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Quest Means Business
British Prime Minister Suffers Backlash In Parliament Over COVID Rules; E.U. C.D.C. Confirms Omicron In 25 European Countries; Major Averages Down As New Data Shows More Inflation; New South African Study Examines Efficacy Of Pfizer BioNTech Vaccine; Mainland China Detects Second Case Of Omicron; Fuel Truck Explosion In Haiti Kills Dozens; Dash To The Bell. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired December 14, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Well, it is a down day on Wall Street. The Dow is lower. The NASDAQ has been off two percent. Those are
the markets and these are the main events today.
Boris Johnson suffers a big rebellion from his own party as new COVID measures go through Parliament.
Also Europe, is tightening its own restrictions. I'll speak to the head of the European Tourism Association.
And a new study from South Africa tells us more about the impact of omicron.
Live from London. It is Tuesday, December the 14th. I'm Hala Gorani. Richard Quest is out and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
Well tonight, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson faces his biggest rebellion yet in Parliament as the U.K. adopts new COVID restrictions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Order, order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right, 369; the no's to the left, 126.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: The most controversial of the measures, the introduction of so- called COVID Passports to enter nightclubs and big venues, that carried not thanks to the Conservative Party, but to the opposition support for these
measures. Nearly 100 Conservative MPs defected to vote against it.
Mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers, masks in most indoor settings for the wider public, as well as changes to self-isolation rules
were also approved today. Only that last measure by the way had unanimous support.
Salma Abdelaziz joins us now live. She is outside Westminster or outside 10 Downing Street -- I can't tell, it gets dark so early.
In any case, this is rather embarrassing for the Prime Minister because it's a huge rebellion from inside his own party.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Embarrassing and concerning. This was the very first test of his authority since these multiple scandals broke out
last week about parties -- plural -- allegations that they were taking place inside Downing Street during a very strict lockdown last year.
So this is the first time that the Prime Minister is really trying to push through, use his political power, and it seems not to be working, Hala.
You had over or nearly rather a hundred MPs, Conservative MPs, his own rank voting against these measures. Now, we do want to separate these two
things. These Conservative MPs take issue with some of these coronavirus measures, particularly the most contentious one being these health passes,
these COVID Passes, which essentially mean that you have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test before entering large venues.
So think sports stadiums, nightclubs, concerts, issues like that. That is where these Tory MPs take issue. They say this is the government
overstepping its bounds that it curbs civil liberties, that it harms the economy. So they are opposed to these coronavirus restrictions separate of
the scandal that is growing and swirling around Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
But politics is nothing if not the power of persuasion. For two years now since he took office, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been seen as a
winner by his party, as someone who leads the Conservative Party, who was able to get votes from corners of this country that had never voted
So these MPs now are making a calculation about their own seats in Parliament. Can they continue to hold on to those seats with someone like
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is now mired in this scandal? And separately, of course, we have to remember we are in the middle of fighting
yet another variant of COVID-19, the omicron variant.
The Prime Minister now doing that it seems without the support of his party -- Hala.
GORANI: And let's talk about omicron because cases are doubling every two days. This is becoming a major public health emergency, and there is this
rift within the Conservative Party on how to even address the rapid spread of this new variant.
How politically damaging is this to the Prime Minister?
ABDELAZIZ: Health officials are highly concerned about the omicron variant. As you mentioned, doubling every two to three days. It is set to
be the dominant strain here in London any minute now. It is overtaking the delta variant across the country. Fears that it could overwhelm the
healthcare system during the Holiday season.
So these measures are absolutely necessary. Experts say to stem that rise, to stem that tidal wave of omicron, that the Prime Minister has said is
coming, but again the question is, if the Prime Minister needs to put further restrictions into place, if omicron becomes worse, if it starts to
put real pressure on doctors and nurses across this country, how can the Prime Minister pass tougher measures?
