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Israel-Palestinian Conflict Into Second Week; At Least Two Killed in Bleacher Collapse at Synagogue; COVID Cases Surge in Rural India; Airstrikes in Gaza Early Monday Morning; Taiwan Rolls Out New Measures as COVID-19 Cases Surge; Some Latin American's Flock to the U.S. for Vaccines; Remote Scottish Island Now Fully Vaccinated; Tropical Cyclone Tauktae Strengthening Ahead of Landfall. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 17, 2021 - 01:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: More than a week later, the deadly clashes between Israel and Hamas show no signs of letting up. Relentless airstrikes and rocket fire making for some of the worst violence seen in years.

New COVID concerns from Taiwan, which is seeing record case numbers, after seemingly having it all under control.

And the powerful cyclone barreling towards northwest India forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the program. I appreciate your company. I'm Michael Holmes. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


HOLMES: A second week of escalated violence underway in Gaza, and Israel, and growing calls to de-escalate just aren't having in the effect. Explosions from Israeli airstrikes lit the sky over Gaza, early Monday morning following a Hamas claim that it fired rockets into southern Israel. Israel says it hit nine homes that it says belongs to high-ranking Hamas commanders.

The Israeli military, also saying it struck a Hamas tunnel, in southern Gaza. The Israeli military says Hamas has fired more than 3,100 rockets from Gaza in the past week. Ten Israelis reported killed, 2 children.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says it more than 1,500 targets have been hit inside of Gaza, some with multiple munitions in recent days. He says military action will last as long as it needs to.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We will do whatever it takes to restore order and quiet and security of our people, and deterrence. We're trying to degrade Hamas's terrorist abilities and to degrade their will to do this again. So, it will take some time. I hope it won't take long, but it's not immediate.


HOLMES: Airstrikes destroyed several homes in Gaza, Sunday. As you can see there, people searching through rubble for survivors.

Palestinian health officials say at least 52 people were killed on Sunday alone and nearly 200 Palestinians have been reported killed over the last week. And that includes 58 children.

The Palestinian authority foreign minister addressing the U.N. Security Council on Sunday.


RIYAD AL-MALIKI, PALESTINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Israel keeps telling you, to put yourself in our shoes. This is what they say all the time. Put yourself in our shoes.

But Israel is not wearing shoes. It is wearing military boots. It is an occupying, and colonial power. Any assessment of the situation that fails to take into account this fundamental fact is biased, discredited and unjust.


HOLMES: Now, when considering the impact of this ongoing conflict. Of course, it's important to remember that young people make up a huge percentage of the population and Gaza, and the West Bank, for that matter.

According to UNICEF, out of a populace of 4.8 million, 2.3 million, our children. And, Palestinian officials, as we just said, have said that 58 children have been killed since the current round of hostilities began. But numbers can't tell you how unending strife hurts a child.

Have a listen to the words of 10-year-old Gaza resident Nadine Abdel- Taif as she stands in the rubble.


NADINE ABDEL-TAIF, GAZA RESIDENT: I'm always sick, and don't know. I can't do anything. You see all of this, what do you expect me to do? Fix it? I'm only 10. I can't even deal with this anymore. I just want to be a doctor, or anything to help my people, but I can't. I'm just a kid.


HOLMES: Jason Lee is Palestinian territory director for the group, Save the Children. He joins me now live from Jerusalem.

And thanks for doing so.

Politics aside, just give us a sense with the impact of spin on children in Gaza, given the death, and injury numbers, and the intensity of the bombardment.


I mean, over the last couple of days, we have seen heartbreaking footage, and hearing stories on how this is affecting children.


Aside from the physical, the lifelong, and the life-changing, physical injuries that many of the children will have, think of the mental trauma that children are going through. Children that don't understand what is happening, seeing buildings around them crumble, losing their friends, losing their families, losing their homes, and just not knowing what's going to happen next, and being constantly afraid.

I mean, I have my teams that told me that that kids -- their behaviors are changing. They're afraid. They don't want to go out. They're looking out windows every time. They become withdrawn. They are constantly scared, and crying.

What kind of future? Will kind of normality is this for children to experience and watching?

HOLMES: It is, as always, important to say kids on both sides of the conflict have been impacted, emotionally.

But, for children, in general, what is your experience on how long the sort of mental trauma lasts?

LEE: Now, absolutely. I think that mental trauma is something that is often quite difficult to diagnose, difficult to see, and difficult to treat. It's kind of insidious.

