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Israel Determined to Take Down Hamas; U.S. Supports Ceasefire in Middle East Conflict; Israel-Palestinian War Favors P.M. Netanyahu's Post; Cyclone in India's West Coast Worsen the Pandemic Crisis; Taiwan Imposed New COVID Restrictions; Growing Calls in Japan to Cancel Tokyo Olympics; U.S. Donating Another 20 Million Vaccine; Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, No Rockets Fired Overnight; United Nations, Six Rockets Fired From Southern Lebanon Monday; Concern Rising Over Indian Variants As Parts of U.K. Reopen; Britons May Face Re-entry Anxiety As Lockdown Rules Ease; Media Giants Mega-Merger; Ceuta, Spain Illegal Migration; Historic Flood In Amazonas State; Myanmar Celebrities Targeted By Military; Close Encounters Of Navy Pilots. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 18, 2021 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[03:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, U.S. President Joe Biden throws his support behind a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but Benjamin Netanyahu vows to fight on.

A powerful cyclone slams into India, putting even more strain on a country already struggling with a crippling COVID outbreak.

And Taiwan bans foreigners in a bid to get control of a sudden spike of COVID cases.

Good to have good to have you with us.

Well, it is just past 10 a.m. in the Middle East where Israeli war planes have launched a new round of attacks on Hamas militants in Gaza, but for the first time in a week, no rockets were fired from Gaza overnight.

The target of these Israeli airstrikes isn't immediately clear, but they hit near the offices of the U.N.'s Palestinian refugee agency and the Islamic University. The Hamas run Gaza health ministry says at least 212 people have been killed, and more than 1,400 wounded since the fighting began.

Israel says rockets fired from Gaza have killed 10 people, including two children in the past week.

CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is in Jerusalem and he begins our coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Distraction again in Gaza City. Israeli firepower destroying the top floors of this building in a Rimal neighborhood. The Israelis say the targets were militants from Hamas. The Israeli strike blew out the windows of a health clinic across the street, a key coronavirus testing center, according to officials in Gaza.

"The Palestinian situation is devastated and in crisis for 15 years and now that crisis is worse and suffering has increased" says Gaza resident Ahmed.

Meanwhile, just a few miles north, the Israeli military continues their artillery assault. Monday evening, the Israeli military claimed airstrikes had rendered 100 kilometers of tunnel inoperable, taking out the network of underground passageways beneath Gaza where Israel says fighters take shelter and store weapons, a major objective in Israel's campaign.

Another priority, degrading Hamas's rocket building capability, 80 to 90 percent of that capacity now destroyed say the Israeli military. For Israelis in towns like Ashkelon, Ashdod and Be'er Sheva, that's a message they need to hear.

"Two days, it fell next to my house and did massive damage." Resident Israel local says, "this time, he went into the building." Several times a day the alarms ring out and they run for cover.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We'll do whatever it takes to restore order and quiet, and on the security of our people in deterrence, we're 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's not immediate.

WEDEMAN: Short shrift for those demanding an immediate ceasefire.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): And journalist Elliott Gotkine joins me now live from Ashdod, Israel, just north of the Gaza border. Good to see you, Elliott. So, what is the latest on this new round of Israeli strikes on Gaza targets?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, we reached out to the Israeli Defense Forces, the IDF to ask them if they could confirm the strikes and if so, what the targets were, but they said they couldn't at this time or that they wouldn't. We expect to hear some more information on that later.

What they have told us this morning is that the idea of intercepting a UAV, a drone that was approaching the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. They said it was intercepted and that the fragments of that drone were then collected, but we have already heard from both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that he has given the directive to intensify the air strikes in the Gaza Strip at militant targets.

[03:05:04]

And We heard from the IDF chief of staff as well, saying that the strikes will intensify. Now Ben mentioned, I think you mentioned just a moment ago that last night was the first night of no sirens or rockets being fired into Israel from about 11.15 p.m. to about half past 5 this morning.

And while that lull would have been appreciated by the communities living around the Gaza Strip, but which have been the most targeted, I don't think they'll be under any illusions that this signifies kind an abatement of Hamas' capabilities or that there won't be further barrages throughout the day and going forward.

A couple other things to note. There were six rockets fired from Lebanon towards Israel. They all fell short. Israel returned artillery fire and the situation is now calm, the U.N. peacekeepers from the U.N. calling for maximum restraint. I don't think that suggests that there is another front about to be opening on the north there but that's something the Israelis will be keeping a very close eye on.

And just finally, the funeral today of one Yigal Yehoshua is due to be held. This is the Jewish man who was killed by an Arab mob in the mixed town of Lod about a week ago. He was hospitalized after being set upon by the mob and he secured to his injuries and died yesterday. His funeral be held today.

