Return to Transcripts main page
World Needs to Cooperate to Get Out from the Pandemic; Germany Looking to Implement Tougher Restrictions; France Celebrates Easing of Lockdown; Japan Wants to Release Treated Water into the Sea; George Floyd's Family Member Testifies Today; Outrage Spark Over Daunte Wright's Death; Iran Nuclear Incident on Natanz Nuclear Facility; India Surpasses Brazil as Second Most Affected Country; Thousand Evacuated from Red Zone on St. Vincent; Exclusive Look at Eastern Ukraine Front Lines; Moment of Silence and Tributes in Parliament. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired April 13, 2021 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.
Just ahead world health officials warn we are at a precarious point in the pandemic. As some countries reopen and others prepare for lockdown once again. An apparent attack on a nuclear site complicates delicate diplomatic efforts between the U.S. and Iran.
Plus, Japan promises to release treated water from Fukushima into the sea and its neighbors are not happy. We are live in Tokyo.
Good to have you with us.
A warning and a wakeup call from the World Health Organization. The head of the WHO says the coronavirus pandemic is still a long way from over. And makes clear we have the tools to bring it under control. Those comments come at a critical time. Global COVID-19 cases on the rise again for a seventh straight week. And deaths are increasing for a fourth.
Nut the secretary general says vaccinations along with continued public health measures such as mask wearing and social distancing can work to save lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Confusion, complacency, and inconsistency and public health measures and their application are driving transmission and costing lives. This pandemic is a long way from over. But we have many reasons for optimism. The decline in cases and deaths during the first two months of the
year shows that this virus and its variants can be stopped. With a concerted effort to apply public health measures alongside equitable vaccination, we could bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): A short time ago, Germany's disease control center reported nearly 11,000 new COVID cases. Chancellor Angela Merkel set to meet with her cabinet this hour to talk about possible lockdown measures. But as Germany considers new restrictions parts of the U.K. are relaxing them.
In England pubs pour their first public drinks in more than three months on Monday. Measures were also eased for shops gyms and hair salons. Prime Minister Boris Johnson it's a step forward in the country's COVID roadmap.
Well, CNN's Cyril Vanier joins me with more from London. But first let's go to our Jim Bittermann standing by in Paris. So, Jim, Germany's Angela Merkel meets with her cabinet this hour to discuss more lockdown measures as the country struggles to contain the virus. What is the latest on all of this?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, I think the latest is that Germany has had it in terms of the numbers going up. They really want to get this under control, basically the ICU situation is somewhat critical over the weekend. The head of the ICU association in Germany said basically health care workers in the ICUs are at their end.
So, they just cannot take it anymore because of the rising numbers. The incident rate in Germany before they can do any kind of any kind of relaxed measures, they'd like to see the incident rate about 50 per 100,000, that's to say the number of cases analyzed for 100,000 population.
It's right now running at 140 per 100,000 people, so way beyond what they need to have. So, what we believe that Angela Merkel is going to announce is what they are being -- what they are calling as (Inaudible), which is to say a federal emergency break and a lockdown that takes place on a federal level.
Because in Germany, up until now the vaccination, right, it resumes, and the regulations and restrictions have been rolled out state by state basis in the 16 federal German states, and as a consequence a very quiet a bit from one state to the next. But now the German central government is going to take charge.
By the way, the situation here in France not much better. The ICUs, for instance, the ICU occupancy rate of COVID patients is up 9 percent in a week. Rosemary? CHURCH: It is a dreadful situation. Jim, thanks for that. Cyril, let's go to you now in London and a very different story there with the U.K. hitting its vaccination target and some businesses reopening. So, what is the latest on that?
CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Look, it's day two of a new reality here in the U.K. of the easing of very strict lockdown measures outdoor. Yesterday outdoor seating was able to reopen in pubs and restaurants, gyms, hair salons were able to reopen as well. So, you saw people hit the streets.
Nonessential shops were able to reopen, so Oxford Street in the center of London where all those shops are, and people like to go and do their shopping that was full and very busy yesterday. Soho was very busy yesterday with people having a drink late into the night.
There is just a sense of, you know, life starting to come back, Rosemary, here. And it was, it was direly needed because this country has been in a very strict lockdown for three and a half months and a lot of sacrifices have had to be made.