But the physical injury news more apparent. With mental trauma, we have done a lot of research and talking to children, and what is startling is that how it affects them after, the fact that they feel completely alone, and withdrawn.

They withdraw from social groups. They withdraw from the family. Many of them, some of them, result in negative coping mechanisms that we see in adults as well. Many of them even have suicidal thoughts. It is very difficult to integrate back into a normal life.

And again, these are some of the things that we see, but we also see some children who can't sleep anymore. They went to bed. They're constantly wanting to be afraid. They need constant assurances.

These are some of the early signs, and symptoms, that we see in a lot of children.

HOLMES: You talk about treatment -- I mean, the number of dead children is horrific, but also, the wounded, lifelong impacts. And I'm just curious. What are you being told by the team about the impact of what's happened on infrastructure? I mean, what sort of facilities have -- aren't there anymore? LEE: A lot of my teams as well, have had to flee. They are homeless,

of seeking shelter elsewhere. So, first and foremost, many people have lost their lives, and lost their homes, and essentially, nowhere to sleep, no idea where the next meal is coming from. All they got their clothes on their back they managed to get out with.

You also have situations where you got schools that have been damaged. So, we've got 35 schools in Gaza that have been damaged, and one school in southern Israel that has been damaged. We all know the impact that COVID-19 has had on the education and learning of children. We don't reestablish and have schools operational, we run -- we run the risk of another, further generation of children that will miss on critical education.


LEE: As well as health infrastructure.


LEE: We are in a COVID-19 pandemic that is globally still happening, and still happening within Israel, and Palestine.

Now, in Gaza, before the de-escalation of conflicts, there was a resurgence in cases. You had a lot of people that need access to tertiary health care, that aren't able to get that. Hospitals don't have the necessary infrastructure or equipment, now they are being damaged, and have no access to electricity.

So, it's really difficult for any health facility to function, if there's no electricity, there's no water, there's no sanitation.

HOLMES: Yeah. And, just quickly, to that point, life in Gaza was difficult before this latest round of fighting. I've been there many times, I was there a few years ago. And now, as you point out, damage to power grid, fuel supply, medical clinics, and, of course, homes. What is Gaza going to need once this fighting stops?

LEE: I think the first thing it needs is an immediate cease fire, and protection of all civilians. It's going to need massive infrastructure rehabilitation, the roads need to be fixed. They need build accommodations. People need to be housed. Health facilities need to be rehabilitated because, you know, you need health facilities, to make sure you can provide, essential, lifesaving, medical treatment. Things that we take for granted.

The schools need to be repaired, because children need to go back to schools. You need infrastructure repair. You actually need huge investments in mental health because, again, the long term mental health consequences for these children -- again, I can't even begin to describe a child has been thinking, seeing all this around them.

And, you need livelihoods. People need jobs. I mean, what everyone wants it. And, again, I've been in many parts of the world, I've worked in many conflicts, and crises, and every family wants the same thing. [01:10:02]

All people wanted to -- I want to be able to provide for myself, my children, my family, to have a secure home, and a secure future. Some sort of future.

So, this is what we need to provide, to make sure that, you know, Gaza does recover, that the people there don't continually pay the price, and that their futures aren't just destroyed, indefinitely.

HOLMES: In every conflict, it's always the kids who suffer the most.

Jason Lee with Save the Children -- appreciate your time. Thank you.

LEE: Thank you.

HOLMES: Hadas Gold is in Ashdod, Israel, with the latest on the ground.

Tell us more. I mean, Sunday, the deadliest day for Palestinians so far. You've got the bombardment of Gaza continuing, rocket fire continuing from Hamas. Where is the end to this?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think everyone wants to answer that question, Michael. I'm -- I'm in Ashdod, which is 15-1/2 miles from Gaza, and all morning long, we've been hearing jets. There's one actually right above us right now, I don't know if you can pick it up on the microphone, buzzing overhead.

We've been hearing explosions in the distance, and actually, right now, I'm not even sure if we can pick this up, I do we have a feed of Gaza right now, that there is a big plume of black smoke that we saw starting to appear in the distance, in the direction of Gaza. We're not sure what this is from. But we do know, the Israeli military has continued to strike what it says is more than 1,500 militant targets in Gaza.

Overnight, they say they struck several homes, belonging to top Hamas commanders, which they say were also being used to store weapons. And as you know, yesterday was the deadliest day on the side of the Palestinians in Gaza. And, as the Israeli military says, it was the day Israel saw the highest number of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel.

