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North Korea Reports Its First COVID Outbreak; U.S. Soccer. Announces Equal Pay. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired May 20, 2022 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Fridays are awesome I had to make that a good one because I`ll only be able to say it on air one more time this season.

I`m Carl Azuz. Welcome to the show.

The coronavirus pandemic has officially found its way to North Korea. We say officially because this is a secretive, tightly controlled communist

country and while it`s probably had COVID cases before, this month marked the first time an outbreak was reported by North Korean media which are

controlled by the government. The nation`s borders have been closed since January of 2020, but unusual cargo flights have been observed this week,

traveling between North Korea and China.

That country is considered North Korea`s closest ally and while observers don`t know exactly what`s on these flights, China has promised to help

North Korea with its COVID outbreak. So, the planes are thought to be carrying some kind of aid to the Korean peninsula.

Since last week, North Korea has reported almost 2 million cases of what it calls fever. Government media say it`s a major national emergency the

silver lining is that the main variant of COVID that`s spreading right now is the omicron strain. It`s less severe than previous versions of the

disease but it spreads very easily. Vaccines do not prevent people from catching and spreading COVID, according to U.S. government health officials

but they say the shots can help prevent serious illness and hospitalizations from the disease.

The thing is North Korea is so closed off and impoverished that the impact of COVID could be worse there than it is in other countries. Still, the

country continues to cause controversy by test-firing missiles into the ocean, a way of asserting its military power and threatening its rivals.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is likely the first time we`ve seen North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wear a mask in public since

the pandemic began, ordering all cities to lock down after admitting the first COVID-19 case in Pyongyang.

MASON RICHEY, HANKUK UNIVERSITY: We think there have probably been cases before, but they haven`t admitted them. And the fact that they`ve admitted

now would indicate that there`s really no hiding it.

HANCOCKS: The number of cases of Omicron variant are unknown, but North Korea is only one of two countries in the world believed to have delivered

zero COVID-19 vaccinations.

BRIAN WAHL, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL: Even in other settings where there`s very low immunization coverage, presumably, there would be higher

levels of prior exposure. So, this is really unique situation that we have in North Korea right now.

HANCOCKS: COVAX, the global vaccine sharing hub, has moved to a needs- based vaccine allocation, saying it`s currently not committed any to North Korea.

Pyongyang last year has believed to have rejected vaccines from China, according to the U.N. China now says it`s ready to provide full support.

The level of testing is low. Up until March 31st, just 64,000 people have been tested out of a population of over 25 million since the pandemic

began. And health infrastructure in the country is fragile, at best. Even developed health systems around the world have struggled under omicron


WAHL: I would imagine that in North Korea, the high levels of malnutrition maybe an additional risk factor for severe disease, and that associated

with COVID-19 right now.

HANCOCKS: It is a population under lockdown in a country not set up for delivery of food and survival items. Extended isolation could have a

serious impact on future food supply already at a crisis in the country.

RICHEY: It can affect agriculture and harvest. It can affect, obviously, interior commerce within the country, the ability of the public food

distribution system, which is already not working very well, to function.

HANCOCKS (on camera): As many experts wondered whether an omicron outbreak would halt its recent run-on missile and weapons tests, Pyongyang answered

Thursday evening with another launch.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.



AZUZ (voice-over): Ten-second trivia:

Which of these events was held for the first time in 1991?

Summer Olympics in Barcelona, FIFA Women`s World Cup, Consumer Electronics Show, or MLB game at Tropicana Field?

The FIFA women`s world cup has been held every four years since 1991.


AZUZ: For the first time, a soccer federation will split its pay and prize money evenly between its men`s and women`s national teams. That federation

is U.S. Soccer. After years of legal battles with female soccer players, the organization announced this week that it would pay men and women the

same amount when they compete on U.S. national soccer teams, like the ones that play in the World Cup.

This agreement does not apply to all professional soccer players in America. Men`s salaries across the sport still far exceed those of women.

But for players on the U.S. national teams, the agreement that lasts through 2028 aims to give men and women equal pay and equal benefits.

FIFA, the international soccer association, will still give millions more in prize money to World Cup men`s teams than it will to World Cup women`s

teams. But U.S. soccer will now evenly split that money between American men and women. On one hand, this means members of the U.S. men`s national

team may have to give up some of their pay so that members of the women`s national team are compensated the same. On the other, the U.S. women`s team

has been far more successful in the World Cup.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It`s a game changing deal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am just so incredibly proud of what we`ve achieved.

FISHER: In a new contract, U.S. soccer women and men`s player associations agreeing to equal pay for all players. Both men and women will now get

around $450,000 a year. Commercial and event revenue will be divvied up. The team`s also shaking hands on sharing World Cup prize money, a first of

any soccer organization in the world.

That part of today`s agreement especially notable -- as the women`s team clinched the last two World Cups, four overall. The men haven`t won yet.

The women`s 2015 win netted less than $2 million, while the men made more than $5 million, losing in the round of 16 the year before.

That propelled a movement for equal pay. Today`s deal is the culmination of that battle between the U.S. Soccer Federation and prominent members of the

U.S. women`s team who filed a federal wage complaint in 2016, and a gender discrimination lawsuit in 2019. Players settled the suit earlier this year

for $24 million dollars.

This comes at a pivotal time as the men head to Qatar later this year for the 2022 World Cup.

Brynn Gingras, CNN New York.


AZUZ: A lot of times when you envision a sinkhole, you probably picture something like this, a crater that opens up in a road or parking lot and

needs to be filled. Not far from a village in China, something a little more expansive was recently discovered but it was not recently formed. You

are looking at a giant sinkhole that`s roughly 650 feet deep and it`s old.

How old is it? Well, it`s said to have an ancient forest growing in the bottom, so it`s been sunken long enough for that. The trees stretch 130

feet high; the plants are up to a person`s shoulders. Experts say it`s possible that new species will be discovered here.

This is one of 30 sinkholes that have been found in this part of southern China. Giant landforms like it are relatively common in that country, as

well as Mexico and Papua New Guinea.


AZUZ: Among the many treasures people have found at the beach, dentures are probably the last thing a vacationer in Gulf Shores, Alabama, expected

to see.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s actually scared me. I was like -- yeah, I said, where`s the rest of this guy`s teeth?


AZUZ: Thankfully, the rest of them were in his head. But an unexpected wave had literally knocked another man`s teeth out and it wasn`t until a

few days later that a swimmer looked down and saw them smiling back up at him in the water. The owner`s name was printed on the dentures, so with

little social media legwork, the swimmer located and returned the teeth but not before taking them on a bit of a road trip.

A bit of a road trip. Truth be told that story`s gold. It`s teething with excitement. What biter way to make a bridge between two strangers than to

have one give a Denton to another`s root problem. It`s a crowning achievement.

You can see why we`re enameled with it and happy to use it to fill our show.

Warwick Veterans Middle School has been chomping at the bit for a shout- out. Great to see you our viewers in Warwick, Rhode Island.

We have one week left to go in our spring broadcasting season. I`m Carl Azuz for CNN 10.