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Michigan's Spike In COVID-19 Cases; Police Break Up Secret Party At Paris Restaurant; Europe Continues To Struggle With Vaccine Rollout; California Prepares For Return To Live Events; Remembering Prince Philip; Over 80 Killed In Myanmar On Friday; New COVID-19 Restrictions In Delhi; Hospitalizations Spike In Canada's Third Wave; U.S. Defense Secretary Tours Israel, Allied Nations; Russia's Presence In Arctic Worries U.S.; Ash, Sulfur From La Soufriere Volcano Covers St. Vincent Island. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired April 11, 2021 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Michigan may be confronting its biggest surge in coronavirus cases yet but the U.S. government is denying one specific request for help.
The U.S. Defense Secretary is in Israel this hour for talks described as critical. We're live in Jerusalem for the latest.
And Buckingham Palace releases the plan for Prince Philip's funeral. Details from Windsor.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
NEWTON: Michigan's governor is pleading with the Biden administration to rush more vaccines to that state. Take a look at the surge in cases there on Saturday alone.
Michigan reported nearly 7,000 new cases and, as hospitalizations increase, some health providers in Michigan are delaying nonemergency procedures on a case by case basis. Hospital officials call it a last resort. CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has the latest.
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): The second we let our guard down, it comes roaring back
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As COVID-19 cases soar to alarming levels in Michigan, a warning:
DR. JONEIGH KHALDUN, MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We are on track to potentially see a surge in cases that's even greater than the one we saw in the fall. MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The state's positivity rate is up to 18 percent and hospitalizations are climbing. Governor Gretchen Whitmer is asking high schools to go remote, youth sports to pause and encouraging citizens to skip indoor dining for the next two weeks.
WHITMER: To be very clear, these are not orders, mandates or requirements. A year in, we all know what works and this has to be a team effort. We have to do this together.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Vaccinations in the state continue but not fast enough. The governor is pleading for more vaccines from the federal government, as the disruption of the supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccines continues to take a toll across the U.S.
WHITMER: We really should be surging vaccines to states that are experiencing serious outbreaks.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Response says the Federal government will offer states with outbreaks additional testing and personnel. But as of now, will not increase the number of vaccines.
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: The virus is unpredictable. We don't know where the next increase in cases could occur. We're not even halfway through our vaccination program, so now is not the time to change course on vaccine allocation.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): This, as the CDC is aware of four states that have reported some adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Several states even halting distribution of that vaccine.
The CDC is not recommending health department's stop administering Johnson & Johnson shots at this time and at least one county in North Carolina, plans on resuming doses as soon as Monday.
SYRA MADAD, SPECIAL PATHOGENS PROGRAM, NYC HEALTH AND HOSPITALS: Right now, the benefits certainly outweigh the risk but more information hopefully will come out to the general public.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): And what could be promising news, drug maker Pfizer asking the FDA for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine to expand to children ages 12 to 15 in the U.S. Currently, it's approved for people 16 and up only.
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I'm very optimistic about this. We need them to get the benefit of the vaccine but also it will help us to reach herd immunity a lot faster.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): And vaccine requirements are becoming part of the new normal. Analysis by CNN finds 16 colleges and universities and counting -- the latest, Duke University -- will require students to show proof of full vaccination before returning to on-campus classes this fall -- Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) NEWTON: And we go to Europe now where the coronavirus picture is mixed. Here's a look at where things are compared with the previous weeks. Several countries are holding steady or showing declining new cases while some are seeing a surge in new infections.
One of those countries seeing increases is Germany, where health experts say they've reached the peak of ICU occupancy. It's also putting a strain on health care workers and leading to a shortage in staffing.
Earlier today, German officials reported 1,700 new cases over a 24 hour period.
And in France more than 100 people are facing fines for defying rules at a restaurant.
NEWTON: France has started a new lockdown and similar events were already driving controversy. Jim Bittermann joins me from Paris.
It's that pandemic fatigue. You and I talked in a message, how I miss the thought of Paris, it's true, and you agree. The point is here, though, that pandemic fatigue is a real, you know, threat to public health right now in France.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I just got a call this morning. One of my friends gave me a call and said, I wanted to talk to somebody. I had a dream the other night of dining in a restaurant, something unheard of here in the last six months or so, because the restaurants are all closed.