According to the Palestinian ministry of health, something around 197 Palestinians have been killed in this conflict, more than 58 of them, children. And Israel, 10 people have been killed, including two children, and a soldier from the 3,100 rockets that the Israeli military said have been fired from Gaza into Israel since this conflict began.

And we see no indication that this is necessarily ending anytime soon. Yesterday, in an address to the country, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that despite the heavy price, the operation will continue until they've reached all of their military targets, saying that it is very important for Israel to degrade Hamas. But, there is a growing international pressure. We know that the U.N.

Security Council saying that although they did not issue any sort of joint consensus statement, we are hearing more and more international pressure. We know this diplomatic work behind the scenes. On behalf of the Americans, the U.S. secretary of state, there's a top State Department envoy here that is currently speaking with all players, especially players like Egypt to have traditionally played a role in cease-fires.

Now, there could be something that could develop, perhaps, in the next few days, but the Israeli prime minister, yesterday, made all indications to the Israelis that they plan to continue this operation. And so far, but we've seen is the pattern is that we will have military jets flying overhead, we might hear some explosions in the distance, some strikes, and then sometimes a few minutes later, we would get the air raid sirens here, indicating incoming rocket attack.

Now, we haven't had a siren here in Ashdod since 9:00 p.m. last night, which is a relative period of calm for the city, because the city, according to the Israeli military, has had the highest number of red alert sirens since this conflict began.

But, Michael, so far, both sides, civilians, especially, would like to see a calm coming very, very soon. The death toll and destruction just continuing to rise. Really horrific images and scenes we're seeing out of Gaza here in Ashdod, Israel. We've had several direct hits on synagogues, on houses, on cars.

But, Michael, unfortunately, at least within the next few hours, we don't see any de-escalation coming anytime soon.

HOLMES: Yeah, indeed. Same report that smokers coming from the area of Gaza, just north of the city proper, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Hadas, thanks for your reporting, appreciate it. Hadas Gold there in Ashdod, Israel.

And a Jewish holiday being marred by a tragic accident, separate to this conflict. Israeli emergency services say at least two people died and more than 100 were injured when a bleacher collapsed. This was at a synagogue in the West Bank.

CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman, on the scene, and has the latest.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amidst everything that is happening here another disaster. This one unrelated to the current crisis in which several dozen people were injured and several killed in a catastrophe in the West Bank settlement of Givat Zeev.

Hundreds of worshippers commemorating the Jewish holiday of Shavuot crammed on to bleachers, and suddenly, the upper bleachers collapsed. [01:15:07]

We spoke to one of the first responders, to describe the scene of pandemonium, with the injured, piled on top of one another. We also spoke to the head of the regional medical services. This is what he said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw the pictures immediately. We send around 50 ambulances, including intensive care units, with many paramedics and medics. They arrived over here and treated the patients who are injured. They evacuated people, more than 100 people. Several types of injured to all the hospital in Jerusalem.

WEDEMAN: And, of course, those medical services are under stress due to the current crisis in and around Israel.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Givat Zeev.


HOLMES: Still to come here on the program, India's daily COVID cases have dipped significantly in the past 24 hours, but rural areas are still seeing a frightening surge. We'll have a live report coming up.

Also, a shortage of vaccines in Peru means vaccine tourists are flying north. We'll have that as well after the break.


HOLMES: India just reported a significant dip in daily COVID cases, numbers going below 300,000 for the first time in nearly a month. The country recording just over 281,000 new cases on Monday, but the daily death toll is still very high, topping 4,000.

And the Indian government has just also announced a plan to try to contain COVID in rural areas which have seen some of the worst surges. It includes equipping health clinics with extra bed and oxygen support.

CNN's Anna Coren following the story for us live from Hong Kong.

Tell us more about it. I mean, Delhi extending the lockdown, the rural areas at risk.

What's the latest?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Michael, focused very much on the rural areas. You have to remember that two-thirds of Indians live in rural India. The focus over the last weeks has been on the cities, but now it is turning to regional India.

The government, it has announced its plan to turn schools, community centers, government buildings into places of care for mild cases of COVID. And then obviously as you said, stocking up rural health clinics with more beds, more oxygen, which are in, you know, short supply if having any of it at all. It comes as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally addressed the

people of India after more than three weeks. It's been a great deal of criticism aimed at him and his party, the BJP about its handling of the crisis.


He gave a speech. It was unrelated to COVID. He spent half an hour talking about farmers and payments. The last three minutes, he then dedicated to the second wave, saying that he feels his people's pain, that the government is on a war footing and that the focus must turn to rural areas because of the surge that they are seeing in those areas.

