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England Lifting COVID Rules; Afghan Troops Flee Taliban; Tropical Storm Threatens Search; Four Dead, 24 Unaccounted for Amid Search for Survivors; Indonesia May Reach 40,000 New Cases Daily; Concerns for Unvaccinated Children amid Variant Spread; HK Police: Six Students Arrested in Local Terrorism Plot; How Criminal Hackers Target Businesses in Cyberattacks; Afghan Women's Rights Under Threat as U.S. Troops Withdraw. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 6, 2021 - 01:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Paula Newton.

Ahead, right here, on CNN NEWSROOM:

Masks and social distancing not required. England is set to become the latest to lift coronavirus restrictions despite warnings it's still too soon to get back to normal.

On the run. Hundreds of Afghan security forces are forced to flee as the Taliban's latest assault pushes further ahead.

And the tropical storm threatens the Florida coast, potentially making the search for survivors of the tower collapse near Miami even more difficult.


NEWTON: As you've been hearing, rich countries with better access to vaccines are quickly lifting COVID restrictions or at least getting ready to do so. But the World Health Organization is warning them to slow down. Head of the emergencies programs of the new wave of the virus could arrive in the coming months. This time driven by the more contagious delta variant that is causing cases to rise all over the world, from Latin America to much of Africa, as well as Russia, Southeast Asia and Australia.


MICHAEL RYAN, EXEC. DIRECTOR, W.H.O. HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME: We would like to get back to normal, but the normal we are getting back to, where every little thing that we could go back to do everything we've done before, I think this is premature.

I think overall, we've made a very premature run rush back to full normality. And I think we are going to pay a price for that because we're not there with vaccinations. The variants are really there. And we haven't protected enough people. I honestly think and we need to think our way through this. That we are opening a way to quickly for the epidemiologic situation and the risk associated with that.


NEWTON: OK. That's a sharp warning came the same day the British prime minister laid out plans to end all COVID safety measures in England in less than two weeks from now. He stressed the country must learn to live with the fires.

CNN's Bianca Nobilo has details.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If all goes to plan, life would start to resemble normality in two weeks time here in England, the prime minister has announced his intention to end a legal requirements for face coverings, social distancing and removing restrictions on numbers of indoor and outdoor gatherings on July 19th.

All businesses including nightclubs will be able to reopen. The announcement came as the U.K. is experiencing another surge in cases fueled by the delta variant. The Johnson said now was still the time to end the restrictions.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We must be honest with ourselves that if we cannot reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves, when will we be able to return to normal?

NOBILO: Johnson and his medical advisers struck a somber tone as they warned the nation that they will still have to live with the virus and that the pandemic was far from over. From the 19th, also called Freedom Day, onward, it will be up to individuals to make their own decisions about which COVID precautions if any they choose to take.

Asked if you would continue to wear a mask, Boris Johnson said it would depend on the circumstances.

JOHNSON: I will obviously wear a mask in crowded places where you are meeting people, as Chris was saying, to protect others as a matter of simple courtesy.

NOBILO: The British Medical Association continues to urge the government to think again about removing all restrictions at a time when cases in the United Kingdom are rapidly increasing. Trade unions and opposition parties have joined the cost today and the opposition leader calling the prime minister's decision to end these restrictions, reckless.

Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.


NEWTON: Israeli government warns Pfizer's COVID vaccine is now less effective than before. Now, it says preliminary data shows the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine dropped to 64 percent protection against all infections, and it's 63 percent effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalizations. That is still a key data point back in may, those efficacy numbers though were well above 95 percent.


The government linked the drop to the spread of the delta variant, but some experts argue it is too soon to tell what effect the variant is having.

CNN's medical analyst, Dr. Lena Wen, discussed this with my colleague John Berman earlier.


DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: This definitely raises a lot of questions and to be fair as you pointed out, we really need to understand more about these data, how are these data collected, where they based on models or based on real life experiments. We want to know.

But at the same time, I think this raises questions that the CDC really needs to answer. So, for example, what is the true rate of breakthrough infections? So, if you are vaccinated, what is the likelihood that you could still be infected with COVID-19 because of this more contagious delta variant?

The CDC has stopped collecting data on mild breakthrough infections. But I think people need to know if they are infected. The second related question is, are the people who are vaccinated, are they still able to transmit the disease to others even if they are asymptomatic? That certainly has a lot of implications for people who are vaccinated but their children are not. Could they be asymptomatic carriers of the delta variant?


NEWTON: OK. A lot to think about their. With a small population, Israel was able to quickly vaccinate much of its population and has provided some of the earliest real world data on Pfizer vaccines effectiveness. Pfizer though declined a comment on Israel's data when contacted by "Reuters", but cited other research showing it's vaccine could still neutralize all tested variants, including delta, just at a reduced strength.

