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Russian Officials Meets with NATO in Geneva; Novak Djokovic Claims His Agent Commits Mistake; Europe with Seven Million Cases in Two Weeks; Brits Felt Outraged by P.M. Johnson's Controversies. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired January 12, 2022 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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 on CNN Newsroom, talks between NATO and Russia is set to begin next hour in Belgium. The meeting comes amid growing tensions in the region and Russian military drills near the Ukraine border.
An administrative mistake. Novak Djokovic blames his agent for a mixed up over his Australian visa as the tennis star reveals another COVID controversy.
And growing calls for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign for ignoring his own COVID lockdown rules.
UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN newsroom with Rosemary Church.
CHURCH: Good to have you with us. So, we are tracking developments in Belgium where a high stakes meeting between NATO and Russia is set to kick off in Brussels. It is the second of three meetings this week aimed at preventing a Kremlin invasion of Ukraine.
Monday's talks with the U.S. and Russia ended in a stalemate in Geneva. Since then, Russia has announced new military drills and it's still demanding Ukraine never join NATO. But the U.S. refuses to rule out a place for Kiev in the alliance. And here is what America's ambassador to NATO told CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIANNE SMITH, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: No one is suggesting that we alter NATO policy on enlargement. The door remains open. No one has the right to kick the door shut. And any decision about enlargement will continue to rest between the NATO alliance and the country in question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): And for the latest international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is live in Brussels, and senior correspondent Sam Kiley joins us from Kiev in Ukraine.
Good to see you both.
So, Nic, no progress was made in talks between Russia and the U.S. Can we expect this meeting between Russia and NATO to be any different?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think the short answer is no, other that there will be more voices and more united front put up from the other side of the table at NATO because it represents 30 different nations. Perhaps no surprise that Russia has announced these military exercises close to the border with Ukraine involving up to 3,000 troops and a number of different locations involving T72 tanks.
Why -- why is it no surprise in a way? Because since those talks in Geneva, the U.S. officials have said that Russia, if it is serious about not invading Ukraine, which is what it said, then why not pull those troops back to base. And the other reason the U.S. has said is they don't find what Russia is saying incredible about the buildup of troops, is that in the past Russia has notified the United States and other NATO members when it's about to do the sorts of exercises.
And that was criticism that came from a number of U.S. officials over the past two days. And here we are, Russia has announced that it's doing these military exercises. So potentially, in answer to that particular criticism. So perhaps Russia's former NATO ambassador, the deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko who is leading the delegation for the U.S. and for the Russian side here at these thoughts will highlight that, you know, an act of potential good faith, you wanted us to say about our training.
Here we are saying we are doing our training. One of the things that's been put on the table by the U.S. in Geneva as an option for Russia to consider is possible arms control agreement, possible agreements, reciprocal agreements on military exercises.
Russia at the talks in Geneva dismiss those because it wasn't getting at central issue addressed which is something that Russia will undoubtedly hear today that NATO is not willing to roll back its position to 1997 level of NATO deployment and NATO membership, and neither is it willing to say that Ukraine cannot become a member of NATO.
So, I think in that regard Russia will face a pretty solid united, as the secretary general here calls it a united brick wall. Saying, we can't move on your main issue, Russia.
CHURCH: All right. And Sam, to you in Kiev now, what is the perspective from Ukraine and indeed, the expectations if nothing is resolve here?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the perspective of the Ukrainians is very, very clear. They have yesterday their intelligence services claim that not only is Russia having these exercises, as Nic was mentioning on the border with Ukrainian territory, but inside Ukrainian territory to Russian-backed military groups are also reportedly mobilizing inside Ukrainian territory.
And of course, these Russian-backed military groups alongside whom, or integrated with whom, are Russian regular and special forces soldiers, that has been the case since day one of the Russian incursion here. Remember that the east of the country is already under Russian dominated rebel groups. The Russians have illegally annexed Crimea and Ukrainians think or fear, that more territory in Ukraine maybe grabbed or try to be grabbed by the Russians.
Now they are much stronger military force, much more potent now, some 200,000 at least troops capable of mobilization in Ukraine. A very large amount of American military aid, British military aid in training Canadians and others involved in reinforcing the capacity of the Ukrainians.
Those NATO troops are ever likely to be deployed here. But that doesn't mean that NATO can't give a great deal of help to the Ukrainians, and signal that to the Russians. That if there is going to be some kind of incursion, further incursion by Russian here it will be a bloody consequence on the ground.
