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India Scrambles for Oxygen as Daily Cases Stay at 300K Plus; French Students Reflect on Losing Loved Ones to COVID; Manchester United Fans Storm Pitch to Protest U.S. Owners; Biden Administration Seeks to Reshape U.S. Standing Abroad; India's Neighbors Feel the Impact of Catastrophe Next Door; Reporting on the Myanmar Crisis is Dangerous Work. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired May 3, 2021 - 00:00   ET


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Robyn Curnow. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for joining me.


So coming up on the show, desperate to breathe and desperate for aid. India struggles with a COVID catastrophe.

And sending democracy to the world. The U.S. sends its top diplomat overseas, warning about the dangers of China.

Also, Manchester United fans storm the pitch, forcing one of the biggest games on the football calendar to be postponed.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: Indians are still battling to get much-needed medical oxygen as COVID cases have remained at more than 300,000 for 11 consecutive days. Cases dipped slightly on Sunday, but daily deaths jumped to nearly 3,700.

People are scrambling to get vaccinated across the country, but in some states, vaccination drives have been pushed back due to a shortage of shots.

And several regions have imposed lockdowns and restrictions, including the capital, New Delhi, where a lockdown has been extended until May the 10th.

I want to get more on all of this. Anna Coren is following the story. Anna, hi. What can you tell us?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anna, as you say, these lockdowns are being enforced. But it's not a nationwide lockdown. Just in the cities and some states are taking it upon themselves to try and stop the spread of this second wave.

The prime minister, Narendra Modi, is refusing to enforce a nationwide lockdown after what happened last year, that two-month-long lockdown leading to so much economic pain. He said that is a final resort.

Many are saying, well, isn't that what we're facing right now, with the death toll rising and the number of cases dramatically rising. The numbers from the health ministry have just come out. More than 368,000 daily infections. That is the highest number to date.

And also, more than 3,400 deaths, dipped slightly, but as we know, that is a massive undercount to what the health officials believe is the true number. That sheer number, we are not seeing, because of the lack of testing in the cities. And then it's virtually nonexistent in those rural areas.

The supreme court overnight, Robyn, this is important to note, ordered that the local and central government must produce a buffer stop, if you like, of oxygen supply. And over the weekend, we still have more deaths at hospitals because of the acute shortage of oxygen.

In a New Delhi hospital in the capital, eight people died, because oxygen ran out. I mean, this is the capital, you know, let alone what is happening in -- in other areas around the country. The capital is where where, you know, the best hospitals are, where the best health care is. And yet people are still dying.

So Modi, he tweeted last night, saying that he is going to try and see whether or not they can convert nitrogen plants into oxygen plants. Obviously, the need is there to resolve this acute shortage of oxygen that is not just affecting Delhi but the whole of the country.

But the supreme court getting involved, Robyn. It has told the central government that it needs to rectify the problem in Delhi by midnight tonight.

But Robyn, it's really interesting, that you know, India in the height of this second wave, the numbers that we are seeing. And yet, we have yet to hear from the prime minister. He spoke in his radio national address over a week ago. We have yet to hear from him publicly. He's tweeting. He's tweeting about the elections, those election results that came in overnight.

The BJP, his party, lost in West Bengal. This was a state where he appeared at least 20 times in rallies, which critics say is one of the reasons for the spread of the virus, certainly in West Bengal.

But as I say, Modi is tweeting about the elections, but we have yet to hear from him publicly in the last few days on this pandemic.

CURNOW: Anna Coren there, thanks so much for that.

Well, in India, people with infected loved ones face an overwhelmed medical healthcare system that can often provide no help, as you just heard Anna say.

Well, Karan Deep Singh is a reporter and a visual journalist at "The New York Times." He documented one man's desperate quest to get medical help, when his parents fell seriously ill with the virus. He joins me now. [00:05:09]

Good to have you on the show. Your story in "The New York Times" was really a timeline of desperation. Wasn't? it? It was very powerful in its simplicity. And it was just one doctor's attempt to save his parents. Just talk us through what you reported.

KARAN DEEP SINGH, REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Thank you. Well, India's healthcare system was already precarious. You know, this predates Modi. The country spends less than $100 per person every year on public health, and that's less than many developing nations.