Now it's interesting to study how the U.K. threat went from one of the worst affected European countries back in December, even early January where they were having 60,000 cases a day and 1,500 deaths a day to where they are now. Best in class, Rosemary, with only a few thousand infections a day and on Sunday two deaths, two deaths only in the U.K. on Sunday which is the worse -- I beg your pardon, the best that they have reported in almost seven months.
How did they achieve that, Rosemary? Well, they achieved that by implementing the two things we have been told all along that work, strong vaccination and strong lockdown measures. And now that they've been doing that for three, four months now you can really see the difference.
All over 50s have been offered a first dose of any of the coronavirus vaccines that are available here and that has made a tremendous difference. They have now hit the target that was set by the government early on of offering that first dose to all over 50s by mid-April. And they are now moving on to the 40-year-olds.
So that makes a tremendous difference as this, as did the strict district lockdown measures. And now the cases are way, way down, Rosemary.
CHURCH: It is an extraordinary turnaround, isn't it? Cyril Vanier, many thanks, joining us from London, Jim Bittermann in Paris, I appreciate it.
So, let's talk now with CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He is also a professor of medicine at George Washington University. Thank you doctor for talking with us and for all you do.
JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Thank you for having me.
CHURCH: So, the WHO is warning the world is in a precarious position right now with COVID-19 cases rising in the last seven weeks. And places like Brazil, England and the U.S. opening up too early while other parts of the world is struggling to roll out their vaccination programs in this race against time with the variants. Just how precarious is all of this?
REINER: I think it's quite precarious and I think what we we're going to start to see over the next few months is really a tale of the haves and have nots. The haves are the countries who are which are very far down the road in terms of vaccinating their populations in countries like Israel, the U.K., and the United States. And then the have-nots are basically everyone else.
So, we'll see case rates drop dramatically as we have already seen in Israel and now in the U.K. and then fairly soon in the United States. Whereas in other parts of the world, as in half of the European Union right now, cases are rising significantly.
So, the challenge going forward is not just mitigation and keeping a place to shut down but disseminating large quantities of vaccine all around the world in a more equitable way.
CHURCH: And doctor we are seeing signs in some parts of the world of deaths declining. But the younger population, certainly in the United States appears to be spreading this virus particularly the more contagious variants. And more young people are now being hospitalized as a result. What does that signal to you and what can be done about this new trend?
REINER: We need to vaccinate the young. You're right. In the United States around two-thirds of the new cases are in young people. people into the age of 40. And the B117 variant originally found in the U.K. which is now the dominant variant in the United States is sort of a stickier virus. It binds more avidly to the respiratory cells. And it's easier to contract and it also makes people sicker.
And there is a suggestion that it is a more lethal variant. So, we are seeing not just infections amongst young people in the United States but increased hospitalizations and ICU admissions for young people that we did not see early on in the pandemic with the wild type strain.
So, in about a few days, the United States will be open all over the country to adults of all ages for vaccinations and this really the way in this country and all over the world to extinguish the pandemic. It's to vaccinate the people who are spreading the virus, to create essentially a fire break.
CHURCH: And doctor, the director of China CDC announced that the country's COVID vaccine has lower efficacy than they originally thought. China not surprisingly denied that was the case very quickly after that and walk back his comments. But how concerning is this considering that more than 60 countries have approved its use including Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Turkey and Brazil? REINER: Right. So, we think that the Sinovac vaccine is about 50
percent effective. That doesn't mean the vax -- that 50 percent of the people who administered the vaccine will acquire the virus. It means that compared to people who receive a placebo the incidence of infection is 50 percent reduced compared to placebo in patients who have received the vaccine.
So, it's still an effective vaccine but not nearly as effective as the two mRNA vaccines or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And particularly in places like Brazil where are the Brazil P1 variant is raging, the vaccine has moderate efficacy.
CHURCH: Dr. Jonathan Reiner, always a pleasure good to talk with you. Many thanks.
REINER: My pleasure, thank you.
CHURCH (on camera): Well later today the U.S. and Israel will hold their second round of strategic talks which will include discussions of Iran. Now this comes just days after an apparent attack on the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran. Tehran blames Israel accusing the country of sabotage and warning of revenge.
Iran says Israel is trying to undermine its diplomatic efforts with the U.S. on returning to the 2015 nuclear deal. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: My policies as Prime Minister of Israel is clear. I will never allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out its genocidal goal of eliminating Israel. And Israel will continue to defend itself against Iran's aggression and terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): CNN's Fred Pleitgen is following the story from Berlin.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's still unclear how big the damage has been to the Natanz nuclear facility but the Iranians certainly do seem to be very angry about this incident but also very defiant in its aftermath. Now what we're hearing from that of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency is that prepare work is already begun on the Natanz facility and that also an emergency power system has been restored as well.