Of course, the other message that the Ukrainians are encouraging their partners in Europe who are getting much closer to the Ukrainians on this is to continue to threaten those massive sanctions in the American terms against the Russians if there is any kind of further violation of Ukrainian territorial integrity.
CHURCH: All right. Sam Kiley, Nic Robertson, many thanks to you both. I appreciate it.
We are tracking the latest twist in the visa controversy involving world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic. In a social media statement, Djokovic now admits a mistake was made on his travel declaration to enter Australia, saying his agent apologizes for checking the wrong box.
Djokovic also looked to clarify what he called misinformation about his activities last month ahead of a positive COVID-19 test result. He still hopes to compete in the Australian Open which begins Monday but Australia's immigration minister is still considering whether to cancel the Serbian tennis star's visa and remove him from the country.
Joining me now to hope cover all the angles is CNN world sport's Patrick Snell, and Ben Rothenberg, senior editor for Racquet magazine and the host of the No Challenges Remaining podcast. Good to see you both.
So, Patrick, let's start with you. Djokovic tried to clarify two very important issues. he says his agent was the one who made that mistake on his travel declaration. And he also wanted to clarify the timeline surrounding his positive COVID test results. So, what all did he say and how convincing was he?
PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Hi, Rosemary. Good to see you. So many questions. So many answers we still seek. Now, you know, we wanted to hear from Novak Djokovic and we have but it just leaves us one thing to know more, doesn't it?
Let's try and breakdown much of what he said in that lengthy statement on this day. Let's look at the travel issue first there you mentioned. Just for context here, even though Djokovic, a 20-time Grand Slam champ, remember the reigning Australian Open champ and 9th time was he the Open champion, he said he had not traveled in the 40 days prior to his arrival down in Australia, photos taken during that period do indeed appear to show him in Spain and his homeland Serbia.
So, what did the tennis superstar after saying in response? Well, this party from the statement earlier. 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 travel before coming to Australia. This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. We are living in a challenging time in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur."
Djokovic there on the topic of travel in a documentation. Let's get to his COVID-19 positive test in December just gone. Djokovic admitting in that statement, basically but denying, denying he have the virus when attending public events. Denied knowing he had the virus when attending public events. Saying he attended a basketball game in Belgrade. This was on December the 14th where many people tested positive afterwards.
He showed no symptoms but got tested on December the 16th. Now on December the 17th before he received the official results of his test, he took a rapid test that came out negative, and attended a youth tennis award ceremony and it was only after that that he received the official positive result. That according to his statement, Rosemary, and that highly significant indeed.
CHURCH: Yes. And Patrick, Djokovic also talks about a media interview and photo shoot that he did on December 18th after he tested positive. Which he admits was an error in judgment. So, why did he go ahead with that interview?
SNELL: Yes, that's the question. As you said, after he tested positive. We want answers to that, as well. I'm sure when we get the first opportunity that's something that's going to be put to him. Look, that date, December the 18th really, really significant indeed. That's when he says that his tennis center in Belgrade, he conducted an interview and a photo shoot.
This was the France publican L'Equipe saying he canceled other events except for that one. Why? He says he did not want to let the journalist down. Djokovic saying, he was socially distanced and he did wear a mask except for when his photo was being taken.
But in a statement, this is what he says. When I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgment and I accept that they should have rescheduled this commitment. They are the words of Novak Djokovic. But that is one big talker, isn't it? That is one that we all want to know. Why? Why? More answers. More questions, more answers. We're waiting.
CHURCH: Yes. Maybe we'll get some more answers very soon. And I want to go to Ben now in Melbourne. Ben, Australia's immigration minister are still considering all of this? What -- what might he do next when he goes through all this new information? How likely is it that he'll accept these clarifications on two important issues that could determine if Djokovic gets thrown out of the country?
BEN ROTHENBERG, SENIOR EDITOR, THE RACQUET: Yes, we know Djokovic has and his attorneys have given the minister of immigration more documents probably related to some of the things in his statements and more disclosures, and there's more information for him to review, Alex Hawke, the immigration minister before he makes his ultimate
But he's also going to take into account what we're not really talking as much here, is that Djokovic showed up in the country unvaccinated and with an exception. And that was already very much anathema to his approach to the -- sorry, to Australia's approach to the pandemic.