Now, new reports claim about 1,000 Afghan troops have fled the battlefield, seeking shelter in neighboring Tajikistan. It comes as Afghan officials in the northern province in Takhar say Taliban forces failed to capture its capital city being held back by government forces and armed civilians. If true, it's a much-needed victory for the government. The Taliban now control more than 190 districts in Afghanistan. That's according to long war journal. CNN has not been able to independently confirm those details.

Now, in the meantime, the Afghan government is trying to figure out what to do with the military site vacated by the United States days ago. Bagram Air Base was once the center of military power in Afghanistan. And like the country's future, officials seem unsure of the next move today.

CNN's Anna Coren has more.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are here at Bagram Air Base. It's the first time we've been given access to this facility since U.S. and NATO forces departed on Friday, essentially ending America's involvement in the war. It was the hive of activity at the height of this war.

It has now been handed over to the Afghans and currently there are some 3,000 troops on the base assessing what the Americans have left. Behind me is a delegation from the National Security Council assigned by President Ghani to strategize and work out how they are going to use Bagram Air Base moving forward.

But it certainly is a strange place to be. It feels a bit like a disorganized junkyard. We know the air hangars in the background, but that -- those hangars are still locked. We were out at the runways, which -- three kilometers long and it was absolutely deserted. Wasn't so long ago that there were fighter jets, cargo planes, and surveillance aircraft landing and departing constantly.

As I say, it is now quiet. And then here, you have like a car yard. There are hundreds of vehicles that the Americans have left, whether it be four-wheel drives, pickup trucks, but this is what the Afghans are now having to assess, what is in their arsenal to continue this war?

And we know that the security situation on the ground is deteriorating a lot faster than many realize.

The Taliban have taken over a hundred and fifty provinces in just the last two months. One of the vice presidents of Afghanistan has said that tens of thousands of people in the countryside with a fighting is happening are fleeing to the cities and that has been backed up by the United Nations that says more than 56,000 people have had to flee four provinces in the North East.

It is alarming and very concerning for Afghans on the ground. We spoke to one military personnel who said it feels like an old friend has left without saying goodbye. There is a deep sense of abandonment here in Afghanistan. But as the Americans have spelt out, other than limited air support, this war is now up to Afghanistan to fight.

Anna Coren CNN, Bagram Air Base.


NEWTON: CNN Military Analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton joins me now. It's really been head spinning what's been going on just in the last few days in Afghanistan. There does seem to be unfortunately an air of inevitability. about it, as if the Taliban knew better, just biding its time for two decades.


Is there any doubt that they will portray this as a win?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You know, Paula, there's very little doubt in my mind that they're eventually going to come out victorious in this scenario with Afghanistan that we're dealing with right now.

Is there a small chance that they could be turned back at some point? Yes, but it's a very, very small chance. You would need for the government forces to miraculously be able to pull them back to all of a sudden be able to fix and maintain the equipment the United States has given them.

You would need them to have charismatic leadership. You would need them to do the things that we would expect a victorious military to do. And I see no evidence of them being able to do that at this time.

NEWTON: Yes. In fact, the situation is becoming more and more dire by the hour. Why, after so much time and effort, is the Afghan military and security forces led, we should say, by a fractured Afghan government, so incapable of dealing with an opponent, the Taliban, that they've known this opponent, it really hasn't changed its tactics all that much. And yet, it's the Taliban winning not just territory, but hearts and minds still.

LEIGHTON: Well, that's the key right there, Paula. It's the hearts and minds that the Taliban are winning, and the government in Afghanistan, for whatever reason, has not been able to develop a strategy to counter the Taliban efforts in this regard.

You know, people, I guess, have a very short memory, in some cases, because the Taliban was a very brutal regime when they were in charge in Afghanistan before 2001. But the government in Afghanistan, the current government, is very much in -- a creature of habit, I guess, would be the best way to put it.

And because of that, they are unwilling to not only learn what the Taliban are doing, but they also have no capacity to emulate what the Taliban are doing and counter them at their own game, I -- and because of that, they are not only incapable of achieving victory, but they're also going to lose in the battle for the soul of the Afghan nation.

And that's what we're seeing here. We're seeing them use a very well- orchestrated campaign. We're seeing the government of Afghanistan lose the territory that we and they fought so hard to gain. And that's going to really create a very big, difficult strategic situation for us as this unfolds.

NEWTON: Yes. And you know it is going to affect the most vulnerable groups in Afghanistan as well. You have to say now that this problem will come again to the doorstep of the White House. I've been refreshing that at least the military commanders themselves in the U.S. have been in the field in Afghanistan and the U.S. have been very blunt. They think this could be the beginning of a civil war in Afghanistan. Is there anything the Biden administration can do at this late stage? And I'm talking about whether it is air support in any way, special operations, anything that they can do now, strategically, even though they have pulled out to try and turn this around?