Interestingly, Michael, you mentioned New Delhi, the capital that has extended its lockdown for another week that's been going on since the 19th of April. And 35 out of 36 states in union territories have imposed lockdowns, curfews, restrictions. The prime minister to this day still refuses to impose a nationwide ban.

In New Delhi, however, there were arrests made. Posters were put up. I just want to read it to. It said: Mr. Modi, why did you send our children's vaccines abroad?

So, these posters were placed up around the capital. The police than intervened and arrested more than 15 people.

And we've been seeing this from the government. They've been trying to silence critics, silence anybody who dares question them. But certainly on Twitter, there's been hashtags trending like, arrest me to, and asking where is the home minister, that being Mr. Modi's second in command.

People are very much aware the government has been MIA during the second wave, Michael.

HOLMES: Yeah, indeed.

Anna, good to see you. Thanks for that. Anna Coren in Hong Kong.

Now, Dr. Preetha Reddy is the vice chair of Apollo Hospitals. She joins me now from Chennai.

And, good to see you. Thanks for doing so, Doctor.

Cases beginning to plateau, but still at a very high level as are death rates.

How do you summarize the situation now and the road ahead?

DR. PREETHA REDDY, VICE CHAIRWOMAN, APOLLO HOSPITALS: Well, I think right now, there is no going away from the fact. We are in the middle of a crisis.

The crisis is cities have moved to rule areas. It is definitely lacking as much infrastructure as we would have in the cities. We did think it was the living and crowding in the cities which has made it, you know, just more contagious, but in the focus now has shifted.

We as a group are handing over 1,000 cases in a rural area from where we come from, from one of our villages, which means moving oxygen concentrators, as much oxygen as we get, just primary doctors, using telemedicine to the kind of levels which it needs to be done. About 2,300 people manning telemedicine stations just to see if we can intervene quickly.

HOLMES: Right.

REDDY: But I think the problem is large, the problem is large, and of the quicker the interventions are, the better communication and systems in place, we should be able to overcome it.


REDDY: -- for vaccination.

HOLMES: Yeah, well, I was going to ask you about vaccinations. Three percent of India's population fully vaccinated, 10 percent have received one dose.

In a country that is the biggest producer of vaccines in the world, do you see that as a failure?

REDDY: Not really, because I think we did have to have data, we did have to have the rollout. What has happened is that the production and the rollout of vaccination and the second wave, the surge which happened I think both came at a -- didn't come at the right time. The surge was just much faster than we could have vaccinated people.

Having said that, I think the step up on the vaccination drive is huge. A lot of activity is going on trying to do it as quick and as fast as possible. Supply (INAUDIBLE) stepped up.

HOLMES: Yeah, that's a difficult, difficult logistical issue in a country with the population of India.

I was going to ask you, though, after the first wave India appeared to have been ill prepared for the second wave. I mean, how much of that is down to poor planning, and let's be frank, playing politics. I mean, the mass gatherings which were allowed for religious events, political rallies, which was extraordinary.

What responsibility does the government there going forward?

REDDY: I think a lot of it was, to some extent, unanticipated in terms of scale. And, you know, in hindsight, it's fine to say that, you know, we should not have done it. But the fact remains that if you look at the states where there is a surge in a new huge number and you look where there were religious rallies, it's not really matching up, but that is not an excuse anyway.

You know, the religious rallies happened in countries like India had this huge religious fever that, you know, where one person should go.


We have 50 people going. It's a cultural issue.

HOLMES: Right.

REDDY: So, I think we could have had better planning for sure. But now that it's done, I think we have to see, deal and tackle with it.

HOLMES: I want to sort of personalize it a bit. With certain families losing loved ones, I mean, what damage do you think is being done to the Indian society -- I mean, long term, physical and sociological, and family impacts?

REDDY: So, you know, the Indian families are meant to be and emotionally, always very joint. You know, the joint family system, people congregating for whatever happens. Whichever religion you belong to, it's part of our DNA, and part of our ethos.

It has been very difficult especially for the older generation, the 80 plus. I think they do feel a bit lost, because they are not seeing enough of their loved ones around them. It is an issue.

The bigger issue, which I think going forward, will be the youngsters and the youth, especially school going children. They are missing that whole interaction of playing, interacting with other children of their age group. There is definitely a social issue which is looming. We're going to have to deal with it the way we are dealing with this.

HOLMES: Yeah, yeah, difficult times. Hopefully some light at the end of the tunnel for India.

Really appreciate your time, Doctor. Dr. Preetha Reddy there, thank you.

REDDY: Thank you.

