a top official inviting staff to a garden party in May of 2020.
Now, opposition leader Keir Starmer says it's time for Mr. Johnson to stop lying to the British public, another lawmaker broke down in tears talking about the apparent double standard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM SHANNON, DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY MP: In Northern Ireland we reached the milestone of 3,000 deaths due to COVID just last week. 3,000 people who followed the rules (INAUDIBLE) including my mother in law who died alone.
Will the Paymaster General confirm that there will be a full and complete disclosure to enable the police service to ascertain that all was done decently and within the regulations at that date and at that time? I'm sorry, Mr. Speaker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Such sorrow and mourning there for so many people that lost their lives. Now, Boris Johnson says he won't comment on whether he attended the 2020 garden party while an investigation is underway.
Russia says it launched new military drills ahead of critical talks with NATO about Ukraine or what the U.S. NATO ambassador thinks of Moscow's latest moves, that's coming up.
And not enough food, not enough health care and a growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Ahead, the U.N. makes its largest appeal ever for help.
NEWTON: A new round of talks between NATO and Russia is just hours away in Belgium and reports that Moscow has launched new military drills new Ukrainian border. Now, talks between the U.S. and Moscow ended in deadlock on Monday as fears of a Russian invasion loom over Ukraine.
Now, the Kremlin insists it's not planning to attack but it's not backing off on demands that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO.
CNN's Alex Marquardt has more ahead of these critical talks in Brussels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The United States says that diplomacy can't work unless Russia deescalates the situation along the border with Ukraine and Russia is not doing that.
Not only are they not withdrawing the 100,000 troops all along the borders of Ukraine, but Russia's Ministry of Defense has just announced that some 3,000 of those troops will be carrying out live fire exercises along the border along with some 300 pieces of military equipment, including tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.
That is, in the words of a senior State Department official exactly the opposite of what Washington wants to see from Moscow.
Now, I spoke with the U.S. ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith, who told me that the U.S. expects Russia to send more troops to the border of Ukraine, but that for now, they're holding their current posture along those borders. And they claim simply carrying out exercises, take a listen.
JULIANNE SMITH, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: They claim they're exercising, that seems like an awful lot of forces to have on the border for an exercise. And there was no notification of any sort of exercise either.
I think the excuse or the reasoning that they've put forward on exercises doesn't really hold water at this point.
MARQUARDT: Smith did tell me that she believes that for now, Russia is committed to these critical talks this week, first in Geneva, then here in Brussels on Wednesday. And later this week, in Vienna on Thursday.
At the same time, the U.S. and NATO have already dismissed and said they will not discuss with Russia their main demand and that is that Ukraine never joined NATO, that is completely off the table for NATO.
Instead, the U.S. wants to focus on areas where progress can be made, and that includes arms control, nuclear weapons, missiles and the placement of missiles as well as transparency about military exercises.
The U.S. hopes that the combination of progress on those fronts and the threats of extreme economic sanctions, trade restrictions and support for Ukraine militarily as well as Eastern European NATO countries will deter Russia from invading Ukraine again.
Alex Marquardt, CNN, Brussels.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Russian led forces meantime should begin leaving Kazakhstan in the next day or so. Kazakhstan's president had requested their support during last week's violent unrest and now, he's appointed a new government and is calling for measures to address income inequality in an apparent effort to distance himself from his predecessor.
And now, to the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The U.N. is asking donors for nearly $4.5 billion in emergency aid for Afghanistan this year. It's the largest appeal ever for a single country.
Official say the situation is extremely dire following conflict, drought, and financial chaos in the wake of the Taliban takeover and now, the very basic things like food and medicine are now scarce. And about nine million people are on the brink of starvation. Here's more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN GRIFFINS, U.N. HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS AND EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: This is a stopgap, an absolutely essential stopgap measure that we are putting in front of the international community today.
Without this being funded, there won't be a future. We need this to be done. Otherwise, they will -- there will be outflow, there will be suffering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: CNN's Arwa Damon has more now on the humanitarian crisis and desperate appeals for more aid to get to Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Among the biggest tragedies that is Afghanistan story is perhaps the reality that this very situation, this level of such a dire humanitarian catastrophe could have been avoided.
It's worth remembering that even before the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan was a country whose population about 50 percent of its population lived below the poverty line.
It had just emerged from the worst drought in the last three decades, heavily hitting its agricultural sector, its own food stocks, and then of course its economy was already in a dire situation.
And then, you had the chaotic U.S. NATO withdrawal, the Taliban takeover of Kabul, the freezing of Afghanistan's assets, billions of dollars of them and the effective evaporation of international assistance and crucial much needed development aid.