It's not so much about this sort of minor error he made, you know, checking the wrong box about his recent travel, but he came here already looking for exceptions, already looking for what Australians will consider a way around the rules that (Inaudible) as following. And that's going to be something that's held against him.
It's not his arrival here, politically cause a great deal of outrage and frustration and resentment from the Australian public. And everything he does will now be scrutinized with that sort of prejudice in mind is probably fair to say.
CHURCH: Is there any idea when the immigration minister will come back with a decision on this and what is the overall reaction there in Australia to Djokovic's clarifications, and how much has the support fall in a way or possibly increase since his arrival in the country?
ROTHENBERG: Yes. So, we don't know the timeline really from Alex Hawke. We do that his office was saying that they received more documents, and so he is taking more time to review that and it might send him back compared to if he hadn't received any submissions to the case file for this as it speaks.
You know, Djokovic did not get much support at all when he announced he's coming with an exemption permission to the sympathy. He got some sympathy on a human level for sure when he was detained and held at that immigration detention center in Melbourne alongside many refugees seeking asylum. That was a sympathetic moment for him in the story.
But now that he's back on court practicing preparing to play at tennis tournament while still more things are coming up about his public health disregard. I think people say here by, you know, by conducting public appearances and interviews while knowingly COVID positive. I'm guessing whatever the pendulum shift of sympathy and maybe some pity came towards him during that time of detention is probably swinging right back just as fast as one of his serves.
CHURCH: Yes. Many suggesting he's getting preferential treatment with all of that, too. Patrick Snell, Ben Rothenberg, many thanks to both of you for bringing us up to date on the situation.
Well now to some alarming news from the World Health Organization, global health cases were up 55 percent in the first week of 2022 compared to the week before. A new data shows Europe saw more than seven million new cases in the first week of January. Germany just reported more than 80,000 new cases, its highest daily case count.
And this follows record cases in France and Italy on Tuesday with nearly 370,000 new cases in France and more than 220,000 cases in Italy. The WHO's Europe chief says the omicron variant is sweeping across the region from west to east like a tidal wave, he is warning that more than half of Europe could catch the virus in the next two months.
Well CNN's Jim Bittermann is live from Paris. He joins us now. And Jim, that's a pretty grim warning for Europe from the World Health Organization. What was said in completion there and what's been the reaction?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I would say as far as the reaction is concerned, Rosemary, it basically reaffirms what officials are seeing here on the ground like you mentioned. The fact the number of cases, for example, in France 368,000 in 24 hours. And the health minister was on French radio this morning, saying in fact, it's probably is closer to 500,000 infections that are taking in place each day.
And if you do the math, 500,000 or half a million infections a day over the next few days it doesn't take too much time to reach that idea that half of Europe is going to be infected within in the next six to eight weeks.
So, it's really coming as no surprise for those people on the ground but it is also just a very, very dire warning. We are seeing records all over the place. France, Germany and Italy, for example, in terms of number of cases. Poland just drawing a very grim club the other day.
In fact, they have now had over 100,000 deaths. That join -- they joined the U.K. and Germany and France in registering over 100,000 deaths from COVID. So, the situation is not getting very much better. Except that we are hearing that from some people like the French -- the French health minister who said the peak is still ahead of us but we are going to get there.
So, I think that, you know, there is some optimism at least that it could be coming to ahead. But we are not there yet. And certainly, what the WHO official said has put fear into a lot of people's mind here. Rosemary? CHURCH: And it is all about getting people vaccinated. Just a few days back, the French president had said, he's basically going after the unvaccinated. What is the latest on that effort?
BITTERMANN: Well, that's -- that is something that they're trying to do here is to convert this health pass that they've had for now some months to a vaccination pass. Basically, making it virtually impossible for people to take part in public events without having vaccination or vaccination records.
And they're putting that bill through the parliament, it's in the Senate now. There was an overnight meeting in the Senate. It looks like it's going to pass the Senate. And I think that at point then, perhaps as early as Monday, the government is going to be able to put in place this idea that if you want to take part in any kind of public activities, you've got to have proof of your vaccination record.
Some countries are already doing that, for instance, Italy as the green pass that in fact virtually does about the same. So, it's something that's coming. And one of the reasons that it's coming is it's stalled out by the WHO spokesman yesterday.
And that he said that the cases that we are seeing are less severe, there is not as many hospitalizations among those people who are vaccinated. And so, as a consequence, vaccination is the key to keeping people out of hospitals which are overloaded, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yes, that is critical. And of course, all the vaccinated people of the world are getting pretty frustrated with those refusing to take their shots when they have them available.
