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Tonga Speaker of The House Says Country Need Immediate Help with Drinking Water and Food; Australia Reports Deadliest Day of The Pandemic; North Korea Conducts Its Fourth Missile Test of 2022. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired January 18, 2022 - 01:00   ET




ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. Live from Hong Kong. I'm Anna Coren and this is CNN Newsroom.

Coming up an island nation even more isolated. The world is struggling to understand how much does the station has been caused by the massive volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga.

Plus, the latest on the international investigation into the man who attacked a Texas synagogue. Hear from the rabbi who protected he's worshippers. And it's not a bird sort of plane and it's certainly not coming to save us. An asteroid twice the size of the world's tallest building is just hours away from passing near earth.

Tonga is in urgent need of help after a monstrous volcanic eruption and tsunami devastated the island country. Tonga's Speaker of the House posted on social media saying they need immediate help getting drinking water and food to the people. Well, there is much we still don't know about the full impact of the disaster, as Tonga remains largely cut off from much of the world.

Well, this was the scene on Friday after the first eruption before Saturday's more powerful blast. New Zealand officials say the disaster has caused significant damage to Tonga's main island covering it in a thick layer of ash. A British national killed by the tsunami is among the victims.

The family of Angela Glover says she tried to rescue their dogs when she was swept away. All countries in the region are working with Tonga to get them help. The ship from New Zealand's Navy said earlier with personnel equipment and supplies ready to assist. Well, CNN Meteorologist Tom Sater has more on the international recovery efforts.


TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: First, look at the damage, surveillance planes from Australia and New Zealand take to the skies to try to assess just how bad the damage is in Tonga after an underwater volcano erupted over the weekend, triggering the tsunami warnings throughout the Pacific with some waves reaching as far as Peru and the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know water is an immediate need.

SATER: Countries like New Zealand, Australia and China say they are standing by to send aid, but the scale of the devastation in Tonga is still unknown. Scientists say Saturday's eruption could be the worst volcanic eruption the Pacific has experienced in decades. Just today before, the volcano belted out an anonymous warning of what was to come, shooting ash and smoke some 20 kilometers in the air. But it was the ferocity of the next day's eruption that unleashed waves of water around the world.

In Tonga, the swells at time reach heights of more than a meter high. No mass casualties have been reported so far. One British woman is reported dead. But the full impact of the volcanic blast is yet to be seen. Since the country has been largely cut off from the outside world. The government says phone networks are working again. But international communication is limited because of damage to an undersea cable, which could take more than a week to repair. That's making it hard for some eight agencies to plan their next move.

ALEXANDER MATHEOU, ASIA PACIFIC DIRECTOR, IFRC: We roughly thinking up to 80,000 people could be affected. But how many of them are seriously affected? We don't know.

SATER: Over the weekend, large waves also hit the coast of Fiji, some 800 kilometers away. Tsunami warnings and advisories were issued in parts of New Zealand, Japan, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S. Coastal cities in Peru are inundated with knee deep water, trapping people on the streets. Police say two people died due to the abnormally high waves. A force of nature felt for 1000s of kilometers. Officials say they hope they'll soon get a better picture of what happened in Tonga, where not even the volcanic island itself was spared. Satellite imagery shows it has now largely sunk into the sea. Tom Sater, CNN.


COREN: Well, CNN's Blake Essig joins us now live from Tokyo with the very latest. And Blake we know that outside help assistance is yet to get to Tonga. But do we know when a group's agencies might arrive on the archipelago?

[01:05:00] BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anna, it's going to be a few days before those Royal Navy ships from New Zealand make it to Tonga in that at this point is likely the first outside aid that we'll be able to arrive. So far, it's been three days since this underwater volcano erupted off the coast of Tonga. As we mentioned, we know at least one person is dead another person is missing. But the reality is, we really still don't know the extent of the devastation, especially for those outlying islands, close to the eruption site. And again, that's because the communication lines throughout Tonga have been damaged in the mass of ash cloud initially postponed reconnaissance flights, but on Monday, some good news, the New Zealand's government was able to carry out a surveillance of the impacted islands and reported significant damage along the western coast of Tonga's main island. So at least you start to have an idea of what happened, you know, following that eruption in tsunami, but because of continued ash fall on a runway that currently isn't usable because of ash, New Zealand has sent those to Royal Navy ships to assist with the recovery. As I said, it's likely going to take about three days before they arrive.

Now, experts say Saturday's eruption of this underwater volcanoes likely the biggest recorded anywhere on the planet more than 30 years.

Here's what it looked like from space. Looking down you can see this massive plume of ash that reached about 20 kilometers into the air in the shockwaves generated from the eruption which sent tsunami waves racing across the Pacific Tsunami waves reached as far as Japan, the United States and South America. In Tonga, aid groups say that saved the children says that the tsunami waves reached as high as two meters and damaged about 100 homes although the volcano had been erupting since last year, a creating moderate ashfall. Katie Greenwood of the International Red Cross says the blast on Saturday took people in Tonga by surprise.