Prior to the Taliban takeover, around 80 percent of Afghanistan's budget was funded by the United States and other Western nations, all of that gone.
And now, the country has no means, no ability to try to assist its own people, humanitarian organizations have put out this call for $4.4 billion, laying out a very detailed plan to address everything from providing food, to winterization programs, to education, to child and women protection, and they are also providing assurances that this money will go directly to the beneficiaries that will not fall in the Taliban's hands.
And right now, so many are saying that Afghanistan is in such a critical situation that the world cannot afford to turn away.
According to the heads of -- the head of one of the leading international aid organizations, at this very moment, around nine million people in Afghanistan are on the brink of starvation.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Now, for the first time in nearly two years, can you believe it? Schools are open again in Uganda after the world's longest COVID- 19 lockdown, but millions will not be returning to the classroom, including this teenage mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The decision caused me harm because if schools had been reopened earlier, I would have returned to school and this would not have happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton.
Now, two of the top medical experts in the United States are warning that eventually, most people will get COVID. That's right. You heard that right. Or at least be exposed to the virus.
And that comes as the country has hit a new record high for COVID hospitalizations, nearly 146,000. CNN's Alexandra Field has more of the day's headlines.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Facing the highest number of hospitalizations during the pandemic, the FDA's acting commissioner appealing to keep the focus on essential services.
DR. JANET WOODCOCK, ACTING COMMISSIONER, U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: Most people are going to get COVID. All right. And what we need to do is make sure the hospitals can still function.
FIELD: The most seriously ill are the unvaccinated. But there are no clear answers yet for how quickly we could see vaccines for children under five. Those clinical trials are still ongoing.
WOODCOCK: We are working very closely with the manufacturers of the vaccines on accelerating and making sure that vaccines are available for the youngest children.
FIELD: Hospitalization for children are also at an all-time high. The CDC says the risk of hospitalization is now 17 times higher for unvaccinated people than for fully-vaccinated people.
LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS JUDGE: It's not only the fact that hospital beds are being taken up by COVID-positive patients, displacing the heart attacks and the strokes and the appendicitis cases, et cetera. But also, this virus is spreading so fast that we have a lot of medical staff out.
FIELD: Harris County, Texas, going through its highest COVID threat level for the third time since the pandemic began. While the state plans to deploy another 2,700 medical workers to assist with the surge. The strain on hospital beds triggering a limited state of emergency in Virginia. The National Guard is now pitching in in Kentucky.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Not only are you distorting it --
FIELD: Dr. Fauci calling out Kentucky's senator, Rand Paul, today for raising money by repeating false claims, emphasizing the danger in that.
FAUCI: That kindles the crazies out there, and I have life -- threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children, with obscene phone calls, because people are lying about me.
FIELD: And as the debate over vaccine mandates makes its way through the Supreme Court, United Airlines reports their mandate has been a success in the Omicron surge.
"Prior to our vaccine requirement, tragically, more than one United employee, on average per week, was dying of COVID. But we've now gone eight straight weeks with zero COVID-related deaths among our vaccinated employees."
(on camera): And with the Omicron surge, the Red Cross is now reporting the biggest blood crisis shortage they've seen in a decade. They're citing COVID cases, staffing shortage, cancellation of clinics, even the weather as reasons for the shortage.
They say doctors are being forced to make decisions about which patients get transfusions and which patients have to wait.
In New York, Alexandra Field, CNN.
NEWTON: Meantime, in the province of Quebec in Canada, it says it is getting fed up with the unvaccinated and warning if they choose to remain a risk to society, they're going to pay. Literally.
The province announced Tuesday that unless unvaccinated people have a medical exemption, they will be hit with a, quote, "significant fine" in the coming weeks, because they're putting a huge burden on the public healthcare system. Listen.
Well, I don't know if we don't have that sound for you, but that was the Quebec premier, Francois Legault, saying in fact, that he does want these people to play, because he believes there needs to be a consequence for remaining unvaccinated.
And we will be right back in a moment with more news.
NEWTON: Schools in Uganda are now open for the first time in nearly two years. Can you believe it?
The world's longest school shutdown helped Uganda contain COVID-19, but as Zain Asher reports, many young people are paying the price for it.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A morning routine that begins while it's still dark. Packing school bags, saying goodbye to mom.
It's been nearly two years since parents in Uganda sent their kids off to school. In what UNESCO says is the world's longest country-wide schools shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 80 weeks outside the classroom, and there are worries not everyone will return. Many children say they're glad to be out of the house and back with their friends.
NAWILAH SENKUNGU, STUDENT: I am happy, because I was missing my teachers and my studies.