Of course, the Iranians from the beginning have said about this incident that there is a power failure. However, they said no one was seriously injured and that no radiation was leaked either.
Meanwhile, Iranian politicians blasting Israel. For instance, Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif saying, quote, "Zionists want to take revenge on the Iranian nation for their success, meaning Iran's success, in the course of lifting sanctions but we will not allow the Zionists and we will take revenge from the Zionists for this action."
Now the Iranians not saying what exactly that revenge is going to look like but one of the things that they have said is that Natanz is going to continue operating. And the Iranians have said that they are going to put more advanced centrifuges into Natanz to make it, as they put it, more potent and more effective than it even was before.
Now of course, all of this comes at a very important juncture as the U.S. and Iran at least indirectly are negotiating about trying to salvage the Iran nuclear agreement. The Iranians of course have always been saying that they don't want a nuclear weapon. The Israelis say that, for instance, don't believe that.
But right now, in Vienna, there are negotiations going on to try and bring the United States back into the nuclear deal and try to bring Iran back into full compliance. Both Iran and the United States have said that they want to save the deal.
Of course, we do know that the Israelis are vehemently opposed to the nuclear agreement.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.
CHURCH: And later this hour, we will ask the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post about the wider implications of this latest episode and a long running mostly covert conflict between Iran and Israel.
Well Japan says it plans to release treated wastewater into the sea from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. If approved, the release will start in two years. The water was contaminated after the 2011 nuclear disaster. China and South Korea say they oppose the decision but Japan insists the water is safe and the U.S. says the move meets global standards.
So, for more on this we want to turn to CNN's Blake Essig, he joins us live from Tokyo. Good to see you, Blake.
So, Japan is already facing criticism from its -- for its decision to release this treated Fukushima water into the sea. What are neighbors are saying to Japan and how is Japan responding?
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, Rosemary. Look, Japan has been receiving criticism for the idea that they might be disposing of this water into the ocean for years. And when you ask the question about how are the neighbors reacting. Well, South Korea and Japan both came out today issuing statements saying that they have grave concerns about the Japanese goal of disposing the 1.25 million tons of water currently being stored at the seaside plant into the ocean in about two years' time.
And specifically, from South Korea they import about 30,000 tons -- million tons, excuse me, of seafood annually. And officials have come out and said that they will rethink whether or not they purchase seafood from Japan if that water is dumped into the Pacific Ocean. So abroad, yes, lots of -- lots of criticism. Locally here, the
fishermen that make a living off of the coast there of Fukushima are obviously very upset about this announcement today. They had an agreement in 2014 with the Japanese government that there would be a mutual agreement before a decision like this was made.
The fishermen that we've talk to feel betrayed by the decision that was announced earlier today, again, the decision to dump p1.25 million tons of treated water, treated, no longer contaminated water into the ocean in about two years' time.
We talk to the International Atomic Energy Agency director general about the potential environmental impact of that decision. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFAEL MARIANO GROSSI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: There is no impact of any kind to the water, to fish, or to the sediments. And I should say this is not an essay, this is not a try out, this is being done and has been done for many, many years in different nuclear power plants in every continent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ESSIG (on camera): Rosemary, the reputational damage that these fishermen have dealt with following the nuclear disaster in 2011 and now will have to deal with if this water is in fact approved and dumped into the ocean in two years from now. It's going to be very difficult. The fishermen have struggled for years. And again, this is a potential big setback as they try to make a living in the years to come.
CHURCH: Yes. Blake Essig, many thanks joining us live from Tokyo.
And coming up next, anger boils over on the streets of Minnesota after police killed yet another unarmed Black man.
Plus, emotional testimony from the brother of George Floyd in the trial of the officer charged in his death.
CHURCH (on camera): Police and protesters have clashed for a second night in a suburb of Minneapolis. Authorities say some protesters threw bottles, fireworks, bricks, and other projectiles. And police in Minneapolis have responded to reports of looting and break-ins at multiple locations.
Demonstrators are demanding justice after an offer fatally shot Daunte Wright, an unarmed Black man during a traffic stop on Sunday. The officer grabbed her gun instead of her taser in what authorities say was an accidental shooting.