KATIE GREENWOOD, PACIFIC HEAD OF DELEGATION, IFRC: This eruption on Saturday afternoon that triggered the tsunami warning was much larger than anybody had factored in. It really is hampering some of the relief efforts. It's quite a dangerous prospect to go out and do those further afield assessment.


ESSIG: Now, what cut off Greenwood says, aid workers in Tonga do have relief items to help provide initial support to those in need, with the primary focus right now on the potential water emergency caused by falling ash. To that point, check out these before and after images looking down on Tonga's main island everything is seemingly covered in ash. For those not familiar, Tonga is made up of more than 170 islands in his home to about 100,000 people. This remote island chain is located in the South Pacific about 800 kilometers east of Fiji and nearly 2400 kilometers from New Zealand, again, three days before help will arrive assuming that the ash fall continues to be a problem.

COREN: Yeah, I'm sure it will. Like I say, we appreciate the report. Thank you so much.

We'll have much more on the tsunami in Tonga later this hour. We'll hear from a Red Cross representative about what the people of Tonga need most right now and the challenges of getting it there.

Officials in parts of Europe are pushing for more restrictions and more vaccinations as the Omicron variant fuels a surge in COVID cases. Among the countries France which reported its largest one day jumping COVID related hospitalizations in more than a year. Police in Paris are now requiring masks to be worn outside in crowded areas. That includes markets, rallies are in groups of 10 or more people in public. The move comes just days after a court rule to remove the city-wide mask mandate outdoors.

Meantime, in Israel early data suggests a fourth COVID vaccine dose can boost antibodies, but it may not be enough to protect against possible breakthrough infections caused by the Omicron variant.

A new Omicron outbreak has resulted in the deadliest day of the pandemic in Australia at least 74 COVID related deaths were reported on Monday breaking the previous daily record set last week. CNN's Phil Black joins us now from Melbourne with much more. And Phil I think it's fair to say that the country has dramatically changed tack in the past few months. We know that it's gone from fortress Australia last year for the last really two years to allowing, you know, COVID to just rip through the community but it's come at a price. Tell us more.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Anna. The Australians have never experienced anything like this before. This sort of pandemic wave. It is a new experience for them because up until now, outbreaks infections, relatively recently outbreaks infections were controlled through closing borders and long painful lockdowns. But, late last year, things started to open up as expected rates rose to 80, 90% and beyond but that was around the time that the Omicron variant arrived.


And so, since then, we have seen explosive growth from fewer than 2000 cases a day in early December to more than 100,000 cases a day in early January. There's great pressure on the health system that's really increasing, and deaths are increasing too like today's record of 74. And yet, through this government, state and federal, have committed to double down on the idea of staying open, insisting that vaccination rates, a booster campaign, some soft touch guidance on safe behavior, that that should all be enough to live with the virus.

Now, the Australian Government isn't the first to adopt living with the virus as its mantra. But there are critics here as with other countries that are trying this around the world, and they generally believe that this is an experiment, a risky gamble. But the theory is built on the idea that cases will rise and peak and begin to decline before the health system really begins to struggle here.

It is also, of course, a political calculation because the Australian Government knows that there is a Federal Election Campaign due to beginning this country in the coming months. Anna.

COREN: Yeah, and the Prime Minister Scott Morrison has maintained that there is no going back, no lockdown. I guess when you've got a country at 91.5% vaccination rate. He's confident in saying that. Phil Black, good to see. Thank you.

Well, Saudi led coalition launches airstrikes in Yemen after Houthi militants claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Abu Dhabi. More on this developing story next. Plus, a closer look at what North Korea may be trying to achieve with a new round of missile tests.


COREN: Germany's foreign minister is hoping to ease the standoff between Russia and Ukraine at a meeting in Moscow in the coming hours. She met with Ukraine's president on Monday promising Germany would do all it could to guarantee the country's security.

Well, meanwhile, Belarus says it's planning joint military drills with Russia starting next month. Germany's next -- new chancellor, I should say, says everything must be done to avoid a military conflict.


OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translation): It worries us and it is very, very serious. There is no other way to describe it. It is therefore important that we need to demand clear steps from Russia to de-escalate the situation. And this is also clear a military aggression against Ukraine would have serious political as well as economic consequences.


COREN: Ukraine's President also met Monday with a bipartisan group of U.S. senators to discuss tougher sanctions on Russia and more weapons for Ukraine.

