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Hala Gorani Tonight

U.K. Confirms First Death From Omicron Variant; Tornadoes Leave Trail Of Destruction In Parts Of The U.S.; Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett Makes First Official Visit To The UAE; Australia To Open Travel Bubble With South Korea, Japan; Jimmy Lai Sentenced To Prison Over Tiananmen Vigil; U.S. Lawmaker In Ukraine Warns Russia Threat Is "Real". Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 13, 2021 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. The U.K. faces a, quote, "tidal wave of

infections." Omicron cases are multiplying rapidly as the British Prime Minister launches an ambitious booster campaign. We'll have all the details

for you. Plus, devastation on an unprecedented scale. Dozens of tornadoes wreaked havoc in the United States, leaving homes flattened and more than

100 feared dead. We are on the ground in Kentucky this hour.

And is Cancun safe for tourists? The Mexican government is scrambling to secure the popular hot spot after several shocking instances of gang

violence at resorts. We'll bring you that story as well. Alarm bells are ringing in the U.K. as the country confirms its first death from the

Omicron variant. But there are no details yet on whether the person was vaccinated or whether that person had other pre-existing conditions.

We just know they were infected with Omicron and passed away from COVID. Others have been hospitalized. The majority of those have received two

doses of the vaccine, we're told. Earlier, the U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid had this warning.


SAJID JAVID, SECRETARY OF HEALTH, UNITED KINGDOM: What we've learnt about this new variant, Omicron, in just the last week is that, first of all,

it's spreading at a phenomenal rate. The number of infections is doubling every two or three days. There's going to be a tidal wave of infection. The

second thing that we've learned in the last week is that two doses of the vaccine are not enough to protect you, but three doses, a booster shot, is.

It will be hugely effective in protecting you against symptomatic infection.


GORANI: All right, this is the British Health Secretary. The government is ramping up its lines of defense. On Sunday, Boris Johnson announced that

the country would speed up its booster rollout, setting a new target for all eligible adults to get a booster by the end of this month, December.

And now National Health Service staff will be redeployed away from non- urgent services to accelerate the program. Obviously, this means longer wait lists for people who have non-life-threatening procedures. Some of

them have been waiting a very long time.

All of this is happening amid ongoing scandal for the British prime minister after a week of public fury over alleged government parties during

lockdown last Christmas. Boris Johnson appears to be fighting fires on all fronts. Our Salma Abdelaziz has the details.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to save his credibility and office after a week of scandal that set

off public fury.


ABDELAZIZ: The latest hit coming from British tabloid "The Mirror", a newly leaked photo showed Johnson at a Christmas Party quiz inside Downing Street

December last year, at a time when indoor social gatherings were banned in London. Downing Street admits Johnson took part in the virtual event

briefly, but added those participating in person were already working in their offices. It adds to mounting information that multiple parties took

place at the prime minister's office and residence last year, a brazen violation of lockdown.

CNN has confirmed that two social gatherings were indeed held, one on November 27th and another on December 18th, and that Johnson himself gave

an impromptu speech at the first one. Days earlier, a leaked video of a mock press conference showed officials laughing about the alleged December

18th Christmas party. Allegra Stratton; the prime minister's spokesperson seen in a video --


ABDELAZIZ: Apologized and resigned shortly after. Last week, Johnson launched an investigation into the social gatherings. Still, he has

continuously denied that any parties took place or any restrictions were broken.

JOHNSON: I can tell you that I certainly broke no rules. The whole thing will be looked into by the cabinet secretary. And what i am focused on,

frankly, is the vaccine rollout.

ABDELAZIZ: It comes as health officials warn Omicron cases in the U.K. are doubling every two to three days. On Sunday, the prime minister pled for

compliance with new COVID rules and urged everyone eligible to get boosted.

JOHNSON: There is a tidal wave of Omicron coming.

ABDELAZIZ: But the country's opposition leader Keir Starmer said Johnson is a threat to public health and no longer fit for office.