Wright's aunt spoke to CNN's Don Lemon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAISHA WRIGHT, DAUNTE WRIGHT'S AUNT: You know the difference from a fully loaded pistol versus a stun gun. You know the difference. And if you are a police officer, you should know that I think that camera, I saw she held that gun out in front of her for a little while. You mean to tell me she didn't see it?
But let me ask you all something. How would you all feel if you all got the call that that was your nephew, if that was your son? If that was your brother? How would you all feel?
And being to sit here and people are trying to drag my nephew's name through the dirt. It don't mean nothing. It don't mean nothing. He didn't deserve to die. My nephew was a damn good kid. He loved his family, and we loved him. Accident? An accident? No. Come on, now.
Everybody in this world saw that gun. You mean to tell me you thought it was a taser? I've owned over a 20,000-volt taser. They don't feel nothing like a gun. Nothing like a gun. So, you all tell me how would you all feel if you all got that call? That was my nephew. That was my blood. That was like my heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): Daunte Wright was 20 years old leaving behind family including a little daughter. An attorney for his family called the shooting entirely preventable and inhumane.
While tensions mount n Brooklyn Center the defense for Derek Chauvin, the man accused of killing George Floyd is suspected to begin presenting its case later today in Minneapolis. On Monday. Floyd's brother shared personal and emotional stories during his testimony.
CNN's Sara Sidner reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: He was a big mama's boy.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd took the stand to tell the jurors who his brother was before his death sparked worldwide protests.
FLOYD: He just was like a person that everybody loved around the community. He just knew how to make people feel better.
SIDNER: In May 2020, Floyd utter the word "mama" several times before he died.
FLOYD: He loved her so dearly.
SIDNER: His brother says Floyd was crushed when his mother died in May 2018. FLOYD: George just sat at the casket over and over again. He would
just say, mama, mama, over and over again, and I didn't know what to tell him because I was in pain. We are were hurting. And he was just kissing her. And just kissing her, he didn't want to leave the casket.
SIDNER: Floyd's family testimony is one of the last the jurors heard in the prosecution's case.
UNKNOWN: The state will call Dr. Jonathan Rich.
SIDNER: The prosecution started the day calling another medical expert, Dr. Jonathan Rich, an expert in cardiology determined Floyd died because of officer's actions.
JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Do you have an opinion as to whether George Floyd would have lived had not for Mr. Chauvin's subdural and restraint of him for 9 minutes 29 seconds on the ground?
JONATHAN RICH, CARDIOLOGIST: Yes, I believe he would have lived.
SIDNER: Again, Chauvin's attorney try to get the doctor to admit there were other possibilities for Floyd's death such as drugs or heart disease and one more thing, Floyd's own actions.
ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE LAWYER: If Mr. Floyd had simply gotten in the back seat of a squad car, do you think that he would have survived?
RICH: Had he not been restrained in the way in which he was, I think he would have survived that day.
SIDNER: The prosecution is expected rest soon then it will be the defense's turn to try and unravel the prosecution's case with their own witnesses.
GEORGE FLOYD, POLICE BRUTALITY VICTIM: I can't breathe, officer.
SIDNER: The prosecution again played the video of Floyd being detained for the jury as they questioned another use-of-force expert.
SETH STOUGHTON, PROSECUTION USE-OF-FORCE EXPERT: Looking at the threat analysis here, it's clear from the number of officers and Mr. Floyd's position, the fact that he's handcuffed and he's been searched he doesn't present a threat of harm.
SIDNER: Before the jury arrived to court Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson presented an argument to the court that the jurors should be sequestered because of a recent officer-involved shooting just outside Minneapolis. Less than 24 hours before court began, police killed a young Black man named Daunte Wright, sparking fresh protest and riots in Brooklyn Center.
NELSON: This incident while it is, I understand it's not this case. I understand that it is not involved that it does not involve the same parties. But the problem is that the emotional response that that case creates sets the stage for a jury to say I'm not going to vote not guilty because I am concerned about the outcome.
SIDNER: The judge or denied the request to sequester the jury and the case continued unabated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER (on camera): Monday the judge made clear at the end of the say that he is expecting the defense to begin its case on Tuesday, though the prosecution has not officially ended their case just yet.
And I should mention where I'm standing. You can see that large fist just behind me the metal fist there, that was originally brought out to George Floyd's square just feet from where George Floyd took his last breath. Now it's here in another city just next to Minneapolis called Brooklyn Center. It's here for another Black, Daunte Wright, where he took his last breaths.