So what we're seeing now is the healthcare system is breaking down. It's collapsing. Hospitals are overrun. They're running out of oxygen every few hours, and because of that, they're -- they're now shutting their doors to patients who need urgent medical care.

Many people like Ajay Koli, who I profiled in my story, have resigned to really taking care of their loved ones at home with -- with whatever means they have. And it's -- it's extremely painful to -- to see that happen. I mean, I've had, colleagues, friends, myself who -- who needed the oxygen, hospital beds, medicine, we're all helpless. And even with all the connections I have as a journalist, I couldn't help.

CURNOW: And he actually tweeted, his dad was sick, his mom was sick with COVID. He tweeted, saying, Can anybody help me with an oxygen canister and -- cylinder. And what happened next?

SINGH: Well, to his surprise, his tweet goes viral. And he starts getting a flood of messages, both direct messages, tweets. There are some people who are telling him to call these phone numbers. When he calls the phone numbers, most of them are switched off. He wonders. They've probably run out of oxygen.

And -- and then there are others who are able to take his calls, and they say you have to pay 45,000 rupees for one cylinder. And all we have for you is a cylinder. We don't have any apparatus (ph) for you. We don't have any tube mask. Nothing. And we're not going to give you any receipt. There are no guarantees this is going to work, but this is all we have.

And in that moment, Ajay has, you know, this thought that what if -- what if my mother dies? What if I'm not able to help? So he's calling these people.

CURNOW: But his dad has just died.

SINGH: His -- his father just died, and also because of oxygen. He was not able to get the oxygen cylinder that he asked his sister, Anju, to arrange.

CURNOW: Now, what is the end -- the end result of this story? Because it's just -- And I think this is why it's so powerful. It's one man's story. A doctor trying to find oxygen for his dad, who died; oxygen for his mom. He couldn't do it, so he starts helping her at home. And now, we understand that he has COVID, as well. This is amplified hundreds of thousands of times in India right now today.

SINGH: That's correct. It was -- the last I heard from him is that he was feverish, and he just got his coronavirus reports. He turned positive. His mom turned negative. And that's -- that's wonderful news for him. But unfortunately, he's down with the same disease that he was trying to cure for his mother.

CURNOW: So as people like that doctor that you picked up, how -- how are people fathoming the political fallout from this? Because we just heard Anna Coren talking about how Modi has not spoken to the nation. There's a lot of tweets about politics. But not a lot, it seems, that really impacts the trauma that people are going through right now, and offering solutions.

How has this changed people's attitude and sentiment to -- to Narendra Modi?

SINGH: Well, people -- people have criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling party, Janata Party, which said in February that they defeated the coronavirus.

In March, Mr. Modi's health minister announced that the country was in the endgame of the pandemic. And these statements were followed by political rallies that gathered hundreds of thousands of people. Mr. Modi and his government allowed religious gatherings to take place in April at the very height of the -- the second wave, when people were dying of the virus.

And health experts, you know, and political analysts have said that this was Mr. Modi's overconfidence, and his -- his domineering leadership style, which -- which bears a huge share of the burden.


CURNOW: And blame perhaps, according to many -- to many Indians.

Karan Deep Singh, thank you very much for your reporting, live there from New Delhi.

SINGH: Thank you for having me.

CURNOW: So Brazil registered another 1,200 COVID deaths on Sunday, nearly 29,000 new cases. The country is second only to the U.S. in the number of recorded deaths, with more than 407,00.

New cases, though, have fallen since a peak in late March.

Meantime, restaurants in Greece are reopening. Customers will be served outdoors. Secondary students are headed back to school in France, as well. They'll be able to switch between in-person and remote learning, so classrooms will only be half-full, but for some, those COVID safeguards aren't enough. An already difficult year looks to be even worse for students who have lost a loved one to the pandemic, as Melissa Bell now reports from Paris -- Melissa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a year since Grace and her sisters lost their father to COVID-19.


BELL: Grace, who's asked us not to use her surname, is in her final year of high school. All she wants now is to make her father proud.