KEIR STARMER, BRITISH LABOR PARTY LEADER: Now that trust is broken, and many people are now saying, well, if the prime minister is going to allow

breaking of the rules, parties, quizzes going on in Downing Street when we're being asked not to see our loved ones, well, why should I follow the



ABDELAZIZ: Johnson is set to be back in parliament this week to push new COVID measures. He is expected to face a rebellion from his own party,

appearing to lose faith even among his own circle. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


GORANI: And joining me now is Nina dos Santos in London, Cyril Vanier is in Paris for the latest on the COVID situation here in the U.K. and across

Europe as well. And Nina, these Omicron cases especially in densely- populated areas like London are really -- they're multiplying at an alarming rate.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are. In fact, the latest data seems to be that there's been about another 1,576 cases, and just the day

before, it was 1,239. So as you can just see there, Hala, what's concerning people is this effect of the transmission rate doubling every two to three

days, compare that to doubling one every seven days for the Delta variant that was supposed to be already quite infectious versus previous variants

of COVID-19, and you get an idea of why authorities are worried.

Also, because it appears as though two doses of vaccine isn't really enough to protect people. Now, we know that the Health Secretary says that it is

about ten people who are currently in hospital with Omicron as we speak. And he's also said that Omicron is now responsible for about 40 percent of

new cases across much of England, and he reckons that within the next 48 hours on this trajectory, Omicron could become the dominant strain across

the British capital as you said.

So, what are they trying to do about this? Well, cue this desperate attempt to try and offer all adults over 18 years old in the U.K. a booster shot by

the end of this very month. That would mean, Hala, that they'd have to surpass a previous record of vaccinating over 770,000 people per day. The

army will be drafted in and as you said, some NHS services diverted as part of this effort, Hala.

GORANI: And Cyril Vanier in Paris, what's the picture like in France and the west of -- the rest of Europe? Because these Omicron cases doubling

every two days in the U.K., I mean, this is what the future might look like for some of those countries in continental Europe as well.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, that's true, Hala. You know, France has been through this before. If you look back to one year ago, the

Delta variant was surging in the U.K., it was barely present in France, that was December 2020. And a few weeks later, of course, France had just

as many Delta cases as the U.K. had experienced only a few weeks prior. So France knows that what happens on the other side of the Channel can very

easily happen here.

However, a sliver of good news for France is that the number of COVID-19 cases is no longer rising as fast as what we have seen over the last month.

Let me be very clear. Daily infections are still rising, we're seeing more cases this week than we were seeing last week, but only by a little bit. So

that curve is starting to flatten, Hala, which is consistent with what health authorities are saying that they believe they will see the peak of

the fifth wave at the very end of this month, sometime between Christmas and new year's, and then infections might start to go down.

At least, that is the hope. As far as Omicron is concerned, they believe that Europe-wide, Omicron will become the dominant variant and will have

taken over from Delta in that respect in the first few weeks of next month, Hala.

GORANI: All right. Cyril Vanier in Paris, Nina dos Santos at 10 Downing Street, thanks to both of you. So, what do all of these warnings really

mean for you watching at home or wherever you're watching from? And what more do we know about this variant, now that it is spreading so rapidly.

Joining me now is Oksana Pyzik; global health expert at University College London. Thanks for being with us. First, if Omicron becomes the dominant

variant and it's -- for instance, 90 percent of COVID cases are Omicron, does that mean that Delta is on its way out? I mean, is it then -- would it

edge out Delta? How does that work?

OKSANA PYZIK, GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Well, we're already set for Omicron to become the dominant variant in the U.K. in the

next 48 hours. And for a while, we'll see co-infection with -- or Delta continue, but it will start to out-compete it, and we could see even to

some extent co-infection. But it will over time it will see -- it will be edged out just as we saw with the original wild strain. Once a fitter virus

emerges, that tends to be what people get infected with.

GORANI: So anecdotally, and obviously we need a lot more time and a lot more time to study this variant, it appears as though perhaps the symptoms

associated with Omicron are milder than Delta. If it becomes the dominant strain, does that mean that the people who are ill will be less likely to

seek hospital treatment?

PYZIK: Well, I'd be very cautious about making a statement like that. We've had the first death of Omicron recorded in the U.K., but it is too early to

say that the Omicron variant is milder.


However, what we could be seeing is the fact that people who have two doses of vaccines as well as booster, who are now having breakthrough infections

do have milder symptoms. It's very -- we would have to also tease that data out compared to unvaccinated populations to determine whether that is the

vaccine effect or due to the mutations in the virus itself, which we know are quite extensive.

GORANI: So, for our viewers watching, some have had two vaccines, two jabs, others have had the booster, and some because they live in parts of the

world where vaccines aren't as readily available have had no vaccines at all. How protected are you with two jabs versus the booster against


PYZIK: Well, we see that two doses are not holding up against Omicron, and that a booster is needed for protection. Even with boosters, given the rate

of circulation here in the U.K., just because it's doubling so quickly, we know that, that booster takes some time to come into effect and it's also

not perfect. So, we could even see a percentage of breakthrough infections with boosters, which is why pharmaceutical companies are working on a

variant-specific vaccine for future if needed.

