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Israel-Hamas Fragile Cease-Fire Enters Second Day; Arab Woman's Kidney Transplant Donor Was Jewish Man; Biden Turns Focus to East Asia; Vaccinations Pave Way for U.S. Mass Events; European Nations' Different Approaches to U.K. Travelers; New Video of Ronald Greene's Encounter with Police; Taiwan COVID-19 Cases Spike; Hunger Plaguing Philippines; Global Warming Could Worsen "Zombie" Fires; Subtropical Storm Ana Forms in the Atlantic. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired May 22, 2021 - 04:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, welcome to all viewers here in the United States and around the world. Thank you so much for joining me. Just ahead on CNN --


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm praying this cease- fire will hold. I take Bibi Netanyahu, when he gives me his word, I take him at his word. He's never broken his word with me.


CURNOW (voice-over): It's been a big week of tests for President Biden's foreign policy amid a fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. But can it prevail?

And then daily COVID vaccinations have plummeted in the U.S., down 46 percent.

Why is there still hesitancy to get the vaccine?

I'll ask my guest.

And zombie fires are becoming more common as the planet warms but a new study is giving firefighters a serious advantage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: Thanks for joining me this hour.

It is now 11 am in Israel and Gaza. The cease-fire that began early Friday is entering its second day. It is an uneasy peace and tensions certainly remain high. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW (voice-over): Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem ended with Israeli police sweeping through the plaza in an aggressive show of force.

The police said they were responding to a riot by Palestinians and used stun grenades and rubber bullets to drive people out. The Palestinians report 20 people were hurt.


CURNOW: Israel opened a key border crossing on Friday to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Among the shipments was a mobile hospital. The U.N. announced it's sending more than $22 million of aid, including food, medical supplies and COVID vaccines. We're joined now by Hadas Gold from Jerusalem.

Good to see you.

What's the latest on how the cease-fire is holding?

HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the biggest headline is that the cease-fire has been holding since it was called over 24 hours ago. And I think that is the most important aspect of all this.

There have been no rockets launched from Gaza into Israel. There have been no Israeli military strikes on militant targets within Gaza. That is the most important headline out of all of this.

However, as we have seen, within the last day, the tensions are still very much alive, a lot of the tensions that potentially helped spark this latest conflict. As you noted, there was the clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa compound, also known as the Noble Sanctuary, also known as the Temple Mount.

From what we understand, there were hundreds of Palestinians, who were gathering in the compound, chanting in support of Gaza, many of them waving Palestinian flags. Many also waving the flag of Hamas and of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, chanting in support for the cease-fire but also for the campaign that preceded it.

We understand that, at some point, the Israeli police entered the compound, firing stun grenades and rubber bullets to clear the compound, forcibly removing people, including journalists from the compound, trying to clear it away.

The Israeli police are saying that they were responding to people rioting, who were throwing rockets and stones and Molotov cocktails at them. It goes to show how many of the tensions that helped sort of spark this entire conflict -- because, keep in mind, that the militants in Gaza fired those rockets into Israel just about two weeks ago in response to tensions in Jerusalem.

For example, previous clashes we saw at the Al-Aqsa compound, Hamas and the militants portraying themselves as the defenders of Jerusalem, why they decided to send the rockets in, which helped sort of launch this conflict, and what we saw at the Al-Aqsa compound, while it doesn't say the cease-fire is broken, it's holding, goes to show that a lot of the underlying issues very much still at play in this situation -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Despite all of the conflict and continuing tensions, you have found a story of humanity and hope. Tell us about it.

GOLD: Yes. So I think it's really important that, in times like these, to remember that people are still human and there's still goodwill and humanity out there. Take a look.


GOLD (voice-over): Randa Aweis waited nine years for the organ donation that would save her life. An Arab Christian born in the Old City of Jerusalem, relying on dialysis as her kidneys failed.