HOLMES: Well, as India's COVID crisis continues, the country's ruling party is continuing the construction of a controversial project to revamp the Indian parliament building.

CNN's Vedika Sud with that.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN C ORRESPONDENT (voice-over): December of last year, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays the foundation storm for the new parliament. A grand and ambitious project to replace the current building constructed during the era of British rule by 2022.

But on the same day, India recorded almost 30,000 new COVID cases with worst to come.

What they said, the people of India will construct this new parliament building together.

But many in India now questioning the government's extensive efforts to revamp this kilometer long stretch from the doorstep of the president's house in New Delhi to Rajpath, the King's Avenue where India holds its annual Republic Day celebrations.

The area of this redevelopment project will cover over the next couple of years is equal to the size of almost 100 football fields.

The ongoing construction has become increasingly controversial at a time where India has shattered global records, repeatedly crossing 400,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 while running short on vaccines.

MIHIR SHARMA, ECONOMIST: You can't be building a wonderful, new imperial capital when you are also claiming that you don't have enough money to buy vaccines and get them free to (INAUDIBLE).

SUD: A staggering $2.7 billion of taxpayers money will be used for the Central Vista project, which will also include a new home for India's prime minister and vice president.

The opposition Congress Party claims this money could be spent instead to inoculate almost 620 million people.

CNN reached out to two government ministers and three leaders from Prime Minister Modi's political party, the BJP, to comment on the controversial Central Vista project. They declined to speak to us.

India's minister for housing development, Hardeep Singh Puri, recently defended the project, saying despite the cost the government will allocate twice the amount for vaccinations.

But this failed to cut ties with opposition party.

MAHUA MOITRA, ALL INDIA TRINAMOOL CONGRESS MP: You have vaccinated 3 percent of your population. It is irrelevant, completely irrelevant as to how much money you have allocated for it. The question is, is it enough?

SUD: The Indian government is already under pressure for allegedly mishandling the virus, constructing a new seat of power at a time as sensitive as this could add to the existing public anger.

Vedika Sud, CNN, Delhi.


HOLMES: Extraordinary.

No end in sight, coming up, the latest on the brutal cycle of violence in Israel and Gaza now in its second week. And new case numbers breaking records in the latest global hot spot. We will go live to Taiwan where they thought they had the pandemic under control.

We'll be right back.


[01:29:48] HOLMES: And welcome back to our viewers all around the world.

I'm Michael Holmes.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Now, the intense conflict in Israel and Gaza now in its second week with no sign of easing. Israel carrying out more airstrikes in Gaza early on Monday morning.

The air force said it struck nine Hamas residences, some of them used to store weapons. The military says it also struck a Hamas tunnel in southern Gaza. The strikes following Hamas' claim of rockets fired into southern Israel.

Now, the flare-up of violence in Gaza and Israel is the deadliest in years, of that there is no doubt.

CNN's Nic Robertson now looks back at the past week of fighting.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): First, Hamas' rockets reaching Jerusalem, followed by Israel's fast response pounding Gaza.

A week of accelerated warfare later fear, death, suffering on both sides. Gazans toll significantly higher as it has been in previous such confrontations.

Different this time militant sophisticated heat seeking weapons and Hamas' rockets, more of them reaching farther from Gaza at a greater intensity than ever before, cutting deeper into Israel's sense of safety.

Also different, sudden open confrontation between Israel's Arabs and Jews catching Israel by surprise.

DENNIS ROSS, FORMER U.S. ENVOY TO THE MIDDLE EAST: We haven't not seen this kind of internal conflict where the real social fabric of the country is being stressed.

ROBERTSON: In the West Bank generational Palestinian anger ignited by Gazans suffering resulting in deadly confrontation with Israeli police.

LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: If you combine all of that together it is a very different situation than what we have seen in the past.

ROBERTSON: Before the first rocket fired, a perfect storm brewing -- planned Palestinian evictions in Jerusalem, the collective Palestinian pain raising tensions, worsened by heavy-handed Israeli police tactics at Islam's third holiest site during Islam's holiest week that Hamas exploited.

All against the background of political stagnation and increasing polarization.


MARTIN INDYK FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Over the last 10 years we've seen a swing in Israel to the right and that pendulum is still being swung further to the right. And that has enabled this kind of chauvinistic extremism to gain a greater grip and that has a (INAUDIBLE) to the Palestinians.

ROBERTSON: Both sides now under increasing American pressure to end the conflict.

ROSS: The real question is going to be do the Israelis feel that they have exacted enough of a price on Hamas? And is Hamas ready to end this?