A Saudi led coalition launched airstrikes against the Yemeni Capitol on Monday after Houthi militants claimed responsibility for deadly drone attacks in Abu Dhabi. The Houthi is vowing to hit more targets if the UAE doesn't end its involvement in the war in Yemen. CNN's Sam Kiley has more from Abu Dhabi.



SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The United Arab Emirates said that the killing of three civilians here, just outside the Capitol here in Abu Dhabi, and the wounding of eight others in two different attacks in two different parts of the city would not go unpunished. And that seems to be being made good with coalition airstrikes that Saudi led coalition airstrikes being conducted against Houthi targets in the north of Yemen. This follows a double drone attack, at least in these two locations. One in the construction area of the New International Airport in Abu Dhabi, the other in an oil facility to the south of the city, which hit a storage tank caused several tankers, fuel tankers to explode. Three people were killed six others injured there. So total of eight injured three dead in the first serious casualties that the Emiratis have seen, since they got involved in that war in the Yemen on the side of the Saudis, trying to prop up the failing government there.

This is particularly devastating to Emirati international foreign policy, because they have been trying to scale back their belligerent operations in places like Yemen, and Libya and turn rather to rapprochement, particularly with Iran, which has been backing the Houthis. And one of the key questions now will be how much do the Iranians know about these Houthi attacks? Did they supply the weapons? Did they encourage it? Or was this a unilateral decision to attack the Emirates taken by the Houthis. The Houthis blame the Emirates for stepping back in to the war in the Yemen with supporting at least one possibly other militias fighting in the south of that country in particular, which arguably had meant that the pressure had been increased on the Houthis and prevented them from making further battlefield advances which had been the pattern over previous months. Nonetheless, this is also a blow to the Emiratis future foreign policy, which has been to try to get out of these conflicts and step forward into rapprochement with all of its neighbors, friend or former foe. Sam Kiley, CNN in Abu Dhabi.


COREN: North Korea launched two more missiles on Monday fueling growing concern over several recent launches and what their ultimate goal might be. Our Brian Todd reports, there are a number of theories and why Pyongyang is flexing its military muscle now.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the fourth time just this month, North Korea's mercurial young dictator gets aggressive with his missiles. Kim Jong-un's regime saying it fired two tactical guided missiles into the ocean off its east coast on Monday, which Japanese defense officials say were ballistic missiles.

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": With this series of tests, one right after the other, it indicates that Kim thinks that he can push the international community around.

PATRICK CRONIN, THE HUDSON INSTITUTE: As military programs have progressed, he's ready to test a couple of new systems. One of them is a hypersonic system with ultra-fast maneuverable warheads. Secondly, he's got a rail-based system that he wants to deploy as well.

TODD: This does come on the heels of North Korea's test firings of two ballistic missiles from a railcar on Friday, and what the regime claims were two different tests of hypersonic missiles earlier in January. The hypersonic tests are especially concerning to U.S. officials and weapons experts. In one of those recent tests, which state media said Kim Jong-un viewed in person, South Korean officials said the missile reached a velocity of more than 10 times the speed of sound. They're also worrisome analysts say because hypersonics can change maneuvers easily in flight, making them harder for U.S. defenses to shoot down.

CHANG: Hypersonic glide vehicles can drop out of orbit and incinerate an American city with very little warning. These are weapons that we have really very few defenses against.

TODD: Why is Kim Jong-un acting in such a threatening manner right now, some analysts believe he wants to provoke the Biden administration into engaging in negotiations with him so he can get crippling sanctions against his country reduced. Experts say he also could be doing this to distract his people from their own internal crises.

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: They've been dealing with COVID too, and the lockdown of their border with China means that about 90% of the trade that they usually do with their most important trade partner has fallen apart.

TODD: Another reason for Kim's aggression, according to one analyst could be an attempt to glorify the Kim dynasty. Last month, Kim Jong- un marked a decade since his ascent to power and in April, North Korea will celebrate the 110th birthday of its founder, Kim's grandfather, Kim Il-sung a hero to most North Koreans.

JEAN LEE, SENIOR FELLOW, THE WILSON CENTER: The Kim family has used weapons as a way to show their people that they're protecting them, that they're defending them, protecting their way of life.

TODD: That one expert worries about these weapons test triggering a disaster.

CRONIN: Rapid succession of testing of new advanced systems could lead to an error strike against Japan or some other provocation that causes an escalation. So, there is danger here.


TODD: Analysts say another thing to keep an eye on in the months ahead is South Korea's presidential election in early March. The Conservative Party candidate there Yoon Seok-youl has a shot to win export say, if he does, they believe he could take a much harder line toward North Korea. And tensions there could ramp up even more. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COREN: Joseph Yun is a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the former U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy. He joins us now from Portland, Oregon. Great to have you with us.

JOSEPH YUN, SENIOR ADVISOR, U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE: Good to be with you. Thank you,

COREN: Joseph. Why now? Why these flurry of tests from North Korea?