Sara Sidner, CNN, Brooklyn Center.
CHURCH: The White House says it has cut deals with neighboring countries to help ease the migrant crisis along the southern U.S. border. Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala have all apparently agreed to beef up security at their borders to prevent traffickers and smugglers from heading north.
The Biden administration has struggled with the influx of migrants in recent weeks. U.S. Customs and Border Protection caught more than 170,000 people trying to cross into the U.S. in March, about a 70 percent increase from the month before.
Well the world's largest religious pilgrimage collides with one of the world's biggest spikes in new COVID infections. We are live in India. That's next.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. The long running shadow war between Iran and Israel appears to be heating up. Iran is accusing Israel of sabotaging the Natanz nuclear facility and is vowing revenge.
New advanced centrifuges at the site appear to have been damaged in an explosion, Sunday. And Iran says a person involved has been identified. The U.S. is denying any involvement in the blackout, but Israel's army chief has hinted at possible Israeli involvement in the incident.
Yaakov Katz joins me from Jerusalem he is the editor in chief of the Jerusalem post and author of Shadow Strike Inside of Israel Secret Mission to Eliminates Syrian nuclear power. Thank you so much for joining us.
YAAKOV KATZ, EDITOR IN CHIEF, JERUSALEM POST: My pleasure.
CHURCH: So, Iran is vowing revenge on Israel after the attack on the Natanz nuclear facility. How bad do you think this escalating tension will get? And what might that revenge on Israel will be on the end do you think?
KATZ: Well, Rosemary, I think that what we've seen until now is that this covert or shadow war has been going on for years. Over 15 years. Israel has been doing everything it could and can to try to undermine Iran's nuclear progress. There was this (inaudible) virus that struck the same facility back in 2010 and a cyberattack that was launched by Israel together with the United States that effectively took out some of those same centrifuges that we saw to have apparently have ben destroyed in a massive explosion just this past Sunday.
So, this is something that's going on and we saw just a few months ago, about six or seven months ago the assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientist. In Iran attributed to Israel's foreign espionage and intelligence agency, the Mossad. So, I think that what we are seeing now is a slight escalation for the reason that Israel is actually hinting the (inaudible) involvement.
Until now, Israel has been quiet. It is been kind of an ambiguous shadow war. Now, Israel is openly almost saying yes it is us, we're the ones who are doing this. And this is what prompting the Iranians to feel like they have to do something. Now how could that revenge look? It could be a number of things.
Iran is known to have terrorist proxies throughout the Middle East, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, the Houthis in Yemen, they could activate one of their proxies to launch an offensive against Israel a long one of its borders. It could do something quiet like they did to Saudi Arabian-Iran Co-oil refinery about a year ago, where they launched killer drones and ballistic missiles. They have capabilities, and we shouldn't assume that they won't use them.
CHURCH: It's interesting. I mean, we know Israel is not saying officially that it was behind this attack. But Prime Minister Netanyahu did say, his main priority is preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and the country's army chief hinted at a possible Israeli involvement in the incident. As you have said, it is unusual, we are seeing this change in coming out and pretty much giving an indication that this is happening.
Are you sensing that Israel is trying to push Iran into doing something that would basically end up undermining the nuclear talks in Vienna? IS that what is going on here?
KATZ: Well, I think it's possible that Israel we know is not a fan, the return to the GCPOA, right? The 2015 nuclear deal that President Obama reach and then President Trump withdrew from and now President Biden is trying to get back into. Israel would like to see a better deal. A deal that ensures that Iran will never succeed in getting nuclear capability.
So it could, that what Israel is trying to do is push the Iranians to do something rash and then they would maybe even pull out of those talks. It's also possible that Israel sees a unique window of opportunity now to attack Iran as it's speaking to the p5+1 to the world superpowers, because might gamble, Israel's gamble might be that Iran's hands will be tied, Iran won't want to retaliate.
It wants to focus on the negotiations to get those sanctions lifted and get some economic relief, and therefore Israel sees this window that it can at now while Iran probably or might now actually retaliate.
CHURCH: So, your sense is that this is very well timed. And of course, at the same moment this takes place. We've got the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visiting Israel. All significant presumably. And where do you think this will all go? Do you think Iran will see that Israel is trying to lead it into making some sort of rash decision as you mentioned?
