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Extreme Weather Causes Massive Europe Flooding; Biden Officials View COVID-19 Lab Leak Origin Theory As Credible; Federal Judge Finds DACA Illegal; Mike Pence Walks Political Tightrope In Iowa; England To Lift Nearly All COVID-19 Restrictions On Monday; COVID-19 Detected In Tokyo's Olympic Village. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired July 17, 2021 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Parts of Europe, devastated by floods, not seen in generations. Now rescue workers are working to find survivors as hundreds remain missing. We're live across the region.

Also ahead, the United States is seeing a pandemic of the unvaccinated, as cases rise sharply across the nation.

And the first case of COVID-19 is reported at Tokyo's Olympic Village, just a week before the games are set to begin.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN NEWSROOM.


BRUNHUBER: Dramatic rescue efforts are underway in Western Europe, as the death toll from the catastrophic floods sweeping through the region continue to climb. At least 153 people are now confirmed dead, mostly in Germany, with hundreds of others still unaccounted for.

Bridges have been washed out, thousands left homeless and entire villages left under water. Germany has sent nearly 1,000 troops to help with disaster relief in its western states.

Take a look at this house in Belgium that collapses as floodwaters rush by. You can see there people on the roof, waiting to be evacuated. Belgium will observe a national day of mourning for flood victims on Tuesday.

Now in Netherlands, Dutch officials have just ordered 10,000 residents to evacuate the city of Venlo, about 40 kilometers north of where these pictures were taken because the river there is rising faster than expected. CNN's Melissa Bell is in the disaster zone with more on the historic floods.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The floodwaters were moving northwards by Friday, leaving behind a trail of devastation. Vast swaths of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands only now beginning to realize the cost of historic storms.

BELL: The question is whether any of this should really have come as a surprise. Not only as the heavy rains that came this week had been forecast but more than that.

For years, experts have been warning that, in this part of the world, one of the effects of climate change was always going to be heavy rain and flash flooding in the summer months.

BELL (voice-over): And yet, by the time the waters came, no one was prepared. From Germany to Belgium, the picture is caught by terrified locals give a sense of how fast and furiously the waters rose on Thursday, sweeping away everything in their path. By Friday morning, the scale of the devastation was becoming clear.

In the Belgian village of Pepinster, people returning to what was left of their homes and their livelihoods. This family's wine shop engulfed in a thick layer of mud. Its owner says that in 70 years her father has never seen anything like it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Set up those all (INAUDIBLE), Papa. Set up those all.

BELL (voice-over): In the nearby town of Liege, French military personnel and equipment have been brought in as part of what is now an international rescue effort.

BELL: As you can see, the water here really rose quite high. What the locals that we've been speaking to have told us, many of them still trapped in their homes but now running out for food and water, is that when the flash flood came, it was a mighty torrent that came down these streets.

There was nothing gradual about it. As it happened, the streets filled up with water within a couple of hours.

BELL (voice-over): The rescuers going house to house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BELL (voice-over): In Germany, the scenes are heartbreakingly similar. In one town, the residents of a disabled care home were trapped. They'd been asleep and attempts to get them out failed. Across the country, at least 105 people have been killed, with many hundreds more missing.

MALU DREYER, STATE PREMIER, RHINELAND-PALATINATE (through translation): We are doing everything we can to save lives, repair damage and avert further dangers under the most difficult conditions. BELL (voice-over): But even as Europe begins to count the cost of the worst floods in more than a century, its politicians are looking to their lessons for the future.

URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: It is the intensity and the length of these events where science tells us this is a clear indication of climate change and that this is something where we really, really it shows the urgency to act.


BELL (voice-over): An urgency all the clear from above a part of the world not used to the kind of humanitarian crisis it now faces -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Liege.


BRUNHUBER: All right. Let's get the latest on the ground there in Western Europe. Let's start with journalist Chris Burns in Verviers, Belgium.

Chris, you're in one of the hardest hit areas; the scene behind you there really tells the story.

What's the latest there?