YUN: I think there are two underlying reasons. The first one is that, you know, real difficulty in North Korean economy, it's been in dire straits for a while. They have suffered another bad harvest this year. And on top of that, of course, the COVID crisis continues. And they're almost paranoid about COVID. And third reason is sanctions are continuing to bite in a major way. These are U.S. sanctions, as well as U.N. sanctions.

The second underlying reason is they are beginning to sense weakness in Washington, weakness in Biden administration, you know, the challenges the Biden administration has, especially in foreign policy is obvious to them, the pullback in Afghanistan, and then following that the real difficulty now with Russia, as well as continuing saga of kind of what a word, as well as in many other fronts with China. So, I do believe that North Korea is sensing weakness in Washington. And as a result, they're making trouble.

COREN: You mentioned the Biden administration. And obviously, President Biden's approach has been very different from his predecessor, Donald Trump. Tell me that the sanctions that were imposed on North Korea last week by the United States in response to their earlier tests, you can only assume that the sanctions will continue because the Biden administration is not about to reward bad behavior. So, what do you suggest Joe Biden should be doing?

YUN: I think Biden administration needs to be lot more active in engaging North Korea, of course, we've heard many times at a working level that the U.S. is prepared to talk with North Korea, you know, but that has not been translated into policy statement. It has not been translated into statement, for example, by Biden. Now remember, you know, we've had what, you know, during Trump administration, by my count 27 letters exchanged between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un, you know, once, that kind of attention, and of course, by the is not going to get that much. But at least there has to be, I believe, higher level intervention in Washington to get some talks going. Otherwise, we're going to return to the bad old days of 2017, which is really a crisis atmosphere. And, you know, with each side, you know, a going harder line still, and that's not good for the station's stability.

COREN: Joseph, Kim Jong-un, is always playing to his domestic audience, considering the economic pain that you outlined, the current the country is currently going through with, with food shortages and at a struggling economy. I mean, how are these tests perceived back in North Korea?

YUN: Kim Jong-un cannot deliver on the economy, but at least for his own people, and especially the most important constituency is the military constituency. He is going with them and more than that, he is improving those Korean capability. Also, for that key constituency, I think he's doing fine now. The question is, how about the rest of North Korea? And that's where we need to really watch out and he needs to watch out because we've now had, Kim Jong-un has been in power now for 10 years. He has not really delivered much on making the welfare, the day to day lives of those Koreans any better.

COREN: Tell me, how does China view these missile tests being conducted on their doorstep considering that the Winter Olympics are just a few weeks away? [01:25:07]

YUN: I think China in general views provocation by North Korea as something that they can use, especially in dealing with the United States. So, for China, North Korea has always been a card to play in their strategic game with the United States.

Now, having said that, of course, Winter Olympics is only, what, you know, a few weeks away. And so, they really don't want to see major provocation by North Koreans, such as a nuclear test, or an icy ICBM test. That would really put the situation in a crisis mode.

COREN: Joseph Yun, we appreciate your time and your insight. Many thanks.

YUN: Thank you very much.

COREN: Well, in the coming day, a giant asteroid will zoom by our planets. According to Earth, it's more than double the height of New York's Empire State Building, the labelled potentially hazardous, astronomers say it will not strike Earth and then asteroids of that magnitude only do so about every 600,000 years. And it would be astronomers armed with a telescope might be able to catch a glimpse of it.

Well, our meteorologist Tyler Maudlin is with us with much more. So, Tyler, it's not going to strike the Earth, but it is potentially hazardous. That's really reassuring?

TYLER MAUDLIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, it is. Absolutely. And we're about 15 hours away from the asteroid zooming by Earth. So, if you do have a small telescope, get it ready, make sure it's ready to go, get that camera ready to so you can get a snapshot of it as it passes by, again, about 15 hours and 25 minutes or so until it makes this close. This past close to Earth, the last time it was this close to Earth was back in 1933. And it's not going to be this close for another 200 years. It's going to be zooming by at 43,000, nearly 44,000 miles per hour about 19 and a half kilometers per second. So, it is zooming by and as it makes this pass it is going to be -- it's going to be about five and a half times the moon's distance from Earth as it does take this path. It was discovered back in 1994. So, we've known about this asteroid for a while. And thanks to data and pictures and satellites and whatnot, we've been able to go back and track it since 1974.

So, the orbit here is really well established. That's how we know that it hasn't been this close to Earth since 1933. And is not going to be this close to earth again for another 200 years. This thing is massive. It is -- in height, it is about 5400 feet or about 1600 meters that is nearly four times the size of the Empire State Building. So, this bad boy is huge. Here in North America in the U.S. where are we going to see the best viewing conditions probably here across the East Coast, especially the southeast and maybe the southern plains, also Southern California. Many others though, we'll be dealing with cloud cover especially up here across to the Snow Belt, near the Canada U.S. line. We got plenty of cloud cover here and that could hinder the viewing. Rosemary (ph). COREN: Tyler Maudlin, thank you I appreciate it.

