Return to Transcripts main page
Connect the World
Israeli P.M. Visits UAE For Historic Meeting; Omicron Variant Soar In The United Kingdom; Tornado Leave Widespread Devastation In U.S. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired December 14, 2021 - 10:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: History in the making. Naftali Bennett becomes the first Israeli prime minister to officially visit the
UAE. Tonight what that means for the two countries and the region as a whole.
Also ahead, a tidal wave of infections strong words of caution for the British prime minister as Omicron cases spike and the variant claims its
first victim here in the U.K.
And ethic destruction. Tornadoes rip through the southern and central U.S. leaving scrolls dead. We're live in Kentucky for you.
Hello. I'm Max Foster in London fitting into my colleague Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. We start with a new Middle East
reality on display today in the United Arab Emirates. Naftali Bennett is now the first Israeli prime minister to officially visit the UAE meeting
with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince in his private palace. And the pictures of a smiling Mr. Bennett and Sheikh Mohammed bin Saeed seemed unthinkable just a
few years ago.
But that changed with the signing of the Abrahamic Accords last year. Normalizing relations between the two countries. The Prime Minister and de
facto UAE leader talked issues like trade and technology today. One topic not officially mentioned, but surely discussed, is Iran of course. We've
got a lot to discuss about this historic meeting with Hadas Gold in Jerusalem and Sam Kiley in Abu Dhabi.
Sam, this visit very much speaks to the heart of UAE's diplomatic balancing act, doesn't it? What do they have to gain here do you think?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you put it very well there, Max. It is a balancing act. And the act that the Emiratis
are trying to balance is maintaining their new warm relationship with Israel. Their long-term United States ally and their new attitude towards
Iran, which is one of much more warmth than we've seen in recent years.
And the reason for that is the Emiratis are now looking at Iran as yes, a potentially dangerous neighbor if it became a nuclear power, but also a
neighbor that needs to be engaged with, they've recently had diplomatic missions there. There's been a recent announcement of a heavy building
program there involving a solar panel farm. All of this at a time when Israel has been threatening and continuing to threaten to use force if Iran
pursues its nuclear program.
And the United States has had an envoy here last week and got another one coming next week, asking the Emiratis to come into line behind them with
more sanctions, something against Iran, something that they have rejected here in the Emirates. But that said, this was a very long meeting, indeed
with Mr. Bennett over four hours, including a long lunch together, almost twice as much time has been diarized for this meeting.
Now we understand and I'm sure we'll hear more about this from Hadas that there had been plans at least released in the Israeli media for Mr. Bennett
that somehow confront the crown prince here with evidence that alleges a greater advancement than may have been anticipated in terms of Iraq's --
Iran's nuclear program. But the Emiratis didn't want the Israelis to bring a large press contingent here. There is no press conference being held
We'll have to wait to hear certainly from the Israeli perspective, how things went when he gets -- when Mr. Bennett gets back to Tel Aviv in
Jerusalem. But in the meantime, I think really the Emirati position is, this is a relationship that matters to them but perhaps not quite as much
as the diplomatic balancing act they're conducting with neighboring Iran, Max.
FOSTER: Yes. Hadas, we hope to hear more that we have substance of these meetings. But the imagery itself is so historic, isn't it? The optics were
very important today, and they would have thought a lot about that on the Israeli side as well.
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max just a couple years ago, and Israeli wasn't allowed to set foot into the UAE. And so to see an Israeli
Prime Minister receiving Honor Guard upon landing in Abu Dhabi, and then going to the Crown Prince's private palace with handshake smiles in a very
long meeting. As Sam pointed out, this meeting was initially scheduled to take about two hours.
It took more than four hours and all politicians love to say of course, that when a meeting takes longer than it was scheduled, it goes to show you
how well the two leaders got off how important the discussions they were having just how positive the relationship is.
GOLD: And that's really I think what matters here for Naftali Bennett. He is a new prime minister. Today is actually his six month anniversary in
office. So very important for him, very important for the Israelis to show how well this visit went. Because although there has been a flurry of
diplomatic cultural business activity, since the Abraham Accords were signed, just about 15 months ago, this was the big moment when the Prime
Minister was welcomed to the UAE.