Jim Bittermann, joining us live from Paris, many thanks.
Well, there are new calls for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to step down. And they're not just coming from the opposition party. We are live in London with a party gate update. That's next.
CHURCH (on camera): Welcome back, everyone. Well, a new poll finds two-thirds of British adults think that Boris Johnson should resign. The prime minister is under fire once again over parties in Downing Street, while the rest of the country 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. Opposition Labour Party leaders say it's time for Mr. Johnson to stop lying to the public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA RAYNER, DEPUTY LEADER, LABOUR PARTY: That day, the House heard from the prime minister himself that 181 NHS workers and 131 social care staff had died. It won't watch, Mr. Speaker to blame it on a few junior civil servants. The prime minister sets the tone.
RAYNER: If the prime minister was there, surely, he knew.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): So, let's bring in CNN's Salma Abdelaziz, she joins us live from London. Great to see you, Salma. So, a new poll showing Prime Minister Boris Johnson could be in trouble. What's the latest on all of this?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: I mean, this is a scandal that has been growing for weeks now, Rosemary. First it was Christmas parties, then there was garden party. Now there's a bring your own booze party. You can imagine this dizzying array of allegation has the public here absolutely outrage.
And what this poll shows, and yes, it is a snap poll so it was taken a short period of time immediately after this news broke, just about 1,000 adults but it shows that 66 percent of them, about two-thirds of these adults want to see the prime minister resigning.
Here is the key part that stood out to me, Rosemary. That's a 12-point increase from a poll that was taken just a few weeks ago when the first party scandal broke out, when that first allegation of Christmas parties at Downing Street happened.
So, reading between the lines here, the anger is growing, Rosemary. And that's exactly what Prime Minister Boris Johnson is going to face in parliament today. That outrage from other M.P.s. Regular scheduled P.M. cues he will be asked about this latest party for sure, and it's not just going to be about what the opposition says.
I know you mentioned there the call by the opposition who have at times, taken a very strong stance. At one point, the opposition Labour leader essentially said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was a threat to the public health crisis. That he had lost the moral authority to lead the country to the pandemic. But he's also going to face some anger from his own party.
Remember, Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced one of the biggest tory rebellions, biggest opposition from his own party, from his own lawmakers just last year. So, you are looking at the prime minister right now whose authority, his stance, his power, his ability to hold the seat appears to be crumbling. There are cracks in the system.
So, what are we going to look for in parliament state? Well, you're going have to see Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to answer those questions. So far, he's refused to comment as to whether or not he's at this bring your own booze party in the summer of 2020. He stuck to the line that there is an investigation that's ongoing. But we'll see if that flies, Rosemary?
CHURCH: Yes, we will. Salma Abdelaziz joining us live from London. Many thanks. Well, joining me now from Los Angeles, CNN European affairs
commentator Dominic Thomas. Always great to have you with us.
DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Thank you, Rosemary.
CHURCH: So, Dominic, a new poll shows that most Brits want Boris Johnson to resign over his Downing Street parties while the rest of the U.K. was in lockdown. So how bad could this be for the prime minister? Do you think he can survive the onslaught of this?
THOMAS: Well, I think the answer is unequivocally that his level of vulnerability has reached new heights. And the interesting thing about the situation is that within the conservative party, the level of sort of gratefulness to Boris Johnson for not only delivering Brexit but a massive majority for his party cannot be underestimated.
And with this majority, they are able to legislate, they're able to drive an agenda and so on. And so as much as they are concerned about the sort of the dwindling poll numbers, the fact remains that he essentially serves at the pleasure of the conservative party. Any leadership change would be their decision.
And I think it's unclear that there's actually anybody in the conservative party right now who would actually really want his position, or be able arguably to take the party along the kind of road with the success that Boris Johnson has had. And I think it's that kind of dilemma that's playing out right now.
CHURCH: And Dominic, as we mentioned an investigation is currently underway into what now is being called Boris's party gate scandal. How extensive does this need to be and how extensive will it likely be?
THOMAS: Well, I think that no matter what the investigation does and no matter what or how they -- whatever they conclude. The fact is that this is playing out in the public square. That the government, not only has as far as the British people are concerned, you know, essentially mishandle the response to the COVID pandemic. The U.K. has over 150,000 people that have passed away. More than any of the E.U. 27 neighbors.
