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St. Vincent On Red Alert As Volcano Eruption Imminent; Antarctic ICE Shelf Under Threat; Vaccines May Provide Relief To COVID Long Haulers; Crisis in Myanmar: CNN Goes Inside Myanmar as Military Conducts; Some Countries are Limiting Use of AstraZeneca Vaccine; South America is Struggling with Troubling Surge. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired April 9, 2021 - 02:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Hello. Welcome to our viewers all around the world. Live from CNN world headquarters here in Atlanta, I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company. You are watching "CNN Newsroom."

Coming up on the program, herd immunity by July, the seemingly never ending controversy around AstraZeneca. And Brazil in crisis mode. We will have coronavirus headline from across the globe.

Plus --


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some people from the balcony just flashed three fingers at me. That's the hunger game salute. I'm speaking very quietly because I don't want our minders to know what they just did.

HOLMES (voice-over): Gripping stories from those fighting for democracy, live. It is a report you'll only see here on CNN.

And St. Vincent on red alert this hour, as officials say a volcanic eruption is imminent. Why some cruise ships are heading towards the danger.


HOLMES (on camera): Myanmar's military has killed at least 600 people in its crackdown on prodemocracy protests. That is according to a monitoring group. Six hundred civilians, including dozens of children, gunned down since the February coup.

Now, in a CNN exclusive, chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward and her team with the first western TV journalists allowed in to the country since the coup. They were there with the permission of the military and were being escorted throughout. Here is what they saw.


WARD (voice-over): By day, the junta continues its brutal crackdown, killing prodemocracy protesters who refuse to submit to military rule.

At night, the raids begin, as soldiers round up activists and dragged away the dead. Their bodies, evidence of the military shoot to kill tactics.

Two months after overthrowing Myanmar's democratically-elected government in the coup, the junta has been unapologetic in its ruthlessness and silent in the face of international outrage.

Fearless local journalists and activists have risked everything to show the world what is happening while outside access to the country has been blocked.

But now, the military has granted CNN the first access to visit Myanmar. From the moment we arrived, our movements are tightly controlled.

(On camera): This gives you a sense of the intense level of security with us. One, two, three, another three over there, six trucks full of soldiers accompanying our every move.

(Voice-over): At township offices across Yangon, alleged victims of the protest movement due to flee (ph) await us. They tell us they have been beaten and threatened and humiliated by the violators, a pejorative term the military uses for the prodemocracy protesters.

In North Okkalapa Township, the local administrator complains that the demonstrators were noisy and broke the law by gathering in groups of more than five.

(On camera): Are you seriously comparing these infractions to more than 500 people being killed, among them children? Are you saying that these are equal?

(Voice-over): Our minders are perturbed by the question. It goes unanswered.

They take us to a shopping center, one of two attacked by arsonists overnight. Like many businesses in Myanmar, they are partially owned by the military. The strong implication, from our minders, is that the protesters are to blame. It is a similar story at several burned out factories.

(On camera): This is the third factory that the military wanted to show us. They say it is clear proof that the protesters are violent, that they have been setting fire to businesses like this. But the protesters say they had nothing to do with it all. And the factory owners who we spoken to say they simply don't know who is responsible.

(Voice-over): Sandra's (ph) Chinese-owned garment factory was completely destroyed. She asked we not show her face.

(On camera): Do you have any sense of what you will do now?

UNKNOWN: Waiting for the government giving some -- some helping.

WARD (on camera): Who is the government right now in Myanmar?



WARD (on camera): Sorry. Is that a hard question?

UNKNOWN: Yeah. I don't know.

WARD (voice-over): Every moment of our visit is carefully choreographed. When protesters began posting about our movements on social media, the military cuts off Wi-Fi across the country. Still, from the window of our convoy, we catch glimpses of reality.