Again, too early to say if that is the case. It will depend on how the booster wall holds up, but the evidence at least in the U.K. is that we are

seeing a large proportion of people who have had two vaccines who are still becoming ill, although able to isolate at home which is, of course, what we

want in terms of protecting the health care system.

Now, in countries where there is less access to vaccines, so either first or second, that means there's going to be a lot more leaning on other non-

pharmaceutical interventions in order to break chains of transmission, and hopefully soon we'll also have a wider supply of antivirals to also lessen

hospitalization, but it will take some time to build up that supply. And the critical point for molnupiravir and other antivirals that they actually

have to be taken quite early to have a maximum effect, and they again --

GORANI: You're talking about the pill here, Oksana, about the antiviral pill that Merck has developed for instance?

PYZIK: So, Pfizer and Merck have --

GORANI: Yes --

PYZIK: An antiviral pill --

GORANI: Yes --

PYZIK: We'll also need to be leaning on this due to the fact that vaccines although still saving lives can lead to illness, and we want to prevent

those hospitalizations from occurring. So those breakthrough infections, it is critical that we use all the tools available to us.

GORANI: I want to show our viewers some of the London numbers that the Health Secretary Sajid Javid listed today, 44 percent of cases in London

are Omicron cases according to the government. Omicron to become the dominant variant in the British capital in 48 hours. This just shows you

that this variant is spreading -- even compared to Delta which was already more contagious than the original strain like wildfire in a densely-

populated area like London. That has to be a huge cause for concern for health care professionals.

PYZIK: It's spreading faster than any variant that we've seen to date, and that is concerning, given the fact that we have in the U.K. a fairly high

level of vaccination. And even if it does prove that we -- Omicron leads to milder illness, if that thesis holds out to be true, in the U.K. we will

still see a big wave of infections, of hospitalizations and therefore deaths.

We're about two weeks away from seeing what the level of deaths will be based on when Omicron was first seeded here in the U.K. So those numbers

will follow. But the NHS is being stretched from end, even just deploying boosters means --

GORANI: Yes --

PYZIK: That other services that GPs normally run, cancer screening, will be held on pause to deploy vaccinators.

GORANI: That's my last question actually, because when I see non-masked people on public transport, I think to myself, well, they -- do they make

up a link between this illness and the fact that if they develop another health emergency or if their parent has a stroke or if they get in a car

accident, they'll have to wait hours to get emergency care because health care professionals are so consumed right now with responding to the COVID

health crisis.

I wonder if there's a failure in messaging here because you still see people running around without masks in densely -- in very packed train

carriages in the middle of an Omicron pandemic. It's disheartening, frankly.

PYZIK: Yes, I think in some ways it's actually more challenging for the government now than it was even a year ago when vaccines first became



Because there has been so much flip-flopping on COVID policy, and that has been in response to the level of threat. The level of threat has now been

raised to four out of five in the U.K., but it is not a welcomed message by many. There are many MPs and back-benchers who are resisting Boris' plan to

implement plan B, which is not actually going to be enough in combination with boosters in my opinion to really slow the spread.

Plan B here is just working from home and wearing face masks. So in many ways, the U.K. has been much more relaxed about preventing spread of COVID

than on the continent where vaccine passports and other measures including wearing face masks this whole time. It's only really been in the last

little while that there's been a call for face masks to be worn once again underground and in certain situations, but not even in restaurants or other

service industry areas. So I think there's a lot more that needs to be done, but it is politically a very --

GORANI: Yes --

PYZIK: Divisive message --

GORANI: Yes --

PYZIK: So it gets diluted.

GORANI: Yes, and people are exhausted. People are exhausted after two years of this I think, too. Thank you very much, Oksana Pyzik, a global health

expert at the University College of London. Thanks so much for joining us on the program this evening.

PYZIK: Thank you.

GORANI: In the United States, rescue workers and government officials are struggling to assess the devastation left by tornadoes over the weekend. At

least 50, 5-0 tornadoes plowed through eight states Friday night into Saturday. Dozens of people were killed and entire communities are now

flattened. Kentucky was the worst hit. Its governor says 64 people in the state have died as a result, more than a 100 are unaccounted for still. And

he expects that death toll to rise.