People made tremendous sacrifices in response to government rules and regulations. Which have continued to embroil the government in a whole set of scandals. And as much as Boris Johnson may hold the confidence of the conservative party leadership, the big question is, as this continues, as he refuses to speak out in public and to admit to his knowledge of these parties and presence of these parties, it is unlikely that he will continue to maintain the confidence of the British people. And that then, of course, will play out politically for him.
CHURCH: And of course, he clearly has some enemies, doesn't he? What is going on with all these leaked e-mails and videos of Boris Johnson and his advisors ignoring their own lockdown advice. And presumably, who keeps seeing and hearing all of these leaks going forward?
THOMAS: Well, yes, absolutely. I think that within the conservative party, as we saw during the Theresa May era there are different factions. And yes, the party came together around Brexit, and yes, they were able to secure a substantial majority.
But as a party that's gone through a succession of leadership challenges and leadership elections, I think that the M.P.'s are concerned about their constituents. They are concerned about important local elections coming up in May of this year.
And even though the next general election is not until, at least is in schedule until May of 2024. I think that there is increasing concerns with the ways in which Boris Johnson is damaging the party. And I think that when there is smoke, there's fire. And that conversations are being had about whether or not Boris Johnson will be able to stay on.
And I think it's very unlikely that this particular prime minister will still be in place by the time we get of course to the elections in 2024. The big question is, whether or not along the way, a leadership change is going to get come about sooner rather than later.
CHURCH: Interesting, and of course we saw that lawmaker breakdown in parliament while pointing out the apparent double standard while everyone was locking down everybody is partying at 10 Downing Street.
So, many people have been impacted by this. They have lost friends and family members. And yet, the prime minister appears unaffected. What's the back story to his apparent disconnect?
THOMAS: Yes. Well, I think you're absolutely right. There's a disconnect. The word that keeps coming to mine, for me, is really a kind of a sense of entitlement. You have a sense here that this cabinet, this very elite cabinet is completely detached with the -- from the reality of the way in which this is played out for so many people that they represent. The professional impact, the personal impact, the terrible family tragedies and stories that have shaped this particular pandemic.
And throughout, this government has essentially, through its actions not only provided inconsistent messaging, but ultimately undermined the effort to recover from this pandemic through the example that it is systematic. And COVID fatigue is there. The frustration is there.
And I think that there is just a broader political frustration with the way and the direction in which the country is going. And with the opposition with the hope that greater coordination across the line will take place. And that some transition will occur.
But the level of frustration is elevated. And Boris Johnson is going to have to address this sooner, rather than later. If he has any attempt, any opportunity to survive and without doing further damage to the conservative party.
CHURCH: Yes, we'll continue to watch. So far, he's avoiding all of this. So, Dominic Thomas, joining us here, many thanks. I appreciate it.
THOMAS: Thank you.
CHURCH (on camera): Israel's Prime Minister says the country is seeing a quote, "tsunami of COVID infections." The government is taking new steps to fight the Omicron variant. Will that include another lockdown? We will have a live report from Jerusalem straight ahead.
Plus, we'll hear how medical experts are reacting to a new record of hospital admissions for COVID in the U.S. You're watching "CNN Newsroom."
CHURCH: Israel's Prime Minister says the country will not go into lockdown, despite what he calls a tsunami of cases. Infections had soared in recent days largely due to the Omicron variant. And this shows the seven day average. And one Israeli health expert tells CNN, it might just be the tip of the iceberg since this figures don't include everyone taking at home tests.
CNN's Hadas Gold joins me now live from Jerusalem. So, Hadas, no lockdowns for Israel despite this surge in cases. What is the latest on all of this?
HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER (on camera): Yeah, Rosemary, people are reporting waiting in line for hours just for rapid antigen tests not even PCR tests. And like we are seeing elsewhere in the world, cases in Israel are absolutely surging to levels that Israel had just not seen before even from the beginning of the pandemic.
I just checked the data and yesterday, Israel recorded more than 43,000 cases in one day. But as you noted, experts actually think that those numbers were not the real number of positive cases is actually likely higher. And that is because Israel has not only change the requirements of who can get a PCR tests but also because those numbers don't include all of the at home tests that people are getting, but are also flying off the shelves. People are waiting for hours to get this at home test as well.
Despite this tsunami of new cases, the Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a press conference yesterday and he said that he will not lockdown the country because simply a lockdown just won't work in the face of Omicron in the face of these rising cases.