CHRIS BURNS, JOURNALIST: Yes, so far, Kim, we've got a death toll of 27 here in this province here. Most of them here in Verviers and you can hear the rumble. I'm going to take you over this way and you see some of the cleanup going on as they're digging up, there's a digger behind me working away, digging things up.

He's got a lot of work to do, let's look don at the overpass here. And this is what he has to clean up. And there's a dramatic story involving this.

Among those people missing is a man's sister and her husband, who -- in -- during -- as the wares were waters were rising they were clinging desperately on the side of this overpass. And they were on the phone with the family and then they disappeared.

So there are many stories like that we're dealing with. The waters might be coming down but the drama is still very high. We also will have a visit here in Pepinster, which is a little village nearby, which is also very hard-hit.

In the next hour or so, there's going to be Ursula van der Leyen, the president of the European Commission plus the prime minister of Belgium, Alexander de cru, who are going to be there visiting with the victims, with the survivors of this. There are thousands of people homeless, tens of thousands of people without power.

And it's going to take time to restore all of this. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. On that, just looking at the background behind you, all of the devastating pictures that we've seen, so much damage, as you say. People will be out of their homes for months, maybe years.

What's next for them?

I noticed you said politicians are coming.

What are they promising in terms of help to rebuild?

BURNS: Well, yes, I might mention, I talked to a hotelier, whose hotel is trashed. And they were dealing with COVID. The COVID crisis locked them down before that. And they were trying to come back. And now they're dealing with this.

And there's a baker just on the other side of the river, who also has lost everything. So there are many people dealing with that. The government has announced millions in support, many of them in small business loans.

But it's probably not going to be enough. They're going to need to boost that for these people to recover. It's massive devastation here, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much for that, really appreciate it.

We want to turn now to our Atika Shubert who joins us on the phone. She's in Germany with a look at the devastation there.

Atika, let's start with the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts in Germany, where the death toll is the highest.

What's the latest there?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're in Altena (ph). This is one of the hardest hits towns. It's tucked into several bends of the aquifer (ph). And I've spoken to senior military commanders.

They're actually -- will be deploying here very (INAUDIBLE) with some heavy equipment. This area in particular has been devastated. You can see where I'm standing, that the river it just took bite almost out of the road.

And it's flipped over a bus, a fire truck. There are hotels that, there are hotel lobbies that have been washed away. And so what the military is doing now, is using its telecommunications to access towns like Ahrweiler, where communications are very poor to try and salvage and rescue whatever they can.

It's still very much a rescue separation, despite that we're now two or three days after the disaster. And that just goes to show how widespread the devastation is. The death toll is expected to rise. A lot of this has now also become a search and recovery effort.

We've spoken to residents who tell us that they watched their neighbors clinging for life at their windows but they just couldn't hold on anymore and were washed away. So firefighters here are also using sniffer dogs to search for bodies. And we do expect the death toll to rise.

BRUNHUBER: Tell me a bit more. You mentioned that one person who was clinging -- you know, trying not to get swept away there. Tell us a little more about what people have been saying. I know you've been going around talking to people affected by this disaster.

What are they telling you?

SHUBERT: Well, this is completely unprecedented. Nobody has seen flooding like this. They haven't had this kind of flooding for over 100 years.


SHUBERT: A lot of people that we talked to compare this to a war. They simply have not ever seen this kind of devastation hitting their hometowns before.

But I also have to say people here are really resilient. It's amazing to me how many people have simply gotten stuck in, trying to clean up. They just pulled on their rubber boots, they're caked in mud, but they're sifting through the materials and what's left of their homes and trying to recover whatever they can.

Right where I'm standing now, I can see people using anything they can to cart stuff out, whether it's shopping carts, toy wagons and wheelbarrows. And they're wheeling their possessions over this partially collapsed bridge.

It's just devastating. But I think for a lot of people here, it happened so soon that really they're just trying to process what they can at this moment. Even some of the most traumatic events, seeing people swept away, they haven't really been able to process this. It's going to take a long time for people to recover.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. It's a touching image you paint there of how people are dealing with this devastation. Atika Shubert in Germany, thank you so much.