Yes, I think pandemic fatigue is setting in and people are ignoring all the restrictions that they're supposed to be obeying. People are drinking in public, for example, which is not supposed to take place; eating in restaurants, as you pointed out.
That one, big one they raided the other night, and a lot of smaller ones they've raided as well, they're ignoring it and the government is at wit's end about what they want to do next to combat this.
They announced today -- the health minister was in the headlines with new procedures about vaccination. From now on starting tomorrow, everyone over the age of 55 will be able to get a vaccine in the country, no matter what their underlying conditions are or what their occupation is. That's one thing that will get things going.
They're going to have the Johnson & Johnson vaccine available as of tomorrow. And they're going to limit -- or rather increase the time limit between the first shot and second shot of mRNA vaccines from four weeks to six weeks.
That will allow a lot of first vaccinations to take place because there will be more vaccine available. Then they started a vaccine publicity campaign, as we saw on President Macron's own Instagram account this weekend. Have a look at this, Paula. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BITTERMANN: So I don't know if that's more hip or not but I think it's just one of the signs that the government is trying to do things to get people out there and get the shots in their arms -- Paula.
NEWTON: Hip's not going to cut it right now. It's really staggering to me. Think about this, Jim. Along with the United States, Europe is leading the research on vaccines, leading in the manufacturing of vaccines and there aren't enough vaccines to go around.
Is there a sense the E.U. just wasn't built for this pandemic?
BITTERMANN: Exactly. I think that's one of the things you see. The political opposition in Europe -- and France has a way of taking on the government's authority -- basically they've stuck with the European solidarity, as President Macron has, for example, suggesting that acting as a confidante (ph) would be better than acting alone.
But it hasn't happened that way. It's so fumbled and they're all out of vaccines here, Paula.
NEWTON: Jim, I really appreciate the update and we'll think fondly of Paris in months to come.
BITTERMANN: One day soon.
NEWTON: One day soon, we all hope. Jim Bittermann outside of Paris, thank you.
NEWTON: Dr. Peter Drobac is a global health and infectious disease expert at the University of Oxford. He joins me now from Oxford, England.
More than a year, we are still continually talking about this. Just going from the numbers from really around the world has been startling. And then, we move to this anemic rollout of the vaccines.
In the E.U., the E.U. member states are bickering. Europe, really, does need the issue of at least the AstraZeneca vaccine and its safety to be settled, if it's going to be ramp up this rollout.
Why isn't that issue settled, yet?
DR. PETER DROBAC, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, there have been many different issues with that -- with that particular vaccine relating to the delayed rollout, some political bickering and, of course, some of the safety concerns, which we have seen now, you know, are somewhat validated as we have seen an increasingly strong connection between this vaccine and very, very rare clotting events.
And it's just been -- it's been difficult because these one in 100,000, one in 200,000 events are not going to be picked up in clinical trials. But the cumulative results of these issues over months has been a loss of trust in that particular vaccine and to an extent, vaccines in general. And so, overcoming that mistrust is going to be a hurdle.
The good news for Europe is, as they look out to the next three months, they are expecting hundreds of millions of doses of a number of different vaccines; in fact, particularly, the Pfizer vaccine.
And so, the -- you know, the supply shortages that really plagued their rollout in the -- in the last couple months, you know, should go away.
DROBAC: And so, I think we're already -- we're already seeing a real increase in the -- in the vaccination rates in countries, like Germany, which is really approaching U.S. rates on a population adjusted basis.
And I do expect things to pick up but there is a long way to go.
NEWTON: Yes, but you do need not just all hands on deck, all vaccines on deck, right?
And what are the hurdles, at this point, to actually achieving herd immunity by summer?
The E.U. vaccine chief said that is the goal. You know, think about it today. In the United States, 4.6 million in a 24 hour period.
How is Europe going to get there?
Because you know it needs to.
DROBAC: That's right. And you know, a lot of the infrastructure has been built -- a month ago we were actually sitting -- seeing millions of doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine on the shelves, unused, in -- in Europe.
Now we are actually seeing those rates start to pick up. I want to come back to that idea of herd immunity, though, that you -- that you -- the E.U., excuse me, does have a target of 70 percent vaccination by the end of summer.