Well, after detecting just one case of the Omicron Variant, Beijing is pulling out all the stops to keep the Winter Games on track.

Plus, Tennis Star Novak Djokovic is facing an uncertain future days after being barred from the Australian Open because of his vaccination status. Another grand slam event could be set to do this.




An update now on our top story this hour.

Royal Navy ships from New Zealand are expected to deploy in the coming hours with much needed humanitarian aid to Tonga. New Zealand, Australia, and several relief agencies have, been trying to reach the island country.

But underwater communication lines remain severely disrupted. And ash clouds have made it difficult to fully assess the impact of Saturday's volcanic eruption and tsunami.

We now know at least two people were killed in Tonga, including a British national, who was swept away in the waves. Experts say Saturday's eruption was the largest anywhere in the world, in more than 30 years.

The resulting tsunami wave reached all the way to California, Canada, Japan, even South America. Authorities in Peru, say two people drowned in the waves and they also caused an oil spill.

Well, the agency Save the Children says the tsunami destroyed at least 50 homes in Tonga and damaged more than a hundred others. Relief groups say the top priority is getting clean water and food to the people of Tonga over fears the volcanic ash likely contaminated supplies.

Well, I spoke with Alexander Mattheou with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Network a short time ago.


ALEXANDER MATTHEOU, ASIA PACIFIC DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES: Well, we know a little bit more today than we did yesterday, thanks to satellite imagery and reconnaissance flights and the fact that some people, a very small number of people on the island have now got access to satellite phones and are giving little bits of information.

So what we are seeing is roughly what we expected to see. That there is large-scale coastal damage as a result of the tsunami wave, a large amount of fallen ash which we suspect is having a big impact on quality of water and access to water across Tonga.

Fortunately, we are not seeing evidence of loss of life. Now we don't have all the information yet and there is one tragic case we know of the U.K. citizen. But we are not seeing evidence of large scale loss of life. And of course, we hope that will remain the case.

But, it is important to say, there are lots of things we still don't know. We are not in contact with all of the islands. We are hoping for the best that it is largely structural damage rather than loss of life. But we will know more, I suspect, in the coming days, as we have more contact with people on the island and as the ships arrive from Australia and New Zealand.

COREN: Do you fear however that the death toll could rise? Considering this is an archipelago of many islands home to 100,000 people?

MATTHEOU: Well, of course we are concerned especially for those outlying islands, close to the eruption itself about which, at the moment, we know very little. So, of course, that is a concern.

But you know, we respond to disasters all over the world and the crisis is not just about loss of life. It's about loss of life, loss of critical infrastructure, loss of access to money, access to clean drinking water, access to health care -- all of which can both disrupt life and result in loss of life further down the line.


COREN: Alexander Mattheou speaking to me a little bit earlier. We will continue to monitor the disaster in Tonga and bring you the latest developments.

Less than three weeks before the Beijing winter Olympics, China is tightening its COVID restrictions. The Olympic organizing committee announced Monday that it won't sell tickets to the general public. That is after Beijing reported its first case of the omicron variant, over the weekend.

Let's bring in our Kristie Lu Stout, live for us from Hong Kong.


COREN: Kristie, so tickets won't be sold to the public. Does that mean that the public are not allowed to attend the games.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Basically, the public will not be allowed to attend the games. This is what is happening here due to -- and they are citing -- a severe and complex COVID-19 situation. We learned that the tickets will not be sold to the public. But instead will be distributed by authorities. To whom they will be distributed to, we exactly don't know at this moment. The organizers haven't specified or given any details on that just yet.

But this announcement, it comes just days after Beijing announced that it had detected its first locally-transmitted case of the highly infectious omicron variant. It was detected over the weekend and with zero-COVID China, it meant an entire office building with the people inside was sealed off and went into lockdown over this one detected case.

As for the overall number of omicron cases across China, that is still unclear. But as of today, the variant has been detected, in at least nine cities across China from Dalian in the northeast to Beijing, the Olympic host city to Shenzhen in the south. You could see it all there on the map.

The winter Olympic Games is due to begin in just a few weeks from now. When they take place all of the accommodations, the venues, the stadiums, will be in this bubble or what they're calling formally (ph), a "closed-loop system".

That means that all participants, athletes, volunteers will not be allowed to leave this closed-loop system and they will have to undergo daily COVID-19 tests.

Vaccinated, fully vaccinated athletes will be able to enter the system smoothly, but the unvaccinated will have to undergo 21 days of quarantine. I should note that the Beijing Olympic winter games due to kick off in less than 21 days from now. They start on February the 4th, a Friday, Anna.