COVID-19 cases are now on the rise in every single U.S. state. This is what health experts have been fearing for some time now, with deaths and hospitalizations climbing as well. In fact, cases are up nearly 70 percent compared to the previous week.

And many experts are blaming the vaccination slowdown. The CDC says a little more than 48 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. And in just hours, an indoor mask mandate returns to Los Angeles County in an effort to bring cases back down. CNN's Erica Hill reports.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND U.S. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Masks, back on in Los Angeles County, where new cases are surging.

DR. MUNTU DAVIS, HEALTH OFFICER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Everything is on the table. You know, if things continue to get worse. Which is why we're want to take action, now.

HILL (voice-over): Starting Sunday, faces must be covered, indoors, even if you are fully vaccinated. Nationwide, new infections are up 67 percent in the last week, rising in every state and D.C., for the first time, since January.

DR. JENNIFER AVEGNO, DIRECTOR, NEW ORLEANS HEALTH DEPARTMENT: The danger is, as more unvaccinated people get infected and Delta is so contagious, it's -- it's really transmitting, at a speed that I haven't seen, since the very beginning.

HILL (voice-over): Deaths, up 26 percent; hospitalizations, 36 percent in the last seven days. The president placing the blame on Facebook and other social-media platforms for not doing more to stop the spread of misinformation.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they're killing people.


HILL (voice-over): The FDA confirming, Friday, it's prioritizing the review of Pfizer's vaccine, noting it's among the agency's highest priorities. One official telling CNN, full approval could come in the next two months.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: For some people, the FDA approval process may make a difference. But I do think that we have a fair amount of experience, right now. A tremendous amount of experience that tells us, again, the benefits of this vaccine far outweigh any risks.

HILL (voice-over): Vaccinations are down 11 percent, in the last week. Tennessee, one of the states with the lowest-vaccination rates in the country, just 38 percent, saw new cases increase 84 percent, in the last week. Florida accounts for one in five new cases in the country. Some states, now, asking for help.

JEFFREY ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: This week, at the request of the Nevada governor, we are deploying more than 100 people to the state to help enhance vaccine access and support vaccine-outreach efforts.

HILL (voice-over): As the administration beefs up its own outreach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wear your mask and get your vaccine.

HILL (voice-over): New questions about so-called breakthrough infections in fully-vaccinated Americans.

DR. JASON YAUN, V.P., AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, TENNESSEE: And reality is that no vaccine is 100 percent effective. Fortunately, these breakthrough cases are, generally, asymptomatic cases or mild cases. The vaccines do a tremendous job of protecting against severe infection and death.

HILL (voice-over): A message, Noelle Collier is also sharing after losing her unvaccinated mother.

NOELLE COLLIER, DAUGHTER OF COVID-19 VICTIM: I want people to understand that COVID is not gone. I'm fully vaccinated and I still got COVID. But I recovered. The vaccine is worth it.

HILL: On the heels of L.A. County bringing back indoor-mask mandates over the weekend, New York City's mayor said, on Friday, there is no plans to follow suit here, in New York.

The city's health commissioner telling CNN, they'll continue to follow the data in the coming weeks. But again, no plans to change course, at the moment -- in New York, Erica Hill, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: President Biden has ordered the intelligence community to find out how the coronavirus pandemic originated.


BRUNHUBER: And some senior officials are now giving more credibility to a theory that the virus could have accidentally leaked from a Chinese lab, a complete turnaround from what Democrats were saying a year ago. Natasha Bertrand has details.


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We are learning that senior Biden administration officials now believe that the possibility that COVID-19 escaped from a lab is at least as possible as the theory that it originated in the wild, naturally, from animals.

This is a dramatic shift from just last year, when that theory, that it may have escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, was treated as a conspiracy theory and unscientific.

But the president ordered an intelligence review into COVID's origins back in March. The intelligence community then came back in May, saying that they were split on the issue, on this question of whether it originated in a lab or in the wild.

He then ordered a redoubled effort into this question. And what we are learning now is that the intelligence community is really on the fence about where this originated has also led senior Biden administration officials to take that theory, that it escaped from a lab accidentally, very seriously.