You know, we seem to hold out this herd immunity concept as like there is a magic number, at which all of this is going to go away. And that's really a misunderstanding of how herd immunity works.
It depends, a lot, on what the baseline level of infection is. It depends on other factors, like variants. So it could be anywhere from 70 percent to 90 percent. And in a place where the virus is raging, it's going to be a lot higher than a place where transmission is under control.
And so, I think we need to -- we need to be careful about that. We, also, need to be thinking about how hard it is going to be to get there. At a certain point, we are going to hit a wall where most of the people who want to get vaccinated have been vaccinated. And we have to convince the rest.
Then, there is the whole issue of the 20 percent to 25 percent of our populations that are children. And until they get vaccinated, I don't see us realistically achieving so-called herd immunity.
NEWTON: Yes, and, obviously, good news that at least one vaccine, perhaps the Pfizer, may be given to younger -- younger children. I guess, the problem is we're not even giving these vaccines to the majority of people in the world. This really is an equity -- equity problem.
Do you see a situation, though, where, if we start to get further down the road of immunization, especially, in a place like Europe, that, this can accelerate, then, vaccinations, right around the world?
And what do you think the timeframe is for that?
DROBAC: Well, I hope so. What's clear, you know, from the U.S., from the U.K. and from Europe, is that there has been a lot of hoarding of vaccines, as these countries and regions try to bring their own outbreaks under control, that, there is a massive uptick in supply.
But the -- the approach is going to be, look, we are going to take care of ourselves first. And then, the rest of the world can have our leftovers. The one exception to that is the COVAX facility, which is starting to produce, at scale.
There is still a real supply shortage. Things are improving as we get through the summer and the global north starts to bring their outbreaks under control. We should see that start to shift.
But if you look at projections right now, for example, in sub Saharan Africa, we are not really expecting an adequate number of doses to reach that region until, perhaps, 2023. And that's a real tragedy and, obviously, a risk to all of us.
NEWTON: Wow, 2023. Just think of that. Dr. Peter Drobac at the University of Oxford, appreciate it.
NEWTON: Now Californians, good news for them. They're not waiting until 2023. They'll soon be able to go back to live events, concerts, plays and sports. But there are still some limits. CNN's Paul Vercammen tells us how venues are preparing for people to return.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A massive game-changer in California, live events are coming back with people in the stands. This is Staples Center. This is where the basketball teams, the Clippers and the Lakers, play along with hockey's Kings.
The word is now we're going to see the first fans come into the stands at a Lakers game. That's on Thursday. And then down the road we may see full capacity.
Throughout the Los Angeles area, throughout California, iconic venues such as the Hollywood Bowl, saying that they're excited but they're panicking because they have to rehire their employees.
So jobs will be open again in California for these live events and also something going by the wayside, for at least the near future, that printed-out ticket stub.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: How many jobs does that mean here at Staples alone?
DAN BECKERMAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, AEG: It's thousands -- it's thousands of part-time staff. When you think of, on any given night, there are hundreds and hundreds of people, from security officers, ushers, ticket takers, concession workers that are working throughout the venue.
So on any given night, there will be hundreds of staff here. And we start back up next week.
One of the lessons learned about how things are going to change. We think about things like air purification, we think about a touchless environment. We think about paperless tickets, we think about cashless payments.
These are the things that our fans have told us that they need to see and sense in order to build up that trust and confidence to come back to live events.
BECKERMAN: So we want to make sure that we create the safest possible environment for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: AEG owns Staples Center and, on Thursday, they're going to welcome fans back into the stands. They'll be here for a Lakers game. It'll be the first time Lakers fans have seen their team in person since the Lakers won the world championship -- reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now back to you.
NEWTON: Now to the mourning and remembrances for Prince Philip, who died peacefully on Friday at the age of 99. Images of the Duke of Edinburgh lit up the Piccadilly Circus and the BT Tower. There were 41-round gun salutes in his honor. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fire.
NEWTON (voice-over): You can see the castle there. Rounds were fired at the Tower London, Edinburgh Castle and from ships at sea. The ceremonial royal service for Queen Elizabeth's husband will take place on Saturday, April the 17th. It will be low-key per his wishes and COVID-19 guidelines.