COREN: Kristie, the games as we know, will be a real test of China's zero COVID policy that they have maintained now for the last two years. What is going to happen if there is a confirmed positive case during the games?

STOUT: If there is a confirmed positive case, in the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, this is what's going to happen. That participant, that athlete, or that volunteer, will no longer be able to take part in the games.

If it is a symptomatic case, showing symptoms of COVID-19, that individual will be sent to a designated hospital for treatment for COVID-19. If it is an asymptomatic case, that individual would be sent to an isolation facility.

But it is not clear whether those facilities -- isolation facility or the hospital, would be inside or outside the closed-loop system, Anna.

COREN: And then there's the close contacts to take into consideration. It will be certainly --


COREN: -- interesting to watch. Kristie Lu Stout joining me here in Hong Kong, thank you.

Well COVID is also casting a shadow over this year's tennis Grand Slam. On Sunday, world number one, Novak Djokovic, lost his bid to defend his title at the Australian Open after a court upheld a decision to cancel his visa over concerns about his vaccination status.

Well now, there are doubts about whether he will would be allowed to compete in other Grand Slam events.

CNN's Scott McLean has this report.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Novak Djokovic arrived back in his home country of Serbia after Australian authorities canceled his visa on public health and order grounds. The Serbian government outraged by the political intervention.

ANA BRNABIC, SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I think the decision is scandalous. I am disappointed and I think it has shown how the rule of law functions in some other countries, i.e., how it doesn't function. It is incredible.

MCLEAN: Australia's immigration minister argued that Djokovic who is unvaccinated but sought a medical exemption to play in the Open could incite the country's anti-vaxxers. It was their final volley in a drawn-out legal grudge-match that saw him detained by immigration authorities twice in a matter of weeks.

Djokovic has been widely criticized for remaining unvaccinated and for breaking self-isolation in Serbia. After testing positive in December he attended a photo shoot in person.

But here in Belgrade, the tennis star doesn't appear to have lost any fans. Nor has he been labeled an anti-vaxxer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody has their own choice. I don't think he is spreading anything, even non-vaccination nor vaccination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's his choice and no one should be forced to be vaccinated. I myself am vaccinated but I do not think anyone should be forced.

MCLEAN: While Serbian fans welcomed him home with open arms, tennis fans in Melbourne welcome the end of the visa saga that has overshadowed the actual tennis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was kind of dragged on a little bit too long. But it's great that we can kind of put that behind us.

MCLEAN: Djokovic has officially lost the chance to play for his 21st Grand Slam title and may be barred from Australia for the next three years.


KAREN ANDREWS, AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: Now, there are some compelling reasons, that might be able to be looked at, but that is all hypothetical at this point. Any application will be reviewed on its merits.

MCLEAN: His next Grand Slam may also be in jeopardy. France announced Monday that all professional athletes competing in the country will have to be vaccinated with no exceptions. (on camera): And according to Forbes, Novak Djokovic earns $30 million

per year in sponsorships alone.

And while most of his sponsors have been quiet on all of this, Lacoste says it would like to have a word with Djokovic as soon as possible.

Now, if he opts to skip the French Open his next chance at a Grand Slam would be at Wimbledon, but even then you will have to plan on arriving in England plenty early in order to complete the mandatory 10-day quarantine imposed on those who show up unvaccinated.

Scott McLean, CNN -- Belgrade, Serbia.


COREN: For more we are joined by CNN World Sport's Don Riddell in Atlanta. Don, is it likely that Novak Djokovic will give in and get vaccinated so that he can compete in these future Grand Slams?

DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Well that would certainly be the easiest thing he could do, right. I mean that point has been made repeatedly over the last two weeks. He could have avoided this entire debacle if he had just had a couple of shots in his arm.

Djokovic has only said in the last few days, he is disappointed with the decision. He has said he won't make any further comment until the Australian Open is over to avoid causing any further distractions.

But he must be thinking long and hard about what his next move is going to be. Scott has just outlined how difficult it is going to become for him to play in overseas events and tournaments abroad.

And of course, he is playing for a place in the record books. He has already secured achievements that neither his biggest rivals Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal have done. The only thing he hasn't done yet is get two more majors than them. They are all stuck equally remarkably on 20 major tournaments each.

So is he going to get the jab or not? Here is why he might. He has spoken in the past about how he believes the body is self-healing and how surgeries and medications are two things that he is not a big fan of.

But he got to a point in 2018 where his elbow was really bothering him and it could have derailed his career. And reluctantly he got the surgery. He said afterwards that he cried for three days. He felt so guilty about it but it did revive his career. And after that he surged all the way up to 20 major titles.