This region of the U.S. is no stranger to tornadoes, but Kentucky's governor says the destruction is unlike anything he's ever seen. One

monster tornado was on the ground for more than 360 kilometers, one of the longest in history, and officials say, unfortunately, we might need to get

used to seeing storms of this scale at this time of year.


DEANNE CRISWELL, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: I don't think we've ever seen one this late in the year, but it's also

historic. Even this -- the severity and the amount of time this tornado or these tornadoes spent on the ground is unprecedented. This is going to be

our new normal and the effects that we're seeing from climate change are the crisis of our generation.


GORANI: Thousands of homes were destroyed along with people's sense of security obviously. Many who survived are now trying to secure food and

shelter, the basics, just as they grapple with shock and sometimes grief and they're sharing stories with us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just told her to close her eyes and she started counting. So she's like -- I was like hide and seek, mom. So, we just

counted until we didn't feel any more pressure, any more wind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's when we really saw that edge of it, and it was -- it looked very violent from the split second we saw. There's suction and

you could feel it in your ears, in your joints.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're thankful for FEMA and the Red Cross and the state and all of the first responders that came out. Unfortunately, you know,

they have not found anybody else, but it is still a rescue mission.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, we've grown up here, so to see our community broken like this has been overwhelming.


GORANI: Well, let's check in now with Brian Todd. He is in Mayfield, Kentucky, near that candle factory that collapsed in the storms as

employees worked inside. Tell us what the situation is like where you are. We can see utter destruction behind you, Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Hala. And you know, it's not just the tornado that presents the obvious danger that it presents. But

it's also the aftermath of a tornado that can be very hazardous to people coming back and trying to sift through what's left of their homes and their

businesses. Like at this corner right in downtown Mayfield, just if you're going to come here and try to sift through this building and see, try to

salvage something.

You've got unsure footing, you've got huge object to try to get around like these. You've got huge chads of wood that are sharp and sticking out.

You've got nails, glass all over the place. So, just kind of navigating a scene like this is very hazardous for the people coming back. So the rescue

workers and the other people who are here trying to help this town rebuild have to help people navigate those things as well.

We can take a turn to your right, my left. Look at the devastation of that building there and the collapsed brick. Yes, some brick structures were

able to survive the tornado, but look at that, obviously, that one really could not. And here is another issue that we're facing as we come back this



There are people still streaming into town. Look at this traffic jam behind us. Still streaming into town, trying to get to their homes and businesses,

trying to find what's left of them, and also trying to find, you know, food and water. We just had a lady stop and ask us where she can find water. We

directed her to a local church that was helping with some of that. So, I mean, you get a sense here, Hala, this is downtown Mayfield, this has just

been devastated.

There's almost nothing left of this downtown area. And look at what people have to go through just -- and, you know, obviously we're now almost three

days after this tornado hit. They're just now coming back into town, trying to stream through this. We also just came from the candle factory that

collapsed. We can tell you that there are still eight people confirmed dead from that collapse, eight people unaccounted for. But the good news is

there, Hala, that there were about 110 people that were in that building, so 94 people at least were able to get out alive, Hala.

GORANI: And what about people's homes? How -- what's the percentage of destruction? Where are people even living now, those who lost their homes

and their businesses? How are they coping?

TODD: It's a good question, Hala. We are told that there are several shelters open in these areas. They've opened state parks here to shelter

some people. But we also -- we spoke to a community organizer a short time ago who said they're having a problem getting transportation for people to

get to these places because so many vehicles were just devastated here. People lost their cars, too. It's another thing you don't really quite

think about in the aftermath of these tornadoes.

You think that maybe people are going to have a place to go to -- well, getting to these places has been a big issue, too. So, there are shelters,

there are several of them around, people are using them, including state parks. But again -- and the person we spoke to who is helping with this, is

a community organizer who is working with some low-income people, a lot of those people are really up against it just trying to get from wherever

they're staying now, which may be unsafe to a shelter simply because they don't have transportation.

GORANI: All right, that's -- I didn't think of that, that's a good point. If your car is destroyed, how do you get from A to B? Thanks very much

Brian Todd live in Kentucky. Just a few years ago Israelis couldn't even enter the United Arab Emirates.