Now, we're not expecting any major trade deals, announcement, anything like that. And as Sam noted, this trip was very tightly controlled. We've gotten
very sort of limited videos and imagery. There was no reporters accompanying Naftali Bennett on this trip. We are expecting him to make a
statement soon that we will hopefully be able to give to our viewers that will give us a little bit more of a sense of what this meeting was like.
What this historic meeting was like. They have both leaders talked about in statements before and a little bit after how they talked about business. Of
course, there's a lot of economic interest between these new countries. A lot of business opportunities. Israeli officials (INAUDIBLE) statistic that
in the first seven months of 2021, there were $600 million worth of trade deals.
That's $550 million more than in the same period the year before. That goes to show you there's a lot of joint interest money to be made between these
two countries. To give you another example, before the Abraham Accords, you could not fly direct between Tel Aviv and Dubai. Now there's something like
seven or eight daily flights between the two countries. It's become almost normal for an Israeli to say they're going on vacation, you know, barring
COVID restrictions in Dubai.
Again, something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. And of course, we are waiting to hear if and what the conversations were like
around Iran. Because as Sam noted, of course, for Israel, they see Iran and their nuclear program as an existential threat. The Emiratis are
approaching Iran much differently. There were reports in Israeli media that Naftali Bennett plan to present the Crown Prince Israeli intelligence on
Iranian activity that would be of importance to the Emiratis perhaps as a way to try to encourage the Emiratis to potentially pull back a little bit
that, oh, that new warmth that we -- that new work with the Iranians. Max?
FOSTER: Sam, Abraham Accords obviously signed on to Netanyahu and Donald Trump. So, they're very much looming large hear. A lot of controversy
around Trump's Middle East policy. But actually, this is his credit, isn't he? Arguably.
KILEY: I don't think there's any question, it was a massive diplomatic coup for the Trump administration like him or hate him that his -- will go down
in history as a major diplomatic coup. But the Biden administration and Obama before him are being seen here as an unreliable ally and as indeed
was Donald Trump, which is why you're seeing a very different pitch coming from the Gulf nations led largely by their Emiratis, who are very much
forging their own policy.
For example, recently, they've renewed diplomatic and high level contacts in Erdogan's Turkey, they have had high level visit to -- with the foreign
minister of the Emirates going to visit Bashar al-Assad in Syria. And as already mentioned, they're warming relations with Iran, that these are not
things that are consistent with the U.S. foreign policy. It's not what they would like to see, but it is what the Emiratis feel they have to do given
that they feel that they have to make their own way in the world rather like a child that has left home/.
They are now very much a sovereign entity and don't see the United States as the parent overseeing their activities anymore at all.
FOSTER: Sam and Hadas, thank you both very much indeed. I heard the U.K. that confirming its first death from the Omicron variants. British Prime
Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement a short time ago but didn't mention whether the person had been vaccinated. And while the U.K. is
facing what he calls a tidal wave of Omicron infections and is speeding up England's rollout of booster shots.
These new Omicron's concerns are looming over Mr. Johnson's government as he comes under more fire. And this is why a new photo emerging showing him
hosting a Downing Street quiz party last Christmas while strict coronavirus restrictions were in place. I want to bring in CNN's Salma Abdelaziz who is
live for us of course here in London right next to us. We're allowed to sit next to each other for now, there are a lot of concerns about new
restrictions coming in. That isn't the focus here though. Boris Johnson very focused on vaccination.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely. And the Prime Minister's policy uniquely among Europeans has been to focus on vaccinations and boosters. We
do have new restrictions in place starting today. If you can work from home, you should work from home. Last week mandatory masks came into place.
And tomorrow he's going to go into Parliament and try to push more restrictions.