So might he now come to see the vaccination in the same way? Because if he doesn't get vaccinated, what does this mean for the rest of his career? Certainly very, very complicated and I cannot imagine he would want to go through anything like what he has just experienced in Melbourne over the last fortnight.

COREN: Interesting that he felt guilty about fixing his arm. I mean that is slightly mind-boggling.

Don, do you think that the saga in Australia which, as one of the pundits down there said, dragged on which it certainly did. It dragged on for 10 days. Do you think that it has tarnished his reputation?

RIDDELL: I think it's going to be impossible to think of Novak Djokovic in the future and not think of what has just gone on. And you could point fingers at every party involved and say that they were all culpable in one way or another.

But of course, we are all masters of our own destiny, and if he had been vaccinated, he could've avoided it. So yes, I don't think it reflects well on him at all.

And certainly if he ends up getting stuck on 20 majors and isn't able to add to his tally, I think, this will be one of the major reasons.

He could already have been on 21. Remember, a couple of years ago, the U.S. Open when he petulantly hit the ball in the direction of a female line official? It hit her in the throat and he was disqualified from that tournament. He was the favorite to win that.

He was the favorite to win in Melbourne this year if he had been able to play. So he could already have been well clear of Federer and Nadal. And really he only has himself to blame for not being so.

So yes, I think this event will be forever attached to his name unfortunately for him.

COREN: Sabotaging his own success.


COREN: Don Riddell, good to see you. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Well, Britain's home secretary says that espionage alerts could become more frequent. Well, that is after a lawyer allegedly tried to buy a British lawmaker's influence on behalf of China. Those details, ahead.



COREN: Britain's home secretary spoke out on Monday about an alleged Chinese agent suspected of trying to influence British lawmakers with hefty financial donations. The domestic counter intelligence service, MI5, issuing an alert about the potential threat posed by Christine Lee, a lawyer, with officers in the U.K.


PRITI PATEL, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: We can expect to see these kinds of alerts become more commonplace as a result of the work of our world-class intelligence agencies who have adapted to counter these new and emerging threats.


COREN: Nina Dos Santos has details on the spy agency's rare public warning.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For 15 years Christine Lee cultivated her high-level connections. She set up presser groups with British prime ministers and got this close to China's President Xi Jinping.

On Thursday U.K. intelligence issued an alert to members of parliament, saying Lee had been attempting to influence politicians on all sides of the spectrum with money coming from abroad on behalf of China's Communist Party.

Now, CNN can reveal the U.K.'s own government has been advertising Lee's services to prospective foreign investors for years as part of an "invitation only" network of vetted lawyers and accountants providing a forum for feedback directly to the corridors of power.

Lee's law firm, Christine Lee and Co-solicitors, has been on the networks directory drafted by officials since at least 2016. Until the close of business on Friday, she could still be reached via an official government Web site, with the firm promising the first hour of legal advice for free.

The Department of International Trade said the site mentioning Lee was no longer live. And that it had to do some digging, to find out why she was on there. The Home Office told CNN it doesn't comment on the detail of security or intelligence.

(on camera): One place Christine Lee can't be reached it seems is here at the London office of her law firm. As you can see, it looks like it's been empty for quite sometime. The windows are dusty. There's papers that are still left on desks. And also interestingly enough a security camera that pointing right at the front door where I'm standing right now.

There is a notice here, pinned to this window which says, "Because of the pandemic this office is shut." There is a number though to call for inquiries. Let's just try it now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to the EE voice mail. I'm sorry, but the person you called is not available.

DOS SANTOS (voice over): Multiple emails, sent to the account posted on Lee's office went unanswered.

A CNN analysis of political donations shows that one member of parliament from the opposition Labour Party accepted more than $600,000 from Lee between 2014 and 2020. The leader of another opposition party, the Liberal Democrats accepted more than $7,000. Both say they were unaware of the concerns surrounding Lee's activities until this week.

Under current U.K. laws, there is no suggestion, that the donations were illegal.

WANG WENBIN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): China has always adhered to the principle of non interference in other countries' internal affairs. We have no need and will not engage in and so-called interference activities.

DOS SANTOS: Documents filed for the lease company say that she is British. The U.K. doesn't yet have a Foreign Agents Registration Act like the United States but it is considering passing one.

A letter sent to the House of Lords by its speaker obtained by CNN says lease facilitation, was done to covertly mask the source of political donations coming from China. The letter says, "The behavior was clearly unacceptable and would be made to cease (ph).

For this activist campaigning for human rights in China, the news Lee appears to have been so enmeshed in Westminster is extremely worrying.

LUKE DE PULFORD, COORDINATOR, INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ALLIANCE ON CHINA: What this case shows is an abject failure of government vetting and shows extraordinary naivete on the part of the government when it comes to the purpose of these kinds of institutions and individuals.