How can he get better restrictions in place if that is what he needs, if he has his party opposing him, so this is hugely politically damaging, but it
is also largely crippling, Hala, when you start to think about how this Prime Minister is going to battle a variant of COVID-19 that experts say is
highly transmissible, is set to be the dominant strain in this country and could put real pressure on doctors and nurses here.
GORANI: Absolutely. Thanks very much, Salma Abdelaziz, live in London.
Omicron appears to be spreading freely now in Europe. The European C.D.C. says more than 2,000 cases of the new variant have been confirmed across 25
countries. Luxembourg and Hungary are the latest to join the list.
Nina de Santos has more on the situation on the continent.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Parts of Europe are entering crisis mode when it comes to the spread of COVID. Cases are on the
rise while roughly one in three Europeans remains unvaccinated.
In London, there are long lines to get the COVID booster jab. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all adults in England will be offered
a booster by year's end.
The pandemic is worsening in the U.K. where there have been an average of more than 50,000 new infections each day over the last week, the omicron
variant representing 20 percent of cases.
SUSAN HOPKINS, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER AT THE U.K. HEALTH SECURITY AGENCY: We are concerned with the large volume of individuals who are being
infected every day in the population that we are going to have a very difficult four weeks ahead with cases in the community.
DOS SANTOS (voice over): England is also removing all 11 countries from its red travel list. The U.K. Health Minister says that it is less
effective now that the omicron variant has spread so widely around the world.
The COVID wave is also affecting the sporting world. A high number of omicron cases are being reported within England's Premier League. Positive
tests in the league are at a record high.
Tuesday's game between Brentford and Manchester United has been rescheduled, the second postponement in three days. The League says that
there were 42 positive tests between December 6th and the 12th, more than tripled the previous weeks total of 12.
Norway is banning the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants to help curb the spread of COVID. The country has what is believed to be one of the
highest number of cases of omicron in the world. Officials there warned that it could become the dominant variant in the country within days.
And Denmark reported nearly 7,800 new infections on Monday. That's the highest daily increase there since the pandemic started. The Danish
government is closing schools. It has curbed nightlife, and it is encouraging residents to work remotely.
As a wave of the omicron variant sweeps across Europe, scientists are warning that they don't yet know how often the variant causes severe
disease. Yet, they caution that the increase in cases could begin to overwhelm hospitals. This, as many Europeans continue to resist getting the
Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.
GORANI: Well, so as you've heard, England is lifting the most severe travel restrictions for people coming from Southern African countries. The
government is removing all 11 countries from its red list, which included South Africa and Nigeria. Travelers from those countries have to quarantine
in a hotel at their own expense, costing them thousands of pounds.
Shares in U.K. travel companies rallied on this news and other nations that comprise the U.K. make their own rules, but surely follow England's lead.
The British Health Secretary told Parliament the Red List no longer serves its original purpose. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: Now that there is community transmission of omicron in the UK, and omicron has spread so widely, widely
across the world, the travel Red List is now less effective in slowing the incursion of omicron from abroad.
So I can announce today that whilst we will maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel, we will be removing all 11 countries
from the traveler Red List effective from 4:00 AM tomorrow morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So it's unclear if people are already in quarantine or free to leave. That's an outstanding question.
That Red List was only introduced in late November, the previous one lasted for nearly a year. It's another reminder of the uncertainty facing the
travel industry and just how fast everything changes.
Trivago says hotel booking cancellations have gone up by more than a third since November. Tom Jenkins is the CEO of the European Tourism Association,
and he joins me via Skype from London.
Thanks for being with us. First, what has the impact of omicron been already on the travel industry?
TOM JENKINS, CEO, EUROPEAN TOURISM ASSOCIATION: Well, I mean, the travel industry really is just an extension or part of the service economy and the
impact that has had already on the service economy is quite severe.
I mean, you can see that the crowds that were in London are not there in anything like the same number. The underground is not as crowded as it was.
The shops aren't as crowded as they were. So, it is naturally having a big impact on travel. There's no doubt about it.
GORANI: And the end of the hotel quarantine requirement for those 11 countries, what does that mean for the Christmas season?