GOLD (voice-over): Then the call came in the midst of conflict. Her life would change forever and become a symbol of hope and coexistence during turbulent times.

RANDA AWEIS, KIDNEY RECIPIENT (through translator): When I went into the operation, I didn't know who gave me the kidney. After the operation, they told me I had the kidney of Yigal.

I said, "What?

"How can that be?

"How did I get the kidney?"

They told me I got a present. (INAUDIBLE) I said, "Good."

I was moved. In a war, a Jew gave a kidney to an Arab.

GOLD (voice-over): Yigal Yehoshua, for a week, fought for his life after being badly beaten by a group of young Arab Israeli men, caught up in the wave of violence pitting Jews and Arabs against each other on the streets of Israel as Israel and Hamas traded fire.

His brother eulogizing that, with his death, Yigal had given life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He believed in coexistence. He said to me it would not happen. He believed, if you put your head out, everything will be fine. (INAUDIBLE). And the worst thing happened.

GOLD (voice-over): His body embarking on its final journey but his legacy living on in others.

Randa's surgeon, Dr. Abed Khalaileh, a Palestinian born in Jerusalem, says he and his colleagues simply treat everyone as human beings. DR. ABED KHALAILEH, HADASSAH HEBREW UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER (through

translator): We are experiencing a difficult time in every place in this country. The period is reflected in everything which is happening around us.

GOLD (voice-over): In his line of work, the sorrow of death leads to new life, where he hopes peace will prevail.

KHALAILEH (through translator): We deal with everyone equally. There is no black and no white. Everyone is equal with the medical attention they receive.

GOLD (voice-over): For Randa, a new lease on life and plans to visit Yigal's family to thank them again in person and to carry on a message.

AWEIS (through translator): We should live together. We should have peace. We should be happy.


GOLD: One thing that I took away from the time I spent at the hospital and especially with that impressive surgeon, is not only the importance of becoming an organ donor and how it can change so many people's lives but how, at the end of the day, everybody is just a human being on the inside.

CURNOW: Thanks for that. Hadas Gold, live in Jerusalem.

So the U.S. president says the most recent round of violence has not changed his commitment to Israel. On Friday, Joe Biden told reporters that he trusts Israel's prime minister and believes his policy of quiet diplomacy helped to broker the current cease-fire. Take a listen.


BIDEN: One of the reasons why we were able to get the cease-fire in 11 days, they didn't do what other people have done. I don't talk about what I tell people in private. I don't talk about what we negotiate in private.

But what I can assure you, though, is, last time, it took 56 days and six months to get a cease-fire. I'm praying this cease-fire will hold. I take Bibi Netanyahu, when he gives me his word, I take him at his word. He's never broken his word with me.


CURNOW: Mr. Biden made the remarks at a joint news conference with his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in. The two leaders unveiled a new vaccine partnership to ramp up manufacturing and global supply.

They also discussed the shared concern over North Korea. They say they are willing to engage diplomatically with the Hermit Kingdom.


BIDEN: We have an opportunity to spend some private time with him as well as with our delegations. This is only the second person, head of state --

MOON JAE-IN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): -- persevere and make participates. Two of us agreed to further reinforce our combined defense posture and reaffirmed our commitment to a conditions-based transition of wartime operation of control.


CURNOW: Paula Hancocks, now live from Seoul with more on that.

What are the headlines for you out of this?

Hi, Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn. Obviously North Korea was going to be the top agenda and it didn't disappoint.

As you say, the fact is, the U.S. President, Joe Biden, has pointed out once again that he is open to diplomacy, which would have certainly been music to the ears of the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, who's staked his legacy on engagement with North Korea, which, up until this point, has not achieved a huge amount.

He did say that he was still open to diplomatic overtures but with the end game of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. So certainly it would have been welcome for Mr. Biden.

And also the fact that President Biden was hopeful that they could build on what had already been done with those summits.