Prince Harry will fly over from California, although his wife, Meghan, who's pregnant, is staying home on her doctor's advice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Prince Charles thanked everyone for paying their respects. He said his father would be touched by their reaction. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES: I particularly want to say my father spent the last 70 years, has given the most remarkable devoted service to the queen, to my family and to the country but also to the whole of the commonwealth.
And as you can imagine, my family and I miss my father enormously. He was a much loved and appreciated figure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE CHARLES: My dear papa was a very special person who, I think, above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him and from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all of that. It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: And Isa Soares is standing by in England.
You told us, in terms of the scaled-down funeral, that would have been in keeping with what Prince Philip wanted.
I wonder, in terms of the public, we've had a spontaneous outpouring from the public.
How might they be able to express their gratitude for the prince?
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Paula. We're starting to see more people coming here to Windsor Castle to really pay their respects. They're not hovering. They're not staying too long. They're taking their time, bowing their heads, laying down flowers and they're moving swiftly on because, as you said, of coronavirus restrictions.
Some people we've spoken to are somewhat disappointed there won't be a funeral procession, that the public won't be able to be involved, given the over 500 charities that the Duke of Edinburgh led.
So many in the country have been unable to go to funerals because of COVID virus restrictions, so people understand that.
I suspect on the day, Paula, we may perhaps see people turn up to Windsor Castle, even for a brief moment, for that moment of silence at 3 o'clock, 10:00 am Eastern, to reflect on his life and legacy and the life he dedicated to queen, country and indeed to the commonwealth, Paula.
NEWTON: And certainly they've shown already they want to do that in this week of mourning. Now Prince Harry is coming, as we said, from California.
NEWTON: This really needs to be that picture perfect scene of family reconciliation, does it not?
SOARES: Absolutely. It's interesting that, you know, we're already talking about Prince Harry because, we found out yesterday, of course, he will be attending. He was incredibly close to his grandfather.
I can tell you this. A lot of photographers here, because the expectation is Prince Harry will probably have to arrive today because he has to quarantine in order to make time for the funeral on April 17th.
I spoke with a couple of people today. They said they want to know if Prince Harry is coming and whether we'll see him and what relationship he will have with his brother. It might be somewhat frosty, given the bombshell interview he gave.
SOARES: When he said his brother was trapped within the monarchy, when he indicated his relationship with his father wasn't what it used to be. So all eyes will be, in fact, on Prince Harry and also on his brother and on Prince Charles.
Of course, the three of them are expected to walk a few feet behind the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh on the 17th.
NEWTON: We'll continue to watch. Isa Soares, we appreciate it.
The latest reports from Myanmar reveal a weekend of deadly violence. The use of heavy weapons have people fleeing for their lives. We'll have a live detailed report from the region next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (MUSIC PLAYING)
NEWTON: People are fleeing the town of Bago, where security forces killed at least 82 people on Friday. This video shows them converging through a residential area. Police are conducting daily raids. A monitoring group reports that troops used rifles, hand grenades.
NEWTON: And even rocket propelled grenades, if you can imagine, on people's homes. The military has killed more than 700 people since the coup in February.
You know, the video, Paula, that we've seen, the military shows such a menacing presence and yet these activists, young activists aren't backing down.
Is there a risk of armed resistance unfolding in the streets?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, the vast majority of people on the streets of Myanmar, from the beginning, have been peaceful. This is a civil disobedience movement.
We do see indication that some are trying to arm themselves or at least protect themselves in some ways, given the fact that the military is acting with such impunity and using such heavy weaponry.
What we're hearing from the city of Bago is RPGs, the heavy weaponry. The military have accused protesters on the streets, saying they have been using handmade shields, grenades, arrows, fire bottles.
But shields are not going to be good up against an RPG. The military claims only one person has been killed in Bago but we're hearing from an advocacy group that more than 80 before killed.
And once again as they always do when they confirm the death toll, they say the actual number is likely to be far higher. They say it appeared the military was trying to be on a battleground. But what it actually created is what they called a killing field.
Now an eyewitness in that city that we did speak to said that they had escaped the city, that many people had been fleeing the city and trying to hide in neighboring villages but also suggesting that the military and security forces have not left that area, that they're still going through each neighborhood, trying to find some of those protesters, saying that they'd heard that bodies were piled up in the mortuary.
Now we've also heard other reports that the military had taken some of those bodies, put them on the back of a military truck and driven them away. This would be, unfortunately, in keeping with what we've heard a number of times in a number of different places in Myanmar.