Both the President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing their condolences and saying that the culprits, the perpetrators will be prosecuted to the full force of the law. So that's the situation right now, Rosemary, but for now, back to you.

CHURCH: All right, Elliott Gotkine joining us live from Ashdod in Israel. Many thanks.

Well the U.N. Security Council will hold another private meeting on the crisis in the coming hours but so far, the U.S. has blocked the council from making a statement on the conflict. The White House says it's engaging in quiet yet intensive diplomacy.

For the first time, President Joe Biden did say he supported a ceasefire in his latest phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is urging both sides to protect civilians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Palestinians and Israelis like people everywhere have the right to live in safety and security. So we have been working intensely behind the scenes to try to bring an end to the conflict. We are ready to lend support if the parties seek a ceasefire. We'll continue to conduct intensive diplomacy to bring this kind of cycle of violence to an end.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): Ambassador Martin Indyk joins me now. He is a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, he is also the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the former assistant secretary of state for Near east affairs and the former U.S. special envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Martin Indyk, a pleasure to have you with us.

MARTIN INDYK, DISTINGUISHED FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Thank you, Rosemary. Good to be with you.

CHURCH: Thank you, Ambassador.

So, in a phone call Monday with Israel's prime minister, President Joe Biden expressed support for a ceasefire as violence intensifies between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. But a senior administration official clarified that, saying this is not President Biden explicitly calling for a ceasefire to happen just yet.

It's pretty confusing language. Why not just call for a ceasefire, as 28 Democratic senators are pressuring Biden to do?

INDYK: Well, it's what you call in diplomacy, nuance, and the nuance here is that Biden is trying to persuade Netanyahu to come out and accept the ceasefire without in public pressing him to do so. We don't know what he is saying in private but my guess is he's saying maybe it's time to wrap it up. But he doesn't want to press him in public into a corner, so I think he is supporting a ceasefire rather than demanding one.

CHURCH: In the midst of this, Hamas is demanding Israel and what it calls provocations in Jerusalem, and Israel is demanding Hamas end its firing of rockets first. How do you overcome or meet demands like this to try and broker some sort of ceasefire once you get all the parties to the table, if they get to that point?

INDYK: Well, you cannot, Israel would not accept the idea that Hamas would be able to claim that Israel gave it assurances that it wouldn't act in Jerusalem in ways that give issues to the Palestinians like the evictions from this (Inaudible) in Sheik jarrah in eastern Jerusalem.

[03:09:57]

But that's where the United States comes in. Israel can give assurances to the United States about the way it's going to behave in Jerusalem, and the Egyptians and the Qataris must understand that Israel will act in this way.

So, what we know direct assurances. As for the rocket firing in the Israeli bombardments, you know, it's basically a mutual arrangement, a mutual ceasefire at a given time, and they've done this so many times before but that shouldn't be hard to workout.

CHURCH: And Ambassador, Benjamin Netanyahu's opponent, Yair Lapid, suggested Sunday that politics was behind Israel's military operation in Gaza, essentially saying the longer the conflict rages goes on the less likely it is that Lapid can form a new unprecedented unity government to replace Netanyahu, which means of course the prime minister stays in power. Is lapid right?

INDYK: I think that Lapid is worried about the clock that's ticking. He only has a mandate for I think another 18 days now to form this government. The person that he was working with to form the government this is Naftali Bennett who leads right wing party cut out of the talks because of the pressure of the violence, particularly the intercommunal violence between Arabs and Jews, because the government that Lapid is trying to cobble together would depend in part on Arab votes.

So, Bennett said I'm out of here, I'm not going to be part of that deal. So therefore, you could see that the longer the conflict continues, the harder it is for Lapid to put the deal together. And so, it is just basically suggesting that Netanyahu may have an interest in continuing the conflict that has more to do with his own political survival than the broader interest of Israel.

CHURCH: Do you think that's what's going on?

INDYK: I think it's part of the calculation, but I don't think it's driving the situation. I think that different political calculation is at work here. Which is that both Hamas and Netanyahu want to be able to claim victory in this confrontation. Hamas has a number of things that it can point to, the fact that it champion Jerusalem, the fact that it kept half of Israel in air raid shelters, the fact that it completely disrupted commercial airline traffic into Israel. The fact that it set a fire on cities in Israel between Jews and Arabs fighting in Israel.

All of those things Hamas is going to tout as its achievement. What does Netanyahu have to point to? Tunnels. He has destroyed a lot of tunnels. We can't see the tunnels. They've all collapsed. And so, it's much harder for him to say I've really set back Hamas and you know, it's going to be years for them to recover.

And so, I think that he is looking, either for some kind of knock out below or some level of devastation to Hamas' infrastructure to be able to say that he achieved Israel's purpose of reestablishing the terms and that's why I think he is continuing the fighting at this point.