One of the hardest things, she says, was having to go back to school last September, burdened not only by her grief but also by her fear.

"It's not even for myself that I was worried," she says. "But about catching it and passing it onto a cousin or nephew. I'd have felt terrible, even though it would not have been my fault."

France has made keeping schools open its priority. Throughout the pandemic, French schools lost 10 weeks of school, according to the U.N., compared to the 47 lost by American children.

JEAN-MICHEL BLANQUER, FRENCH EDUCATION MINISTER: We are really convinced that it's necessary for children to go to school. Not only because of the education, learning, but also for interactions with the others, and for psychological and health reasons. So the idea is to say that COVID is a key question, but it's not the only question.

BELL: In the end, France did close schools in April for one month amid a wider lockdown. On Monday, high school kids will go back to class with more testing and tighter measures. Speaking exclusively to CNN, France's education minister says the French experiment has shown that it is possible to make schools safe.

BLANQUER: I believe, thanks to the different studies we have, that school is not a specific place for contamination. Of course, you can have contamination at school. But not specifically, because at school there are rules, and those rules are respected, which is not the case in the other aspect of life.

BELL: But some schools did suffer disproportionately. Grace's school on the outskirts of Paris in one of France's poorest regions saw 20 children lose a relative to COVID-19 in 2020. And this year hundreds of children and staff got sick.

MAELLE BENZIMERA, STUDENT, EUGENE DELACROIX: Well, I was really scared, because I knew that if I catch the virus, I will be a little bit sick, but I won't be sick enough to go to the hospital. Whereas if my parents or grandparents have the virus, I know that they could die or could go to the hospital. And it's pretty scary.

BELL: Teachers here tried to get the school closed down but to no avail. They say that too little was done to help keep them safe.

COLLEEN BROWN, ENGLISH TEACHER, EUGENE DELACROIX: France may be exceptional in that they've kept the schools open at all costs, but they have not been exceptional in funding the schools so that they can do that safely. BELL: Nationally, too, France's policy has come in for much criticism.

The minister accepts that it may not have been perfect, but he says that focusing on in-class learning was the right thing to do.

BLANQUER: The strongest critics were in May 2020, at the beginning, when a lot of people said you don't have -- you should not reopen. The critics are less strong because of a kind of consensus of the society was created around the opening of school.

BELL: And even Grace, who bore such a heavy burden personally, says she has achieved her aim. Thanks to her teachers, she says she expects to do well in her final exams.

And when she sees how well she's doing, she says she thinks of her father looking down and feeling the pride she'd always hoped he would.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


CURNOW: Thanks to Melissa for that story.

Now anger is mounting towards the American owners of the Manchester United Football Club.

This was the scene at Old Trafford just hours before the team was set to play Liverpool in a Premier League match. The fans are upset with the Glazer family, who own the team and its role in a failed attempt to form a breakaway super league.

The match versus Liverpool was postponed to a later date.

Well, to discuss all of this is CNN WORLD SPORT's Patrick Snell.


Patrick Snell, this is one of the biggest events on the football calendar in the U.K. Really, I mean, a huge, huge statement by fans.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes. You're absolutely right, Robyn. A massive occasion on the English sporting calendar. And these very much the images that really did shock and rock the world of football and beyond. We're all taking stock of it now this Monday at United's iconic Old Trafford stadium. Man United versus Liverpool, it just flows off the tongue, doesn't it? The biggest rivalry in English football. The nation's most decorated, and by far, most famous clubs globally.

Just look at the scenes, the pitch invaded hours before United were due to play Liverpool. The scenes outside the stadium, as well, highly concerning. The protesters chanting, "We want Glazers out," in reference to United's Florida-based owners, who were central, the fans believe, to a heavily-criticized plan for a breakaway super league announced last month.

There were flares that were thrown. There was damage to camera equipment. Two police officers injured, according to Greater Manchester Police. The two teams not even getting to the stadium to play the match. The match initially delayed, then postponed. Greater Manchester Police also saying over 1,000 fans, in total, had gathered at the stadium. Around 100 or so breaking through onto that famous pitch, and another 200 protesting at the Lowry Hotel in Suffolk, where United's team is always based before home games.