KATZ: Well, I think you're right. You know, Lloyd Austin was here in the last couple of days and Sunday when he landed in Israel was the same morning when we heard this reports of this explosion at Natanz. I would doubt that Israel would do something like this without him knowing ahead of time. You are not going to want him embarrass the first time visit of the U.S. defense secretary under a new administration with this type of attack that would make it seem like he's complicit as he lands in Tel Aviv and comes to visit Jerusalem.
So, therefore they probably knew that something was coming, but I think that what Israel is trying to do is again, what it has been doing for 15 years - 20 years undermine Iran's nuclear program, prevent he Ayatollah from getting their hands on a nuclear weapon.
And at the same time, we can't ignore the fact that this is escalating. There is a clear escalation. It could be that Prime Minister Netanyahu who we know is facing a lot of political trials and triplotaions at the moment once the county to understands that they need him to remain in office as he tries to form a coalition. We know longer have COVID-19 as the reason that people need to join his government.
So, Iran is a good reason why this so called existential threat is a good reason why to, you know, hit those -- beat the war drums and therefor make it seem, even though we know that this has been a threat for a long time he can seem like it's even more urgent today and therefor people will need to come into these coalitions. There is a lot of different pieces to the puzzle.
CHURCH: Yes, indeed. Yaakov Katz, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
KATZ: Thank you.
CHURCH: India now has the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, it overtook Brazil after 6 consecutive days of record numbers. The health ministry reporting a March, n deep in new infection, Tuesday in an encouraging sign, but millions of Hindu faithful at taking part, in the pilgrimage right now that could turn out to be a super spreader event.
Vedika Sud joins me now live from New Delhi. Good to see you Vedika. So, despite the soaring COVID cases in India, hundreds of thousands of people taking part in this pilgrimage. How are authorities responding to this?
VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER (on camera): One thing the government give a go ahead to this festival initially, so they were ready for a (inaudible) but what they did was, Rosemary, they reduce it to a month, from three months which is the usual time this festival last for. But we did speak with authorities who are manning the area in the northern city of (inaudible). Which was known as the holy place for Hindus.
And what they have to tell us was that this was a logistical nightmare. Especially Monday, which is an (inaudible) day for millions of (inaudible) take a deep in the holy river (inaudible). They believe it washes off their sins.
So, yes it was a logistical nightmare. There were hundreds of houses of people who visited the area. There are some guidelines in place, but one wonders when you have so many people gathering at a spot, would it not turn into a super spreader, despite those strict guidelines.
You know I was amazed to see the visuals, Rosemary, because in one hand, the government says, keep social distance, wear your mask, and I wonder viewers not so see this reports to understand what I mean by hundreds and thousands that have been gathering at one spot.
SUD (voice over): Shoulder to shoulder pack crowds of Hindu pilgrims splash into the holy Ganja (inaudible) in India to wash away their sins. It's one of the largest really (inaudible) pilgrimages in the world and a scene shockingly out of step with the delusion of coronavirus cases across the country. India just overtook Brazil with the second highest number of infections in the world after the United States. On Monday they report nearly 170,000 new cases. The highest single day rise since the start of the pandemic.
Deaths too had surge in past weeks overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums in parts of the country. But that has not stopped a steady stream of visitors to the northern city of (inaudible) for the ongoing Kumbh Mela Festival, initially delayed because of the pandemic, some 5 million of people were expected on Monday.
RAVINDER, PILGRIM: There is no issue I think there is no issue traveling. They have to take the proper care of themselves by wearing masks and by maintaining some social distancing protocols.
SUD: Authorities say they had taken measures to control the crowds. 15,000 security personnel are on hand and cameras have been installed to scan the rural banks for people not wearing masks or social distancing. Pilgrims comes from states hard hit by the virus have to provide a negative COVID-19 test. But health officials caution that may not be enough to stop the virus from spreading.
K. SRINATH, REDDY, PRESIDENT, PIBLIC HEALTH FOUNDATION OF INDIA: We must recognize that packing together of large number of people even in an outdoor situation is likely to be an invitation for the virus to spread more easily.
SUD: Just 7.5 percent of India's population of 1.4 billion has been vaccinated according to the health ministry. And there has been an increase of cases in the city of (inaudible) since the festival began making that holy day for the Ganjas a high price to pay for a spiritual cleanse when the physical risk are so great.
SUD (on camera): And (inaudible) rerun of that tomorrow, Rosemary, because tomorrow is another auspicious day for Hindus to (inaudible). And just very quickly, another COVID related development from India, the Sputnik vaccine has now been approved by the Indian drug authority is what the Indian government has just said in a press statement, back to you.