JENKINS: Well, it means that those people who have to travel will now be able to do so without incurring huge expense and major discomfort. I think,
don't forget that there is still a requirement to have a PCR test and to self-isolate for two days upon arrival.
Now, this is totally feasible if you're an individual visiting family. If you're a family going on a holiday, though, this is a major expense. It is
at least $100.00 a head, and the prospect of self-isolating for the first two days is not promising.
So, this is very bad news in some ways for the tourism industry.
GORANI: Sure. But what would you -- I mean, if you had it your way, and obviously you need to follow the recommendations of scientists. But what do
you think is a reasonable approach to try to contain the spread of this newest variant, and all the while trying to keep the tourism industry you
know how as healthy as possible?
JENKINS: Well, I think we need to try and fashion some form of welcome in the current situation. I think certainly, if you're making tests mandatory
upon arrival, you really ought to supply them upon arrival. And I think governments are basically leaving the incoming visitors prey to all kinds
of very enterprising schemes, some extremely expensive, trying to meet the needs of these visitors.
And the requirements that these visitors are meeting are entirely set by government. So, I think it's not unreasonable for the industry to ask
government to not just foot the bill, but supply those tests.
And if they are really important, and the government is, we assume are doing it because it is really important. It's really important, the
government watches these tests very carefully.
At the moment, we have no -- we have little evidence that there is any really consistent follow up on this. So, the suspicion amongst the travel
industry, is that this is more of a kind of Potemkin facade to allay public opinion. Now, public opinion is important --
GORANI: Yes, you mean that people are asked to register some sort of reference number for a test and don't necessarily take it or if they send
it out, they don't necessarily report the result.
JENKINS: There are all sorts of anecdotal evidence that there is considerable laxity in the enforcement of these areas. That doesn't mean to
say people shouldn't do these tests. I'm just saying that given that we're forcing people to do this, and to pay for it, it's a bit like building a
wall and asking Mexico to pay for it.
This is a pretty punitive sanction on people who you want to attract your country to come and spend money, and these people are in very short supply
GORANI: What do you -- of all the countries in the world dealing with this pandemic and we're all affected, which one do you think has got it right in
terms of keeping its tourism industry afloat?
JENKINS: That's very difficult to say. I think in general, if you look at the European bloc, and it is still a bloc notwithstanding the fact that
national governments are rushed to close borders occasionally.
On the whole, Europe has done a pretty good job of maintaining intra- European traffic. So, the U.K. which as we know is very much an island nowadays, has really suffered from its total lack of international
visitors. This is not something that Italy or Spain or Greece would suffer from.
GORANI: Thank you very much for joining us, Tom Jenkins, the European Tourism Association CEO. Appreciate it.
The Federal Reserve has started its last meeting of the year, it is the first since Chairman Jerome Powell signaled a shift toward faster tapering
and his view of inflation. The numbers since then have not been promising.
We'll be right back.
GORANI: U.S. wholesale prices are rising faster than ever recorded adding to inflation worries on Wall Street. All the major averages are down for a
second straight day recovering somewhat from session lows. But as you can see, the Dow there is down 75 points, the NASDAQ is harder hit, one and a
fifth percent lower at 15,231.
Now the latest signal of inflation, the Producer Price Index jumped 9.6 percent year-over-year in November. Higher and more persistent inflation is
pressuring the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster and sooner and the Fed has started its last policy meeting of the year, Chairman
Jerome Powell had signaled faster tapering at a recent congressional hearing, obviously, that he would take into account data and that would
inform the decision.
And oil meanwhile, is down as the International Energy Agency says an omicron surge will put a dent in demand and that's Brent crude for you.
Matt Egan joins me now live with more on what to expect from the Fed -- Matt.
MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, the Fed has an inflation problem on its hands. And you know, tomorrow, they really have to show that they're going
to take it very, very seriously.