HANCOCKS: So that the Singapore agreement, for example, between the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and the previous U.S. president, Donald Trump, saying that they will build on what has already been agreed upon.

But certainly there was no indication of how they would try to move this forward because any overtures that the U.S. has been making toward North Korea at this point have been rejected.

Pyongyang has said they are not at this point willing to negotiate or to talk with the United States, despite the fact that the Biden administration has tried to get into contact with them.

He did also mention the other top issue on the agenda, which was the COVID-19 pandemic and this partnership that the U.S. and South Korea, will be creating to try and make sure that they can scale up the amount of vaccine production in the world.

We also heard from U.S. President Joe Biden that he was going to vaccinate 550,000 South Korean troops that do work alongside and closely with American troops who are based here in South Korea.

That, again, would have been a welcome announcement, given the fact that South Korea's vaccination program is slow. There's just over 3 percent of the population that has been completely vaccinated at this point.

President Moon has said he wants to ramp up the vaccination program but he is finding what other heads of state are finding, that there is an extremely tight supply globally of the vaccine. So certainly it would have been welcome that the U.S. was going to help in some way -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Paula Hancocks, thanks for the update. Thank you very much.

Just ahead on CNN, economies across Europe are ready for tourist money to come back. As one country welcomes travelers from Britain, another says not so fast.

Plus, warnings that vaccine refusal could keep the U.S. from winning the war on COVID, especially in rural areas. We'll discuss.





CURNOW: So with more Americans getting vaccinated, crowds are flocking to large events across the U.S.; 30,000 expected to attend the South Beach Food and Wine Festival in Florida this weekend.

In Missouri, up to 40,000 fans are expected to flood downtown St. Louis for the Cardinals and the Blues game last night.

And the New York Knicks will host 15,000 fans on Sunday for the first round of NBA playoffs.

But with vaccination rates declining in recent weeks, health officials are pulling out all the stops in an effort to try and convince vaccine holdouts to get their shots, as Erica Hill now reports.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From free drinks to free money ...

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): If you needed one more good reason than just going out to get vaccinated for your chance to win a share of $2 million.

HILL (voice-over): -- states are pulling out all the stops to get more shots in arms. The White House hooking up with several dating apps.

ANDY SLAVITT, SENIOR ADVISER, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM: People who display their vaccination status are 14 percent more likely to get a match. We have finally found the one thing that makes it all more attractive: a vaccination.

HILL (voice-over): More than 160 million people in the U.S. now have at least one shot but the average daily pace of vaccinations is dropping fast, down nearly 50 percent since last month's peak.

DR. CHRIS T. PERNELL, PUBLIC HEALTH PHYSICIAN: We need to do whatever we can to give people a safe incentive to get vaccinated.

HILL (voice-over): The South sparking new concerns. These eight states among the 10 where less than half the adult population has received at least one dose.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Last summer, right around June and July, we saw a big surge of cases in the South.

Why in the South?

Because it gets pretty hot and hard to spend time outside. People cluster indoors and, if we have large numbers of unvaccinated people in those states, we may very well see a surge in those states.

HILL (voice-over): One bright spot: 12 to 15-year-olds account for nearly 20 percent of new vaccinations nationwide in the past week.

DR. JAY VARKEY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, EMORY UNIVERSITY: This is their shot to being teenagers. And by rolling up their sleeves, they actually help protect their parents, their teachers, their classmates and their communities.

HILL (voice-over): Average daily cases now under 30,000, the lowest level in nearly a year. And at one of the Bay Area's largest hospitals, no COVID patients for the first time in 14 months.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did have tears in my eyes. It feels like a milestone.

HILL (voice-over): Another milestone coming this Sunday when 15,000 fans will pack Madison Square Garden for game one of the NBA playoffs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what we've been waiting for, New York.

HILL: D.C. lifting most capacity limits today and Rhode Island dropping its remaining COVID restrictions a week early, thanks to vaccinations, as Americans adjust to yet another new normal.