Now the country is rolling out the red carpet for their Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Details on this historic visit is ahead. Also later, China

is facing a new surge in COVID cases that could have a major impact on one of the country's most celebrated holidays. We'll get details from Hong




GORANI: Meaningful, in-depth and straightforward is how Israel's Prime Minister summed up his landmark talks with the leader of the United Arab

Emirates. Naftali Bennett left Abu Dhabi a short time ago after meeting with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. It is the first time their

countries leaders have ever met in public. A normalization agreement signed 15 months ago paved the way for this day. CNN's Sam Kiley is live in Abu

Dhabi with the details. So, what did they talk about today?

SAM KILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they issued a joint statement, Hala, saying they talked about pretty much everything under the

sun, and in particular deepening relationships for business, for tech, for joint memos of understanding. There have been a lot of those over the last

15 months, to continue to work together in developing vaccines, food security and the like. But what wasn't mentioned either on the way in or,

indeed, on the way out was Iran.

And that is absolutely key in terms of the geopolitics of this region because the Emiratis and the Israelis are on very different pages indeed.

The Emiratis have broken with their allies in the United States, even over the last week, saying that they would not approve of and not participate in

any further sanctions against Iran in order to try and get the Iranians back towards discussing the nuclear deal that Donald Trump effectively tore

up when he was in office that was supposed to suspend their nuclear weapons program.

The Americans have been hoping for more sanctions. They have had diplomats here. Now we've had the Israeli prime minister no doubt pressing the

Emiratis to try to get them to turn away from their rapprochement with Tehran, which is now actually gathering pace, the Emiratis is being much

more independent. But I don't think, Hala, also, that, that is a sign of a big schism because both the Emiratis and the Israelis see this relationship

as highly advantageous.

There are seven flights a day we understand just between Tel Aviv and Dubai these days. So, the tourist industry in and of itself is a major boost to

this relationship, Hala.

GORANI: And did they mention the Palestinians at all?

KILEY: That was the other thing, the very unmentionable. It's very been very interesting during this entire process of what's called the Abraham

Accords. This process that is wrapped in other Arab countries, Sudan, Bahrain, Morocco, into normalizing relations with Israel. In very few cases

do the Arab or Arabic-speaking nations mention the plight of the Palestinians.

They are much more interested, it would seem, in the business relationships and the technological relationships that can be established. One of the

credits they take here in the Emirates is having signed up to the Abraham Accords, they feel that they were part of an effort to prevent Benjamin

Netanyahu, then prime minister of Israel unilaterally annexing a vast amount of the West Bank.

But it's very striking indeed that the Palestinian cause is very seldom mentioned by the Arab nations, much less the Israelis. Hala.

GORANI: Sam Kiley, thanks very much, live in Abu Dhabi. Still to come tonight, as we told you earlier, tens of thousands of Britons are lining up

for their COVID boosters as the government warns of a tidal wave of infections coming our way. More on our top stories and the rest of today's

pandemic headlines from around the world. Plus, we'll also check in with British grandpa Martin Kenyon. We'll find out how he is doing a year after

getting his first COVID shot and becoming an international sensation.



GORANI: "Don't let your guard down," is the message from South Africa's president. He is in self isolation after catching COVID. President Cyril

Ramaphosa's office says he began feeling sick Sunday but his symptoms are mild we're being told.

France says it has 400 investigations underway into fake vaccination passes as the country battles a fifth COVID wave and other developments. The

Interior Minister is calling them a real pass for death. And in Britain, more than a hundred thousand people registered overnight to get a COVID

booster. The health secretary says Omicron will become the dominant variant in London in the next 48 hours. Now, that is a look at South Africa and a

couple of countries in Europe.

Asia now, Mainland China is now reporting its first case of the Omicron strain of COVID in the city of Tianjin. State-run media say that it was

identified in a traveler arriving from overseas. It comes as China battles a new surge of COVID cases and some authorities are urging residents not to

travel during the upcoming Chinese New Year. Kristie Lu Stout has details 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, China reported 80 new local cases of the virus, including 74 in Zhejiang 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. It's home to tech giant

Alibaba, as well as a major shipping port Ningbo Zhejiang, 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 in parts of Zhejiang in response to local COVID-19

restrictions. 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 when hundreds of millions of people, including migrant workers, travel home for family reunions, creating, in

effect, the world's largest annual human migration.

Already, three places are urging workers to stay put, including a district in Danjiangkou in Hubei Province, that's one of the host cities for the

Winter Olympics. Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


GORANI: Now Australia is opening travel -- a travel bubble for South Korea and Japan. Beginning on Wednesday, fully vaccinated travelers from either

country will be able to enter Australia without having to quarantine. Australia's Prime Minister said the travel bubble is possible because of

the country's shared COVID experience and because they both have high vaccination rates.