COVID passes essentially for anybody who wants to go into a public venue or a nightclub but today he was out there getting the message to get boosted,
boosted, boosted Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We can see Omicron spiking now in London and some other parts of the country. In -- here in the capital, it
probably represents about 40 percent of the cases. By tomorrow, it will be the majority of the cases and it's increasing the whole time. And sadly,
yes, Omicron is producing hospitalizations. And sadly, at least one patient has now been confirmed to have died with Omicron.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABDELAZIZ: Now, you heard there from the Prime Minister, starting tomorrow Omicron will be the dominant variant in this country. That's exactly what
health officials are worried about. They say the rise of Omicron has been phenomenal. It could put huge pressure on the health care system. That's
why there's this huge effort now bringing that forward -- that date forward for the booster vaccinations.
Originally, the Prime Minister had said he wants to get invitations to everyone over 18 by the end of January. Now that's going to be by the end
of this year. It's going to require a Herculean effort. Yes, the jobs are there, but it's the staff, the resourcing, the clinics isn't there. It's
going to require putting everything aside, Max, they're going to make this happen.
FOSTER: And it's the credibility there for the Prime Minister to make these pronouncements.
ABDELAZIZ: That is the key question. This is a time when the Prime Minister's own government is being accused of violating COVID rules last
year of failing to follow restrictions during a variant last year. Look, the very people who are making the rules inside that building. Were they
also breaking the rules? I mean, that's the question. And if indeed they were then what moral authority does the Prime Minister have?
The Opposition Leader over the weekend, yes, it is the opposition leader, I'll caveat that but Keir Starmer saying this Prime Minister is no longer
fit for office because he is a threat to health and safety. Because his moral standing is compromised. The first test of that is going to be in
Parliament tomorrow. When he tries to push these new restrictions through we already know that members of his own party are going to vote against
these rules, Max.
FOSTER: Salma, we'll be watching. Thank you. As cases searcher in the U.K., more research shows Omicron evades the protection of two of our existing
vaccines. Oxford researchers released a preprint of a study. It shows two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine leaves people with no protection for 15
weeks. And it isn't good news for the Pfizer shot either. Let's get straight to our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.
Elizabeth, the coauthor of the paper said these data are important but only part of the picture. Just explain why that is.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So Max, what these researchers did is they looked at this in a lab, there is only so much you
can learn in a lab. In effect, they took cells from folks who've been vaccinated with Pfizer and with AstraZeneca. And they sort of put them to
the test in the lab with the -- with the Omicron variant just basically to see who wins and whether results are important.
And other labs are doing the same thing. Really what you want to see is what happens in real life. So I'm going to tell you about the results that
have been found not just from this lab, but putting it together with results from a lab in South Africa, and also from Pfizer itself, because I
think it gives a bigger picture of what we're looking at. And I should say that all three labs have come to very, very similar findings.
I'll also add that Pfizer, of course has its own bias, it's Pfizer and also add that Oxford University developed the AstraZeneca vaccine. So to keep
that in mind as well. So let's take a look at what all three labs kind of as a group kind of a consensus of what they found. What they found is the
two doses may not provide sufficient protection against infection with Omicron. In other words, if you've gotten two doses, that may not do you a
whole lot of good at protecting you from getting infected with Omicron.
But to doses may still give significant protection against severe disease. In other words, according to some of the researchers, you'll get infected,
but chances are you'll be protected against getting so sick that you end up in the hospital or end up dying. And their advisor says they've tested the
booster and they say that a third dose may give more robust protection. So in other words, what we're seeing here, two doses may not be quite enough.
Three doses may do much better. Max?
FOSTER: Can we just talk about something the prime minister here in the U.K. was talking about yesterday spoke to the nation. He was trying to
reassure people that it was important to act tough against Omicron even if the symptoms are milder at this point, because it's more transmissible but
a lot of people questioning perhaps of overreaction to governments on this. I mean, what are your thoughts on this?
COHEN: You know, we -- first of all, let's be clear that there's a lot we don't know about Omicron. And viruses and their variants often surprise us.
I think this is the concern. When you have something that's very, very, very, transmissible, you can have a couple of things go on. First of all,
people will still get infected and a lot of people will get infected if it's very transmissible and then you have a lot of people going to get
tested and that taxes the testing services. And then you'll have those people going to the doctor because they're positive for COVID even if
they're not very sick.