Now on the same day on Friday, we also heard from state run media, the military TV -- this is from the military, I should say, not state run -- that 19 people have actually been sentenced to death for causing the death of two individuals believed to be linked to the junta and the military leadership.
It also goes to show, Paula, the security can act with impunity, forces on the streets of Myanmar and we don't know the details of the other issue. But of course, now 19 have been sentenced to death for allegedly being involved in the deaths of two people linked to the military -- Paula.
NEWTON: Still a very troubling sight there. Paula Hancocks, thanks. I appreciate the update.
India is reporting a record high number of new COVID-19 cases. Still to come, how one union territory is trying to turn things around and drop the case numbers.
Plus, Canada is in its third coronavirus wave and it's not looking good. When we return, why experts say the worst is yet to come.
NEWTON: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Paula Newton and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
New COVID-19 restrictions have been announced in India. The area is facing its fourth wave and it comes with a record high number of new cases for a fifth day in a row.
I have to confess, the numbers really startled me when I looked at them again in the last 24 hours for India as a whole. But also as we have been saying, what more can they do to gain a handle on this?
VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: You and I have been talking about the grim numbers this past week, haven't we?
As of now, nearly 153,000 new cases in India have been reported in the last 24 hours and 830 deaths. That has been the highest of this year. The chief minister of Delhi has announced new measures and guidelines, which includes that no social, political or religious gathering will take place until month's end and only 50 people will be allowed to attend weddings and 20 for funerals.
Educational institutions have been closed until further notice, at least till the end of the month, and you can't have any spectator events.
Also a night curfew started earlier this month in the union territory of Delhi. It's quite interesting, Paula. You have the health ministry of India pointing out it's these congregations, gatherings and youngsters out late night, in which the cases are going up.
While they say that, parallelly, you have elections underway in five states and massive election rallies, along with the world's largest religious festival, which is taking place, where millions of people will be gathering through this month -- Paula.
NEWTON: It will be interesting to see if they do anything to curb that at all. Appreciate the update there.
Canada is on its third coronavirus wave. And as you can see there, it is projected to be the worst one, yet. Now new daily infections hit a pandemic record, this week with Canada's top doctor saying variants of concern have quadrupled in the last two weeks, alone.
Officials say hospitalizations are spiking and critical care admissions, right across the country, are up more than 20 percent in the last week. Now they are, also, warning that there's a surge of young people being admitted to hospitals with COVID.
Also, important here to note, Canada broke a record this week for vaccine doses administered. But officials worry, it will not, at this point, slow down the increase in cases.
NEWTON: Dr. Tasleem Nimjee is an emergency room physician at Humber River Hospital and she joins me now from Toronto. She is also the physician lead for the hospital's COVID response.
And, Doctor, Toronto has really been in a tough situation, you know, a lockdown, some form of it since the end of November. And still, still, it has become record breaking, really, what's going on.
NEWTON: How would you describe the situation going on in the hospitals that you work in right now?
How does it compare to the first and second waves?
DR. TASLEEM NIMJEE, HUMBER RIVER HOSPITAL: So this is -- this is nothing like the first and second waves, which is hard to even think about or say. But this is, by far, the worst it has been for us. And it's unfortunate, because I think we sort of saw that the writing was on the wall.
And we didn't have the right, sort of, steps in place for us to not be here. And now, we're at a point where we are, sort of, using all kinds of levers that we haven't had to use, before to be able to create capacity in our system, where we don't have it.
NEWTON: And what are those levers?
I mean, are they some things that are kind of shocking to you, as a health professional?
NIMJEE: Yes, so there's things we have never done before. So what we did do and we have two, when this began, is move patients around. And so, that's transferring patients to hospitals that don't have as much COVID activity or have capacity to sort of load balance or load share and to support those that are overrun.
But in addition to that, now, what's new this week is that we have actually, at least in the province of Ontario, what we have now is a new health care resource redeployment act.
So this is where we are leveraging nurses from home and community care and maybe other parts of the province to then, move into parts of the province that are hard hit, primarily in the greater Toronto area. And so, that is new and provides us a little more support.