Now it is important to note that this is not necessarily a theory that this was engineered as a bioweapon. This is not given credence within the Biden administration. What they believe is that this could have escaped from a lab as they were conducting research on bats. Therefore it is also somewhat of a natural origin theory. But right now, the two theories are being treated as very credible,

both of them, and the administration emphasizes to us that they are reserving judgment until the intelligence community completes its review in about 40 days -- Natasha Bertrand, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: A new court ruling puts a question mark over the future of hundreds of thousands of immigrants here in the U.S. Next, how a single decision is upending the DREAMers' legal situation and their lives.

Plus, the FBI has begun to interview the suspected assassins of Haiti's president and look at their possible ties to the U.S. We'll have the latest from Port-au-Prince just ahead. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: The dream of a new life is on the line again for hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. They were brought to the country illegally as children and they've been allowed to stay under the so-called DACA program.

For many of them, the U.S. is the place where they grew up and the only home they know. But as Evan Perez reports, the new court ruling on Friday is putting their lives in limbo.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SR. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the Obama era program that allowed some undocumented immigrants to remain in this country is illegal. And he blocked the government from accepting new applicants.

Hundreds of thousands of people who came to the United States as children are protected from deportation under a program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The ruling from Judge Andrew Hannan (ph) doesn't immediately cancel the program for the so-called DREAMers, who are already participating in it, though it once again leaves themselves in devastating legal limbo.

Hannan (ph) is an appointee of president George W. Bush and he ruled that Congress didn't authorize the Homeland Security Department to create DACA. But Hannan (ph) also wrote it wouldn't be fair to immediately end a program that so many people rely on.

The U.S. Justice Department is widely expected to appeal the ruling, which could send it back to the Supreme Court, which previously blocked the Trump administration's attempts to end the program. The high court didn't rule on whether the program was legal -- Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: The funeral for Haiti's assassinated leader is set for next Friday. We've also learned that the FBI is in Haiti and has begun its own investigation. That's because some of the key suspects in the plot seem to have connections to Florida. We get that from Matt Rivers in Port-au-Prince.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We got some updates into the investigation into this assassination at a midday press conference here in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Among those who attended were acting prime minister Claude Joseph, as well as the chief of Haiti's national police force.

It was Joseph who offered his opinion on what he termed "a miscalculation" on the part of some of the people involved in this assassination.

He said, quote, "The killers thought that they could kill the president and force the rest of the government to flee."

He said, obviously, that hasn't happened and the investigation goes on. That's where the chief of Haiti's national police force jumped in. He said that at this point more than 2 dozen police officers here on the island are being investigated in one way or another as a result of this assassination.

Among those police officers being investigated, we are told there are some officers who were actually at the presidential residence the night of the assassination.

Also, the national police chief is saying that members of the FBI, that have come here from the United States to assist in this investigation, have had a chance to, at least preliminarily, question some suspects in this case.

We are also told that the funeral for president Jovenel Moise will take place not here in Port-au-Prince, in another part of the country, a northern part of the country, on the 23rd of this month.

It is expected that the first lady of Haiti, who was injured in that assassination of her husband and who has been recovering in a hospital in Miami, it is expected that she will come back to the island to attend that funeral -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


BRUNHUBER: Former U.S. vice president Mike Pence is dipping his toes into early campaign waters. Pence took a trip to Iowa on Friday, where he gave a glimpse into his potential 2024 message. CNN's Kristen Holmes reports from Des Moines.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The former vice president walking a tightrope, in Des Moines, as he spoke. He was, both, trying to be politically relevant. Trying to stay in the political arena.


HOLMES: But also, was very aware that the Republican Party is, still, the party of Donald Trump.

He did, however, mention January 6th and acknowledged what president -- former-president Donald Trump never has. Take a listen.

MIKE PENCE (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Truth is we -- we've been through a lot. In the last year. I mean, the global pandemic, civil unrest, a divisive election, a tragic day in our nation's Capitol.

HOLMES: Now while he did call it a tragic day, he also did not fully separate himself from the former president. He praised the administration, the work the administration had done. And said that he was proud to serve as part of that and be a part of that.