This latest report really adds to the pressure and the producer prices up by 9.6 percent from a year ago. That is the highest that we've ever seen
for this metric, which goes back since 2010. And as you can see, producer prices were very tame around before COVID, and even in the few months
after, but they've exploded higher. That's because of all these supply chain issues, because of the shortage of workers and because demand is
And you know, we learned last Friday that consumer prices are at a 39-year high, and this report today suggests that there is going to be a lot more
pressure on inflation to come and this has really been a widespread inflation issue.
The report that came out today showed that double digit price increases for everything from rental cars and food to industrial chemicals, RVs and
campers up by 66 percent. Gasoline has more than doubled.
So inflation is spreading, and that is not what the White House or the Federal Reserve wanted to hear. And you know, as much as we talk about the
political implications of inflation for the Biden administration, you know, this is really the Fed's job to maintain price stability. And right now,
we're seeing anything but stable prices.
And so the Fed is likely to signal tomorrow that they're going to speed up their unwinding of the bond buying stimulus program because that program is
really only adding pressure to inflation. It's kind of unthinkable that they are still buying all these bonds, even though inflation is so hot and
even though the economy is so strong.
The Fed is also likely to signal that, you know, eventually they're going to raise interest rates from rock bottom levels because again rates are at
zero right now even though inflation is a big issue.
Now, I talked to influential investor, David Kotok today and I asked him, you know, we seem worried about how the Fed is going to exit these
policies. And he said, "I fear a policy error that goes too far, too fast and throws the U.S. economy into a slowdown or a recession. History
suggests that is a very real possibility." Because, listen, the Fed knows how to tame inflation by slowing down the economy, by tapping on the
brakes, but the harder they hit the brakes, the greater the chance of an accident, either slowing the economy too much or upsetting markets, or
And so that is the really difficult balancing act facing Jerome Powell and the Fed tomorrow.
GORANI: All right, Matt, thanks very much.
Meme stocks are coming back down to Earth after enjoying a pretty stellar year. GameStop and AMC are bouncing back today after big losses on Monday.
Both are down more than 30 percent from recent highs, but you can see they bounced back somewhat.
The stocks are still up massively this year. Take a look at the graphics.
AMC's chief financial officer recently cashed out all of his shares. The CEO, Adam Aron sold over $9 million in shares, a move that he had
announced. Paul La Monica is here with more on these meme stocks and where they might be headed in the future.
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, Hala, I think that investors are quickly learning the hard way that fundamentals still matter. It's not
just about, you know, posting amusing memes on Reddit and, you know, talking about how you want to squeeze those evil short sellers.
You look at a company like GameStop, they recently reported earnings and they didn't really earn any money, they were losing money still. They are
definitely facing the challenges in the video game industry right now ahead of the holidays with the well-publicized shortages of the latest consoles
from Sony and Microsoft. Video games, software companies have been hurt by all this as well.
And when you look at AMC, the movie industry is still slowly recovering right now. "West Side Story" was a big bomb at the box office. So you can't
have AMC going to the moon as many of its fans love to claim on Reddit, when other movie theater chains like IMAX and Cinemark are tumbling because
of poor box office trends.
So I think reason has returned to these meme stocks, earnings and revenue actually matter. It's not just about silly jokes on Reddit.
GORANI: Yes, always back to the basics, back to the fundamentals. The old school investors would say that. Thanks so much, Paul La Monica.
Soda companies are eliminating the word "diet" from their labels. Coca- Cola, meanwhile, eliminated nearly half its brands during the pandemic. CEO James Quincy told Rachel Crane, it was an effort to emerge stronger from
the pandemic instead of just managing the crisis. He says it's led to innovation at his company.
JAMES QUINCY, CEO, COCA-COLA: Any one change can seem like a small risk, but when you pile them all on top of each other, it's like a Jenga tower.
You're going to pull up a brick out on the bottom where it fails.
RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS INNOVATIONS AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Jenga tower Coke CEO, James Quincy is referring to is the
entire Coca-Cola Empire comprised of 400 brands.
In October of last year, Quincy announced he was killing off half of the company's portfolio.