LEIGHTON: Well, they certainly could do -- give the Afghan government a guarantee of air support, and what we call close air support. For example, you know, given a scenario where Kabul would be under attack, it would be something, you know, for the United States to offer that to the current Afghan government. But my understanding is that the President of the United States has actually refused to do that, and that also weakens the hand of the Afghan government.

Other things that we could do is provide a concerted stream of intelligence to the Afghan forces, and allow them to use actionable intelligence that the United States and its allies have gathered in Afghanistan. But I don't think we've integrated them very well into our -- what we call our tactics, techniques, and procedures. And because of that, we're not only abandoning them, but we're also allowing them to fail, because we're not giving them information that they could potentially use to defend themselves.

NEWTON: Yes. Still, unfortunately, so many more chapters of this conflict to be written.

Appreciate your expertise there, Colonel. Thanks so much.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Paula. Absolutely.

NEWTON: Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, Tropical Storm Elsa hammers Cuba with heavy rain and strong wind. We are following the storm as it moves back over water and head straight to Florida.

Plus, the Grenfell Tower fire four years on. Survivors and families demand accountability and others draw comparisons to the Florida condo collapse.



NEWTON: Now, Algerian authorities are in hot pursuit of gunman who raided a private school and kidnapped scores of people. Police say at least 26 students and a teacher have now been rescued. Officials in Kaduna say the attackers captured about 140 students in total. It's just the latest in a string of abductions by armed men who actually target schools, even hospitals for ransom.

School kidnappings were first carried out by jihadist groups like Boko Haram, but now other gunmen are doing it. This is the 10th mass school kidnapping in northwest Nigeria since December. Tropical Storm Elsa is headed for Florida's West Coast after sweeping across Cuba Monday. The storm made landfall along Cuba's southern coast, bringing strong winds and heavy rains. You see it there.

Tyler Mauldin has been tracking this storm and joins us now for an update.

And, Tyler, I mean, the issue is obviously now it's moving away from Cuba, how will it affect Florida and crucially the rescue operations at Surfside?

TYLER MAULDIN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, starting with Surfside, we are going to see gusty stormy swells push through surfside on Tuesday, and that is directly due to Tropical Storm Elsa, way off, about 150 miles or so to the west. But think on Wednesday and Thursday, we are back to the regular rainy season pattern for south Florida. Right now, we have a thunderstorm that is moving into Surfside at the moment.

And then you can see some thunderstorms, some other thunderstorms around the region, too. And this is streaming off of Elsa, which is about 80 -- 70 to 80 miles to the south of Key West. It's just the north of Havana now, so it has come off of Cuba. It is now the Florida straits, beginning to re-strengthen the 60 mile per hour storm.

Gusts as high as 70, moving to the north, northwest and 12 on this track. It will parallel the Florida coastline, the West Coast. Eventually making landfall come early Wednesday in the big band of Florida.

The track here, the cone is only telling you where the center of Elsa is going to go. It does encompass the entire impacts of the system. And for that reason, you can't focus just on the cone, because notice this. As it pushes to the north and parallels the coast, well, all of the thunderstorms, the sloppiness, all the nasty weather on the east side of the storm, and that goes right up the peninsula of Florida.

So, even though the track takes it that way, all the nastiness is on the east side on the right side of the system, and that is Surfside on Wednesday, and eventually going up the peninsula as we get into -- excuse me, Surfside on Tuesday and eventually up the peninsula on Wednesday and Thursday too.

We have about 10 million people under tropical storm watches, warnings rather, from Key West all the way up to the big and Florida. We're going to see the tropical storm in full swing, possibly some flooding, isolated tornadoes for sure, and storm surge will definitely be a threat, Paula, along the west coast near Tampa.

NEWTON: Yeah, even though it's not a hurricane, even though it's moving away from Miami, I'm getting the message. There's still some tough days ahead.

MAULDIN: Exactly.

NEWTON: For the people of Surfside and Florida for that matter. Tyler, thanks. Appreciate it.


NEWTON: Now, Tropical Storm Elsa, as you were just saying, is threatening the rescue mission at the Champlain Towers. The situation is a bit better, but another dangerous obstacle has at least now been removed. That has led to the recovery of four more victims.

CNN's Randi Kaye has more.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This was the scene around 10:30 Sunday night, a controlled demolition of what remained of Champlain Towers South. It was brought down by explosives sending a cloud of dust through Surfside.

MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Only dust landed on the existing pile. And a little over an hour afterward, we received the all clear, and then right around midnight, work commenced on the pile and by 1:00 a.m., we were in full search and rescue operation mode.

KAYE: It wasn't long after search and rescue efforts resumed that rescuers pulled three more bodies from the rubble pile, another body was found later in the day.