CHURCH (on camera): Interesting. Vedika Sud joining us live from New Delhi. Many thanks.
Well, the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the (inaudible) says that it could be four months before the danger from an erupting volcano subsides. Thousands have been evacuated by land and sea, after four days of eruptions, the first by the volcano in more than 40 years.
Patrick Oppmann has more.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): People on St. Vincent say this usually lush and green Caribbean Island now looks more like a war zone. For days La Soufriere volcano there has continued to erupt dumping ash over much of this island. There are places, communities on this island that are now under several feet of ash.
It's sad to say their fear is that pyroclastic flow could begin to come out of the volcano. That is when lava mixes with rock and ash and becomes this very fast flowing, dangerous phenomenon that destroys everything in its path. So, they're continuing to warn people to stay away. Already thousands have evacuated. Some have evacuated by crew ships to other islands.
And it is not clear how long the situation will last. Over the weekend, power was knocked out through on much of the island. Eruptions continue to be felt on the ashes of course complicating the rescue efforts, the efforts to assess the damage. And making it dangerous just to breathe in many parts of this island. The Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines said, that the impacts from the eruptions could last month's longer.
Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.
CHURCH (on camera): A new boiling point in a seven-year standoff the Kremlins sends thousands of troops to the border with Ukraine. We join the Ukrainian president for an exclusive look at the front lines.
CHURCH (on camera): Ukraine is alarmed over a huge buildup of Russian troops along their shared border and in Crimea. Ukrainian military officials say in recent weeks, some 50,000 Russian forces have joined the tens of thousands of Russian-backed separatists already in rebel held areas there in dark red.
And that is an addition to more than 30,000 Russian troops already in Crimea. CNN traveled with Ukraine's president as he made a risky visit to the trenches in the east of his country. Our Matthew Chance was there and has this exclusive report.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): To the frontlines in eastern Ukraine, a simmering conflict with Russian-backed rebels once again the focus of U.S. concern. As tensions with Russia ratchet higher, CNN is getting this unprecedented access to the Ukrainian president. A carefully planned troop visit flying with him fast and low to avoid ground fire.
It's been a long time now it's been seven years of this war?
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRANIAN PRESIDENT: Yes, seven years.
CHANCE: How are the soldiers holding up? Or are they tired of this war?
ZELENSKY: They are tired, of course, like here in seven years, it's longer than the Second World War. We see that it's terrible.
CHANCE: Longer then the second with its complex network of dank muddy trenches the so-called line of contact in some places just a few dozen yards from the enemy. Looks more like the First World War.
I mean we've entered this warren of trenches that haven't been dug along the front line. I can tell you, I mean, it's like being thrown back to the early 20th century in the Great War because I've not seen anything like this in modern warfare.
But this is modern, the reality of confrontation with Moscow and its proxies.
Is there a chance that the Russians could be planning an invasion? ZELENSKY: Of course. Of course, we know it and beginning for 2014 it
can be anywhere each day. It can be, so they are ready and -- but we are also ready. Because we are on our land in our territory.
CHANCE: This is why Ukraine the U.S. and the western allies are so alarmed. Amid growing tensions the dramatic buildup of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border and in Crimea. Cellphones footages emerged of armored columns like this one. And of military hardware being transported by rail towards the border. Ukrainian military officials tell CNN they estimate more than 50,000 Russian troops are now amassing. Moscow says it's just an exercise not a threat.
But back at the line of contact there is already been a deadly upsurge in sniper fire. More than 20 soldiers killed so Ukrainian officials so far this year. And I would hear even the president runs the (inaudible).
We are going to run for it, right?
ZELENSKY: Yes. Run, run.
CHANCE: Alright. Come on, OK let's go. So we are very close now aren't we to the separatists?
That is open territory area. That was amazing. So we've come so close now to the frontline between Ukrainian forces and the Russian-backed separatists.
President Zelensky and I just had to run through the open ground to get to this cover because the situation is so volatile. So potentially dangerous here.
UNKNOWN: You had --
CHANCE: Elected two years ago on a promise of ending this conflict something he's failed to achieve. President Zelensky says he risks these hotspots as he calls them to show his front line soldiers they have political support.
But what Ukraine really needs he says it is more assistance from Washington. More weapons more money and crucially more backing to join NATO, the western military alliance supported words from President Biden he says has simply no longer enough.