(On camera): Some people from the balcony just flashed three fingers at me. That is the hunger game salute, which has become emblematic of this uprising. I'm speaking very quietly because I don't want our minders to know what they just did because, honestly, it could be very dangerous situation for them.

(Voice-over): We passed a small protest rejecting Myanmar's return to more than half a century of oppressive military rule. Their banner calls for a spring revolution. Our minders won't let us stop.

Finally, after days of pushing, we are allowed to visit a public space, an open market. We avoid approaching anyone, mindful of the fact that we are surrounded by security forces. But, within minutes, one brave man flashes the three-finger salute.

I saw that you made a sign. Tell me what you mean by making that sign.



WARD (on camera): We don't. You just stand back, OK?

UNKNOWN: Justice, justice, we want justice.

WARD (on camera): You want justice?

UNKNOWN: Justice, yes.

WARD (voice-over): Moments later, another man approaches.

UNKNOWN: Not scared.

WARD (voice-over): Not scared.

UNKNOWN: Not weapons. We don't have no weapons. No scared. But every day fighting. Every day just like that, just like this.

WARD (voice-over): As word of our presence spreads, we hear an unmistakable sound. Banging pots and pans is a tradition to get rid of evil spirits. But it has become the signature sound of resistance.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): We want democracy.

WARD (voice-over): This young teacher says she ran to talk to us when she heard the noise.

You want democracy?

UNKNOWN: We want democracy. We don't want military coup.

WARD (voice-over): You know, we are surrounded by military, like this guy.

UNKNOWN: I don't -- I'm not afraid at all. If we are afraid, we people around here would not hit the bang and the pan.

WARD (voice-over): Like many young people, she sees her future being ripped away.

UNKNOWN: We don't want to go back to the dark age. We lost our voice and we had -- we had democracy only for 10 years. We don't have weapons. We don't have guns. Just only we have voice.

CROWD: We want --

WARD (voice-over): But even words can be punished here.

CROWD: We want democracy!

WARD (voice-over): Not wanting the situation to escalate, we decide to leave the market, as people hunk their horns in support of the protest movement.

The junta has grossly underestimated the determination of its people and the growing hatred for the military. In the capital Nay Pyi Taw, we finally have the opportunity to confront Myanmar's senior military leadership.

ZAW MIN TUN, MILITARY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): I will tell you the reason why we have to crackdown. The protests were peaceful from February 1st to the 8th. The reason for the crackdown was because they blocked civil servants. The security forces are giving warnings. Firstly, shouting to break the crowds and then shooting in the air. And the crowds are throwing stones and using slingshots.

WARD (on camera): Are you seriously comparing stones and slingshots to assault rifles? The military is using weapons against its own people that really only belong on the battlefield.

MIN TUN (through translator): The main thing is they are not only using stones and slingshots. We have evidence they use gasoline and Molotov cocktails. You have to add those, too. For security forces, they use crackdown weapons for riots. There will be deaths when they are cracking down the riots, but we are not shooting without discipline with the rifles we use for the frontlines. WARD (on camera): So this is CCTV footage of 17-year-old Qua Min Lah (ph). Going past the police convoy, you can see the police shoot him on the spot. His autopsy later said that he suffered brain injury as a result of a cycling accident, which I think we can all see that is not a cycling accident. How do you explain this?

MIN TUN (through translator): If that kind of thing has occurred, we will have investigation for it. We will investigate it if it's true or not. There may be some videos which look suspicious, but for our forces, we don't have any intention to shoot at innocent people.


WARD (on camera): So 14-year-old Tan Tun Ang (ph) who was killed by your forces, what do you say to his mother? You say that he was a violent protester? Or what would you say to the father of 13-year-old To Mak Win (ph) also shot dead by your forces?

MIN TUN (through translator): We have heard about the deaths of the children, too. There is no reason we will shoot children. This is only the terrorists that are trying to make us look bad.