But critics are saying that Israel is essentially going to be headed sort of a lockdown anyway. Because there are some experts who are estimating something like 30 percent of the workforce will be in quarantine at some point because of positive cases. Either themselves or people in their homes. And that could shut down businesses let alone of course what that could do to the health care system. At the press conference, Bennett said there are three guiding
principles that are guiding the government right now in the face of Omicron. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI EDUCATION MINISTER: So Israel is following three guiding principles to keep our guy economy open. To protect the most vulnerable folks in the society and elders and to take care of our children that many of them are vulnerable. And as a father for I know just how hard this can be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD: So Bennett announced essentially three things that the governments are doing. One is that people who are in quarantine who are working will receive compensation for the days they've missed. Second, the government will he said, hermetically seal nursing homes, retirement homes and ramp up the administration of a fourth COVID booster to the elderly population that they think is the most vulnerable.
Also all school children will receive three free at home tests that anybody in the family can use. This is to try to combat those very long lines. Their parents who are even worried about taking their kids to wait in those lines to be tested because they are worried of catching COVID just in the line to wait to be tested.
Additionally they are shortening the quarantine from 10 days to seven days especially for people of not had symptoms for the last three days. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Alright. Everyone struggling to find ways to get out of this. Hadas Gold, many thanks, joining us there live.
Well, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S. Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning that the Omicron variant will find just about everyone eventually. And many people will be infected. U.S. hospital admissions from COVID had hit a new record high, nearly 146,000 and the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says, no one is being spared.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIVISION, MASS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Hospitalization rates for people infected with Omicron are lower compared with prior variants. Despite the potential decrease in severity the substantial number of absolute cases is resulting in hospitalization increases across all age groups including children ages zero to four.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Dr. Fauci hit back at misinformation from two Republican Senators on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Calling Kansas Republican, Roger Marshall a moron. And he accused Kentucky's Rand Paul of attacking him for political gain and profit. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): So you're desire to take down people --
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: You are incorrect as usual Senator. You're incorrect in almost everything that you said.
PAUL: Well, no, you deny. You deny but the email tell the truth of this.
FAUCI: No. I asked myself, why would the Senator want to do this? So go to Rand Paul website and you'll see fire Dr. Fauci with a little box that says contribute here. You can do $5, $10, $20, $100. So you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Quebec Canada is getting fed up with the unvaccinated and warning that if they choose to remain a risk to society they are going to pay. Quite literally. The province announced Tuesday that unless unvaccinated people have a medical exemption they will be hit with a significant fine in the coming weeks, because they are putting a huge burden on the public health care system.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCOIS LEGAULT, QUEBEC PREMIER: In fairness for the 90 percent of the population who made some sacrifices, I think we hold them this kind of measure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: The government says that nearly 90 percent of eligible Quebecers have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. And last week, Quebec announced that only the vaccinated are allowed to buy alcohol and cannabis. The health minister says vaccine appointment spiked as a result of that requirement.
Joining me now from Hawaii, Dr. Scott Miscovich, president and CEO of Premier Medical Group USA and a national consultant for COVID-19 testing. Thank you, doctor for all that you do and for talking with us.
SCOTT MISCOVICH, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF PREMIER MEDICAL GROUP USA (on camera): Hi, Rosemary.
CHURCH: So, we are seeing various parts of the world try different ways to convince the unvaccinated to get their shot. Quebec, we just heard imposing a fine on the unvaccinated. Europe using a COVID pass to shut them out of public places. And some companies refusing to pay the time off to isolate if employees won't get their shots. Now is this what we need to see, incentives to vaccinate rather than the very unpopular mandates?
MISCOVICH: Well, there are studies that are being done to try evaluate what was working. I mean, let's throw out the other thing that we saw lotteries. People having chance to, you know, be millionaires. Well, those didn't work. The data was very clear.
Now like for example in the United States, I think what they're saying in Quebec, think about it if you're a smoker, you have to pay a higher health premium. Why? Because your risk is higher.
I don't think any of us would challenge the fact that if you're going to be unvaccinated that you should have to pay a higher healthcare premium and where you have public health like they do in Canada. I would concur with that. It's just fair that we all should not be paying the bills for these amazing health care costs that happen with these people.
And the other thing we've seen is across Europe for example when in France they said you couldn't go into a cafe, the numbers soared in the couple of days. So, I think we are down to those things being the next step.
