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CNN 10

Find Out What It`s Like to Enter and Navigate China`s "Closed Loop"; Get A Glimpse of Lunar New Year Events; Conservation Efforts in Australia

Aired February 01, 2022 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Welcome to the shortest month of the year, and its very first edition of our show. It`s great to have you watching from

around the world. My name is Carl Azuz, and we`re starting in the Chinese capital city of Beijing. In three days, the 2022 Winter Olympic Games

begin. Like last summer`s events in Tokyo, Japan, there a lot of unique restrictions in place here because of corona virus concerns. China has

some of the strictest rules on the planet and they include the country`s closed loop system for the Olympics. This aims to keep people involved in

the games separate from the Chinese public in the hope of preventing the spread of COVID.

Unless their country`s Olympic committee requires them to be vaccinated, athletes don`t have to be inoculated to compete but those who aren`t needed

to arrive in Beijing weeks ago, because the International Olympic Committee has a mandatory 21 day quarantine requirement before they`re able to move

around. And everyone, regardless of vaccination status has to be tested daily. Will this keep COVID out of the Olympics? No. Organizers say

their goal is zero spread, not zero cases as they do expect people will test positive. Has anyone involved in these games tested positive yet?

Yes. Dozens of people, some before they left their home countries, others after they arrived in Beijing.

For some of the athletes with COVID, it means their Olympic dream is over, at least for the next four years regardless of whether they have mild or no

symptoms. But others are hoping they`ll recover and test negative in advance of their events, in which case they will likely be allowed to

compete. This is a big effort because roughly 3,000 athletes are expected to participate in these games, in addition to the coaches, support staff,

and members of the media who go there.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: My team and I are traveling to Beijing for the Winter Olympic games, held under the strictest COVID countermeasures in

the world. Our journey starts weeks before. I`m here in Tokyo. It`s 14 days before the game but I`ve already got it down like this Olympic Health

App, start tracking my health in here every day and upload my vaccine certificate. I`m getting some de javu using this app since we had to use a

similar one for the Tokyo Games, but this time I`m using a burner phone because of cybersecurity concerns in China. For the next two weeks I`m

limiting physical interactions with others as much as possible, 96 hours before departure. Here we go in for my first test.

Back home I upload my information to get this green QR code. Here we go. We`re taking off. Just landed in Beijing. It`s totally (inaudible). I

haven`t been back here since I moved about a year and a half ago. First thing I saw walking off the airplane is a sea of hazmat suits. Feels a bit

more like going into a medical facility than the Olympic buzz you`d expect getting off the airplane. That was extremely painful. I just got a nose

and a throat PCR test. I was tearing up a bit. I clear customs, immigration and get my Olympic badge without seeing a single face. I`m

officially in what organizers are calling the closed loop. Multiple bubbles connected by dedicated transport. The goal, to keep Olympic

participants separate from the rest of China.

Finally on my way to the hotel on this special bus that`s just for transporting Olympic participants. Arrived at the hotel, they`ve got this

giant wall all around the hotel so you can`t just walk in and out easily. The local staff here are also part of this bubble. They`ll have to

quarantine for 21 days before leaving the bubble and returning to their homes in China. Beijing isn`t taking any chances. Entire communities in

China have gone into lockdown over even just one COVID case. I`ve been waiting six hours. Just got the call my results came back negative. I am

so relieved but it`s not over yet. I`ll be tested daily and will be mostly confined to this room and Olympic venues during my entire stay here.

Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


AZUZ: As the world enters the month of February 2022, China and several other Asian countries are entering Lunar New Year, also known as Spring

Festival or Chinese New Year, this is considered to be the most important holiday in the world`s most populated country. It traditionally triggers

the largest annual human migration on Earth, when hundreds of millions of people travel home to be with their families. Of course, concerns and

restrictions related to COVID have put a damper on that. Public events have been limited or cancelled in some Asian cities, but families are still

gathering to celebrate the year 4720 on the Chinese calendar. It symbolized by the tiger, specifically the water tiger this year. Lunar New

Year celebrations can last for up to 15 days.

10 Second Trivia. Which of these animals is most closely related to a wombat? Koala, Guinea Pig, Opossum or Prairie Dog. They`re both native to

Australia. They`re both marsupials and wombats and koalas are closely related.

Wombats, at least the common bear nosed kind, are not considered endangered but koalas might be headed that way. The International Union for the

Conservation of Nature lists Australia`s koalas as vulnerable, meaning their not officially endangered or extinct but there`s a high risk of them

going extinct in the wild. Conservationists believe koala`s numbers are decreasing in Australia by as much as 30 percent over the past four years

according to the Australian Koala Foundation. The nation`s government has set aside tens of millions of dollars for restoring koala habitats,

increasing awareness about the animals and funding more studies about them, but what`s threatening koalas in the first place?


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They`re cute, cuddly and could one day be extinct, but the koala one of Australia`s iconic animals

may have just been thrown a lifeline by the Australian government. The Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledging $35 million in the next four years

to protect the species, after the number of koalas plummeted in the last few years.

SCOTT MORRISON, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: We`re investing in the world leading science in looking after our koala populations. We are also

investing heavily in education. So, ensure not only the public can understand how they can care, but also importantly veterinarians right

across the country.

HOLMES: One of the biggest threats to koalas, bush fires. In 2019 and 2020, the World Wildlife Fund estimates more than 60,000 koalas were

impacted in one of the country`s worst fire seasons. That`s a dramatic loss since estimates of their total numbers range from nearly half a

million to fewer than 100,000 in the wild. Disease is also taking a toll on the species. Wildlife conservationist Robert Irwin says, the funds are

coming at a critical time for koalas.

ROBERT IRWIN, CONSERVATIONIST: They are on -- on the thin edge of the wedge, so any kind of support that we can get is greatly, greatly

appreciated, and -- and very, very needed. Our -- our environment is -- is suffering at the moment and so any steps that we can make toward a -- a

brighter future, to make positive change.

HOLMES: Some conservationists say money isn`t enough. Some environmental groups say the government needs to pass stronger laws about deforestation

and climate change to protect koala`s habitats from being bulldozed, logged or burned. The Australian Koala Foundation says, their conservation status

should be upgraded from vulnerable to critically endangered. Many agree the money for now is helpful, but without addressing the larger issue

Australia could one day lose what many people say is a national treasure. Michael Holmes, CNN.


AZUZ: You don`t necessarily need to organize a charity to help out a community. Sometimes you just need to get to work. That`s what 14 year old

Cohen Stahl has been doing this winter, shoveling his neighbor`s driveways and clearing the snow around mailboxes and fire hydrants. He had a quad

ATV with a plow on it that he used for big sections and a shovel for smaller ones. But while he was doing this one day, his ATV caught fire and

was destroyed, so the owner of a local store who`d seen Cohen`s good work online started a GoFundMe to help him buy a new ATV. It raised the first

$5,000 in less than 24 hours and when we put this show together it had raised more than $10,000.

Could that help him out? "Four-wheel". He could keep "Cohen", plowing forward without leaving the "Stahl". His GoFundMe has gotten a "quad" of

donations. It just goes to "snow" you how much "ATBelieve" in him. Congrats Cohen. We`ve got Hinckley Finlayson High School watching today

from Hinckley, Minnesota. Thank you for your comment and request on our You Tube channel. I`m Carl Azuz.