The team has since left that hotel, I can tell you.

Take a listen now for some of the fans' perspectives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason there's so much frustration is they've not communicated with the fans for 16 years. And that leads to this kind of anger we've see on this level.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They only think about money, don't they? You know? That's all they're interested in, money. That's the only motivation. They don't care about English football. They don't know the culture.


SNELL: Outside Old Trafford, Robyn, there on Sunday. So I send it back to you.

CURNOW: Patrick Snell there, thanks very much for that.

And for our viewers, Patrick will have much more on this story in WORLD SPORT, about 20 minutes from now.

Now, the White House is making a push to revamp America's standing in the world. President Joe Biden and his top diplomats are laying out their vision. What are their biggest foreign policy concerns? We'll discuss that and more, straight ahead.


CURNOW: Welcome back. President Joe Biden and his administration are looking to reshape America's image abroad. The U.S. secretary of state is overseas this week. Antony Blinken is in London with a packed schedule ahead of the first face-to-face meetings of G-7 foreign ministers in more than two years.

America's top diplomat tells CBS's "60 Minutes" that when it comes to foreign policy, Washington's biggest concern is China.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think what we witnessed over the last several years is China acting more repressively at home and more aggressively abroad. That is a fact.


NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS NEWS: What's China's goal? BLINKEN: I think that, over time, China believes that it can be and

should be, and will be, the dominant country in the world.


CURNOW: The secretary's remarks fall in line with President Biden's. In last week's speech marking 100 days in the White House, the president identified China as the main rival to the U.S.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I discussed this with President Xi. I told him, we welcome the competition. We're not looking for conflict, but I made absolutely clear that we will defend America's interests across the board.


CURNOW: Secretary Blinken is expected to talk with counterparts from Asia in the coming hours. The Association of Southeast Asian nations, as well as India, being invited to the G-7 prime ministers' meeting for the first time.

So joining me now is David Sanger, CNN political and national security analyst. He's also the national security correspondent for "The New York Times."

David, hi. Lovely to see you again. I just wanted to ask you. Obviously, Mr. Blinken has arrived in London. No doubt, the American message is going to be multilateralism is back. But is it that easy?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Certainly not. And I think you've seen that already. You know, there was -- the first hundred days, I think it was incumbent on the administration to say, we're listening to you. We actually want to hear your ideas. We're supporting NATO, so forth and so on.

Now, they're into the harder issues of how you actually manage some of these relationships. And as you've seen, even in the first hundred days, there are some significant differences.

The United States is steadfastly against Nord Stream 2. The gas pipeline that would run out of Russia and route around Ukraine. The Germans, for example, are still pushing for that. We have seen a reluctance in Europe to take a very hard line on China, in part because of the trade implications.

So, we're back. The good news is we're back to some of the more normal differences that you would expect to see between the United States and its European allies.

CURNOW: So let's then talk about China. Mr. Blinken has given an interview on American television, where he said China is acting more repressively at home, more aggressively outside. We all know that.

He also said China wants to overturn the rules-based order. The big question is, what does America, does Biden's foreign policy team plan to do about that? And how is he going to have conversations with the G-7 members about the issues that he considers are pressing on the issue of China?

SANGER: Well, it's interesting. The phraseology that you mention, Robyn, is what you heard from President Biden himself in his message to Congress, just a few nights ago, marking his 100th day.

They have not yet put together their full-range China policy, I don't think we're going to see that until the summer, but some elements are already clear.

While there is a lot more tension and some things that resemble the old cold war, this is, primarily, a battle about technological supremacy. It is not one, as much of the kind of military confrontation that dominated the cold war with Russia, after World War II.

That means trying to understand how the United States and Europe will cooperate on technology, starting with 5-G but moving onto artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, and so forth. All areas where they are concerned about the Chinese domination of networks.

Because who controls the network is probably more important than the next couple of years then who controls the sea lanes of commerce that we've traditionally worried about. Then is the question of how hard we push the Chinese on human rights, whether that's Hong Kong, whether that's suppression of the Uyghurs. That's the -- how they are acting more repressively, at home.