COHEN: And that puts a burden on doctor's offices, et cetera, et cetera. So it does put a burden or could put a burden on resources. But there's
something else that may be even more concerning. If this is very transmissible, if Omicron is very transmissible, you may be getting a lot
more people getting Omicron. And maybe for the vast majority, they be fine. But some of them might be elderly, some of them might be immune
compromised, and they may not be so fine with Omicron.
We've already seen that some people can get very sick with Omicron. It is possible, so the more people who get infected, that means that the more
people are going to -- more of those people, some of those people are going to be very old. Some of them are going to be immune compromised. And that's
where the trouble begins. Max?
FOSTER: OK, Elizabeth, thank you. It is just too early to know, isn't it? At this point. Ahead on the show, South Africa's President test positive
for COVID-19. The latest on his condition and the transfer of responsibility that he's made and miles of devastation in parts of U.S.
after tornadoes hit eight states. We'll find out how relief groups are trying to help.
FOSTER: The governor of the U.S. State of Kentucky just announced there are 64 known deaths and the toll is likely to grow after a fearsome outbreak of
tornadoes over the weekend swept through eight states. Kentucky was hit the hardest. The governor says some towns have completely gone. Many survivors
have nothing left. Their homes, their businesses or both destroyed. Sam Brown told CNN how he and his wife lost their family pharmacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You lost your father not long ago.
SAM BROWN, PHARMACY DESTROYED: He passed away cancer in February and he was a great guy. He provided a lot me that benefited from that pharmacy just
said very (INAUDIBLE) kids.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your son, Jonah, right? The beauty area inside was named after him, your wife named after him.
BROWN: That's right. So my wife -- my wife loves absolutely 100 percent of her income. She's a pharmacist at the store and then she also had the
boutique. And when my son was born, we named it shop Jonah Brown. And yesterday while we were picking up he wanted to have his picture taken on
top of the rubble where the boutique was. So she's just -- she's heartbroken and it's hard to like get up in the morning, to go up and cry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: U.S. President Joe Biden has declared a major disaster in Kentucky.
FOSTER: Right now government agencies and relief organizations are on the ground trying to help people whose lives were thrown into chaos and
uncertainty in just a matter of minutes. CNN's Brian Todd, Nick Valencia covering this story for us on the ground in Kentucky. Brian, before I come
to you, let's just hear from the Kentucky governor who spoke a few moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): As of this morning, our best count for confirmed deaths. The most accurate count we have as of this morning are 64
Kentuckians. Remember, this is fluid, and the numbers will change. And sometimes they have -- thank God gone down. Other times they've gone up, it
breaks down as follows, 20 in graves, 13 in Hopkins 11 in Muhlenberg. I think that's been reported as 12. We believe it is 11.
Twelve Warren, four in Caldwell, one in Marshall, one and Taylor, one in Fulton, and one in Lyon. Undoubtedly, there will be more. We believe it'll
certainly be above 70, maybe even 80. But again, with this amount of damage and rubble, it may be a week, or even more before we have a final count on
the number of lost lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Brian, you're in Mayfield, Kentucky. And when we see images of the town as it is now. It's understandable when you hear the authorities saying
they just don't know how many people are dying because it's such a huge operation.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Max. And I can kind of show you how that's going. And you can see why the governor is saying why, you
know, what he is saying about it may take a week or more before they know the casualty counts. Our photojournalist Rafael Rodriguez will zoom in on
this operation here. This is near that candle factory that collapsed. This is not the factory itself.
But it's a complex near at this complex manufacturers cell phone towers, they've got to move heavy debris there. You see that shovel there, it's got
to move heavy debris, and a lot of other things just to try to get to anyone or anything that could -- that they want to try to pull out of
there. So they've got a lot of debris to move around just to try to get to people. Now as for the candle factory that the governor was talking about,
we do have the new numbers that the governor just mentioned.