(Video clip from "Back to the Future.")
CRANE (voice over): And not everybody was happy about it.
EMILY KAY, FROM "THE JOURNAL" PODCAST: It was like where you were when Kennedy was shot. I'll never forget where I was when someone called and
said you're not going to be able to get Tab anymore.
CRANE (voice over): He says some people even had funerals for the brands.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if you need any Tab art to mourn the loss of Tab, just DM us and we'll make you some cool stuff.
QUINCY: Well, I did receive a lot of feedback from some consumers who were very disappointed that we were sun-setting some of the brands and so yes,
it was very hard for some consumers to move on from those brands. Hopefully, we provided them other brands to go to.
CRANE (on camera): And how many brands has Coca-Cola eliminated during your time as CEO?
QUINCY: By the time we get to the end of next year, I think we'll be at about 200. That will be almost half the brands we owned. But it was only
two percent of the sales.
You have a very big difference between the fastest selling and the biggest brands and products and some of the slow ones that are just occupying space
like the furring up of the arteries if you like and so you have to clean them out.
CRANE (voice over): Despite the pushback, Quincy said the decision wasn't particularly difficult.
QUINCY: I'm an engineer at heart and a rationalist and it would be fair to say early on in my career when really the company was first starting to
drive much harder into innovation, you learn a lesson that no matter how close you get to a brand, how much history you have with it, you have to be
willing to make the rational decision for the benefit of the bigger portfolio.
CRANE (on camera): So of those 200 brands that you have axed, were some of them historically understood to not be touched when you took over a CEO?
Like no, no, no, this is going to live on even though it might not on paper make sense?
QUINCY: Yes, I mean, several of those brands in previous years, I have tried to sunset them as well and make them go away. There is a tendency for
the organization to head towards, well, that's the way we've always done it.
We are very successful, therefore, even though I'm not sure what role this brand plays, it must be a part of the overall success formula. But being
able to stand back and disaggregate and say, yes, we've been very successful. That doesn't mean everything we do all the time, is the best,
is world class, is something we should keep into the future.
But I saw my opportunity this time.
CRANE (voice over): That opportunity was the global pandemic. Once Coke had a framework to deal with the immediate crisis, he knew he had to think
QUINCY: The biggest risk, I think, was riding that pandemic moment, right in the second quarter of 2020, right in April-May. I mean, the world was
ending, volumes were falling, you know, double digits at Coca-Cola. Everything was locked down. The supply chain was clogging up around the
world. What are we going to do?
Actually, we stopped trying to manage the day-to-day and we started to focus on, okay, this crisis is going to end and when this crisis ends, do
we want to be known for just managing through the crisis? Or do we want to be known for having emerged stronger or being ready to have much more
growth when the crisis ends, which is how we came to the to the decisions around trimming the portfolio, changing the way we work as an organization,
changing the focus on what we missed on, because we immediately shifted almost immediately within the crisis to focus on the future on how do we
get ready for 2022.
CRANE (on camera): So because you guys just axed such a huge percentage of your brands, should we expect now a tidal wave of new products -- Coca Cola
products -- hitting the shelves?
QUINCY: You know, in a way yes. In a way said like that, that we took the opportunity to take away the weakest half of the portfolio, and now that
the world is reopening, people want to go out, the social experiment, look for new things and the opportunities, now is the time to come out with new
innovations and new products.
CRANE (voice over): And even though Quincy says he has had regrets, discontinuing these brands has breathed new life in the company's appetite
QUINCY: I think that has given the organization, the system, more belief that actually risks can be taken. I mean, we tend to over research things
and hesitate because something could have gone wrong. We forgot about the idea that something could have gone right.
We, humans are programmed to overweight by far things we lose versus things we might gain. Risk taking in innovation is not to let the fear of what
you're going to lose obscure the possibility of what you might gain.
GORANI: And we are learning more about omicron. Every day now, scientists in South Africa are offering some hope as well as a warning. Details next.