The search for survivors had been hampered by concerns the remaining tower may collapse on first responders and the threat of high winds from Tropical Storm Elsa.

MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: Being gone, we are now at 100 percent full strength, full on pulling everybody out of that rubble pile.

KAYE: Teams on the ground are very clear, this is still a rescue mission, not a recovery mission.

COL. GOLAN VACH, COMMANDER, ISRAEL NATIONAL RESCUE UNIT: I said to the families like two days ago that the chances to find somebody alive is close to zero. I'm realistic, but we are still full of hope.

KAYE: With the building demolished, rescue teams can now access areas closest to the building. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis noting rescuers are also able to reach where a lot of the master bedroom areas were.

Now, 12 days into the rescue efforts, first responders are not giving up, despite the toll it takes on them.

OBED FROMETA, CHAPLAIN, MIAMI-DADE FIRE RESCUE, TASK FORCE 1: They'll go through sleeplessness, they'll go through feelings of remorse, maybe feelings of depression.

KAYE: And for these rescuers, it's personal. They are part of this community and know some of the victims.

Task Force 2, one of Miami-Dade's fire rescue teams recovered seven- year-old Stella Cattarossi from the rubble while her father was also working on the pile.

FROMETA: It's not pressure, but its motivation. Its urgency above and beyond what we would normally wear. It's not in our soul as much as it is here. KAYE: To help, Florida State Senator Lauren Book and her four-year- old twins started making and hand delivering homemade cards like these to the rescuers on site, which she says brought many tears.

LAUREN BOOK, FLORIDA STATE SENATE DEMOCRAT: We started asking for cards and then elementary schools and camps started sending their cards in and bringing their cards to our Senate offices. And every day, we just started handing out more and more and more cards. We are in the 500 plus now.

So, we've just really just started handing them out and giving these small pieces of love to these first responders.

KAYE: This first responder was overwhelmed by such kindness when he needed it most.

CAPT. OMAR BLANCO, RECEIVED HOMEMADE CARD: We've got all the bandages and tools to address any situation, but to warm the heart, a letter from a child is always one of those that really soothes the soul.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Surfside, Florida.


NEWTON: So, the building collapse in Florida harkens back to another tragedy four years ago in London when the Grenfell Tower went up in flames, tragically killing dozens of people. Now, the survivors and victims families are still searching for answers.

CNN's Selma Abdelaziz reports.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): The early hours of June 14th, 2017, a fire sparked by kitchen appliance engulfs Grenville Tower in a matter of minutes.


ABDELAZIZ: Families wake up to find themselves trapped inside an inferno.

From her apartment on the 22nd floor, a terrified Nadia Choucar calls her brother. He quickly rushes to the scene.

NABIL CHOUCAR, BEREAVED FAMILY MEMBER: You could see and feel it from that distance so far away, you know, you literally feel the heat.

ABDELAZIZ: For hours, the blaze burned on. Nadia was spotted desperately waving a makeshift flag from her window.

CHOUCAR: We still had hope that they'd made it out, you know, but then when you get told one by one that, you know, they've been found and, you know, they're deceased.

[01:25:02] It kind of cuts you up and then it cuts you up again and --

ABDELAZIZ: Nadia Choucar, her mother, her husband, and their three daughters died in their home. They're among the 72 lost to the fire. Nabil's life is now consumed by the fight for justice.

CHOUCAR: Every day, I'm thinking about Grenfell. Every day I'm doing things about Grenfell. Every day -- it's all Grenfell, Grenfell.

ABDELAZIZ: A public inquiry into what happened that night drags on. There's hearing scheduled into next year and until it reaches its conclusion, the police say no criminal prosecutions can take place. That means it could take years before justice or accountability is reached.

A highly flammable cladding wrapped around the social housing block made the tower a tinderbox, expert said.

Tiago Alves told us his childhood home was a deathtrap. He and his family fled from the 13th floor.

TIAGO ALVES, GRENFELL FIRE SURVIVOR: I was trying to understand how this could happen. So a country which is one of the richest countries in the world, allows for the building industry to place flammable material on the outside of a building, which is then allowed to go up in flames.

ABDELAZIZ: Numerous other problems with the building have come to light during the public inquiry. There was no centralized fire alarm, no sprinkler system, limited exits. Firefighters also ordered people to stay in their apartments for almost two hours before calling for an evacuation.

Now Alves is one of many demanding wide-ranging reforms, from a ban on combustible cladding to tougher safety rules.

ALVES: There is probably some 20-year-old out there, just like I was when the fire happened, and until I can make sure that someone like that doesn't have to experience what I did that night, I don't think I could ever stop.

ABDELAZIZ: The shrouded remains of Grenfell still loom over London skyline, a reminder of a tragedy that could have been avoided and must never happen again.