Eight confirmed dead from that candle factory collapse, eight are unaccounted for. There were about 110 people inside the building at the
time of the collapse. So 94 at least made it out alive. That's the good news. This is a checkpoint that goes into the area where that candle
factory is. We're not allowed to be any closer to it at the moment. We're trying to get closer. But basically all morning long this has been a steady
stream of, you know, moving equipment, heavy movers.
You've got response teams going in and out today. And you've got also communications crews, other things, other assets being deployed into that
candle factory, Max, to try to get -- to try to get an idea of like if there's anybody else in there who might be a survivor and try to get a
complete body count of just who they've got in and who they -- who has made it out of there. One thing the governor had said earlier, though, that
within the candle factory itself, you've got basically 15 feet of metal with cars piled on top of that plus corrosive chemicals all over the place.
So there are some impediments to that rescue operation, Max. And we hope to get some more information later on how that's going here at the candle
FOSTER:OK, Brian, back with you then. Nick, tell us about Bowling Green.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's one thing to see the devastation on the screen, Max. It's another thing to be here on the ground
and to acknowledge that people were inside these homes when an EF3 tornado ripped through this community 155 mile per hour winds just devastating this
subdivision. I talked to the homeowner here, the landlord of this residence or what's left of him.
He tells me that a man hid in the bathroom and was able to survive and when you just go next door, there was also somebody home here. There's nothing
left. I mean, it's just the foundation, the living room, the kitchen, the bathroom is just a debris field now. This is a very much so an immigrant
community and international community. You have a huge Bosnian population here, people from El Salvador, people from Somalia, which has made
communication really a difficult effort for the police.
They also believe that it played into -- in part at least anyway why more people didn't evacuate when they had a small window to do so. Again, that
landlord that I spoke to this morning said his residents survived because they were watching the news but many in this community come from countries
where there are no tornadoes. So they don't take them as seriously. Others who have lived through severe weather before have gotten the alerts on
their phone but nothing is really ever materialized.
VALENCIA: You know, we're walking through this scene here and if we just pan over, we're seeing the volunteer effort very much so active in Bowling
Green. A lot has been said about what's going on in Mayfield and the contributions being made there. But here in Bowling Green, the devastation
and destruction is just expansive. You know, you have debris fields of more than 100 yards, people's property and home just scattered throughout.
Many of the residents here are now in shelters if they can get into one. Others are staying with friends and family. And you have people that have
come from outside the area that are also affected by these storms, but just not as badly. So they're chipping in. We've covered countless tornadoes
throughout the country, you know, especially in the Midwest, and you always hear about tight-knit communities.
You always hear about just how much people are, you know, helping their neighbors out. But what really has been striking to us is just how
immediate this response has been, not just from FEMA and the National Guard, but certainly from the locals here who are helping their neighbors
FOSTER: OK. Nick in Bowling Green. Thank you very much indeed. Also Brian there in Mayfield. Now the head of FEMA, the U.S. Emergency Management
Agency is warning storms like these are the new normal. And she says climate change is the blame. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEANNE CRISWELL, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: This is going to be our new normal and the effects that we're seeing from climate change are the crisis of our
generation. We're taking a lot of efforts at FEMA to work with communities to help reduce the impacts that we're seeing from these severe weather
events and help to develop system wide projects that can help protect communities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Well, FEMA chief says such strong storms this time of year, have been unprecedented until now. CNN's Chad Myers explains.
CHAD MYERS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Max, what was so unusual about this storm series of storms was that it was 1000 kilometers farther north than
it should have been. Yes, America gets tornadoes in the winter. 23 in fact, every December on average. But most of them are farther to the south along
the Gulf Coast, not up here where it is cold or where it was supposed to be cold.
Memphis, Tennessee, on that day before the tornadoes was up to 27 degrees. That is 13 degrees above normal. Now, how does that happen? Is it climate
change? Likely, maybe. We don't have a lot of data on tornadoes. They're so short lived. They don't last very long. But we do know obviously that heat
waves last a long time. Coastal flooding, heavy rains and drought last a long time.
Those have their fingerprint, right with climate change, no question about it. But hurricanes and tornadoes, not yet so much. But we do know that some
of these tornadoes are starting to move a little bit farther to the east. And, you know, in Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma we're talking about here
where Tornado Alley is. That's where we have fewer people. He moved to the east. And this is the area that's more densely populated.