CHURCH: How likely is it though that certainly health insurance companies here in the U.S., it's a very complicated system it's very decentralized, could that work if various insurance company said, well, if you're not vaccinated we're only going to pay a very small portion of your hospital costs?
MISCOVICH: Yeah. Once again, also this is still going to have to come from a push from the federal government. And as we see right now, the federal government every single decision they make lands in court and then that gets struck out. So that's what we're seeing right now. Most of this is being handled through the judicial system.
And is it going to work? I think it could work ultimately, because there is a strong basis in history to talk about higher risk. And you know, we all know like, if you try to buy insurance for life insurance, if you have risk you pay more. Those things will possibly translate over to those things. So, I do think it will help but nothing's going to help overnight.
CHURCH: No. Exactly right. And we've seen that haven't we, now in 2022. So the World Health Organization, doctor, is projecting that more than half of Europe's population will get COVID in the next two months, specifically the Omicron variant. And top medical experts here in the United States, including Dr. Anthony Fauci say most people will end up getting infected. So, what will be the likely consequences of mass infection like that?
MISCOVICH: There is a lot of concern for most of us where we're just having people almost now starting to transition and say, well, I might as well catch it like the olden days of chicken pox. Let's let everybody catch it. The problem that I really have is we now know very well that there is long haul COVID. And that was affecting 40 percent of everybody, you know, Delta and the prior variants.
What if we are causing still even if it's 20 percent of the individuals get long term symptoms. Look at what we experience right now across United States and world. No one's been able to work. Everybody is sick. Everybody is wiped out. What if they get further disabled for months and months? What will that mean to the world of the recovery and the health care systems?
The second issue, for example, one of the things that doesn't get enough publications is a study we have come out, it's almost a 40 month evaluation is that there's 150 percent increase in diabetes in children under the age of 18 who had contracted COVID compared to a normal age group.
This is a systemic disease. We don't know the long term consequences. So to just rushed in and say, oh, it's OK to get infected? There's such an unknown that we really need to be careful.
CHURCH: Dr. Scott Miscovich, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
MISCOVICH: Thank you, Rosemary.
CHURCH: And just ahead here on CNN, not enough food not enough health care. And a growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. How the U.N. hopes to help those in crisis. That's next.
CHURCH: Well, the Russian led forces in Kazakhstan are expected to begin leaving the country in the coming days. The troops arrived at the Kazakhstan president's request during last week's violent unrest. But now he says their job is done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV, KAZAKH PRESIDENT (through translator): The situation in all regions is stable. Thereby I have to say that the main mission of this CSTO Peacekeeping Forces has been successfully completed. The withdrawal process of the contingent will take no more than 10 days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: The president has appointed a new government and is acknowledging anger over incoming equality. He is calling on associate of the former president to share their wealth. We get more now from CNN's Fred Pleitgen.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Kazakhstan's leadership appears to be trying to show that it's getting the situation in the country under control but at the same time also continuing their crackdown on the people who participated in the protests that shook that country. Now the president of Kazakhstan, Tokayev, he had his pick for new Prime Minister approve by Kazakhstan's parliament on Tuesday at the same time the authority there also announced that the number of people detained in the wake of those protests have once again risen sharply.
The authority is now saying that nearly 10,000 people have been detained and that number has been continuously steeply rising over the past couple of days. The authorities are also saying that more than 160 people were killed in those protests and the vast majority of those more than 100 people in one town and that is the town of Almaty.
That, of course, is also the place where we saw some of the worst violence as those protests were taking place with rioters in the street going into government buildings. But at the same time also, Kazakhstan's security forces on the ground there as well sweeping those areas and in some places apparently opening fire as well.
Meanwhile, the Kazakhstani government is saying that those international forces that they have called in, of course, led by Russian forces that their mission has been complete and that their withdrawal will start in two days. However that withdrawal is going to take at least 10 days to complete if things go according to plan.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, at the (inaudible), Kazakhstan border.
CHURCH: North Korea claims it has successfully tested another hypersonic missile with leader Kim Jong-un on hand to watch. This is the third time the regime has claimed to fire such a missile. And the second time in just the past week.
The United States and key allies all condemned the launch and even though it was not deemed a threat to the U.S. an unusual ground stop took effect. At some West Coast airports, apparently out of an abundance of caution according to the Federal Aviation Administration, flights were only grounded for a little while with operations resuming after about 15 minutes.