CHURCH: Ambassador Martin Indyk, thank you so much. We do appreciate it.

INDYK: Thank you.

CHURCH: A massive cyclone is pummeling India as the country tops 25 million coronavirus cases. The monster storm is battering India's west coast, disrupting both testing and vaccination efforts in that region. Hundreds of thousands of people had to be evacuated including COVID patients, who were moved to makeshift medical facilities.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins me now from the CNN weather center. Good to see you, Pedram.

Of course, this massive cyclone just adding to an already catastrophic situation. So, what is the latest on the trajectory of this storm system?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, it has made landfall in last 12 hours or so hours, Rosemary, so now we are watching the storm system produced an incredible amount of rainfall over a very densely populated environment. And of course, you look at this, it made landfall as a strong category three equivalent system 205 kilometers per hour wind. This is the strongest storm we've ever seen impact anywhere in western India.

We know hundreds of merchant ships have to be rerouted, thousands of fishing boats had to be brought back to shore. And of course, hundreds of thousands of people evacuated in advance of the system as well.

So, here's what we are looking at across the central portion of this region. The system is raining itself out, we've seen as much as 350 plus millimeters in the past 24 hours.

[03:14:57]

And the forecast guidance doesn't want to take this within the next few hours potentially just west Ahmedabad, that's the fifth most populated city there across India of course with over five million people. If we think winds at that point should be generally between 60 to 100 kilometers per hour. That will be concerning by itself but when you look at the intensity of the rainfall across an environment that is the tail end of the dry season, that's really going to be the most compromising feature of this particular storm as it moves across this area.

And eventually, Jaipur, eventually even New Delhi get in an incredible amount of rainfall. You've got to keep in mind, you take the last five months of rainfall together in some of these areas and you'll only get about 10 to 20 millimeters. In fact, the past 24 hours Ahmedabad saw its first raindrops in all of 2021, they could see 150 millimeters here overnight today -- tonight into early tomorrow morning.

So, we are watching this to be a potentially significant flooding event. And Rosemary, something I always note when it comes to urban environments like Jaipur like Ahmedabad like new Delhi. We know when it comes to areas of course when you are out in the woods you are getting a lot of the moisture that is absorbed by the natural soil, only 10 percent of it becomes runoff.

In urban environments dense cities where you have concrete and a lot of landscape, there were rain becomes instant runoff, about 55 percent of what falls leads to flooding. So that is going to be something we'll watch carefully with the next couple of days.

CHURCH: Yes. It is a critical point. We thank you for watching this so closely. Pedram Javaheri joining us there.

Well, Taiwan is facing its more severe COVID outbreak yet. The island had seemingly managed to contain the pandemic. So, what happened? We will have a live report to find out more from Taipei.

And why support for the Tokyo Olympics is plummeting among Japanese residents just about two months before the opening ceremonies?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH (on camera): Taiwan officials are urging people to reserve medical supplies for critically ill COVID patients. The island is dealing with its most severe COVID outbreak yet. It reported 335 new cases on Monday, a record single day rise. Up until a few days ago, the island had reported fewer than 2,000 cases for the entire pandemic.

Now, with cases rising sharply, schools are closed in some places, restrictions are in effect in the capital, and beginning Wednesday, foreigners will be barred from entering.

Our Will Ripley is in Taipei, he joins us now live. Good to see you, Will. So, it has to be said, Taiwan did an incredible job in the early stages of this pandemic. But now it's become this cautionary tale for the rest of the world. What went wrong?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What went wrong, Rosemary, is that COVID-19 is a virus that is insidious. And all it takes is for one infection and people who are complacent who have a sense that life is normal, who are not socially distanced, who are not wearing masked for that infection to quickly spread and spread.

[03:20:04]

And that's why we're seeing such a spike in numbers here in recent days. For four days in a row, there were pandemic records in terms of the number of infections, but the new numbers out just within the last hour from Taiwan's Center for Disease Control show that the number of confirmed cases has gone down to 240.

But with that sliver of good news comes a sad development. Two more COVID-related deaths here in this country which has had an extraordinarily low number of not only confirmed cases but deaths throughout the entire pandemic. They were at 12, now they are at 14. Every person counts even in a country like this. And that is why people are taking really, really strong measures right now.

We've seen some incidents of panic buying at supermarkets, people stocking up on items like toilet paper and cup noodles, the kinds of things. I remember seeing a year ago in Japan when their case numbers were starting to tick up. The government is trying to urge people that there are enough commodities to go around for everybody, but what they don't have enough to go around is vaccines.