Salma Abdelaziz CNN, London.


NEWTON: Authorities in Japan want answers after a mudslide killed at least 4 people. Coming up right here on CNN NEWSROOM, we'll have the latest on the probe into a potential cost.


[01:29:47] PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Paula Newton.

Officials in Japan say the death toll from Saturday's mudslide has risen to 4 and 24 people remain unaccounted for. Now crews are digging for survivors even though the critical 72-hour rescue window has now passed.

CNN's Blake Essig has more from Atami, Japan.


BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): After several days of torrential rain, the possibility of another landslide remains high. That is part of the reason roadblocks like the one behind me has been set up to keep people away from the disaster area.

(voice over): It is hard to imagine anyone, in its path could have survived. A horrifying scene captured by residents on cell phone video.

YUJI SHIMA, MUDSLIDE SURVIVOR: The mudslide looked like a tsunami. It was like a big wave that made a thunderous noise and came crashing down onto the ground.

ESSIG: It happened Saturday morning, a torrent of mud and water sent crashing through part of the city. This is what was left behind. A path of death and destruction turning what was once a residential area in the seaside city of Atami into a wasteland.

Atami city officials say 130 homes have been destroyed, either buried or swept away. As of Monday, hundreds are sheltering in evacuation centers and dozens more have either been reported missing or unaccounted for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just really want to see my husband again no matter how he is found.

ESSIG: This woman, who didn't want to be named, says her husband is one of those missing people. She hasn't heard from him since the landslide swept through the city. While she says her home wasn't washed away, neighbors say her husband, who was outside at the time, likely was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a smaller mudslide in the morning. I think my husband was checking for updates on the news around it, but then the a huge one happened. I haven't been able to reach him since.

ESSIG: In the days that have followed, despite bad weather and the constant threat of another landslide search and rescue crews' frantic search for any signs of life continues.

So far more than two dozen people stranded inside of have been rescued. On the ground, crews sift through debris, can be heard using chainsaws to cut their way through the wreckage and are even using dogs to squeeze inside partially collapsed buildings.

From the sky, drones and helicopters are being used to survey the devastation while the coast guard scours the coastline. A search for survivors in a place where the odds of finding them are increasingly slim.

(on camera): The governor of Shizuoka says that the prefecture will investigate the cause of this landslide as some residents believe was man-made. One theory that will be investigated is whether it was caused by housing and development projects at a deforested area above Atami area that possibly reduced the mountain's ability to retain water.

Blake Essig, CNN -- Atami, Japan.


NEWTON: Philippine officials have ordered a probe into Sunday's deadly military plane crash. On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte visited the camp where the dead and dozens of wounded have been taken.

The plane was carrying troops to an island in the southern Philippines when it missed the runway and crashed. At least 50 people, including three civilians were killed. It is the country's worst military air disaster in decades.

Now, an official in Indonesia predicts new COVID-19 infections could grow to more than 40,000 a day. The government reported about 29,000 new infections on Monday, part of a recent surge in cases.

Amelia Yachya is with CNN Indonesia and she joins me now with more.

We've been following certainly the alarming rise in cases in Indonesia. And also alarming is the fact that there have been reports that oxygen supplies are low. What can you tell me about the situation at hospitals where more people are seeking treatment?

AMELIA YACHYA, CNN INDONESIA: Well, thank you, Paula.

Indonesia is currently still battling a severe wave of COVID-19 that authorities say is driven by the more infectious Delta variant same as many other countries. Many have unnecessarily died in hospitals in Indonesia after oxygen supplies nearly ran out. Indonesia, as we know, as the world's fourth most populous nation. It's facing one of Asia's worst outbreaks.

We have reached a record high of almost 30,000 new cases reported just last weekend. The island of Bali and also Java which include right now, where I am, the capital of Jakarta, went under emergency lockdown just last Saturday to curb the spread of the resurge in virus.

Many hospitals across the country, Paula, have nearly exhausted their oxygen supplies, not just Jakarta but across the archipelago. Along with the government and health ministry, hospitals have said that they are seeking oxygen for days, but virus patients have continuously streamed in since the end of the Eid Holiday season, the Muslim holiday season. And have pushed it beyond its capacity, consuming oxygen faster than expected.


YACHYA: In response the Indonesian government has asked the gas industry to increase production of their medical oxygen. They also hope that people don't stock up on oxygen especially. Because of the lack of oxygen, prices have doubled, if not tripled.

And separately, the ministry is also overseeing Indonesia's COVID-19 response, have ordered the gas industry to prioritize the productions to fill estimated demands of 800 metric tons of oxygen each day. For medical needs across the country, especially in the islands of Java and also in Bali.

The industry has idle capacity of around 225,000 metric tons per year, which can still be used. But we are still in need of more.