And then finally, there is the question of how much you go invest in having a military presence in the Indo-Pacific? And here, we see the British for the first time begin to deploy out in that region, as well.

CURNOW: There's also talk about another potential flash point, Ukraine. Mr. Blinken is going to Kyiv. That's not just a conversation about regional security. It's also about Russia and Mr. Putin's plans.

What is the point of going to Ukraine?

SANGER: Well, Ukraine, of course, is not a member of NATO, but what you saw in the past month was a flurry of phone calls between Secretary Blinken and his Ukrainian counterpart. Between President Biden and Putin, with the defense secretary -- U.S. defense secretary talking to his Russian counterpart.


And that was, basically, about warning the Russians not to turn those military exercises into an actual incursion into other parts of Ukraine. And that's been the big clear.

And now, of course, the Russians have pulled back, the question is, was their military exercise their dress reversal for something bigger, or, was it a threat to just sort of test Biden and see how he's -- how he would respond?

Remember, while there was a hot war going on on the border. There is a cyber war going on in Kyiv. As the Russians, continually, threaten the Ukrainian government with cyber-intrusions of all kinds, including some that in past years have turned off the electric power.

And so this is going to be a multi-scale problem for Biden. And Biden knows that Putin is testing him and testing him in the Ukraine.

CURNOW: A lot on the plate of the secretary of state. Thank you very much, David Sanger. Always good to speak to you.

SANGER: Good to talk to you, Robyn.

CURNOW: And as the U.S. continues its withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. A top general says the Afghan military has been leading the fight for quite some time.

Joint chiefs chairman, General Mark Milley, says the performance of the Afghan troops will be a critical part of peace negotiations. On Saturday, the U.S. began turning over a base in Helmand province, the sight of some of the fiercest fighting.

U.S. President Joe Biden is pulling all American forces out of the country by September the 11th.

And coming up on CNN, a live report on the many ways COVID crisis in India being felt around the region. Stay with us for that.


CURNOW: Welcome back to all of our viewers around the world. Thanks so much for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow. You are watching CNN.

So new details on our top story this hour. India's creaky healthcare system is struggling to keep up with surging coronavirus cases. Hospitals, morgues, and crematoriums are overwhelmed. And people are scrambling to find medical oxygen.

Much-needed medical supplies are arriving from around the world as countries step up to help. But now, several nations are restricting travel from India, including neighboring Nepal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's handling of the pandemic may have cost him votes. His party lost three of five local state elections. Mr. Modi has been accused of focusing on the elections instead of making the coronavirus his top priority.


Though his BJP lost in fiercely-contested West Bengal, the party did make significant gains, winning nearly 80 seats from just three in 2016.

The Congress Party's win over the BJP. Mamata Banerjee is set to be the chief of West Bengal for the third time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAMATA BANERJEE, CHIEF, REGIONAL TRINAMOOL CONGRESS PARTY (through translator): COVID-19 will be my first priority. I was working and will keep working to improve the pandemic situation across the state. Our officials are already working in this direction.


CURNOW: The pandemic has shown us over and over that the virus has no respect for borders. Across the region, India's neighbors are feeling the impact of this crisis unfolding next door.

Kristie Lu Stout joins me now with more on that.

What can you tell us? Hi, Kristie.


As the COVID-19 crisis in India deepens, infections are on the rise across Asia, in particular in neighboring Nepal. Nepal and India both sharing that long porous border. Cases in Nepal have been spiking there.

We've been keeping a close eye on the border city of Nepalganj, where hospitals are under strain. Not enough oxygen. Not enough beds. Nepal's health ministry recently said that the situation is, quote, "unmanageable."

When the lockdowns had been announced in cities across Nepal, including its capital that that has only prompted exodus of sorts. People leaving the cities to go into the countryside, further facilitating the spread of the virus.

As the virus continues to spread in Nepal, spilling over from India, nation -- nations from Pakistan to Thailand are on high alert. They're announcing travel restrictions, lockdowns, even massive inoculation programs. Watch this.


STOUT (voice-over): Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka prayed for divine help to stop a deadly wave of the coronavirus that is sweeping across India.