GORANI: There's a new study from South Africa giving us more clues about the potential impact of Omicron. It indicates that people infected with
Omicron less likely to be hospitalized than those who caught the original strain, which was less severe than Delta -- that was the quote-unquote
The not so good news is that it offers more evidence that Omicron is very contagious. And based on this early data, it suggests children are more
likely to get hospitalized than before. Let's analyze this with senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.
What more are we learning from this real-world study?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, you really hit it on the nose here, why it's important. It's real-world; also, this study really
does agree with what was found in the lab. So the more studies you have, that found something, the more sure you can be of their accuracy.
Let's take a look at what this study found. More than 200,000 patients, who belonged to a particular insurance plan in South Africa. What they found is
that, when you looked at the Pfizer vaccine with Omicron, that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine was 33 percent effective against infection.
In other words, it was only 33 percent effective at protecting people from getting infected with Omicron but it was 70 percent effective against
hospitalization. So you can see the bad news there and you can also see the good news; 70 percent is not as good as some of the higher numbers we've
seen throughout the pandemic.
But still, given that people were pretty sure this was or were fearing that this variant was going to give a huge challenge to the vaccine, it's good
to see it's still 70 percent effective. Studies that Pfizer has done have shown a third dose, a booster dose, really helps against Omicron. Hala.
GORANI: And what about the potential effectiveness of a antiviral pill?
So Pfizer just released final data on that new pill to treat COVID-19.
COHEN: That's right. So it's always better to take a vaccine and prevent COVID-19. But if you were to get COVID-19, here are results from Pfizer.
They did a clinical trial of about 1,400 people, divided equally between a group that got a placebo, a pill that does nothing, and a group that does
the real thing, the actual pill, called Paxlovid.
The folks with the placebo, sadly, didn't do very well. Of the 700-ish people, 66 hospitalized and 12 died. But the 700 or so folks with the
actual drug, eight were hospitalized and none of them died. So that's a great number.
I will tell you one thing that's a caveat here is you have to catch this early. What I showed you is folks who got the drug within five days of
noticing symptoms of COVID-19. That is very quick. And actually, the results were better if you took it even sooner than that.
But a lot of people, they don't necessarily recognize the symptoms. You have to get tested. Testing is not always easily available, not always
quick. And then you have to get a doctor to prescribe it. So getting that all done quickly within just days of feeling symptoms, you know, it might -
- in a clinical trial, that's not so hard; in real life, that's much more difficult. Hala.
GORANI: Yes, absolutely, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much for that.
All right. Let's move on to China. China is going all out to contain its own COVID outbreak.
It detected its second case of Omicron, a new test for the government's zero COVID strategy. Kristie Lu Stout has that.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: After health authorities in Tianjin confirmed the very first case of the Omicron variant in China,
another case of the variant has been reported in Guangzhou.
State media are reporting that this involves a 67-year-old male. On November the 27th he touched down in Shanghai. He was tested for COVID
multiple times while during his two weeks of hotel quarantine. He flew from Shanghai to Guangzhou, where he tested positive for the Omicron variant.
The epicenter of the current flare-up continues to be Zhejiang province. On Monday, China reported 51 new local cases of the virus, including 44 in
Zhejiang, home to tech giant Alibaba as well as a major shipping port.
Back in August, a single case shut down the port for weeks, causing shipping congestion and wreaking havoc on the global supply chain. And now
tens of thousands of people are now in quarantine across Zhejiang province and over a dozen listed companies have suspended production because of
local COVID-19 restrictions.
The final version of the Beijing Winter Olympic games playbook has already been released. And in this era of Omicron, it provides some clarity about
booster shots. Athletes are, quote, "strongly encouraged to get a booster shot" but not mandated to do so -- Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.
GORANI: And out of this, officials in Haiti say 62 people were killed in massive fuel truck explosion late Monday night, when a tanker carrying
gasoline blew up in the country's second largest city, Cap Haitien. You see some of the bodies of those who died on the scene.