And in addition to that, what we have now, for the first time ever, is the ability to bypass consent. So one of the challenges we had is, in the transfer of patients, if the patient doesn't consent to that then, it becomes a bit more challenging.
And now, we have that option or that -- you know, that sort of lever available to us, where, if there is no ability to care for a patient within a hospital in the city, we can actually send that patient to a hospital where they will get better care because there's capacity.
NEWTON: Yes. And to be clear, these are unprecedented decisions, right?
Not decisions you have ever had to make on behalf of a patient.
NIMJEE: No, absolutely. These are unprecedented. And this is not a decision that was made lightly. Like, you can imagine the number of conversations that took place, at the various levels, within health care and within the government to make decisions like this. So absolutely, unprecedented.
NEWTON: Are you seeing younger, sicker patients?
And anecdotally, do you believe this is, for sure, linked to the variants?
NIMJEE: Yes. So in Ontario, we are at a position now where we have over 80 percent of our cases that are positive are actually a variant of concern, that's B.1.1.7. And so, those are -- that's the U.K. variant.
We are also seeing an increase in the Brazil and U.K. variants. We also know, in Western Canada, there's been a big spike in the Brazilian variant, per se. But in addition to that, it is also driving the acuity. And we are seeing that, now, in younger patients.
So we are having increased number of outbreaks, especially, in congregate work settings. And that is leading to a huge increase in those that are being admitted to the hospital in the age 35 to 50 cohort --
NIMJEE: -- 35 to 50. And so, I can tell you that, you know, the hospitals in the greater Toronto area, like in hard hit spots, my hospital being one of those. It has people in their 20s, has people in their 30s, in their 40s and their 50s in an ICU bed with COVID.
NEWTON: Just startling, really, because this wasn't what happened from -- from -- in the first and second wave.
From a global perspective, what do you want people around the world to know?
Because, look, early on, Canada's response wasn't perfect. Some have the impression that things have gone better in Canada. And yet, now, here you are. Some people have characterized this, really, as a whole new pandemic.
NIMJEE: Because I think there is a couple things. The difference is we are seeing in age distribution, for example, and in the workplace outbreaks, primarily, are because of the variant. And so, that is certainly something to watch because, here we are, experiencing it.
And part of the reason we are where we are is because of a very challenged vaccine rollout.
NEWTON: And our thanks there to Dr. Tasleem Nimjee.
The U.S. Defense Secretary has now arrived in Israel. The visit with the key ally comes at a crucial time for both countries.
What's the significance?
Details live up next.
NEWTON: Lovely scene there. We're at Canterbury Cathedral live right now. They're leading a remembrance service for Prince Philip. He died peacefully on Friday at the age of 99. There's a period of national mourning in the U.K. which will end after April 17th. That's when the ceremonial funeral service will take place.
It will be low-key, though, in line with his wishes but also the all- important COVID-19 guidelines which allows for at most 30 people to attend. You can also see those restrictions in effect now, as we're just seeing there, people socially distant.
We haven't seen scenes like this in Britain for a while. Again, we're live at Canterbury Cathedral there. That's a remembrance service for Prince Philip.
Now the U.S. Defense Secretary is in Israel at this moment. Lloyd Austin is on a tour visiting allies. Austin is expected to meet with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also the defense minister, Benny Gantz. CNN's Hadas Gold joins me now.
The U.S. is trying to revive the Iranian nuclear deal, which everyone understands Israel is totally against.
So what can we expect from this visit?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's the first visit from a cabinet level official from the Biden administration to Israel. That's significant in its own right. And it's during a time of change.
It's also coming at a time during increased tensions between Israel and Iran. The U.S. is trying to renegotiate the Iran deal. Israel is against it. They are discussing Iran, saying the deal with Iran that threatens us with annihilation will not obligate us.
U.S. officials who have been traveling with Austin briefed reporters in the last few hours and they said they have mutual interests with the Israelis and they will continue to consult with them on the Iran deal saying that, quote, "they will not allow Iran's kind of bad regional behavior to go unnoticed and unchecked."
GOLD: Some of that bad regional behavior may be referring to certain skirmishes that have occurred between Iran and Israel at sea. Referring to those skirmishes, U.S. officials told reporters they support Israel's right to defend itself and strongly believe in a stable and secure Middle East, in which they have seen Iran undermining left and right.