So if you put tornadoes into a place that has more people, more people are going to get hit. So this is 40 years of data. There's been a shift the
east into the south. This is the storm. It was about 220 kilometers per hour spinning on the ground, maybe up and down a touch, but a line of 320
kilometers long but a devastating storm in places where actually people live in not just farms and communities out there where there's thousands of
square kilometers of ranches. This is what happened with this storm, Max.
FOSTER: Thanks to Chad. Now to learn more about how you can help storm survivors, you go to cnn.com/impact for a list of aid organizations
accepting donations. Find out how you can make a difference.
South Africa is battling rampant vaccine hesitancy and now its president just tested positive for COVID-19. Ahead on the show, how he's using his
illness to encourage people to get the vaccine.
And it was a champ at first time victory for Max Verstappen. But another F1 driver says he was robbed. Details of the controversial ending to the Abu
Dhabi Grand Prix coming up.
FOSTER: Welcome back. I'm Max Foster in London. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. And returning to one of our top stories this hour and that is
confusion persisting as the number of Omicron variant cases skyrockets around the world. The World Health Organization says Omicron is more
transmissible than the Delta variant of COVID-19. And more research suggests that our existing COVID vaccines may not protect us enough.
Oxford University researchers find the AstraZeneca shot provides no protection from the strain from 15 weeks after the second dose. There's
also a substantial decrease in effectiveness for the Pfizer shot. And that's according to a preprint of the study. There is still no evidence
that it's more dangerous than other variants. But the U.K. has reported its first death from Omicron. And with his country in the spotlight since it
discovered the new strain, South Africa's president has tested positive for COVID-19.
He's being treated for mild symptoms. Our David McKenzie has been bringing us the latest from South Africa from new research on the Omicron variant to
the challenges of vaccine inequality and hesitancy there, and across the region in fact. He joins me now from Johannesburg. David, is Mr. Ramaphosa
able to work from home while he's in isolation?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're describing at max as a mild illness. And Cyril Ramaphosa got his vaccine quite some time ago,
single shot Johnson and Johnson. He was in fact due to get his booster his office says this week. But of course, because he has an active infection
that won't happen for a while. And he reiterated as he said earlier, this has given me an addition to those who say vaccines don't work.
But the President reminding people what the point of vaccines are, which is as he says, everyone in the country needs to be vaccinated. Vaccination
dramatically reduces the chances of serious illness, hospitalization and death, which is really what vaccines are for. And despite those relatively
disturbing findings about Astra -- Oxford AstraZeneca, even the scientists say that doesn't tell anything about severe illness.
It does just say symptomatic illness may not be really effective. We'll have to wait and see. And that could take some weeks, Max?
FOSTER: The rest of the world very much looking at South Africa, it was first detected there. And that's where it seems to be spreading most
quickly. So what is the national picture?
MCKENZIE: Well, a British officials calling a tidal wave on the offing in the U.K. And suddenly there has been a significant rise in cases here, Max.
And I've, you know, spent the last few days on the phone, talking to people I've talked to throughout this pandemic. Clinicians, doctors, ambulance
workers, everybody who has that frontline experience with the anecdotal evidence of how a pandemic is going.
Here in South Africa, in Namibia, to a lesser extent Zimbabwe, and certainly Botswana, there is no real sense that there is a crush on the
hospitals. Now whether that's because of prior infection, a level of immunity in the population, whether it's because enough people are
vaccinated too are vulnerable. It's very unclear at this stage. The good news is it's still holding up, Max, that those in hospital predominantly
are those who are unvaccinated which indicates that vaccines still do work to some degree against this variant. And at least in this region, that
could take some several weeks to just make sure this bears out.
MCKENZIE: It hasn't necessarily been the catastrophe that we were fearing but again hospitalizations are sometimes delayed. But certainly it's better
at this point in the wave as it was the last wave here in South Africa, Max?