KOLUPITIYE MAHINDA SANGARAKITHA THERO, CHIEF PRELATE, KELENIYA BUDDHIST TEMPLE: Buddhist monks and Buddhist people in this country want to share the -- our sympathy with the people of India.

STOUT: India is grappling with the world's worst COVID-19 outbreak, with record numbers of infections and deaths. And the crisis has spilled across the border into Nepal, where the capital is now under a two-week lockdown.

Officials say the rate of infections there has increased beyond the control of the health systems in several districts, most of which are near the border of India.

Before the restrictions went in effect, people crowded bus stations to get out of the city.

PAVITRA PARIYAR, PASSENGER: There's fear of coronavirus. We may die of coronavirus if we stay here. So we are going back to our villages.

STOUT: in Sri Lanka, more than 100 areas across the country are under lockdown because of a jump of infections in April. Schools are closed. And employees are being asked to limit the number of people reporting to work.

The Philippines is extending its lockdown in many cities until mid- May. Last week, the country surpassed one million confirmed cases, stretching hospital resources, especially in the country's capital, the outbreak is at its worst.

DR. ROSE MARIE ROSETE-LIQUETE, HOSPITAL DIRECTOR: Beds. We don't enough enough beds. They are full already.

STOUT: Thailand is converting a check-in terminal in its main airport into a vaccination center.

PHASIN SRISAYAM, THAI AIRWAYS STAFF: The airport has a lot of space. The team has managed good social distancing.

STOUT: Bangkok recently closed public parks, gyms, and daycare centers until May the 9th and introduced fines of up to $640 for not wearing a mask in public.

Pakistan is cutting 80 percent of incoming international flights in the next few weeks to try to curb the number of cases there. The military also stepping in to patrol the streets in cities like Lahore to enforce mask wearing and to make sure shops close at 6 p.m.

Countries across the region taking measures to contain the spread of the virus, but it may not be enough for some places. Singapore announced it is tightening its entry restrictions, closing its borders to visitors from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.


STOUT: Now, experts have pointed out that the best hope of getting out of the COVID-19 crisis is through mass vaccination, inoculation plans to reach herd immunity as you saw in Thailand. They're in the midst of converting a check-in terminal at its main airport into a vaccination center.

As for COVID-19 hotspots, though, like India and Nepal, the vaccination program is getting off to a slow start. In India, only around 2 percent of the total population, 1.3 billion, have been inoculated.

As for Nepal, its program started in January. Only about two million people of its total population, 29 million, have gotten the jab -- Robyn. [00:35:00]

CURNOW: OK. A warning of what might come next. Kristie Lu Stout, thank you for your reporting.

And this just into CNN. India has just reported more than 300,000 new COVID cases for the 12th day in a row. So that is an indication of the seriousness of this. Certainly, these numbers not going down anytime soon.

There are ways, of course, you can help people in India cope with this devastating impact. Please go to to find out how.

Meanwhile, coming up on CNN, an inside look at how journalists are putting their lives on the line to cover the crisis in Myanmar. Stay with us for that.



CURNOW: During the coming hours, Israel's parliament will hold a memorial for the 45 victims killed in a stampede Friday at a religious festival.

Now, that memorial will be followed by a special debate to allow lawmakers the opportunity to address criticisms over the handling of the mountaintop site, where the stampede occurred.

Meantime, new video has emerged, showing desperate scenes in the enclosed walkway where the stampede happened as the crowd tried to make its way to the exit.

We've also learned that six U.S. citizens were among those killed in the tragedy.

I want to take you now to Southeast Asia, where security forces killed at least eight protesters as large crowds gathered across Myanmar to protest military rule. That's according to human rights organizations there. Now, they say at least 765 anti-coup protesters have been killed by security forces since the military seized power on February the first.

Meantime, this video obtained by Reuters on Sunday reportedly shows police detaining anti-coup protesters in Myanmar and putting them in what appears to be a civilian car.

Well, Myanmar is now one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. The U.N. says dozens of reporters have been arrested since February 1, and more than 40 are behind bars.

As we mark World Press Freedom Day, Paula Hancocks shows us the dangers of reporting on Myanmar's crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ye Wint Thu spent the first weeks after the military coup on the streets of Yangon, talking to protesters.