Hospitals across Java are being pushed to the brink by the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant which was also -- which was first identified in India, where it caused a dramatic spike in cases, and also pushed medical resources to the brink of collapse.

And in Jakarta here alone, the capital city, the government has said that the daily figures (INAUDIBLE) since early May of this year with 392 -- almost 400 burials on Saturday, last Saturday alone.

The number of infected and hospitalized children is also higher this time around to -- compared to Indonesia's previous wave last year. Perhaps also due to the overall higher number of infections nationwide.

NEWTON: Right.

YACHYA: Yes, Paula.

NEWTON: You are really painting a very troubling picture. We will continue to watch this with interest, especially as the health minister told us here at CNN, that they were continually trying to set up field hospitals and get that much needed oxygen to people who need it.

Thanks for the update. We really appreciate it.

Now, with the rapid spread of the Delta variant, worldwide that we were just talking about, there is, of course, growing concern for those still unvaccinated. And that includes young children, of course, who are unable to receive a vaccine.

Now, in the U.S. last week, children are representative of 10 percent of reported COVID-19 infections. That's more than 8,400 cases.

And while severe illness is rare, there is concern about any possible long term effects to their health.

Dr. Joe Gigante joins me now, he's a pediatrician at Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University. And thanks for being here. You know, a lot of things that are troublesome, and worrisome, quite frankly, not just for parents, but for everyone at this point in time. We've got this Delta variant. We are sure to see more transmissible variants still to come.

These kids are not vaccinated. They are now making up a larger proportion of COVID cases.

The good news? They're still pretty much staying out of hospitals. But, how is it more important, or how important is it, I should say, for them to really not become infected, and for them to get the vaccine, as soon as it is safe?

DR. JOE GIGANTE, PEDIATRICIAN, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL AT VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Well, that is a great point. And I think it is incumbent upon us as adults and every adolescents age 12 and older, and adults to get vaccinated. The more people that we get vaccinated in the community, more likely we are to decrease the spread of the virus and protect our children.

And I think there has been a lot of talk in the media, actually since the coronavirus epidemic began about herd immunity. And in order to achieve herd immunity, we need to get more and more of the population vaccinated.

And what is scary is the Delta variant is a much more contagious form of the coronavirus. So if we don't get to that point where we get enough adolescents, we don't get enough -- and while they don't get as sick as adults do, they still get sick with coronavirus.

You know, there is the MISC, which people may have heard about -- it's the multi inflammatory system syndrome disorder in children. And there has been several thousand cases of children with MISC, and over 300 deaths related to the MISC.

So it's still really important to get as many people vaccinated as possible. I think it's very easy to let our guard down and with, you know, I think the relaxation and a lot of the social distancing and masking guidelines which is good, but alongside with that we really do need to vaccinate as many people as possible to protect our children.

NEWTON: And does that mean shielding children a little bit more though too? And that can mean more mask-wearing for adults if they don't have -- if the kids don't have the vaccines?

DR. GIGANTE: Well, you know, people -- you know, friends and family asked me. So, you know, I think the simple rule is, if you have been vaccinated, it's ok to not wear a mask. I think if you've not been vaccinated, you still need to wear your mask, and you still need to social distance.

So I think it is important for parents, who have young children, if they are going to some kind of outdoor or public or community setting, be it a party, or going to camp.

[01:39:47] DR. GIGANTE: I think it is a great question for parents to ask is you know, what is the immunization status of the individuals, the adults who are at the camp? And if there are adolescent counselors, let's say. Are the counselors vaccinated?

NEWTON: And do you think we have to reassess, you know, indoor activities for children? You know, there have been some studies now, not conclusive in any way, but saying that look, people are getting more infected around the times of their birthdays. Why? Because they were having indoor birthday parties, and a lot of that included children.

Also, there has been some evidence that children were actually safer in school than they were outside of school, as far as COVID transmission.

DR. GIGANTE: Yes. But I think -- I think the reason why they were safer in school is they're around other children who are probably less likely to have the virus.

And then when they are out in public, and when they're out having -- in public at a party or community center, being exposed to probably other adults who perhaps were not vaccinated and are infected with coronavirus, that is the mechanism. And that is how children got sick.

You know, it's interesting, we're in the summertime right now so hopefully more of these parties will be taking place outdoors. So hopefully, that will mitigate the risk to children who attend these parties.

But once the weather starts to get colder again, I should say, and more of these indoor events take place, that is when these viruses are spread.

NEWTON: And another thing that we've been tracking here -- RSV. What is it? And how worried should we be about those kinds of respiratory tract infections that apparently, are more and more prevalent now?

DR. GIGANTE: So RSV, it's an acronym, respiratory syncytial virus. It's a virus that you and I and then adults causes just symptoms of the common cold, but in infants can cause some severe respiratory problems to the point where they get hospitalized, get admitted to the intensive care unit. Some of these children are intubated and on ventilators and some die.