WARD (voice-over): But the lies are paper-thin. According to the U.N., as of March 31st, at least 44 children had been killed. Back in Yangon, our minders take us to another market in a military area, keen to show they have popular support. But the ploy backfires.

UNKNOWN: We want democracy.

WARD (on camera): I understand.

A man just told me, we want democracy, as he walked past, but he was too scared to stop and talk.

(Voice-over): Others are more bold.

UNKNOWN: Please save our country!

WARD (voice-over): Save your country.

These people are not activists. They are ordinary citizens and they live in fear of the military.

(On camera): You have goose bumps. You're like shivering.

UNKNOWN: They are not human.

WARD (voice-over): Yeah. They are not human.

They are desperate for the outside world to know their pain. One girl approaches us, shaking.

(On camera): I feel like you're very nervous. Are you OK?

UNKNOWN: Yeah, yeah. We are not safe anymore. Even in the night. There are shooters and the shooters shoot the children. WARD (on camera): I don't want you to get in trouble. I don't want you to get arrested, OK?

UNKNOWN: Yes. Thank you.

WARD (on camera): All right.

(Voice-over): She knows her bravery will certainly be punished. But this is a resistance movement built on small acts of great courage.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, Myanmar.


HOLMES (on camera): And, in fact, that woman was arrested just as she was running away from the market. Ten others were also arrested for talking to CNN. Thankfully, they were all released after a couple of days.

And there is much more from Clarissa's team at, breaking down what Myanmar's military says to justify their brutal crackdown and whether it really matches reality.

Once hailed as the vaccine that would save the world from coronavirus, doubts over the Oxford AstraZeneca shot keep flaring up. Health authorities have repeatedly insisted it is safe and effective. But, this week, E.U. and British regulators did confirm a -- quote -- "possible link between the vaccine and some very rare blood clots."

That has all the countries you see in red now limiting the use of the vaccine, at least in certain age groups. It is mainly going to senior citizens as rollouts are being recalibrated. Many countries taking action are in Europe, which has voiced the loudest concerns over safety.

And after a sluggish start, Europe is ramping up its vaccine rollout. Let's bring in our Melissa Bell, who is live in Paris for us. We got word that the E.U. is hoping to be on track for herd immunity by mid- July. Fill us in.

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This was (INAUDIBLE) who is the man in charge of the E.U. task force speaking to CNN yesterday, Michael, and saying that he believed the fact was going to happen.

The reason is because Europe has been ramping up its production within the E.U. countries. Fifty-three factories, he said, production sites are now are going to be up and running in order to be able to deliver vaccines on behalf of these manufacturers whose vaccines have been approved in E.U., and that, he believes, will be enough to see the process improved.

Already we have seen an improvement in these last few days. France (INAUDIBLE) it gave more than 400,000 doses here in France. In Germany as well, a record was set this week with 600,000 doses being given on a single day. The rollout of the vaccines has improved, but there is, of course, a long way to go.

As you mentioned, the AstraZeneca being limited in its rollout is certainly not going to help. Bear in mind, it was the first and one of the biggest contracts that the E.U. signed and really not just because of the delivery shortfalls, only a quarter of those doses that have been promised in the first quarter were actually delivered, but also, of course, as you say, Michael, because of those restrictions, that is not going to help, and yet (INAUDIBLE) confident that it will get where it needs to be by the summer.

HOLMES: All right. Melissa, thank you. Melissa Bell there in Paris for us.


HOLMES: Now, the coronavirus is spreading like crazy in parts of South America. We will talk about the hardest hit countries and when the vaccines might be able to try to turn the tide. We will be right back.


HOLMES: Now, this week, Pan American Health Organization said nowhere are COVID infections more troubling than in South America, where country after country is smashing all the wrong records.

This week, Chile and Uruguay both reported their highest ever number of daily cases since the start of the pandemic. And in Peru, the virus claimed more than 300 lives on Wednesday, the most ever in a single day. That brings Peru's overall death toll to nearly 54,000, very worrying when you consider population. Now, Brazil remains in a world of hurt, once again breaking its record for daily COVID deaths, more than 4,200 on Thursday.