Now you may remember Martin Kenyon, we certainly do here at CNN. He was one of the first people in the world to get a vaccine. And if you don't

remember him, that means you never got to see his interview with us last year. It became a viral sensation, no pun intended. CNN's Cyril Vanier

caught up with Martin Kenyon to see how he's doing one year on. Take a look.


MARTIN KENYON: I said "What's this thing? You're doing the vaccination?" He said, "Yes."


CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Remember this from a year ago?


KENYON: I hope I am not going to have the bloody bug now. I don't intent to have because I got granddaughters and I want to live a long time.


VANIER: A dash of humor, a zest of dry wit, and good old-fashioned British common sense.


KENYON: Well, there's no point in dying now when I have lived this long, is there?


VANIER: This from newly vaccinated 91-year-old Martin Kenyon on the day the U.K. rolled out the world's first COVID-19 vaccine.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I was sitting here, I'm sure Jim, too, beaming from ear to ear that entire interview.


VANIER: For a brief viral moment, six million views on Twitter, Martin was everyone's cup of tea, gushing headlines, and a star turn on Good Morning



KENYON: Now who are you?


VANIER: When we catch up with him at his London home, Martin hasn't changed one bit.


VANIER: So Martin, how have you been? It's great to see you. It's been a while.

KENYON: I'm still alive. That's the most important thing, isn't it? It's been a whole year of being alive since I last saw you. I've had been very



VANIER: How does he feel about his overnight fame?


KENYON: I never saw any of it. I'd never get there. I still hadn't seen it. It requires other people to tell me about it. I've never seen what was in -

- maybe it was ANC, is it called? What's that, Americans?

VANIER: CNN? We're very fond of you at CNN.

KENYON: CNN, CNN. That's it. The fact is that when this thing happened, other people did see my name in the paper every single day and London

newspaper was there, which rather shocked me, you know?

VANIER: So how is life after vaccination?

KENYON: I can't remember changes changed at all. I had the injection. I remember going to get it. So, I took my own initiative and got on it.


VANIER: One thing inoculation does help with, seeing his granddaughters.


KENYON: And they love their grandfather. That's the great thing. They took a great deal of care about me. I couldn't be luckier. I couldn't be



VANIER: Like last year, Martin plans to spend Christmas with his family, unruffled by the pandemic, but cautious. He got his booster shots more than

two months ago. The vaccination card always in his back pocket.


VANIER: Do you have any parting thoughts for us?

KENYON: Oh, I think you're lovely.

VANIER: I think you're lovely, too. Thank you very much.



VANIER: Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.


GORANI: We think he's lovely. I like how he said ciao. Still to come tonight, a seaside paradise is probably the last place you'd expect to see

troops. But Mexico is now deploying its National Guard to Cancun. We'll explain why.



GORANI: A Hong Kong court has sentenced Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai to 13 months in prison for a peaceful candlelight vigil last year. The event

commemorated the 1989 crackdown on Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Demonstrators, authorities had banned the memorial site in Coronavirus

risks. Seven other pro-democracy activists who participated received sentences of 214 months.

To Latin America now, the Mexican city of Cancun is known all over the world as a beautiful and relaxing travel destination. But now gang violence

is on the rise there with multiple high profile shootings just in the last few weeks. CNN's Matt Rivers explains what the government is trying to do

about this.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The gunfire started on the Beach on November 4, just outside the Hyatt Ziva resort just south of Cancun.

Authorities said a gunfight between rival drug gangs erupted on the beach, sending tourists fleeing indoors. Video from twitter user Mike Sington

shows guests sheltering in place in the hotel, some in the back room, others in the lobby.

Less than two months before a shooting at this restaurant in Tulum, again authorities say between rival drug gangs, left two tourists dead. And just

in the past week, several men pulled up to a Cancun beach on jet skis and fired their guns in the air. Multiple security incidents in recent months

have some questioning just how safe Cancun is, a tourist magnet that draws millions of sun-seekers every year. A few say they're rattled by the


"I don't feel safe here," says this Brazilian tourist. "As tourists, we don't feel safe. We've seen multiple recent incidents on the news." The

federal government has taken notice. Nearly 1,500 National Guard troops have now been deployed to the state of Quintana Roo, specifically focusing

on Cancun and other tourist areas nearby.