And it's been just fascinating to see how this past winter we basically saw no RSV, just like we saw no flu. And it really does tend to speak to social distancing and handwashing and wearing a mask. It really does prevent the spread of viruses.

So what we have seen is as these guidelines have become more relaxed and we are, you know, not wearing masks and we are not social distancing, viruses like RSV have really just skyrocketed.

And just, you know, I work in a pediatric outpatient clinic and in a pediatric hospital. You almost never see RSV in June or July. We are seeing record numbers of cases at Vanderbilt at our Children's Hospital of children with RSV.

And children getting RSV in the summer is just, as I said, just doesn't happen, but it is happening now. So it's almost like the world has turned upside down with RSV being the prime respiratory virus in the wintertime but other respiratory viruses that typically we see in the winter, we are now seeing in June or July.

NEWTON: Yes. Such a great piece of information for parents now just about how important it is to keep shielding those children really anyway you can.

Dr. Joe Gigante, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

DR. GIGANTE: Thank you.

NEWTON: Ok, still come here on CNN NEWSROOM, experts warn criminal hackers are stepping up their sophisticated cyberattacks on businesses all around the world. How are they stealing millions of dollars? We will break down the anatomy of a ransomware attack.



NEWTON: And this just into CNN. Hong Kong police claim they foiled a suspected bomb plot and arrested nine suspects, six of them high school students.

Police say they were planning to attack transportation facilities but hadn't actually made any explosives yet.

Kristie Lu Stout is tracking this story from Hong Kong. I mean what can you tell us about this investigation? And we should say, of course, it comes as enforcement of that controversial new security law has profoundly changed what's been going on in Hong Kong.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely And the details have been just coming in in the last two hours. Hong Kong police have said that they thwarted this suspected terror plot after arresting nine people, including six high school students on suspicion of terrorism, of terrorist offenses under the national security law.

According to the Hong Kong police, they say that the nine had rented a hotel room in the Kowloon are of Hong Kong where they had intended to make bombs.

According to Hong Kong police, they said that they were planning to target public facilities across Hong Kong, including public transit, courts, as well as cross-harbor tunnels.

The Hong Kong police also say that they found an operations manual in which there were plans for an attack to take place in early July. No bombs were made. No bombs were found.

Now, of the nine who were arrested, five are men, four women, six are high school students -- they are all linked to a Hong Kong independence organization called Returning Valiant.

Here is Steve Lee. He is a senior superintendent of Hong Kong police. He had more on the arrests.


STEVE LEE, SENIOR SUPERINTENDENT, HONG KONG POLICE (through translator): To establish a homemade lab, to manufacture improvised explosive devices in the middle of a busy city is very insane. I think everyone would agree with that. It is very irresponsible.

It is very painful to see young people getting involved. It is a heinous act to lure young people into participating in this kind of activity.


STOUT: Now as for who was funding this operation, Hong Kong police would only say that they arrested the main source of financing behind this operation. And these arrests coincide with these ongoing claims by the Hong Kong government that terrorism remains a threat in the SAR despite the imposition of the national security law.

In fact we heard from Hong Kong's top leader, Carrie Lam, earlier this morning. She warned of underground terrorist activity, blaming external and domestic influences for that.

Back to you.

NEWTON: Yes. Really significant developments there in Hong Kong. Kristie, thanks so much for bringing us up to date on them.

Now, the CEO of a widely-used software vendor says it's hard to gauge the full impact of a major ransomware attack on his company. The U.S.- based firm Kaseya says fewer than 1,500 businesses around the world have been affected by the recent breach.

A criminal hacking group was demanding $70 million in ransom for a decryptor (ph) tool. The company says it met with the FBI and cybersecurity authorities Monday night. Experts say it's likely one of the largest supply chain attack from a non-nation state ever.

Cybersecurity researchers tell CNN these types of attacks are a logistical nightmare for businesses and they're only getting more sophisticated and dangerous.

CNN's Clare Sebastian looks at the growing threat posed by criminal hackers using ransomware.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to notify you that we've downloaded 500 gigabytes of your data from your servers.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The voice sounds like something out of a hostage movie, except here the hostage is data. KAREN SPRENGER, CHIEF RANSOMWARE NEGOTIATOR, LMG SECURITY: Attackers

are getting more aggressive in terms of they're doing their research and finding out who the key players are at the company that they have compromised. And then they are reaching out to them.

SEBASTIAN: Cybersecurity expert Karen Sprenger says the voice mail left to the CEO of a client of hers, a large American company hit by a ransomware attack last October.

SPRENGER: They hadn't reached out to the attacker yet and so that was just the attackers push on them to try and get them to contact them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you are planning to just restore your data without paying for decryption, we will sell your company's private data on dark net.