ROBERTSON: Saturday night, Hamas signaled they are ready unilaterally stopping rocket attacks on Tel Aviv for two hours. Netanyahu whose political prospects to hold on to the premiership rose over the past week seems less willing. Sunday, the deadliest day of the week in Gaza.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We are trying to degrade Hamas' terrorist abilities and to degrade their will to do this again. So it will take some time. I hope it won't take long, but it is not immediate.

ROBERTSON: But with international pressure mounting, too, just possible this Gaza conflict won't go a second week. The problems that caused it, however, have no resolution in sight.

Nic Robertson, CNN -- Ashdod, Israel.


HOLMES: Now, that mounting international pressure to end the bloodshed was on display during a virtual meeting at the U.N. Security Council on Sunday.

The U.N. secretary general Antonio Guterres says he is appalled by the growing death toll in Gaza. Adding that he also deplores the deaths of Israelis from rockets launched by Hamas. Guterres said the U.N. is actively engaging and all sides towards an immediate cease fire but when the Palestinian and Israeli representatives took their turn to speak, there was little evidence that those efforts could be paying off.


RIAD AL MALIKI, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY FOREIGN MINISTER: Israel is persecuting all our people, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. We are not two neighbors living side by side in peace.

Israel is the armed thief who has entered our house and is terrorizing our family. GILAD ERDAN, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF ISRAEL TO THE UNITED NATIONS:

For years Hamas has been using international aid, not to help the people of Gaza but to abuse them. It has built a vast web of underground terror tunnels which snake beneath playgrounds, maternity wards and mosques with the clear strategic goal of increasing the number of Palestinian civilian casualties when Israel is forced to respond.


HOLMES: Now the Chinese foreign minister chaired the meeting and accused the United States of preventing the council from issuing a unified statement to ease the conflict. Extraordinary, really.

Now with fewer than 1,700 known cases Taiwan, seemingly managed to contain the pandemic, but now it is facing its worst scenario yet.

Reporting 207 new COVID infections -- that's a new record. Health officials taking action to fight the outbreak. You can see disinfecting going on in public places.

CNN's Will Ripley is in Taipei, joins me now live. So what happened? They've done a great job, but what went wrong and how worried is the government?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In some ways, Michael, because this pandemic has gone so well for Taiwan thus far, this is an island of 23 million or so people that has had a remarkably normal quality of life. People were able to go out to the night markets, do dinners with friends and family, to go to nightclubs. To do everything normal and many of them without masks because the cases had been all but eliminated here in Taiwan.

But when this new spike came as we have often seen in other places people were not prepared. And so because there is a delay from the time of infection to the time that symptoms start to show, people were unaware that COVID was spreading here in Taipei particularly until the case numbers started to spike.

In fact the mayor here in Taipei has said just within the last hour or so that the numbers that will be released today in just over 20 minutes at a press conference that is regularly scheduled, they will be even higher than yesterday.

And in fact, the government is anticipating that numbers will go higher and higher. That will unnerve the public, but if you could kind of see, even just from the street behind me, normally Taipei at this hour will be bustling and yet it is remarkably empty.

People are following the government's social distancing guidelines that were put out, just one level short of a lockdown. Taiwan has actually never experienced a lockdown so far in this pandemic, however if the numbers do continue to surge, the government is not ruling that out as a possibility.

[01:40:01] RIPLEY: It is unsettling for people after so many months of complacency but now it does seem at least in these early days of these level 3 measures that are in place, people are paying attention. They are social distancing. They are staying inside.

And they're hoping that these measures will be enough to get the numbers back down especially because Taiwan has done so well, there is no herd immunity here and there is an extreme shortage of vaccine.

The government has almost run out of its current supply. And it's finding it to be difficult to get more vaccines in, partially because of the regional distributors relationships with Mainland China, the tensions between Taiwan and the Mainland could actually potentially impact public health here if the government can't get more vaccines in a country that is highly susceptible to an outbreak given how few cases they've seen so far.

HOLMES: Yes. Really, not the time for politics is it? But there you go. Will Ripley in Taipei, appreciate it. Thanks, Will.

Well, the coronavirus vaccine is rolling out very slowly in much of Latin America as well. But those who have money and visas, they're traveling to the United States to get their shot. That is causing some controversy in the U.S. and also in their home country.

Rafael Romo reports.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He leaves before dawn carrying two suitcases for the long trip. After hugging his family Elver Estela (ph) is off to the airport. The Peruvian business owner from Lima is traveling to Seattle. This is not just any trip, he says, but a life or death decision.