Mexico's president says, "These are painful events because nationals and foreigners lose their lives and this cannot be repeated. We have to prevent

that from happening. So that's why we have a plan to reinforce security." But all that said, is traveling to Quintana Roo State and its popular

travel destinations like Cancun or Tulum too dangerous?

Tourism officials in Mexico told CNN that the vast, vast majority of the millions of visitors that come here each year do so without incident and

that any violence almost always stays between drug gangs. Though the U.S. government says travelers should use increased caution, it doesn't

recommend avoiding the state like it does so many other places in Mexico and the number of tourists has shot up as the pandemic has eased.

"The government at all levels, in hand with the citizenry, is committed to protecting each and every visitor," said the former Minister of Tourism in

Tulum, Eugenio Barbachano. Crime Statistics in the state have largely held steady in recent years, too. So there's no doubt that recent headlines have

some people spooked and rightly so. Drug gangs remain operating and so too does the collateral damage that comes with it. But Cancun succumbing to

crime, becoming an unsafe place for tourists? Those ideas seem premature. Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


GORANI: And in other news, one U.S. lawmaker is warning that the threat to Ukraine from Russia is "Real." Ruben Gallego is part of a bipartisan

congressional delegation traveling in Ukraine and spoke exclusively with CNN. He called for "extreme sanctions against Russia" and said the U.S.

must be "prepared to act." Here's how he explained those comments.


RUBEN GALLEGO, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: It is a very difficult situation for us to calculate what it's going to do, but in my opinion, it's always

important for you to Believe what someone's telling you that they are.


And if they are showing you that they want to invade Ukraine, that they are going to intend to do it, then we might as well plan for it and we should

make sure that we're helping out Ukraine in terms of the capability for them to resist this invasion.


GORANI: Gallego says the group is meeting with us partners in Kiev to assess the situation amid all this Russian military buildup along Ukraine's


Still to come on the program, how exactly did the premiere of the new "Sex and the City" reboot cause an 11 dip in Peloton shares. We'll get into that

after the break.


GORANI: The world's coral reefs are in a dire state. One report by the U.N. says that 14 percent of reefs worldwide were lost in just a nine-year

period. But now a reef restoration program in the Maldives is trying to help local coral make a comeback. Anna Stewart has that story.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Landaa Giraavaru is a Maldivian island, home to both luxury resorts and one of the country's largest coral

conservation groups called Reefscapers.


SIMON DIXON, MARINE DISCOVERY CENTER MANAGER, REEFSCAPERS: We are a firm believer that grassroots initiatives such as ours are vital. We are not

providing a solution, we are simply providing life support.


STEWART: That life support is sustained through coral reef restoration and it starts by collecting fragments from coral colonies. In 1998, the first

global coral bleaching events destroyed about 16 percent of reefs worldwide. Simon says this is becoming a regular phenomenon, and it's

partially why he pursued this career.


DIXON: I did a lot of work as a dive instructor in the dive industry. And I think it's that amount of time I spent on the coral reefs, seeing their

gradual decline. Once the restoration practices became more commonplace, it was something for me that was a very natural fit, and something where I

feel that you can make a real difference at a grassroots level.


STEWART: Back on land, the restoration process continues by creating a unique identification number which is then attached to a metal frame.


From there, coral fragments are attached to the frame which will asexually reproduce.


DIXON: We are one of the largest coral propagation facilities of our type in the world. We've planted over half a million pieces of coral over the 20

years that we've been here in the Maldives.


STEWART: Resort Guests can also help build these frames and monitor their progress after they leave. That's because Simon's team checks in on each

one every six months, and post pictures online. These images are also analyzed by artificial intelligence software to help make long term

decisions like where to place the frames.


DIXON: When you visit an area where there was very little coral reef, and you have actively spent a lot of time placing those frames to then revisit

maybe a year, year and a half later and to see that thriving ecosystem full of fish and really healthy coral, is a fantastic feeling. It really us.


GORANI: Now spoiler alert, although if you haven't heard this by now you are living somewhere without cable and probably electricity. But if you

haven't caught up with the new HBO "Sex and the City" reboot, this is your warning to leave the room for the next few minutes because we're getting to

the emotional roller coaster taking fans and Peloton for a ride.

Mr. Big's surprise death in the first episode of the new HBO reboot caught the company off-guard, apparently. The character suffers a heart attack

just after writing his Peloton. The company says it knew the bite would be used but it didn't know how it would be used. So, it was unfortunate

product placement. Obviously you don't want someone using your product and keeling over of a heart attack.