Top U.S. expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is urging Brazilian authorities to seriously consider imposing additional restrictions. But, as Rafael Romo reports, the Brazilian president is not on board.



RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brazil has well over 13 million confirmed cases and the number of COVID-19 deaths is now more than 340,000. March was the deadliest month from the south American country since the pandemic began and things seemed to be getting worse instead of better.

Also, Brazilian variant known as P1 has been found in 18 out of 26 states throughout the country. And as we have reported, it has also been detected in neighboring countries like Uruguay.

So, what does President Jair Bolsonaro saying about this health crisis? Once again, he downplayed the alarming situation on Wednesday, saying there is no point crying over spilled milk. But it was the same day that Brazil posted 3,829 new deaths, raising the total nationwide death toll to 340,776, according to government data.

You may remember that Bolsonaro raised eyebrows a few months ago when he said COVID-19 was just a (INAUDIBLE), a little cold, and dismissed warnings about the disease. He would later test positive for the coronavirus, but still remains the country with the second highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world after the United States. It also accounted for approximately one-third, about 28 percent of the total global deaths since March 21, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES (on camera): Dr. Margareth Dalcolmo is a clinical researcher and respiratory physician at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation known as Fiocruz. She joins me now from Rio de Janeiro. Doctor, thank you so much. I mean, Thursday, another daily death record in Brazil. How do you see the current trajectory of the virus where you are in Brazil?

MARGARETH DALCOLMO, CLINICAL RESEARCHER, RESPIRATORY PHYSICIAN AT OSWALDO CRUZ FOUNDATION: Good evening, Michael. Thanks for inviting me to join you. Well, actually, we are living in the worst moment of the pandemic in Brazil. We are having records of death and the prognostic is not good for this April. I am going to say that we are going -- we just lived at the saddest March of our lives and we are going to have again a worse -- a worse April, I would say. It is not April. It is not the happy one. It is a very unhappy month.

HOLMES: It just gets worse and worse in the country. I mean, this week, we heard the president, Jair Bolsonaro. I mean, basically, he was mocking, you know, those who criticized his approach to the virus. And the dead, I mean, basically said when it comes to the death toll, we won't cry over spilled milk, which is a stunning thing for a leader to say. How much is he responsible, his politics responsible for what we are seeing in Brazil?

DALCOLMO: Well, we cannot deny that since the very beginning of the pandemic in Brazil, Michael, we -- we missed sort of a central coordination, the harmonized discourse between the government -- the officials, I would say rhetoric, and the scientific community. We never had since the very beginning.

So, we always leave it under this tension between someone or some authorities that denied the severity of the disease, the bad prognostic that we announced since the beginning because we know epidemics. And so it has been very, I would say, bad for the country as a whole.

So in terms of outcome of the pandemic control, it is a kind of disaster because we changed the minister of health four times, and now finally, we have another doctor heading the ministry of health. And so we are sort of starting a new kind of conversation, hoping that we can -- we can cope with the sort of common measures, common actions, and more harmonizing discourse. But it has been very difficult so far. HOLMES: And the impact globally, even the top U.S. expert, Dr. Fauci, is saying that what is happening in Brazil, he says it is -- quote -- "a serious situation" spreading to other countries in South America and has impacts around the world, because even as western nation vaccinate, what happens in other countries in terms of spread and the emergence of variants ultimately impacts the whole world, right?

DALCOLMO: Absolutely. I fully agree with Dr. Fauci. I fully agree. Of course, the scientific community in Brazil fully agrees as well. Of course, we are sort of threat because we have been very isolated. The number of international flights, it is completely stopped.


DALCOLMO: We don't have the rollout of the vaccination in Brazil, only to provide you an example. It has been very, you know, slower than it should be because we don't have enough vaccines.