FOSTER: OK. David in Johannesburg. Thank you. Australia had paused plans to reopen travel with South Korea and Japan over concerns about Omicron. But
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says low death rates and good vaccination numbers will allow quarantine free entry from for people rather, in those
two countries starting this Wednesday. Australia will also open its doors to skilled workers and students from around the world.
Meanwhile, authorities in China has started urging people not to travel as the country grapples with fresh COVID outbreaks. All of this coming ahead
of the region's biggest travel season, the Lunar New Year. Kristie Lou Stout has more from Hong Kong.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: COVID-19 cases continue to rise in China especially in the factory and shipping hub of Zhejiang province on
Sunday trying to report it at new local cases of the virus including 74 injured young and this is significant. China's epicenter of infection has
moved away from China's northern Inner Mongolia region to the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang.
A major manufacturing hub, is home to tech giant Alibaba as well as a major shipping port Ningbo-Zhoushan. It's the world's third busiest container
port, that back in August, a single confirmed case shut down the port for weeks causing shipping congestion and wreaking havoc on the global supply
chain. And now more than a dozen Chinese-listed companies have said that they had suspended production and parts of Zhejiang in response to local
As COVID-19 cases rise, some local authorities are -- like last year, urging residents not to travel during the Lunar New Year. The holiday
starts January 31st. And this is what hundreds of millions of people including migrant workers travel home for family reunions, creating an
effect the world's largest annual human migration. Already, three places are urging workers to stay put, including a district in Zhangjiakou in
Hubei province. It's one of the host cities for the Winter Olympics.
Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.
FOSTER: Up next. Why the controversial end of The Formula One season will likely be forgotten anytime soon. We'll run down exactly what happened
FOSTER: Abu Dhabi really played host to the most dramatic inclusion of possibly Formula One's most extraordinary season ever. Max Verstappen and
his Red Bull team drove to victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in his first world title.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: The race wasn't without controversy. You probably heard the safety car was called to the track causing the final lap to be restarted with
Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton side by side. Despite Hamilton's healthy lead racing fans in the Netherlands, have had a lot to celebrate both Verstappen
and Hamilton came into the race with equal points. But after that controversial finish, it was the 24-year old Dutchman who won the race and
the world title.
Amanda was watching on her phone, sadly, you weren't there. But you're here to tell us about it. I mean, there's respect for both drivers here. Right?
But there's some question over the rules.
AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, it was -- I suppose after the season we've had, 10 months, the 21 races with all the ups and downs up to this
point. We shouldn't be surprised that heading into the final race of the season with the two drivers on the same, literally the same amount of
points. It was going to be a winner takes all. We shouldn't be surprised there was controversy.
Lewis Hamilton had led for the majority of the race, having taken the start from Max Verstappen. Five laps to go Nicholas Latifi crashed out, brought
out the safety car. And then it was very much a matter of rules and interpretation of the rules. But there has been this drive in recent times
to allow cars to race and for the safety car to take a step back. Mercedes obviously feel it was the wrong decision.
They felt that Lewis Hamilton should have been given the advantage. But Max and Red Bull stepped up. He took his opportunities. And I spoke to David
Coulthard, former Formula One driver earlier, he said that whilst Mercedes might well appeal again, that would be a third appeal. Actually, if you
look at it, probably the result would still stand.
FOSTER: People are increasingly talking about the tires, how Lewis Hamilton didn't have the fresh tires that Verstappen did. Is that -- was that a big
part of the story?
DAVIES: Yes. I mean, Lewis Hamilton couldn't afford to take a risk because if he had crashed out or something had happened, Max would have won. So Max
had his fresh tires, which gave him more grip, which meant that he absolutely had --
FOSTER: Would that been enough? Would that have been enough do you think?
DAVIES: I mean, you don't know, you don't know. But you can't take away from what Max Verstappen has done. 24 years of age, a new Formula One World
Champion. He won more races than anybody else this season. He led for more laps than anyone else this season. Mercedes and Lewis have been very
gracious in defeat and what it does is sets up another fantastic campaign with new rules and regulations next year.
FOSTER: It was an amazing moment. More from Amanda on World Sport after the break.