YE WINT THU, JOURNALIST: This is the last fight for the country. They don't give up.

HANCOCKS: An anchor for media company DVB, he and his colleagues rushed to the office on the morning of the coup to collect their equipment and work from home.

A month later, the military canceled their media license, along with others. They then went underground.

THU: I had to do my job, whether it's dangerous or not.

HANCOCKS: When you were able to report on the streets, what -- what concerns did you have? What's dangers did you face?

THU: I could die. I could die on the street. Like, I had to be really, really careful not to get arrested on the street.

HANCOCKS: He was placed on a wanted list when one of his reports was shown at a military press conference. A friend told him to run.

THU: So after the call, it's your time now. Run. So I had to run, like within 10 minutes.


HANCOCKS: In hiding, he is still working, despite the daily Internet shutdowns, relying on images from protesters.

He says this military crackdown does not feel new. When he was four, his father, a democracy activist, was imprisoned for 10 years. More than 70 journalists have been arrested since February 1. According to the U.N., more than 40 of them are still behind bars. Some have not been heard from since they were taken.

SHAWN CRISPIN, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: Myanmar's press freedom crisis is becoming effectively a humanitarian crisis for its journalists, right? They're being held in prison. There are reports that they're being tortured in prison. Many are in hiding and others are leaving the country altogether.

HANCOCKS: Ten years ago in Yangon, I spoke to journalists who were cautiously optimistic for an opening up of media as the military appeared to accept limited democracy.

THOMAS KEAN, JOURNALIST IN MYANMAR: I wouldn't say that you can't have articles about the military, but they're going to be looking at it very closely.

HANCOCKS (on camera): And crossing out quite a lot?

KEAN: Yes. Yes. HANCOCKS (voice-over): Those days are long gone. The photographer who

filmed this does not want to be identified, as he is also on a warrant list. He says he can now only film security forces from behind closed doors. When he could still go outside and cover the protest, he said he never felt safe. He describes one sit-down protest in Mandalay were security forces suddenly started shooting into the crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They didn't care who they hit or who they killed. I was so worried. And I didn't know where to run. I just grabbed those around me and ran. We were also scared. I was running for my life.

HANCOCKS: He says he hasn't been paid since the coup, a problem for many inside the country. Daily life is a struggle. He's hiding in a separate place, away from his wife and young son to try and protect them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I have to send them to another safe house, as the military was arresting anyone in the house if they can't find that person on the list.

HANCOCKS: He praises the efforts of citizen journalists, doing the job that he is no longer able to do, documenting the brutal military crackdown. Risking their lives to show the world what's happening in Myanmar.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


HANCOCKS: So journalists face dangers around the world. The Committee to Protect Journalists tracks obstructions to free press. And I wanted to list these for you.

According to their data, five journalists have been killed so far this year around the world. Last year, 274 journalists were imprisoned while attempted to do their job, and currently, there are at least 66 journalists missing from outfits around the world.

And a tense but exciting moment for four astronauts as they made their way back to Earth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Acting on behalf of NASA, the SpaceX teams, we welcome you back to planet Earth, and thanks for flying SpaceX. For those of you enrolled in our frequent flyer program, you've earned 68 million miles on this voyage.

MIKE HOPKINS, CREW-1 COMMANDER: Resilience is back on planet Earth. And we'll take those miles. Are they transferable?


CURNOW: You can never, ever reclaim those miles, can you? Good luck to them. A little humor there between NASA and SpaceX Crew-1, following a picture-perfect landing early Sunday morning.

Three NASA journalists [SIC] -- astronauts. Journalists, astronauts, we've got them all on the brain. And a Japanese astronaut safely returned to Earth after nearly six months at the International Space Station. What a welcome home.

And the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule crashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, completing NASA's first nighttime water landing in more than 50 years.

Now, the astronauts had a record also for the longest time in space for a crew launched from a U.S. spacecraft.

And thanks so much for watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow. I will be back in 15 minutes' time with more news. For that time, I'm going to hand you over to the good folks at WORLD SPORT. That starts after the break. Enjoy.