There is a very critical vaccine shortage here in Taiwan right now. Locally produced vaccines may not be available until late July according to the president. And getting new shipments of doses badly needed jabs in arms is proving to be a challenge for this island of 23 million people, given the complicated regional situation and its relationship with mainland China. And the fact that you have no herd immunity here essentially. And

fewer than one percent of the population vaccinated, one of the lowest vaccination rates in the entire world. So, people are adhering to this social distancing guidelines. As you mentioned, schools will be closed for the next two weeks. Foreign visitors won't be allowed for a month starting tomorrow, as well as transit flights also not being allowed to transit through Taiwan for the next month at least.

And you have people who are hoping that by staying inside, by not gathering in large groups, by wearing masks when they go out, that they'll be able to get these numbers down, Rosemary, and get life back to normal like it was throughout much of this pandemic where the rest of the world is lockdown, Taiwan never once had a lockdown. And people live their lives as if everything was all right. But this latest outbreak has proven you can never get too comfortable.

CHURCH: Yes. So true. Will Ripley joining us live from Taipei. Many thanks.

Well, protesters in Tokyo are demanding the cancellation of the summer Olympics as Japan battles a COVID-19 surge. Monday's protest comes in the wake of a new poll by a Japanese newspaper that found widespread opposition to the games. Forty-three percent want the Tokyo Olympics to be called off.

For more on this let's turn to CNN's Blake Essig in Tokyo. Good to see you, Blake.

In essence, 80 percent of those polled actually want these games canceled or postponed. And people are protesting out on the streets. So how is the government likely to respond to these calls? Could it change their mind?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Rosemary, as recently as last week, Japan's Prime Minister seemingly deflected responsibility, saying that the final decision to hold the Olympics this summer is up to the International Olympic Committee to make.

Now all the scholars that I've spoken with have told me that that's not totally true. Yes, based on the host city contract the IOC has an incredible amount of control over what happens. But given the ongoing pandemic, I'm told Japan could pull the plug. But if they do, it could be stuck with a hefty tab to pay for canceling the games.

Now that being said, Olympic organizers continue to point to COVID-19 countermeasures laid out in a series of playbooks, but clearly, it's done little to ease the public's concern with about 10 weeks to go before these games are set to start.

Now the torch relay in Hiroshima earlier today was moved off public roads. This was an event IOC president Thomas Bach was scheduled to be at before postponing the visit because of the virus. Also, today, the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association which represents about 6,000 primary care doctors released a letter to the government calling for the games to be canceled. In it, they say the medical institutions dealing with COVID-19 have their hands full and have almost no spare capacity. Now anti-Olympic protests were also held in Tokyo last night, just a few days ago more than 350,000 signatures was submitted to the Tokyo metropolitan government calling for the games to be canceled.

And it is worth noting that protests in Japan are uncommon. Democracy hasn't had a long history here and people traditionally are politically quiet. So, the fact that ordinary people, athletes, medical professionals, and industry leaders are all speaking out publicly against the games even in small numbers is significant. And it's clear that the anti-Olympic movement is growing, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. It is significant. And unusual, as you point out. Blake Essig joining us live from Tokyo. Many thanks.

Well, the United States is loosening its grip on its large supply of coronavirus vaccines. On Monday, President Joe Biden vowed to donate at least 20 million doses of the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines by the end of June.

[03:25:01]

That's in addition to the 60 million doses of Oxford, AstraZeneca the U.S. has already pledged. Now that will help the COVAX global vaccine initiative which is far behind on its delivery goals. UNICEF says COVAX was hoping to get 170 million doses to low income countries by this week. But will deliver a little more than a third of that.

The head of the World Health Organization says we are witnessing vaccine apartheid with poor countries accounting for nearly half the world's population by getting just 17 percent of its vaccines.

Kenya is one of the countries short on vaccines, less than 2 percent of its population has received their first shot.

CNN's Larry Madowo is live from Nairobi and joins us now. So, Larry, I mean, this is the worry because Kenya is just weeks away from running out of vaccines altogether, so what is the plan?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The plan is to wait and hope that more vaccines become available. By the end of May or early June in Kenya would be completely out of vaccines, 91 percent of the one million of shots it received from COVAX have been used up. Those are prioritized for healthcare workers, other essential workers, people in the security forces, and anybody over 58.

But the country obviously relying on India which supplies many countries including Kenya, and India is not just exporting vaccines. And here's the thing. I am fully vaccinated but that is only because I've been living in the United States. My grandmother, who is 96, and lives in the west of Kenya has not been vaccinated. And there are so many people around this country like her. That is what is happening. Rich countries have all the vaccines and poor countries just don't have enough of it. CHURCH: That is such a concern. And so, what happens in terms of

restrictions? So, presumably your grandmother and other people who are elderly are taking precautions to either wear masks or stay isolated in some sort of way. Quarantine away from other people.