A local official said the truck stopped due to mechanical issues and passersby began collecting fuel leaking from it before getting trapped in
the flames when it exploded.
As to why they took such a huge risk, the country has been facing a fuel shortage for months, caused by all sorts of issues -- gang violence,
government mismanagement and the COVID pandemic, of course. Patrick Oppmann is in Havana with the latest.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's just another unspeakable tragedy for the people of Haiti, who've suffered already so much this year. And as
you said, Hala, usually you would expect, with a large tanker truck like this leaking, people would run away from the truck, not toward it.
But it really speaks to the desperation of so many Haitians, that they saw this as an opportunity to collect a little bit of gasoline, something that
is very precious and hard to come by these days in many parts of Haiti.
And as people in this neighborhood, in Haiti's second largest city, started going and collecting some of this gasoline, then somehow, this tanker truck
exploded. And it is just a devastating scene. It looks as if a bomb has gone off and that was essentially what happened.
You see wreckage everywhere. Authorities say it was not just the people in the immediate vicinity of this gasoline truck that exploded who were killed
and injured but people in the surrounding homes, maybe people who weren't even aware of the accident, who had their homes burned down and were
affected as well.
So we have seen images of Haiti's prime minister, Ariel Henry, arriving, telling people to donate blood, because there was apparently not enough
blood in the hospitals for the people who were burned and injured.
And as the search continues for survivors and for the dead, we expect the count of the dead to rise. But again, this just speaks to the desperation
Haitians are experiencing that, when this fuel truck had some sort of mechanical trouble and was leaking gasoline, that the people ran toward it.
And that was probably what caused so many more people tragically to die here.
GORANI: I imagine those who survived must be really suffering some pretty horrific burns and injuries. And you were talking about how hospitals
aren't necessarily equipped to address, to respond to this emergency.
OPPMANN: Many hospitals have been without power because of the gang violence, because gangs have not been allowing trucks of gasoline, to keep
generators in hospitals running, to go through.
So certainly most hospitals in Haiti are just not equipped to be dealing with the influx of so many people injured and badly burned as they saw last
night. So a group saying they were asking for donations, that they'll need more help to get the situation under control.
Certainly, this is just another blow to Haiti's already weak and ailing government.
That these tragedies take place, it just goes to show the lawlessness and desperation taking place there, a country that has already gone through an
earthquake this year, that killed thousands; a presidential assassination and this kind of gang violence, that just seems to interrupt all kinds of
daily life and has led to a really desperate situation, where people do not have power for sometimes days.
And sometimes hospitals just go out of power because they're not able to get the fuel. And when people see an opportunity like to get a little
gasoline, scoop some up in cups or bowls or stuff like that, then they run to do it, despite the danger.
GORANI: OK, Patrick Oppmann, thanks.
That's the show for now. I'll be back at the top of the hour as we reach the closing bell. Up next, "CONNECTING AFRICA."
GORANI: Hello, I'm Hala Gorani, it's the dash to the closing bell. We're two minutes away. Wall Street has been muted as investors are awaiting the
outcome of the Fed's last meeting of the year.
The Dow has been trying to stage a recovery after being down most of the day but not succeeding. The Fed chair Jerome Powell is set to speak
tomorrow about the central bank's latest thoughts on tapering and interest rates.
You can see the Dow there down about 140 points.
The U.K. removing all countries from its red list. International travelers still need to test negative for COVID-19. Tom Jenkins, head of the European
Tourism Association, told me that if governments are going to insist on COVID-19 testing, they should take responsibility for it.
TOM JENKINS, EUROPEAN TOURISM ASSOCIATION: If you are making tests mandatory upon arrival, you should really provide tests upon arrival. And I
think governments are leaving incoming visitors prey to all kinds of very enterprising schemes, some very expensive, trying to meet the needs of
The requirements of these visitors are entirely set by government so I think it's not unreasonable for the industry to ask government not just to
foot the bill but supply the tests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And that is your dash to the bell, I'm Hala Gorani, the closing bell is ringing on Wall Street. And "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts in a