"Our political environment means our government is unable to fulfill its duty, and that is why I have made this decision," Estela says. His goal is spending a month in Seattle, just enough time to get both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

His wife Ursula, who is also traveling to the United States but later says she only has enough time to get the Johnson and Johnson single shot vaccine.

"The vaccination has been very slow in our country and we have decided we cannot wait any longer. We were seeing many cases around us and the intensive care units are overwhelmed which means you can die," she said. Together they have spent $2,200 to have 3 members of their family, including their 18-year-old daughter fly to Seattle for a COVID-19 shot.

Elver arrives first.

"This is not about the American dream," he says upon arriving. This is about the vaccine dream. (on camera): Just like this Peruvian family many in Latin America who

are tired of waiting and have the means to do it are traveling to the United States to get a coronavirus vaccine.

Florida imposed ID restrictions in January due to a sharp increase in the number of foreigners seeking a COVID-19 shot in the Sunshine State.

GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You have people that live here six months. That's fine. They use the hospitals here, they pay taxes, but to just kind of come in from another country or whatever, you know, we don't support that. And we are not going to allow that.

ROMO (voice over): But Susana Milano (ph), an Argentinian PR specialist who was spending time in Florida says her country's passport was sufficient identification to get the shot.

"They did not ask for anything else," she said.

In fact, so many people from Argentina are traveling to Florida -- that according to this travel expert the price of a ticket from Buenos Aires to Miami rose from an average of $800 in May of 2019 to approximately $2,700 this month.

According to Argentina's state-run carrier, in the first quarter of this year their four Miami-bound weekly flights were at about half capacity. Now its six weekly flights are at 70 percent capacity.

In Latin America, traveling to get a shot has become a wedge issue between the haves and the have-nots.

The Peruvian health minister has been critical of those who travel saying it reflects his country's inequality.

But Elver Estela says it's not about money or social class but about taking care of his family.

"The minister is not going to feed my children or take care of my business if I am no longer around," he says.

At long last, Estela gets his first shot and now he says he anxiously awaits for the rest of his family to do the same.

Rafael Romo, CNN.


HOLMES: Now, not many places can claim 100 percent vaccination against COVID-19 but one island in the U.K. is now fully protected against the virus.

We will take you to Fair Isle (ph) when we come back.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: Now, the British vaccine rollout is now reaching the most isolated parts of the U.K. On the Shetland Islands located in the far north of Scotland, a break in the spring snow has finally allowed vaccines to get in by plane.

CNN's Phil Black takes us to Fair Isle as one nurse they prepare to vaccinate its entire population in just a few hours.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea, the weather is often dramatic, always changing. It rolls over Shetland, a group of British islands around 100 miles north of the Scottish mainland.

In this remote beautiful place the landscape feels raw and powerful. These gusty hills are known for their short often feisty ponies. These waters are shared with apex (ph) predators.

And well into spring, an arctic blast can blanket everything, grounding aircraft and delaying a potentially lifesaving mission.

On the Shetland Islands, the weather governs all, including efforts to roll out the coronavirus vaccines.

Eventually the skies clear and an operation is launched to protect one of the U.K.'s most isolated communities. From the region's only hospital, the doses are dispatched to the airfield and escorted by Nurse Margaret Cooper.

Her job is to distribute the vaccine on an extraordinary place. Faire Isle -- a tiny wedge of land surrounded by open ocean. Steep cliffs. Sloping fields. More than a few sheep. And that's it.

People live here, just 45 people. Soon we see them, striding out, converging on the small building used as a medical office. That is where Margaret Cooper gets to work.

MARGARET COOPER, NURSE: You can have a seat.

BLACK: A strong mix of jolly (INAUDIBLE) and no nonsense efficiency.

COOPER: Here we go.

BLACK: And the residents of Fair Isle are grateful.

(on camera): How are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sun is shining. After a week of snow, we've had our second vaccine, so yes, pretty good. Pretty good.

BLACK (voice over): Unlike the rest of the U.K. everyone here is getting vaccinated at the same time, regardless of age.


KATHY COUIL: Very happy to have had the second jab and very privileged, because in spite of my gray hair, I am not that old.

BLACK: For all the obvious reasons, life here is isolated, but especially during the pandemic. For more than a year Fair Isle has stayed largely closed off to the world.

(on camera): Even here there is a fear of the virus.

JIMMY STOUT, FAIR ISLE RESIDENT: It's a bigger fear in a certain way because if it did come here it could be devastating. It could spread like wildfire.