MADOWO: As far as possible, they try to do that. They wear masks. It's hard to socially distance in some of these communities that are very close summit. People live essentially on top of each other. But then, the danger for the rest of the world as you are not safe until everyone is safe because the viruses mutates, and they will make their way to the rest of the world like we've seen with the viruses that are first discovered in South Africa, in India, and in the U.K. They will come to the U.S. They will come to the rest of Europe even if they start out here.

CHURCH: Let's hope more vaccines get out there to countries that need them. Larry Madowo joining us live from Nairobi. Many thanks.

And still ahead, we will have the latest on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in the growing concerns of the impact on regional security.

And the day after parts of the U.K. lifted lockdown restrictions concerns remain over the so-called Indian variant. We are live in Essex, England just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:30:00]

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ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): For the first time in a week, Israel says no rockets will fire from Gaza in overnight hours. But Israel hit Hamas militants with a new round of airstrikes, the IDF says, it's destroying rocket launchers, tunnels, at homes of Hamas commanders.

Israel claims, it hits more targets in Gaza in the past week than in all of last year. The Hamas run Gaza health ministry, reports 212 people have been killed since last Monday including 61 children. Israel blames Hamas for putting military equipment in residential neighborhoods, near schools, and hospitals.

Meanwhile, Hamas rockets fired into Israel have claimed 10 lives since the fighting began. U.S. President Joe Biden, spoke by phone again, on Monday, with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. This time, expressing his support for a cease-fire. And top U.S. General Mark Milley, warns the continued fighting threatens to create instability far beyond Gaza.

Rocket fire, from Lebanon underscored Middle East point. The U.N. interim force in Lebanon said six rockets were fired from southern Lebanon, Monday night. The IDF said all the rockets fell inside Lebanon, and artillery forces fired towards the sources of the launches. Our Salma Abdulaziz, is live in Beirut with the latest. She joins us

now. Good to see you, Salma. So, given this brief exchange of fire between Lebanon and Israel, how much concern is there in the region that this violence may expand beyond Israel and Gaza, if the ceasefire is not agreed upon soon?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER (on camera): It's absolutely a huge concern, Rosemary. Let's start with what happens last night at about 11:30 p.m., local time, six rockets were fired from a neighborhood in southern Lebanon. We understand, from the Israeli military, that all of those rockets landed inside Lebanon. The Israeli military says it responded with artillery fire, towards the source of those positions.

We've also heard from the UNIFIL, the United Nations peacekeeping force that operates in southern Lebanon, they say the situation on the border is now calm, and they contacted both the Lebanese military, and the Israeli military, and urged both sides to have maximum restraint, prevent a further escalation.

But here's the key point, Rosemary. There's a lot of political actors in that area, key among them, of course is Hezbollah, the political and militant faction that's based in southern Lebanon. There's other pro-Palestinian factions. Now, none of them have claimed responsibility for so far, Hezbollah has made no comment on this so far.

But this is the second time this has happened in just a matter of days, Rosemary. We also have rockets that were fired on Thursday that landed in the Mediterranean Sea. Again, those were not claimed by Hezbollah as well. But you really sense across this country that when these incidences have it, people are really holding their breath. Because it has the potential to unravel very, very quickly.

And Lebanon is already mired in its own chaos. Its economy is in free fall, its government is in paralysis. People here are simply struggling to put food on the table. They cannot afford to be in another conflict. Anyone here will tell you that, that the concern is as this conflict stretches out, as these images, these horrific images are playing out in Gaza, families are under bombardment.

All of these political factions on the ground, all of these different actors on the ground could become vulnerable, could be interested in stepping in that could expand the conflict. And again, Rosemary, so many people here already struggling, just to get by. A war is the last thing anyone needs. Rosemary?

CHURCH (on camera): Yes. It is a fragile situation. Salma Abdulaziz, joining us live, from Beirut, many thanks.

Health experts are urging caution in the U.K., as parts of the country have rolled back COVID restrictions. Officials warn that until more is known about the Indian variance dominating U.K. infections, large social gatherings may not be the best idea. Here is what the British health secretary had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATT HANCOCK, BRITISH SECRETARY OF STATE FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE:

The early evidence, suggest that b1617.2 is more transmissible, than the previously dominant be 1117 variant. We do not yet know, to what extent it is more transmissible. And while we also don't have the complete picture on the impact of the vaccine, the early laboratory data for Oxford University corroborates the provisional evidence from Bolton hospital, and the initial observational data from India that vaccines are effective against these variants. This, of course, is reassuring. But a higher transmission poses a real risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[03:35:15]

CHURCH (on camera): And for more on that risk, I'm joined now by Dr. Peter Drobac, an expert on infectious diseases, and global health at the University of Oxford. Thank you Doctor for talking with us.

PETER DROBAC, GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT, OXFORD UNIVERSITY (on camera): Thank you very much.