SEBASTIAN (on camera): The threats worked. Sprenger says the company paid a ransom of several hundred thousand dollars and the attackers provided a decryptor tool which successfully restored their data without it being published on the dark web.


SEBASTIAN (voice over): In 2020, according to block chain analytics company Chainalysis, ransomware victims are known to have paid the equivalent of at least $400 million in ransom payments, more than four times the known 2019 level. Those numbers continue to climb as more payments come to light.

SPRENGER: The criminals using it don't even need to have any technical experience. They can go on the dark web and they can purchase or lease access to software that allows them to release ransomware on a company's network.

SEBASTIAN: Then, if the victim decides to pay some attackers will negotiate. In this email chain from late May, Sprenger says she's negotiated on behalf of another client, a small health care provider on the U.S. East Coast.

The attackers' opening demand one bitcoin -- then right around $36,000. Sprenger, who uses a different email account and pseudonym for each negotiation, tells the attacker her client has insurance but it will only cover a small portion of the ransom., a detail she says a hacker who had infiltrated a company's network might already know.

SPRENGER: We are starting to see too, where the attackers go through the data and look for cyber insurance policies to see what the deductible and to understand how much coverage they have.

SEBASTIAN: They eventually settle on a little less than half the original demand.

(on camera): The currency of choice for ransomware attackers is experts say overwhelmingly bitcoin because of its perceived anonymity and widespread usage. And so how victims navigate this process, cyber security experts say a common feature of the ransomware experience include some kind of, call it, customer support.

JESSE SPIRO, CHIEF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS OFFICER, CHAINALYSIS: They all set up come some kind of communication and then step-by-step tell them, you know, how to access and exchange and set up a wallet, you know, the kind of cryptocurrency that they want the payment to be made within. In fact they even helped troubleshoot.

SEBASTIAN: And yet because bitcoin transactions are stored on a public block chain, they are traceable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The old adage, follow the money still applies.

SEBASTIAN: The Colonial pipeline case showed how law enforcement was able to track and seize cryptocurrency worth $2.3 million. In a similar success story in January, the Department of Justice seized almost half a million dollars worth of cryptocurrency from ransom payments associated with Net Walker, another prolific ransomware strain.

They did that with the help of block chain forensics tools from Chainalysis.

SPIRO: It provides unprecedented insight into the supply chain for these groups. You know, what they are doing with the cryptocurrency, how they are moving it, identifying its affiliates and additional connectivity, how they are laundering the money.

SEBASTIAN: The FBI says private sector partnerships are one of its biggest tools against the cyber threat. For companies it's about stepping up their cyber defenses to avoid being next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we leak that data, your business will be as good as gone.

SEBASTIAN: Clare Sebastian, CNN -- New York.


NEWTON: And we will be right back with more news in a moment.


NEWTON: As U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan they could be leaving behind a bleak future for Afghan women. The Taliban had been ramping up attacks in recent weeks and it is clear that when long-stalled peace talks with the central government will resume.

CNN's Zain Asher spoke with activist Malala Yousafzai about what it all means for the future of women and girls in that country.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MALALA YOUSAFSAI, WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I think one of the most important thing in the Afghan (INAUDIBLE) is the safety and protection of women, of girls, their rights -- their right to education, their right to safety, their right to equality, their right to participation in politics.

And that should be the priority of all the political leaders who are involved in the peace talks. And I think, you know, I know that there is the U.S. and they have their own interests. There's Pakistan and Pakistan has its own interests. And each and every country that gets involved in these peace talks often have their interest.

But what should be prioritized are the interests of the people of Afghanistan who have suffered the most from the violence, from this insurgency, from this decades' long extremism and terrorism and war. So I think what we need to do is ensure that these peace talks are about the safety and protection of the people of Afghanistan and that -- and that we do not make any compromise on the rights of women and girls.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN HOST: But does the withdrawal of U.S. troops -- is that a particular cause for concern for you?

YOUSAFZAI: What I will say is that I hope that the U.S. and all the states involved in the peace negotiations ensure that they protect the people of Afghanistan, the civilians of Afghanistan. And, you know, I hope that they know best of that and they make more compromises on the safety of the women and girls, their access to education, their access to equal opportunities.

I think for me personally it is always important that we invest in the people of a country and we, you know, help their businesses, we help their local communities in, you know, getting stronger economies, we help their people get quality education. We help their women and girls get quality education and equal opportunities.

And I think that is what makes a stronger democracy, so I think this should not be the end. Like the withdrawal should not be the end to sustaining peace in Afghanistan. I think a lot more needs to be done.


NEWTON: Ok. That was CNN's Zain Asher speaking with activist Malala Yousafzai. You can hear more of their discussion this Wednesday on "ONE WORLD".

Now, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton.

The news continues right here on CNN right after this break.