As some states push to remove masks in schools, new CDC data shows COVID cases are lower in elementary schools, where teachers, staff and students mask up. Increased ventilation also helped to keep new case numbers lower -- in New York, Erica Hill, CNN.


CURNOW: Erica Hill, thanks for that. Joining me now is Heidi Larson, director of the Vaccine Confidence

Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Thank you so much for joining us.

So why are people not taking something that is free, widely available, if you hear in the U.S., for example, and also can stop them getting sick or save their lives?

HEIDI LARSON, LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE AND TROPICAL MEDICINE: Well, it seems like an obvious thing to do for those who are just based on reason, I suppose. But some of it is that we started with the most willing, the most vulnerable.

So the uptake was higher. When you think back to the beginning of the year, we were in the thick of a second major wave in the U.S. The vaccine supply was limited and we were reaching out to the most vulnerable population.


LARSON: The willing always come first. So we could have predicted that it would slow down a bit at this point, because we're getting into younger populations, who feel less at risk. The pandemic or the outbreak, at least in the U.S., is waning, so you don't feel the threat to the same degree.

So you do need different, exceptional measures. I've heard a whole spectrum of incentives. But I think we do need more tailored local efforts. I've heard a number of local studies, for instance in the New York metropolitan area, City University of New York has done some fantastic work understanding the dynamics.

And what was interesting there, they saw that, over 65, there was almost no difference in the willingness across all races and economies. But as you get younger and younger, it changes. And a lot of them said I'd be happy to go if it were given at my doctor's office or the pharmacy or something I'm more familiar with.

So I think we need to start listening to the preferences of some of these populations, what's going to influence younger people, their peers, some of the influencing channels. So I think it's -- it's going to be more work but I think we're all in it together.

And it's very clear that, certainly from our experience with childhood pneumonia vaccine, the incredible value it has to elderly populations. So it will make a difference for everyone if we can get these different groups vaccinated.

CURNOW: And so, if you're in the U.S., does it matter, does it actually encourage people, if you're offering free money or, you know, a good pickup rate on your dating -- on your dating app, free drinks?

Does that provide a decent enough incentive?

What needs to be done to get people to actually pick up and do this? LARSON: Well, I think it depends who you are. For some people, the dating app wouldn't make a difference. For other people, the lottery ticket or the beer wouldn't matter.

But for somebody else, you know, that might be enough to push them over the hesitancy. It depends where people are on their -- as you can call it -- the spectrum of how hesitant are they. Maybe they're just a little bit hesitant.

And, you know, that little extra nudge is going to help. But there are -- for people who have deeper seated distrust or anxiety, I don't think incentives like these are going to make the difference.

CURNOW: And what about, America, what about shaming?

Does that help?

LARSON: Shaming, I don't think, is helpful, personally. You know, some of the populations that are resistant, part of the reason they have distrust is that they have histories of shame and stigma and discrimination. So I don't think contributing to that kind of sentiment is productive or helpful.

I do think, if you frame it rather than shaming into, you know, we're all in this together and make it a more cooperative, helpful angle, that certainly won't hurt. Yes, it's -- it's different approaches that are going to be needed.

CURNOW: Heidi Larson, thank you very much for joining us and giving us your expertise. Appreciate it. Have a good day.

LARSON: Thanks very much.

CURNOW: Spain is rolling out the red carpet for British and Japanese travelers starting Monday. Visitors from those countries will be able to enter Spain without health controls. But British travelers will still have to quarantine for 10 days when they return home to the U.K.

Now Germany, on the other hand, will require travelers from the U.K. to quarantine for two weeks upon entering the country. That begins midnight Saturday night. German officials designated Britain and Northern Ireland a virus variant region because of the uptick of cases of the variant first found in India.

For more, I want to bring in Cyril Vanier from London.

What can you tell us about this?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There really is movement on the Europe travel news front because the summer months are arriving. Vaccination rates are high, very high in the U.K., really picking up in Europe. People want to travel again and go back to normal.