CHURCH: So, vaccinations across the U.K., have been going so well. That more COVID restrictions have now been lifted, but of course, concerns remain about this Indian variant, despite encouraging data suggesting vaccines may be effective against this variant. What is your reading of that? And, the higher risk of transmission posed by this Indian variant?

DROBAC: Well, certainly, I think there is cause for concern with this new variant. We made a lot of progress, about 70 percent of adults in the U.K. have had one dose of vaccine, and about 40 percent have had two doses. But of course, they're still a long way to go. And you know, we experienced a really terrible surge of infections in January due to the b117 variant.

And so now, this 1617 variant, originally detected at India, appears to be even more transmissible. So, while at the moment the individual risk of infection has restart to open up as low, you know, increasing of higher risk indoor activity, like indoor dining, and things, I think does pose the risk that we might see another upswing in infections, driven by this new variants.

CHURCH: And U.S. President Biden has promised to spend an additional 20 million COVID vaccines overseas, taking the total now to 80 million, and while that is certainly a large number of doses, it doesn't come anywhere near solving the problems being faced right now, by countries like India, or Kenya. What is the answer to getting more vaccine supplies to these poor nations?

DROBAC: Well, you know, as a welcome step by the Biden administration, and I hope that other wealthy countries that have bought up a lot more vaccine than they could ever need, will follow suit. I think at least, as an emergency response it is a nice but small step as you say. Ultimately, what we need is the capacity to manufacture and distribute, billions and billions of doses. Not just in a short term, but a capacity that is going to endure for

years to come. Because we don't know where this pandemic is going, and what are the threats may come in the future. So, we need ultimately, is to think about -- not only relaxing intellectual property, but also thinking about coordinated tech transfer. So that we can increase the capacity, in the supply chain, for all of the different components of these vaccines.

The capability to manufacture, and the expertise to manufacture. And then distribute it. But we need that all around the world. We need massive, massive capacity in Africa. Massive capacity in Southeast Asia, etcetera. And so, I think this is going to be a multiyear effort. But we need to begin that coordinated work to build the infrastructure now.

CHURCH: And how much do you worry that this pandemic will drag on for months, perhaps, even years, if these poor nations cannot get enough vaccine supplies in time to stop more variants spreading across the globe?

DROBAC: Absolutely. I mean, there's a cautionary tale playing out in India right now, in addition to the humanitarian catastrophe. The b1617 variant has now been detected in over 40 countries worldwide. And it's only a matter of time before another place, that hasn't yet had access to vaccines, may suffer a similar fate.

And it's a reminder to all of us, the thing that has become, almost an old cliche that none of us are safe, until all of us are safe is absolutely true. So, it's in our own self-interest, as well as a moral good, for us to think much more expansively, and ambitiously, about vaccinating the world.

CHURCH: Right. Some great points there. Doctor Peter Drobac, joining us from Oxford England, thank you so much for your time, I appreciate it. Well, as the U.K. eases restrictions, there are concerns about readjusting to normal life, after more than a year of lockdown.

Phil Black joins us now from Essex England, it is good to see you, Phil. So, how pervasive is this sense of nervousness about returning to normal life after being locked down? I'm hoping that we have fill their, we are having some visual -- there are you. So, Phil, talk about how pervasive this is. This anxiousness, or stress, that people are feeling about returning to normal life?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Rosemary, the U.K., and a handful of other countries, are in a very privileged position right now, because they appear to be -- and they can start thinking about what comes next. And that's largely, because of their vaccine programs. But, of course, the journey to this point is also involves huge personal sacrifice, whole populations deprived to freedoms, forced to dramatically scale back the scope of their lives.

[03:40:06]

And that is why psychologists believe that these first steps, out of lockdown, for many people, are going to be difficult, anxious moments. So we spoke to some people who you through extraordinary life experiences know the challenges, in moving beyond long term isolation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLACK (voice over): Confined, largely to our homes, deprived of freedom's experiences, and human connections. Somehow, we have mostly learned to get by. Now, in countries with advanced vaccine programs, we must adapt again. To crowds, to conversations, to a pace of life that seems distant, and, personally, a little intimidating.

And that makes me feel nervous. Anxious. Even fearful. But I don't know why I feel this way.

ANA NIKCEVIC, PSYCHOLOGIST: I think we have all become a little inclined to be closed then and hesitant to go back to that normal life. And we need to invigorate that social muscle.

BLACK: Psychologist, Ana Nikcevic, says nervousness about returning to something like our old reality, now has a name. Reentry anxiety. But, it is not new.

NIKCEVIC: This phenomenon has been observed by a psychologist before and people who have spent protracted period of times in isolation. For example, people who have gone into space.

BLACK: Chris Hadfield understands why some people are feeling anxious.