ASHER: But Ugandan authorities estimate that in August, that about a third of Uganda's 50 million students will never come back. And of those that do, some may have fallen behind in their studies, especially the ones who come from rural and poor areas, where remote learning was inconsistent or unavailable.
RICHARD ABURO, NAKASERO PRIMARY SCHOOL DEPUTY HEAD TEACHER: The schools that did (ph), the city, already in the towns, some of them had the opportunity maybe to get some study materials. And they did something for some time. But the schools up country, some of them did not study anything.
ASHER: For others, studying in any form was no longer an option. Many people lost their jobs during the pandemic, and some students, like 18-year-old Fridah, had to find work to help support the family.
Frida says she loved biology, and chemistry, and dreamed of being a doctor. Now she's waiting tables at a restaurant instead of returning to class.
FRIDAH NAMUGANZA, TEENAGE STREET FOOD VENDOR (through translator): I'm worried as a girl. Without being in school, I might be attempted to get married, because life can get very difficult but no solutions to it. And marriage would be the only option.
ASHER: Teenage mother Sarah will also not be coming back. She says she was lured into a relationship with an older man while she was at home. Now, she barely leaves her grandmother's house, saying she's embarrassed and angry, and would much rather have been in class.
SARAH NAKAFEERO, TEENAGE MOTHER (through translator): The decision caused me harm, because if schools had been reopened earlier, I would have returned to school, and this would not have happened.
ASHER: The school closures and other strict measures helped contain the number of coronavirus cases in the country. With so far around 154,000 confirmed cases and about 3,300 deaths, but Uganda has one of the world's youngest populations, and even before COVID-19, it struggled with high unemployment and poverty.
Now many fear what was lost in the pandemic is much more than time, but life-changing opportunities that many of Uganda's children desperately needed.
Zain Asher, CNN, New York.
NEWTON: Now for the second time this year, North Korea is claiming to have successfully test-fired a hypersonic missile, and state media reports that leader, Kim Jong-un himself, launched the latest -- attended the latest launch.
Now, the U.S. State Department is condemning the missile test, which prompted a brief ground stop, if you can believe it, at some American airports. Apparently out of an abundance of caution.
CNN's Oren Liebermann picks up the story from there.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Newly-released images show North Korea's latest missile launch. The ballistic missile flew more than 400 miles, according to Japan's military of defense, and crashed into the Sea of Japan.
The missile went nearly 40 miles high, reached mock 10, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. This test coming one week after North Korea tested this: what it claimed was a hypersonic weapon.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, it seems, is reminding the west of his relevance.
JOSEPH YUN, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA POLICY: North Korea has made the decision. They go with full provocation, or do they wait a bit more? I think that they really do believe they wanted to give President Biden an opportunity to engage North Korea on North Korean terms. But Washington has not done that. LIEBERMANN: In early December, the U.S. and South Korea announced they
will update their operational war plan, the classified strategy for how the country and the allies would respond if war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula.
In the months before the announcement, they were forced separate North Korean missile tests, including cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.
The State Department says they condemn the latest tests, two in the span of one week.
VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: The United States has been saying, since this administration came in, that we are open to dialogue with North Korea, that we are open to talking about COVID and humanitarian support. And instead, they're firing off missiles.
LIEBERMANN: U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the launch does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, and yet, this from Burbank Airport in California.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some sort of national security threat's going on, and we are not allowing aircraft to maneuver in the area at the moment.
LIEBERMANN: The White House says the FAA temporarily paused departures at some West Coast airports because of the missile test. But it's still unclear why a launch thousands of miles away had any effect on flights in the U.S.
When the military was able to quickly assess the launch was no threat to the United States.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was a 15 minute ground stop and they did it out of an abundance of caution, that they were going to be assessing their approach moving forward.
LIEBERMANN (on camera): The FAA's statement about the ground stop made no mention of North Korea or the missile launch. That part came from the White House and other officials.
The FAA says they often take precautionary measures, and that part is no doubt true. But those measures aren't normally in response to a missile launch thousands of miles away. The FAA says that they are reviewing the processes and decision-making around the ground stop.
Oren Liebermann, CNN, at the Pentagon.
NEWTON: Now last year was the hottest on record for the world's oceans, and that is for the third year in a row.
The annual study published Tuesday says it's part of a long-term rising trend in ocean temperatures. Researchers say this is overwhelmingly due to human-caused global warming.
And it has serious consequences.
Also fuel emissions trapped heat in the planet's atmosphere. The oceans in turn absorb 90 percent of that excess heat. And that super- charges weather patterns, creating more extreme and powerful storms, hurricanes and rainfall.
And we tell you about that quite often, and so our meteorologists. And we'll continue to keep an eye on all of those studies.
In the meantime, I want to thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton. WORLD SPORT is up right up after a break.