Who is going to be allowed to travel and under what conditions?

You mentioned that Spain and Germany are taking very, very different approaches to U.K. travelers. And I think that reflects the level of -- of some degree of confusion that remains in Europe over how this is going to happen.

So for Spain, the priority has been boosting their tourism economy. So they are getting out ahead of most European countries.


VANIER: And Monday, U.K. travelers can go there without a COVID test, without having to quarantine, no restrictions at all. It's like the pandemic never happened. And their tourism economy got battered last summer.

They have competition from Greece, which has already reopened borders to U.K. travelers who are vaccinated.

They have competition from Portugal, so the economy and the tourism industry is their priority going forward.

Germany is taking an ultra-cautious approach, saying a variant of concern has been identified in the U.K., which it has, that's true. And therefore any travelers coming from the U.K. to Germany need to quarantine for no less than two weeks.

You know the differences between Spain and Germany?

One has a troubled economy that is very important, those summer months are crucial. Germany, let's face it, not exactly the first place that most U.K. holiday-goers would want to go. So they have less to lose by closing doors to British travelers.

This is one point in case, how you deal with British travelers. I think this reflects the fact that, even though European countries have agreed to a common travel policy, we're already seeing it starting to fray before it's even come into force -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Cyril from London, thank you.

The aerial warfare between Hamas and Israel has stopped for now and reactions are mixed to the new cease-fire. You'll hear why some Israelis are disappointed by the agreement.

Plus an African American man dies after an encounter with the police in the U.S. Two years later, horrific video shows what actually played out in the final moments of his life. We have that, too.





CURNOW: Welcome back to all of our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It's 29 minutes past the hour. I'm Robyn Curnow live here in Atlanta. You are watching CNN, of course.

So the newly minted cease-fire between Israel and Hamas appears to be holding. This is day two of the fragile peace. Desperately needed humanitarian aid began rolling into Gaza Friday after Israel opened a border crossing.

The U.N. says it is sending more than $22 million of food, medical supplies and COVID vaccines to the people of Gaza. But deep animosities remain and are easily provoked. We saw this again on Friday at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, as Nic Robertson now has the details.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Islam's third holiest site, a flashpoint again between Palestinians and Israeli police, the violence testing a fragile ceasefire between Hamas and the Israeli government.

Conflicting accounts: police say protesters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails first; Palestinians say police attacked them with rubber coated bullets and stun grenades as they celebrated the gains of Hamas' 11-day conflict with Israel.

On Israel's beaches, hit by Hamas rockets just days ago, calm but no fanfare for their leaders and disappointment over the ceasefire agreement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They think they have to go inside with the tanks with everything to finish one time and finish with the Hamas. Take it out from our Gaza.

ROBERTSON (on camera): So, what do you think about the ceasefire?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I think it's never going to end. It's never going to end. We have once in a while to tell them we're here. They can't do whatever they want. They can't just, you know, all the bombing and everything, we don't leave. We don't leave.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): For now, the ceasefire holding and prime minister Netanyahu defending his decision, with his own political future in question.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Just as I promised, we harmed most of Hamas' capabilities far beyond what their commanders imagined, a huge crush that changed the rules of the game.

ROBERTSON: Israeli troops guns covered, artillery shells packed, already lining up to leave the fields around Gaza. And inside Gaza were ceasefire celebrations that went late into the night; frustrations, too. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This truth is for everyone but us. This truth is for people who are comfortable, who are sitting in their homes, who do not have murders, who do not have destruction.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): More than 240 Palestinians dead, according to Hamas health officials; tens of thousands without homes, according to the U.N. Still, a victory, according to Hamas leaders.

ISMAIL HANIYEH, HAMAS POLITICAL LEADER (through translator): Today, we conceded this battle as the quantum leap in the history of the conflict with the enemy.