CHRIS HADFIELD, RETIRED ASTRONAUT: My longest time in space, when I was living on boarding, commanding the International Space Station, was a little under six months. So, half a year, halfway around the sun.

BLACK: Hadfield says he returned to earth, a different person. And many of those emerging from lockdown, will also have experience profound, personal change.

Perhaps some of the anxiety is fueled by the fear that things could go back. That we could lose what we found through this experience.

HADFIELD: Well, I think that is up to each of us, Phil. How am I going to take this new version of me, and introduce it to this new version of the world in as productive way as I possibly can?

BLACK: A practical optimism, I think that is what you are advocating there. Is that fair?

HADFIELD: That's how we fly spaceships, Phil. With a very deeply based practical optimism.

BLACK: Pip Hare, she is her best self when battling oceans alone. She recently finished a 96 day, nonstop, single handed race around the world. Bu even with all of her extraordinary courage, returning to life on land can be overwhelming.

PIP HARE, LONG DISTANCE SOLO SAILOR: You just need to remember that we are adaptable, and we will go to a different kind of normal, again. But, you don't want to throw yourself at it too hard, and allow the change to happen gradually. You need to make sure you're doing things that work for you.

UNKNOWN: My wife and I were arrested.

BLACK: Jason Rezaian was imprisoned in Iran, while working as the Washington Post bureau chief.

JASON REZAIAN, WASHINGTON POST BUREAU CHIEF: I spent 49 days in solitary confinement. I went on to spend a total of 544 days in that prison.

BLACK: He knows the complex emotions that follow a sudden return to a once familiar life.

REZAIAN: In my case, I was, you know, one person, and my wife, we were two people that are dealing with this. What we are talking about now, is billions of people around the world, coming to this at almost the same time. Just recognizing that everybody is going to have a different reaction. And many of those reactions are going to be unexpected. Unexpected to the world, and unexpected to those people themselves.

BLACK: So, we should all be a little gentle with each other, perhaps?

REZAIAN: I think we should always a little bit gentle with each other. But, certainly, in the weeks and the months ahead, you know, I think we should air towards forgiveness. There's going to be a lot of awkward encounters for everybody.

BLACK: Everyone, once the pandemic to end, but in a world where old certainties have been swept aside, we cannot all be sure we want everything that comes next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACK (on camera): Rosemary, another reason psychologist believe that a lot of people are feeling anxious, right now is an enduring fear of the virus itself. More than a year, we've been told this threat is out there. That won't be an easy thing for everyone to set aside, as societies reopen. But I think, the overall message is, as you heard, that in the near future, there are going to be lots of people who need some time to adjust to some very big changes. And that's OK. Rosemary?

CHURCH: That's a great report, and exactly what we all need to see, and here, at this time. Phil Black, many thanks, joining us live from Essex England with that report.

[03:45:00]

Well, two media giants are joining forces to give the likes of Netflix, and Disney Plus, a run for their money. How this megamerger between WarnerMedia and Discovery, will work.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH (on camera): Welcome back everyone. Well, the Gates foundation

says it has never received any formal complaints against cofounder, Bill Gates. That statement was released after new reporting suggesting, why Gates resigned from the Microsoft board of Directors in 2020.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Gates quit the board after it began investigating a romantic relationship he had with a Microsoft employee in 2000. CNN has not confirmed the allegations cited by the Journal, earlier this month, Bill Gates wife, Melinda, filed for divorce.

Well, big changes are in store for the media conglomerate behind the broadcast you are watching right now. CNN's parent company, WarnerMedia, is being spun off. And the plan is to have joined forces with the Discovery network.

CNN's chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, has all the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is a streaming spin-off. It tells us a lot about the future of media. In a streaming world dominated by Netflix, Disney and Amazon, WarnerMedia, and Discovery believe they need to team up, and get bigger together in order to grow all-around the world. It was three years ago, in 2018, that AT&T acquire Time Warner, renamed it WarnerMedia, took control of CNN, HBO, Warner Brothers.

What we've seen as a result, is the HBO Max streaming service. Which has been gaining subscribers, but as lagging far behind the likes of Netflix. There's a similar story over at Discovery, run by CEO David Zaslav, they recently launched something called Discovery plus, a streaming service, with the kind of lifestyle programming the company is known for. Food, cooking, house, home renovation shows, all of those sorts of programs available on the streaming services.

But, these services are ultimately small, compared to the Disney's of the world. So, now, they are combining forces, trying to be one of the three or four, dominant streaming brands in media. Now, here is how Zaslav describes the deal. Speaking with our colleague, Poppy Harlow, he talked about bringing together Game of Thrones which is available from HBO, with Discoveries programming all around the world.

DAVID ZASLAV, CEO OF DISCOVERY: You take this incredible I.P., that you know, content at Warner that people would pay for before they paid for dinner. Like Superman, and Batman, and Game of Thrones. And you put that together with all of the local content that we have in the market, and the relationships that we have. I think it gives us a big advantage in going global.