In a paradoxical way, Michael, you have to figure out that Brazil has a very good expertise in vaccination. We always -- every year, we do vaccinate 80 million Brazilians against influenza virus, every year. So we know how to vaccinate. We have a very -- with the national health program, we have a good expertise. But, you know, but we don't have vaccines enough to provide and to apply in our population.

HOLMES: It is real tragedy. I want to get your thoughts more broadly because sadly it is not just Brazil. The region has a staggering death toll. Latin America accounts for around a quarter of global COVID-19 deaths but is home to only eight percent of the world's population. How worrying is it in a regional sense?

DALCOLMO: Well, it is bad because, for instance, we look at -- Peru, for instance, is the second problem in Latin America so far. Today, Argentina also had a record in cases, 23, I guess, new cases in one day.

So, in Brazil, we are having 80,000 new cases per day. And so the situation in Latin America is something that really worries us about because we are neighbors. We have border. It is completely closed. The Brazilian border and the neighboring countries are completely closed as well.

HOLMES: It's very worrying. Hopefully, experts like you can get past this sort of, you know, where politics and science have intersected. Dr. Margareth Dalcolmo, thank you so much.

DALCOLMO: Thank you, Michael.

HOLMES: Now, more violence broke out in Belfast in Northern Ireland on Thursday despite unified calls for calm. Officials say the unrest is reaching levels that haven't been seen in years. And pro-Irish nationalists and pro-British loyalists are blaming each other.

Tensions have been rising in Northern Ireland over post-Brexit trade barriers and a nationalist funeral that apparently broke COVID restrictions but didn't result in any arrests. Northern Ireland experienced deadly sectarian violence for decades until a landmark peace deal in 1998.

Coming up here on "CNN Newsroom," a volcano in the Caribbean gives signs it is going to erupt pretty soon and that puts thousands of people at risk. We will have a report after the break.




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: And welcome back to our viewers joining us all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN Newsroom. Now the island of St. Vincent is on Red Alert as emergency officials warned that this volcano could erupt at any moment.

Authorities are ordering some 7000 people to evacuate. Multiple cruise ships are on the way to St. Vincent to help get people off the island. Let's bring in meteorologist Derek Van Dam. What's the latest on this Derek?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Michael, what they've been experiencing on the island of St. Vincent is long duration tremors that has sounded the alarm for thorough authorities and volcanologists that there's some sort of magma trying to make its way to the surface and to the volcano in fact.

Let's put a little bit of geographical perspective here. This is known as the Windward Islands. This is in the Caribbean ocean, here's South America. And St. Vincent Island has one lone volcano on the northern tier of the island. And this is the only active volcano on the entire island itself.

So what has been occurring since yesterday is what is known as an effusive eruption that is basically a steady flow of lava that is venting from this particular volcano. What they're concerned about, with all this seismic activity that I just mentioned, is that they could have more of an explosive volcanic eruption and of course that would take volcanic ash and send it high into the upper levels of the atmosphere and be dispersed in the areas surrounding the volcano.

You can see some of the venting and the effusive volcanic activity that has occurred just before sunset last night. Here's a really interesting graphic we've got from Notice the passenger vessels approaching the St. Vincent region and the Grenadines. This is actually some of the cruise liners coming in to assist with the evacuation or as you can think about the logistical nightmare. You're on an island in the middle of an ocean with an active volcano. Where do you go? Well, I do have some answers. And this is according to authorities here.

This is known as the Windward Islands. They have identified the Windward part of the islands that would be the east facing shoreline as the safest location if you can't evacuate on any of these passenger vessels because the wind in the event of this explosive volcano eruption would take that volcanic ash and push it away from that side of the island.

So Kingston, that's an area in the southern portion of the island. That area they have deemed as a safe zone. By the way, Michael, this is what the volcano looked like this morning before the eruption. Not too shabby. But of course, things are changing rapidly on the ground there, Michael.