ROBERTSON: Likely these troops will be out of here quite soon. Likely this year, next year and in a few years' time, they will be back. The cease-fire, little more than that. And confidence here seems low that politicians on either side of the divide have what it takes to tackle the region's real issue: land rights -- Nic Robertson, CNN, close to the Gaza border, Israel.


CURNOW: Nic, thanks for that.

So CNN has obtained new video of a deadly encounter between a Black man and police officers in the U.S. state of Louisiana.

Ronald Greene's family says they were told he died in a car crash during a police chase two years ago. But the footage obtained by CNN shows a completely different and horrifying story. We warn you, the video is disturbing to watch.

The case is now under a federal civil rights investigation involving the FBI, the Department of Justice and the attorney general's office. Here's Ryan Young with the details -- Ryan.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Newly obtained video by CNN shows haunting images of Ronald Greene's last moments while in custody of Louisiana State Police in May of 2019.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All you were doing was speeding a little bit and run a red light.


YOUNG (voice-over): The video shows what appears to be a supervising officer arriving on scene engaging with responding officers while Greene remains cuffed from the ground face down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it hurts, doesn't it?


YOUNG (voice-over): After early video shows of being beaten and Tased, police claiming Greene had resisted arrest after attempting to pull him over.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you turn over. You lay back -- lay on your belly. Lay on your belly.




GREENE: OK. Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you understand?

GREENE: Yes, sir.


YOUNG (voice-over): In the video we hear Greene in distress as he continues to be restrained by officers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was going to sit him up but I didn't want him spitting blood all over us.


YOUNG (voice-over): Minutes after the supervisor engages with the officers, medical aid is rendered by emergency personnel on site for the first time. Greene appears to be unresponsive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took three of us to take him down, so you can consider that if you want to take the cuffs off him.


YOUNG (voice-over): The car visible in the new body cam footage shows Greene's vehicle that sustained damage. Lee Merritt, attorney for the Greene family, says the state police response was outrageous.


LEE MERRITT, GREENE FAMILY ATTORNEY: This was a supervisor who showed up to the scene. He didn't even acknowledge Ronald on the ground.


YOUNG (voice-over): Greene's family says they were originally told the cause of death was a car crash following the high speed pursuit.


MONA HARDIN, MOTHER OF RONALD GREENE: There's been a coverup from the very moment it happened. My son wasn't meant to walk away from that. He was purposely killed. He was murdered.


YOUNG (voice-over): But state officials tell CNN that Louisiana State Police were investigating Ronald Greene's death as a criminal matter the same night of the incident. Two officers involved in the incident were reprimanded for their actions. A third officer died in a single car crash last year.

An autopsy report obtained by CNN listed cause of death as cocaine- induced agitated delirium, complicated by motor vehicle collision, physical struggle, inflicted head injury and restraint.

The written incident reports were provided to the medical examiner despite requests. No medical records were provided neither was detailed information about the car crash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were left in the dark. They were stonewalled by the state police, which, again, is another policy to show how systemic this is.

YOUNG: The report also states that lacerations on Greene's head were inconsistent with the motor vehicle collision injury and most consistent with multiple impacts from a blunt object.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.


YOUNG: We do know video has now been released from all of the body cam so we will be able to go through that piece by piece. But this is what the family has been asking for: transparency.

It's been two years since their loved one lost their life and, still, there is a lot of questions about how this investigation will move forward -- Ryan Young, CNN, Atlanta.


CURNOW: So straight ahead on CNN, Taiwan's plea for help. The island is scrambling to find COVID vaccines as it faces its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.

And in the Philippines, an unexpected consequence to the pandemic. What fishermen and farmers are doing to curb a hunger crisis made worse by restrictions and lockdowns.





CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow.

While some countries like the U.S. have an abundance of vaccines, Taiwan is quickly running out. Less than 1 percent of the population has been inoculated and the island is asking for help.