STELTER: Going global. Those are the key words. Like companies like AT&T, and Discovery feel like they have done a lot in the U.S. market to gain American subscribers, but they need to do a lot more in other markets.

[03:50:04]

Discovery, already has lots of television channels in Europe and in other parts of the world. But now, it needs to focus on streaming. That is what this is all about. And that is what we are going to hear, not just from Discovery and WarnerMedia, but from other media giants, in the months to come. There's already speculation about whether other media companies are going to have to go out there, and see another round of consolidation, as a result of this WarnerMedia Discovery deal.

First though, it does have to get reviewed by regulators that process can take about a year. So, nothing changes right away. And as for the channel you're watching right now, CNN? I spoke with Zaslav, and he says he will continue to be committed to CNN's editorial independence, just as AT&T has, for the past few years. Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH (on camera): Ahead on CNN, why celebrities in Myanmar are being targeted, and silenced by the military. We are back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH (on camera): Spain is sending more police to the African enclave of Ceuta after the largest influx of illegal migration there in a single day. Spanish authorities, say around 5,000 people swam to the city, from Morocco. Many of them, minors. One man, drowned in the process. Ceuta and Morocco, share a land border fenced off with barbed wire. And it's often a flash point for migrants trying to reach the E.U. illegally.

Well, Brazil's Amazonas state is facing one of the worst floods and seen in the century. More than 400,000 people had been affected in more than 50 cities. Where the levels have been rising by three centimeters a day, amid heavy rainfall. The disaster is another blow to a region devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

In Myanmar, the military junta is trying to silence anyone who disagrees with them, especially if that person is famous, or has a large following.

CNN's Paula Hancocks, spoke to a well-known Myanmar actress and a beauty queen, about how they are determined to protest against the coup, despite the risks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Han Lay is more used to representing her country in beauty pageants. But, after the February 1st military coup, she took to the streets calling for a return to democracy. The following month, she traveled to Thailand for a pageant, not wanting to win, but to speak out.

HAN LAY, MISS GRAND MYANMAR: I do feel sorry for the people who have lost their lives on the streets.

The situation is bad in Myanmar, and I decided that, in my speech, I need to talk about it.

HANCOCKS: The 22-year-old is sure that if she returns home, she will be arrested at the airport. Her mother is already in hiding.

LAY: I love my country, and everything I do right now is for my country. If I have a chance, I really want to go back to my home. And I really want to see my parents again.

HANCOCKS: Unlikely, well the military Junta is control, it has issued a warrant lists for celebrities.

The one thing we have seen consistently with this military Junta, is the effort to silence voices that are against them. Especially those who have a following, or an audience.

Countless well-known personalities had been detained already. A famous comedian, who criticize the military for many years.

[03:55:02]

A well-known model, with millions of followers in Myanmar, and overseas. And, Myanmar academy award winning actress, who used their platform to criticize the coup and the Junta. Most are charge into Article 505A of the penal code, a clause amended by the military leadership to effectively make disagreeing with them a crime.

The days of actress Paing Phyo Thu, protesting in public are long gone. But, she is determined to keep speaking out. She, and her film director husband, Naji are on the warrant list. They have been in hiding for almost three months.

PAING PHYO THU, MYANMAR ACTRESS: To be honest, we feel guilty. I can't be among the people who are protesting. It's very sad for me to see these people, getting you know, getting killed, and I can't do anything, and I can't do anything to help them.

HANCOCKS: She was helping to finance protesters, struggling to get by, but with the banking system at a standstill, it is becoming too challenging. She refuses to flee the country, but to continue to fight the only way she can now. Through social media and her platform. The reason the military want to silence her.

THU: According to my husband and I, we don't have any kids. So, the worst thing that could happen, is they could kill us, or they could put us in jail. Of course, that is the worse that could happen to us, but we don't have to worry about anyone that we will left behind.

HANCOCKS: Arbitrary arrests, continue in the streets of Myanmar. What they once did at night, they now do in the broad daylight. Protesters, celebrities, bystanders. No one is safe under this brutal military crackdown. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Bangkok.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH (on camera): Well, they are officially known as unexplained

aerial phenomena. What the rest of us, call UFOs. And a former U.S. Navy pilot told 60 minutes, they saw UFOs off the Atlantic coast, every day, for years. What you are about to see stunned pilots. As apparently, there was a whole fleet of them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: My god. They're all going against the wind, the wind is 120 knots to the west. Look at that thing. It's rotating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): One pilot said, he considers whatever he saw, a security threat. The U.S. government is expected to release a report about UFOs, next month.

And thank you so much for watching, I'm Rosemary Church, I will have more news for you in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)