Well, now to be growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The U.N. is asking donors for nearly $4.5 billion in emergency aid for Afghanistan this year. It is the biggest appeal ever for a single country. Officials say the situation is extremely dire following conflict, drought and financial chaos in the wake of the Taliban takeover. The very basics like food and medicine are 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 and absolutely essential stopgap measure that we are putting in the 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 be outflow, they will be suffering. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And CNN's Arwa Damon has more now on the humanitarian crisis and desperate appeals for more aid to Afghanistan
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): 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 live below the poverty line. It had just emerged from the worst drought in the last three decades. Heavily hitting its agriculture 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 effect of 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 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.
CHURCH: And for more information on how you can help, just head to our website at CNN.com/impactyourworld.
There is a new tool to help fight COVID and the Omicron variant. We will meet the K-9 COVID patrol, next.
CHURCH: One elementary school in Massachusetts is getting a boost in the battle against COVID-19. Gary Tuchman reports on some four legged friends sniffing out the virus to prevent it spread.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is Hunter, she is a black lab. She is 14 months old. And she is a warrior in the fight against COVID. Hunter received training to recognize the scent of the coronavirus. If she smells it she will give a signal and then get a toy. Nothing found in this second grade gym class at the L.G. Norton Elementary School in Norton Massachusetts. So she goes on to play with some of the children. But then Hunters (inaudible) into the school library.
UNKNOWN: Good girl.
TUCHMAN: And while first graders have music class on the other side of the library, Hunter abruptly sits down. A signal that --
UNKNOWN: We do have some odor, presence of COVID odor on this bookshelf. She just on, she actually just sat. Good girl. So what I'll do is I'll praise her good girl, let her wait it out a little bit. Kind a dial it in, try to narrow it down.
TUCHMAN: We know COVID-19 primarily spreads through the air, and Hunter is searching there too.
UNKNOWN: An odor is almost like a cone, if you picture a cone, the source of the odor is strong at the base, like it was on the bookshelf. And then the odor goes out into like cones.
TUCHMAN: This is Duke, he is Hunter's partner in the canine COVID control. This is the school's cafeteria. He stops abruptly and sits too.
UNKNOWN: He just found something.
TUCHMAN: And then two minutes later --
What did he find here?
UNKNOWN: Same thing.
TUCHMAN: So what happens after Duke and Hunter make their discoveries?
JOHN BAETA, NORTON PUBLIC SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: We notify parents in terms of that we have information of a student specific in that seat. We want parents to have that right to make a decision about do they want to test this student, do they want to pull the student? Or just keep an eye out for symptoms.
TUCHMAN: In addition, after the detector dog makes a hit -- the areas are disinfected.
And now regular visits of these dogs to Bristol County schools, police stations and city halls and other locations is a result of research done in Florida International University. Kenneth Furton is the Provost there and a scholar in forensic chemistry.
KENNETH FURTON, PROVOST/ SCHOLAR IN FORENSIC CHEMISTRY: Normally you can train dogs to above 90 percent accuracy. And when we train these COVID-19 dogs we did double blind studies and we published them in the journal. We actually received the 97.5 percent average of accuracy in double blind trials.
TUCHMAN: However there is acknowledgment that things like density of the space or unmotivated dog can make accurate canine COVID hits harder to come by. The research is promising. But it's still early.
Are you concerned that parents here and other people here will say, we don't need to mask up all the time. We don't need vaccines. We don't need the test. We have the dogs.
THOMAS HODGSON, BRISTOL COUNTY MASSACHUSETTS: This is not to replace what CDC are telling people in the community about what to do. That is a whole part of the science for preventative measures. So this is a way for us to enhance that in a very direct way and be proactive. To prevent more people from getting sick, that they should continue to do what's CDC is recommending.
TUCHMAN: So basically the training is that the dogs sniff mask that had been positive for COVID-19.
TUCHMAN: And that's how they got their training.
TUCHMAN: If I take off my mask, Hunter can tell me if I have COVID.
TUCHMAN: OK, let me take it off. I'm going to put this other one on in the meantime.
All right, Hunter. I'm going to put it right here.
UNKNOWN: Yeah, no problem.
TUCHMAN: All right and the fact that Hunter has not sat down means I'm negative.
Which I knew when the day started. Alright, Hunter.
Like many schools, the numbers of students and staff out with COVID are high. The hope here is that conditions can be made safer with the help of these four legged warriors.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Norton Massachusetts.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: Great story there, thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary
Church. Enjoy your day. "CNN Newsroom" continues now with Isa Soares.