HOLMES: It's a beautiful island, a beautiful part of the world there. We wish them well. Derek Van Dam, thanks so much. Now a new study warns that a third of Antarctic's ice shelf could collapse into the sea if global temperatures rise by four degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels. Just think about that.

Now Ice shelfs float on the seawater of course and they fall when glaciers slide from the land into the water. Now the research by the UK's University of Reading found the Larsen C, Shackleton, Pine Island and Wilken shelfs are all most at risk. And you can see them there on that graphic.

Now, climate scientist Ella Gilbert, one of the authors of the study says the indirect impact of collapsing ice shelfs on the global sea level could be catastrophic.


ELLA GILBERT, CLIMATE SCIENTIST, UNIVERSITY OF READING: Ice shelfs are important because they hold back glaciers that transport ice from the Antarctic continent towards the ocean. When they collapse, it's like pulling the plug in the sink allowing those glaciers to flow unrestricted into the ocean where they contribute to sea level rise.

Crucially, it's important to note what we can do and at two degrees, the area of ice shelves that are susceptible to collapse is half that at four degrees. So really underlines the importance of limiting warming as much as possible.



HOLMES: All right, do stay with us. Still to come here on CNN Newsroom.


JESSAMYN SMYTH, COVID-19 LONG HAULER: After the second shot, I began to feel almost like myself.


HOLMES: How COVID vaccines are providing relief to some of those fighting against the long term symptoms of the virus and helping them turn their lives around? Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: Now they are called long haulers. People infected with COVID

and experiencing long term symptoms. Now it appears though, that COVID vaccines are providing relief to at least some of them. Elizabeth Cohen explains why.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jessamyn Smyth says her happy place is in the water as an endurance swimmer. But a year ago she contracted COVID-19. For months, the lingering after effects leaving her breathless, tired, brain fogged, unable to swim, unable to work.

SMYTH: I was unable to ever really achieve a full breath. I could not fill my lungs.

COHEN: That must have been an incredibly scary feeling.

SMYTH: I was terrified that I would never be able to swim again.

COHEN: But in February, Jessamyn got Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.

SMYTH: Within a matter of days after the second shot, I began to feel almost like myself.

COHEN: Experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci say the long haul are symptoms of COVID-19 are real, not imagined.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NSAID: Profound fatigue, muscle aches, temperature dysregulation, unexplainable tachycardia, and what people refer to as brain fog.

COHEN: And anecdotal evidence suggests that between 30 to 40 percent of COVID-19 long haulers like Smyth could be experiencing vaccine induced relief. It might be that the vaccine helps fight off the virus itself.


AKIKO IWASAKI, PROFESSOR OF IMMUNOBIOLOGY, YALE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: If vaccine induced relief, it might be that the vaccine helps fight off the virus itself. If the long haul diseases caused by persistence virus infection, then the vaccine induced immunity will be able to clear the persistent virus reservoir and basically eliminate the source of the symptoms.

COHEN: Or it might be that the body's own immune cells are what's keeping people sick, and the vaccine in effect calms them down.

IWASAKI: The immune responses that are induced by the vaccine can help dampen the responses from these types of autoimmune cells.

COHEN: It's also possible that the vaccines not helping at all.

FAUCI: many people spontaneously get better anyway. And if you get vaccinated, and you get better, you're not sure whether it's the vaccine or the spontaneous recovery, so you'll have to do a randomized trial in order to determine that.

COHEN: But Smyth believes the vaccine did help turn her symptoms around. Enough to help her get back to swimming.

SMYTH: I swam my first mile back in the pool, and hit the wall and hung on to it and burst into tears and just hung there, sobbing with joy and relief, that I knew that my body could do this.

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Reporting.


HOLMES: Thank you for watching CNN Newsroom, spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN. World Sports starts after a short break. I'll see you in about 20 minutes.