BLACK (voice over): Jimmy Stout has spent most of his 77 years on the island.

STOUT: It's been very quiet. It's been like what that was when I was a child growing up here. And we're used to tourism now and people coming and joining in but it's been -- it's been very, very quiet.

BLACK: Getting the doses here was challenging, but injecting them into arms only takes a few hours. A small, fragile remote community with limited medical facilities now has some peace of mind.

Tommy Hindman (ph) is one of the last. He moved here from upstate New York 15 years ago.

(on camera): There are people all over the world who desperately want this vaccine. But here we are on Fair Isle.

TOMMY HINDMAN, FAIR ISLE RESIDENT: I think it's impressive because I thought Fair Isle will be the last place ever to get the vaccine.

BLACK (voice over): Britain's vaccine program is a rare pandemic success story, but it's about more than just securing enough doses. It's an achievement built through the organizational power of a national health service combined with the relationships, the experience of committed local staff.

COOPER: So tell me, did you have any side effects after the last one?

BLACK: Margaret Cooper says it's the proudest chapter of her 50-year nursing career.

COOPER: It's a privilege to be able to be part of the vaccination program and feel that you are contributing.

BLACK: A crucial contribution to an unprecedented operation that's saving lives and restoring freedoms everywhere in the United Kingdom.

Phil Black, CNN -- on Fair Isle, Shetland.


HOLMES: Spectacular country.

Up next we are tracking a powerful cyclone expected to make landfall in India. We'll tell you where it's headed and how local authorities are preparing. That's when we come back.


HOLMES: Have a look at that. The hills on fire in portions of southern California. The Los Angeles County Fire Department says the blaze has scorched more than 530 hectares so far, zero percent containment.

About a thousand people have been ordered to leave their homes investigators think some unintentionally set the fire.

Now, parts of India's west coast are bracing for the full impact of a powerful tropical cyclone. Tauktae has already claimed at least six lives as it moves towards the Gujarat Peninsula with winds just over 200 kilometers an hour.


HOLMES (voice over): Waves lashed the shores of western India, the spray reaching high into the air, anonymous sign of the strength of the cyclone expected to make landfall soon in a region already struggling with a different type of surge -- cases of COVID-19.

Houses in some coastal states already battered. The gusty winds uprooting trees. Fishermen doing their best to secure their boats and livelihoods.


HOLMES: India is evacuating thousands of people from low lying areas in the part of the storm. People from one fishing village taking refuge in a school. Their homes no longer safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Earlier water just used to enter into our houses and it would go back. Now strong tides are hitting over our house.

HOLMES: Some COVID-19 centers are shipping patients to other regional facilities. Vaccinations in some areas suspended. Hospitals on alert, hoping the storm doesn't disrupt supplies of electricity and oxygen.

The Indian air force says it is focusing on coronavirus relief flights before the storm as it expects bad weather to affect air operations later.


HOLMES: All right. Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

Tell us more about it. It is certainly -- it just looks huge on the map there.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is an ominous storm system, that's right, Michael.

You know, this is a category 4 equivalent system so you put this in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a Hurricane Katrina in its strength that's magnitude and that is what's concerning when you see an organized storm system just west of one of India's most populous city there in Mumbai.

I cued (ph) the top five most populous cities. Mumbai on to areas around Aminabad (ph) in the path of this particular storm system, producing not only tremendous amounts of rainfall but close enough to proximity here to where you are seeing strong winds lash the coast as it skirts this region. So in some areas, already half a meter has come down.

If you're waking up across western Europe, in Berlin, in London. It will take you around seven to then months to accumulate this amount of rainfall that they are observing in a matter of just a few days in this region.

The population density in here's remarkable as well. The area set to be impacted whether direct or indirect impacts, upwards of 85 million people in the path of the storm system.

And you look the base, you look at the inlets, you can expect storm surge levels as high as three meters, which of course, would be near the roof top of one-story buildings along the coast.

And the rarity of such a storm in this portion of India also cannot be overstated. You've got to go back to the 1990s for the last time a storm of category 3 equivalent of magnitude were stronger, made landfall here so within the next 18 to 24 hours, Michael we expect the storm to make landfall across Southern Gujarat.

And again, (INAUDIBLE) which has not seen rainfall in all of 2021 can see ten times its monthly average in May here in the next couple of days, Michael.

HOLMES: Oh boy, we wish them well.

Pedram Javaheri, thanks so much.

And thank you for watching. I'm Michael Holmes. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN.

Don't go anywhere, CNN NEWSROOM continues with my colleague Robyn Curnow after a break.