It comes as Taiwan is facing its worst outbreak since the pandemic began. More than 320 new infections were reported on Saturday. Will Ripley joins me live from Taipei with more.

Hi, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Robyn. It's hard to believe in the developed world you have a country that has ordered tens of millions of doses, yet only 700,000 have arrived. And less than 1 percent of the population is vaccinated as they face their worst breakout of COVID since the pandemic began.

This is an island of 23 million people that had eliminated local cases for 250 days. Life was normal just about a week ago. Let me show you what has happened just in the last week. I arrived about a week ago myself.

The numbers last Friday, 1,290 total cases, 164 cases local; today, nearly 3,900 total cases. Look at that -- a 16-fold increase in the number of local cases, now 2,701. Also two new deaths confirmed, too, a total of 17 deaths so far this pandemic.

These are still numbers that are small, that are the envy of many countries around the world. But as those countries, which saw huge waves and are starting to open up, Taiwan is shutting back down.

There's even been talk that, if these case numbers continue and if the number of cases that are untraceable, the percentage of cases rises above 50 percent, right now, it's about 25 percent, they may have to do for the first time in the pandemic a lockdown here in Taiwan.

So it shows how a place that has enjoyed a normal quality of life, well, that life can quickly, quickly change.

Now there's this back and forth between the mainland and Taiwan over vaccines. The mainland has said they have tens of millions of extra doses. They say they'd be happy to send them over to Taiwan.

But Taiwan calls those offers disingenuous. They say China is trying to force its vaccines on this island, which actually has laws in place preventing the use of China-made vaccines for human consumption, something that Beijing calls purely political and putting lives at stake.

Taiwan says, at the same time that China's making offers to help send their vaccines, they say they're also standing in the way of them getting what they call more reliable foreign vaccines.

The numbers speak for themselves. They've had discussions with manufacturers such as BioNTech that fell apart in February due to what Taiwan called political pressure, although that that's not been confirmed.

Politics playing a role in this, not a good thing when you have a vulnerable population with no immunity and need to get shots in arms. Taiwan is raising its hand for some of the vaccine doses that President Biden has said will go out internationally. We don't know if Taiwan will receive any of those.

In the coming months, they're looking to locally manufacture vaccines. They have two local manufacturers in phase II trials and are hoping to get Taiwan-produced vaccines in arms by late July. Seems like a long time. The case levels at this level now can get much bigger quickly and they want to prevent that in Taiwan.

CURNOW: Will Ripley, thanks for the update. Thanks.

In the Philippines, repeated COVID lockdowns and travel restrictions have hit Manila's poorest neighborhoods the hardest. Jobs and food are scarce and the government can't provide much help. Now free community kitchens are popping up, farmers and fishermen donating what they can to help those most in need. Here's Anna Coren.


ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With her youngest just 3 years old, Mona Lisa Vito has 9 children and no way to feed them. Since the pandemic hit the Philippines, repeated lockdowns have left millions, like Mona Lisa, unable to work or to eat.

MONA LISA VITO, PHILIPPINES RESIDENT (through translator): We don't have anything for my children's food, for our daily expenses. Sometimes at night, we don't have anything to eat.


VITO (through translator): We can only wait for the next day.

COREN (voice-over): Her husband used to work in construction. And Mona Lisa used to peel sacks of garlic to get by. But even that work has dried up. Funding internet access online learning has also added another expense and a hard choice.

VITO (through translator): If we can't put in the money, they can't go to class. I would rather spend that money so the children can have breakfast.

COREN (voice-over): The family lives in Baseco, one of Manila's poorest neighborhoods, housing nearly 60,000 people, living cheek by jowl. And Mona Lisa, like many of her neighbors, now rely on community kitchens.

Volunteers prepare cabbage, pumpkin and rice at dawn. Food, donated by farmers, fishermen and anyone who can afford it, to give out to those who need it most.

VITO (through translator): I am grateful. Our rice and vegetables are free. My children are no longer hungry.