ZELENSKY: Ukraine needs more than words, that is the second.
CHANCE: Can I just ask a follow-up on that?
CHANCE: You understand don't you that if Ukraine were to be given NATO membership that might make the conflict in this country even worse. It would infuriate (inaudible). ZELENSKY: I can tell you, I can answer you. Maybe you are right but
what now is going on? What did you hear? What our people do here, they fight. So what can be in the future, I don't know. But we have an independent country and we decide where to be or we're not to be. To be or not to be in your membership.
CHANCE: That is as they say the question. Or rather how much U.S. support can the Ukrainian president now expect in the running drama being played out in this theater of war? Matthew Chance, CNN, on the front lines of eastern Ukraine.
CHURCH (on camera): And still to come what could be a turning point for the British monarchy? A chance to put recent differences behind them as the royal family will soon come together for Prince Philips funeral.
CHURCH (on camera): Two of Prince Philip's grandsons are highlighting his affection and humor. Prince Harry said quote, he will be remembered as the longest reigning consort to the monarch. A decorated serviceman, a Prince and a duke, but to me like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa. Master of the barbecue, legend of banter and cheeky right till the end.
Prince William called him an extraordinary man who showed great kindness to his wife Catherine. He released a photo taken by Catherine of the duke with this great grandson Prince George. Both the British and Scottish parliaments observed a moment of silence to honor the Duke of Edinburgh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLA STURGEON, SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER: As has been much noted in recent days, he became the longest serving consort in British history. That role in a constitutional monarchy cannot be an easy one. Particularly perhaps for someone who is spirited and energetic by temperament? And of course he faced the additional challenge of being the husband of a powerful woman at a time when that was even more of an exception than it is today. That reversal of the more traditional dynamic was highly unusual in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. And even now isn't as common as it might be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): Prince Philip's death hints at the end of an era and it comes at a froth time for the royal family following the explosive interview Prince Harry and his wife Meghan gave to Oprah Winfrey.
Nick Glass reports on what could be a turning point for the monarchy. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Queen Victoria statue outside of Windsor Castle. A widow at 42 she would wear black for the rest of her life. The media who had camped outside of Victoria's great, great granddaughter remains grieving privately behind the castles granite walls. The queen will be 95 later this month. The first birthday without her husband since she was 22.
ROBERT LACEY, ROYAL HISTORIAN/BIOGRAPHER: The passing of Prince Philip must inevitably bring to mind the end of the Elizabethan era. But I think it is going to be an Elizabethan era right till the end.
GLASS: In other words, right till the end of the queen's life. The castle is currently close to the public, but we already know there are plans afoot for the Queen's platinum jubilee next year which she celebrates 70 years on the throne. Life goes on royal and ordinary just as Prince Philip would have wished. More challengingly, there is a serious faction in the family in need of healing. The Oprah Winfrey interview was just a month ago.
MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: Also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might when he was born.
OPRAH WINFREY, OPRAH SHOW HOST: What?
LACEY: I don't think anybody anticipated how issues of diversity --
GLASS: Of racism.
LACEY: -- would be raised. In a way that in most people's minds over here quite unjustly gave a character to the royal family that isn't the case. It could be, but the funeral gathering for Prince Philip which will be essentially be a family occasion will be the beginning of offenses being mended.
GLASS: These photos were taken in the grounds of Windsor castle last month, just a week after Prince Philip came home from hospital. The queen and her eldest son in heir, a symbolic reassurance of continuity. We now know the funeral at Saint Georges chapel at Windsor will be small because of COVID just 30 people plus clergy. It could be televised and probably in the case of the queen filmed with some discretion.
But we can assume that the body language of William and Harry will be closely observed as they sit in the choir stalls. Of course Prince Philip knew the chapel well from the annual garter ceremony as well as weddings and funerals. The queen flanked by Prince Charles and Prince William.
On Saturday the men, Prince Charles and his two sons will walk behind Philips coffin on this very same road. Prince Philip face is still everywhere at (inaudible) circus, along the post office tower in London. The tributes have been warm and fulsome with multiple newspaper supplements. And at the end of the long walk, they are still laying flowers. The
firm as Prince Philip like to call it will gather to lay them to rest. The royals usually try to hide their emotions. Saturday promises the sternest of tests.
Nick Glass, CNN, in Windsor.
CHURCH (on camera): And thank you so much for watching this hour. I will be back with more news in just a moment.