Even its shares felt the brunt of the beloved character's demise, they fell more than 11 percent on premiere day. And just like that, Peloton had some

damage control to do so they were clever about it. Take a look at this commercial that they released over the weekend.


CHRIS NOTH, ACTOR: To new beginnings.

JESSICA KING, PELOTON INSTRUCTOR: To new beginnings. You look great.

NOTH: Oh, I feel great. Should we take another ride? Life's too short not to.


GORANI: With me now for more is CNN's Paul La Monica in New York. So first, OK, I'm a cynical journalist, obviously. And I think is it possible that

Peloton did not know that a main character in the "Sex and the City" reboot would die of a heart attack after using their bike and therefore came up

with this whole plan to, you know, put out this commercial poking fun at that? I mean, did they really put this together in 48 hours?

PAUL LA MONICA, CNN REPORTER: It sounds by all accounts, Hala, that they did put it together that quickly. I really can't imagine that Peloton would

have had this sort of evil genius idea to decide that it'd be great publicity to have a fictional character die on their equipment in a show

and that they can then spin it into an ad afterwards, I think it really does show the -- your newfound creative genius, it seems, of actor Ryan

Reynolds who has an ad agency now that did the work with Peloton.

It's his voiceover at the end of this ad that declares that, "Oh by the way, Chris Noth, the actor, is still alive." And that I think really it

just goes to show that Peloton -- I don't know if damage control is the right word necessarily, but they clearly felt the need to try and spin this

in a positive light, show that they were in on the joke, but also remind people that you can safely use your Peloton without having a cardiac event.

You probably should avoid all the cigars and, you know, hard living and hard drinking that the Mr. Big character on "Sex and the City" had, I think

that contributed to his demise probably more than his Peloton use.

GORANI: And I like that he's on that sofa and kind of a romantic setting with one of the Peloton instructors.

LA MONICA: Yes, everything that was done about this ad is extremely clever. It does beg the question though, what can Peloton do to convince investors

that the company is not in crisis mode? Because you pointed out stock plunging on Friday. It wasn't about this episode. I mean, I think that

contributed maybe a little bit but the bigger problem is that you had an analyst on Wall Street slashing their price target on Peloton by more than



There are just many concerns about the company right now besides safety. It's there are a lot of competitors with cheaper products and people are

going back out into the world. They're going to the gym. They're going out and working out instead of doing it in their basement at home.

GORANI: And are they making money?

LA MONICA: Yes, Peloton is, you know, a company that -- it's not necessarily a concern that they are, you know, long-term not going to make

money. I mean, revenue growth has slowed clearly. I think Peloton just faces the challenges of any upstart. When you lead a category there's

inevitably going to be more competition and that has happened with the case of Peloton. There are just so many companies out there with cheaper bikes.

GORANI: Yes, because it's expensive. It's expensive, right? I don't know own one. I don't think I ever will. But what's the price on a Peloton? It's

in the thousands, right?

LA MONICA: It is. They are coming out with lower price products as well. And they have other piece of exercise equipment that have had issues,

safety problems as well. You know, the bikes are one, but they have a treadmill also and there have been some accidents that had forced recalls,

too. So, you know, Peloton is not out of the woods, even if they get past this tragic event of a fictitious character on an HBO, our parent company


GORANI: Yes. Absolutely. And I still want to know why Carrie didn't call 911 right away like most of the internet. That's another topic though.

Thanks very much.

LA MONICA: Which would end, I guess, this sad story for real.

GORANI: Yes. Thank you, Paul La Monica.

He launched the first ever tourist mission to Earth's orbit, and this year he became the richest person in the world. He's one of those billionaires

that says what he thinks and does what he wants. You may have guessed who I'm talking about, Elon Musk. Now the Tesla CEO has been named the Time

Magazine's Person of the Year. The title is given to someone who's had the most influence on the events of the last 12 months for good or bad.

Musk is certainly a polarizing character with his online persona, frequently getting him into hot water. But as Times Editor-in-Chief rights

Musk is perhaps the richest example of a massive shift in our society. I'll be speaking by the way to the -- to Time Magazine's Editor next hour on

"QUEST MEANS BUSINESS," which I will be hosting this evening. Thanks for watching HALA GORANI TONIGHT, but after a quick break, I'll see you on the

other side with the day's business news and the rest of the world headlines.