DOS SANTOS: How Lee is still able to receive government promotion shows the extent of her access and will give fresh impetus to the U.K.'s pledge to toughen up legislation on foreign influence in the country's politics.

Nina Dos Santos, CNN -- London.



COREN: Still to come, new video captures the final moments of the Texas synagogue standoff. Plus the rabbi held captive details his harrowing experience.


COREN: The FBI and U.S. Homeland Security are warning that faith-based communities will likely remain targets for violence following Saturday's hostage standoff at a Texas synagogue. It's being investigated as a terrorist incident.

Meanwhile, a rabbi and one of the congregants are describing their terrifying ordeal inside the synagogue and how they were able to escape.

We also have new video showing the final moments of the standoff.

Here is CNN's Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The final moments capturing three hostages escaping from the Beth Israel synagogue was captured by a photojournalist with CNN affiliate WFAA.

The hostages race out a side door. The hostage taker, briefly appears, pointing his firearm in their direction. The FBI hostage rescue team surrounding the synagogue moves in.

An explosive device detonates and gunfire ripped through the air. The man in the blue shirt escaping from the synagogue is Jeffrey Cohen. Nearly 11 hours earlier Cohen and Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker had welcomed the stranger who held them hostage, to the sabbath service.

JEFFREY COHEN, SYNAGOGUE HOSTAGE: Right before the service began and I got in, Rabbi Charlie pointed this guy out to me, and I went over to say hello and to welcome him.

LAVANDERA: Rabbi Cytron-Walker says the hostage ordeal started shortly after the religious service started and was being livestreamed to congregants.

RABBI CHARLIE CYTRON-WALKER, CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL: It was during prayer. And while we were praying and my back was turned. We face towards Jerusalem when we pray. Right before -- right before he revealed himself -- but this was plenty of time and I heard a click. And it could have been anything and it turned out that it was his gun.

LAVANDERA: After the suspect pulled out a gun, Cohen says he was allowed to call his family.

COHEN: At one point, the terrorist let us call our families, so I made a quick call to my wife, my daughter, my son, and basically told them, there's a gunman here, he claims he has a bomb. Things don't look good right now, I love you, and remember me.

LAVANDERA: Cohen says that after the first hour, the suspect, 44-year- old Malik Faisal Akram became much more calm. And that is when the hostages started thinking strategically about where they should sit and to keep their eyes open for an opportunity to escape.

COHEN: His demeanor changed not too long after that. And he became much calmer. Maybe because he thought he was going to get what he wanted. And it changed from more attack to I'm going to die. I'm going to -- I'm going to let these guys go, but I'm going to die here.

LAVANDERA: But in the last hour, the suspect became agitated and threatening. The men deliberately moved themselves to an area with a direct line to a side exit of the synagogue.


COHEN: Up until that point, we were very willing to wait for law enforcement to do their thing. At that point we knew we had to get out.

At one point, he even said that I'm going to put a bullet in each of you, get down on your knees. At which point I glared (ph) at him. I raised up in my seat, kind of like I'm doing now, and may have shook my head like that, but I glared at him and I mouthed, no. LAVANDERA: Cohen says the suspect then turned to pour himself a soda,

and that is the opening the rabbi needed.

CYTRON-WALKER: When I saw an opportunity where he wasn't in a good position, I made sure that the two gentlemen who were still with me, that they were -- that they were ready to go. The exit was not too far away.

I told them to go, I threw a chair at the gunman and I headed for the door. And all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired.

COHEN: I want to make it clear, two things. We were not released. We were not rescued, ok. We escaped. And we escaped because we kept presence of mind because we made plans. Because we strategically moved people.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Two days after the hostage crisis, the Congregation of Beth Israel came together for a special service. This is actually one of the first times this congregation has met in such large numbers during the COVID pandemic.

They were brought together by this horrific ordeal.

Ed Lavandera, CNN -- South Lake, Texas.


COREN: Investigators say they have uncovered a prime suspect in the revealing of Anne Frank's hiding place to the Nazis. After a six-year investigation, a team of historians, criminologist and data specialists, claim it was most likely Jewish notary Arnold Vandenberg.

The key piece of evidence came in a note to Frank's father, alleging Vandenberg disclosed the hideout possibly in an effort to save his own family. The Frank family lived in a secret annex in Amsterdam for nearly two years before the Nazis found them in 1944.

Frank documented her experience in a diary published after her death in a concentration camp at the age of 15.

And be sure to tune in later today, as CNN speaks with the author of the book that outlines the new details of that investigation.

Rosemary Sullivan will join "NEW DAY" in the hours ahead. That is 11:45 a.m. in London, 7:45 p.m. in Hong Kong.

And thanks so much for your company. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong.

CNN NEWSROOM continues with my colleague Rosemary Church after this short break.