COREN (voice-over): There is a visible desperation from the recipients, as there is never enough to go around.

Hundreds of these kitchens are popping up to address the growing hunger crisis in this impoverished nation of 100 million people and to fill in the huge gaps left by the government. Poorer households did receive some cash handouts and food supplies but not nearly enough to survive on.

NADJA DE VERA, COMMUNITY PANTRY ORGANIZER (through translator): We have no choice but to organize something like this. I hope the government learns, this is a call to action to them and we hope the right amount of resources will reach those who really need it.

COREN (voice-over): As the hunger crisis bites, officials are looking to COVID-19 vaccines as a way out. But with the rollout delays and huge vaccine hesitancy, they face an uphill battle.

A survey in March showed that only 16 percent of Filipinos would be willing to get vaccinated. More than 60 percent saying they would refuse one.

Retired seamstress Letty Zambrona (ph) is one of them, despite being in a vulnerable age group and suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.

LETTY ZAMBRONA (PH), RETIRED SEAMSTRESS (through translator): This is really because of the side effects that I don't want to get vaccinated because I keep hearing this news on TV, like, somehow blood clots in their brains.

COREN (voice-over): President Duterte, himself, received a Chinese Sinopharm vaccine before halting its rollout after he was criticized for taking a vaccine that hadn't been approved by the country's national drug regulator.

Back in Baseco, Mona Lisa returns home after receiving her donation, a small amount of food she needs to stretch a very long way. For many of these families, the fear of coronavirus will never compare to the threat of hunger -- Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


CURNOW: You're watching CNN. We'll be right back.




CURNOW: Experts worry that, as the Earth gets hotter, we'll face a new kind of fire threat. These fires hibernate through the winter, only to reemerge in spring, as Tom Sater explains.


TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): This is what scientists are calling a zombie fire, wildfires that survive the winter snow and spark back up in the spring, a phenomenon that adds to the complexity of climate change.

A new study found that, although this appears to be a small problem now, it could become worse over time. So-called zombie fires or over- wintering fires happen in high-latitude environments, including Alaska and Canada's Northwest Territories, where the Earth is warming faster than almost anywhere else.

Although most wildfires happen within a single year, these fires smolder year-round, deep into the carbon-rich soil.

SANDER VERAVERBEKE, VRIJE UNIVERSITEIT AMSTERDAM: Most of the emissions from these fires do not come from the trees, which is an image that the general public has from a forest fire. But in that biome in the Arctic and arboreal, about 90 percent of the emissions on average comes from the soils.

SATER (voice-over): For the first time, scientists have been able to determine how many over-wintering fires there are and how to find them. The researchers use data from firefighters and came up with an algorithm to locate these fires.

Scientists estimate that, between 2002 and 2018, an average of about 1 percent of wildfires in Alaska and Northwest Canada were due to these over-wintering fires. But in 2008, one zombie fire was responsible for destroying 38 percent of the burned area. Although the overall numbers of these types of fires is small, the researchers say they're increasingly likely because of climate change. Warmer temperatures lead to dryer conditions and longer fire seasons.

VERAVERBEKE: These fires like to burn more extensively in an area. They build also deeper into that peat (ph), which is very critical to kind of facilitate the conditions for smoldering in the peat throughout winter and hibernates. So those are conditions that we know facilitate the over-wintering and we know that they have been increasing.

SATER (voice-over): Authors of the study say that being able to pinpoint where these zombie fires are is the key to helping firefighters anticipate flare-ups and allocate their resources. Zombie fires are just one of the many effects of climate change. But as this study shows, scientists are trying their hardest to mitigate the damage -- Tom Sater, CNN, Atlanta. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: And U.S. weather officials are predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season this year. The season officially starts on June the 1st but there are already two systems of concern. And in just the past few minutes, we have our first named storm of the season.



CURNOW: That wraps this hour of CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow. You can follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @RobynCurnowCNN. I will be back in a moment.