And we expect the Defense Secretary in the next few minutes to give a statement alongside the defense minister of Israel, Paula.
NEWTON: What's important is he's making this visit at this point in time, as you pointed out, very significant for the region. Hadas Gold for us, appreciate it.
Russia is testing new weapons in Arctic areas where there's been a lot of ice melt. What they're doing there could have major implications for the United States. Nick Paton Walsh explains in this exclusive report.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): It is the new frontier expanding for all the wrong reasons with pushy neighbors rushing in. Russia is seeing the Arctic ice melt fast and filling the gap with the military buildup, some of it on Alaska's doorstep not seen since the Cold War.
Here is a new generation of super weapons, like the Poseidon, a 120- mile an hour nuclear propelled stealth torpedo. It's designed, say Russian official, to sneak past U.S. coastal defenses and detonate a warhead, causing a radioactive tsunami to hit the East Coast with contaminated water.
Experts told CNN the weapon is, quote, "very real." It'll be tested in the summer near Norway, whose intelligence had said it's not only the ecological damage that could be bad.
VICE ADM. NILS ANDREAS STENSONES, NORWEGIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF: It is in the testing phase. It's a strategic system and it's aimed at targets and has an influence far beyond the region in which they test it currently. That is a new -- it's something we need to get our hands around in the interim and understand what they will release
WALSH (voice-over): Some said Russian President Vladimir Putin was fantasizing when he revealed this and other new weapons like the hypersonic Zircon missile in 2018 but continuing development and tests make them very real.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russia is projecting an image. It is developing new technology. And this, of course, is destabilizing the strategic balance.
HEATHER CONLEY, SVP FOR EUROPE, EURASIA AND THE ARCTIC, CSIS: They are now starting to develop those capabilities that could reach the United States and its NATO allies.
WALSH (voice-over): That is not all Russia is up to. CNN has obtained satellite images revealing the persistent buildup of Russian bases along its northern coastline, part of what the U.S. State Department officials called a military challenge.
Close to Alaska, at Provideniya and Wrangler Island, are two new radar stations were stationed in Anadyr, a quick reaction alert force of bombers and jets. West in Kotelny, a thin strip of land is seen over seven years the slow growth of a large air strip.
And in the Nagurskoye in the northernmost point is another base that sprung up since 2015, one of several in the arctic, decorated in the colors of the Russian flag.
Nagurskoye and the nearby airfield of Rogachevo are both home to make Mig-31 jets, recent arrivals. And further west, at Olenya Guba, on the Kola Peninsula, over the past four years, experts believe a storage facility has slowly been built up with the Poseidon torpedo.
WALSH: Russia has had its eye on being the arctic power for years and is now moving to make that happen.
Yes, this is its coastline, for sure but U.S. officials have expressed concerns to me that this buildup is not just about protecting, it is also about projecting power across the ice, even towards the North Pole.
WALSH (voice-over): There are new resources to exploit under the ice, yes but Russia released this video in January, of the first time a freighter got through the ice in the east in the thick winter to sell a new trade route along its northern coast. It's a possible money maker for the Kremlin, cutting the current journey time from Asia to Europe through the Suez Canal nearly in half.
CONLEY: The development of the Russian Arctic is absolutely essential to Russia's economic survival. But they do have a really ambitious vision for turning the Northern Sea Route, as President Putin has said, into the next Suez Canal.
WALSH (voice-over): U.S. officials voiced concern to CNN that Russia is already demanding ships use Russian crews and get permission to cross it. U.S. response to this has been swift to its ally, B1 bombers have flown out of Norway. U.S. Marines are training off in Norway's north. Yet there is a sudden rush, where for centuries there's been only bleak sheets of ice. Who gets there first make the rules they say, an ugly race now due to the climate crisis.
WALSH (voice-over): For a place nobody should want to be conquerable -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.
In response to Nick's exclusive reporting, the Kremlin says its military presence in the arctic to be an absolutely necessary element to the development.
There is ash over the entire St. Vincent area and the air wreaks of sulphur. After the break, our Derek Van Dam brings us the latest on the island's erupting volcano.
So the exploding volcano on St. Vincent island is called La Soufriere, which means sulfur.
NEWTON: That wraps up this hour of NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton. "INSIDE AFRICA" is up next. For those of you in the U.S., "NEW DAY" is straight ahead.