But it's very clear, now, that the former-vice president is trying to form a political identity that is separate and outside of Donald Trump's shadow. But no matter how vague he is about January 6th or how much he tries to avoid it, it is, eventually, going to be unavoidable because we have talked to so many Trump supporters who are still so angry with Mike Pence over the election.

They think that he shouldn't have certified the election because of all of Donald Trump's rhetoric. So there are a lot of people waiting to hear what Pence is going to say about that and we're waiting to hear, too, to see if he fully separates himself from president Trump or if he, in turn, embraces him.


BRUNHUBER: Parts of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have been nearly washed away by historic floods. Coming up, an official with the German Red Cross describes the unprecedented challenges facing the region.

And later this hour, COVID in the Olympic Village. Its first case has been detected with just six days to go before Tokyo 2020 kicks off. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back. To all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

The death toll from catastrophic flooding in Western Europe has now passed 150. Power and communications have been knocked out in the affected areas, making it difficult to know how many people are actually missing.

Hundreds of soldiers have been mobilized in Germany to help with relief efforts. In the Netherlands, Dutch officials have ordered 10,000 residents to evacuate the city of Venlo near the German border as the river there is rising faster than expected.

Last hour I spoke to Tanja Knopp, head of volunteer services of the German Red Cross. She said the challenges facing emergency workers and flood victims are daunting. Here she is.


TANJA KNOPP, HEAD OF VOLUNTEER SERVICES, GERMAN RED CROSS: The situation for all of the people and for us is a really serious one, as the infrastructure is totally destroyed. Houses are destroyed. And first of all, and we had to evacuate and all of these people from really extreme and serious situations.

And now the people who are evacuated need support. They need shelter. They need clothing, food, drink, medical support, their regular medicine.

We from the Red Cross, hand in hand with others, give them this support with our special unit. And a lot of them need psychological support because they've lost everything. They've lost, yes, their things and some are still looking for close relatives, which they are missing. And we try to save them and to solve all of these problems.

BRUNHUBER: I want to go into a little bit more.

First of all, how are you helping to provide shelter for them, concretely?

And second of all, you talk about the state that they're in, the huge emotional trauma that they must be going through. They obviously must not have very much with them as well because they had to evacuate so quickly.

So what are sort of the needs that you're helping with there?

KNOPP: We've got special units who are prepared to give shelter to the people. And we bring these people to gyms, to schools, where we build beds (ph) and all of these things so the people can stay there.

Especially, the most vulnerable of the people we are focusing on. These are people who need care, people who are evacuated from hospitals. And, of course, we have to give all of this support to them.

We cook food and drink. And for all of this, we are prepared. Our volunteers are trained to do exactly this. And the people are -- they are absolutely shocked on what's happened.

And the situation, as the water goes back, all of these people realize that their problems stay. Their houses are destroyed. They care about what's happening next, of course.

And we try, at the moment, to do our best. But our special Red Cross philosophy is worldwide. Also, as the water goes back, we stay. Red Cross is a network everywhere. And also if our units go back to their homes, the Red Cross, in all of these towns, stays. And we'll try to help all of these people.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. You talked about, you know, the volunteers being prepared to help but also that the people weren't prepared for this type of emergency.

Are you surprised by the lack of advance warning and preparation for a disaster like this?

KNOPP: I think it's -- I can't analyze the special situation in every city. But I'm absolutely sure that we have in future to focus much more on being self-prepared. It's something Red Cross and a lot of other people always talk about.

And we say everybody has to focus on this. Think about what you are doing in such situations but just through such situations as we have lived through now, people become aware that this is reality.

And I think, because of climate change, such situations will become more often and more serious. And I think now is the time to switch and to think more about and everyone should be prepared and think about, what am I doing, if I am in such a situation.



BRUNHUBER: That was Tanja Knopp of the German Red Cross, speaking to us a short time ago.


BRUNHUBER: We're getting an idea of just how deadly the recent historic heat wave in Canada might have been. Officials report at least 808 deaths in British Columbia in late June. That's almost four times the number of deaths there during the same period last year.

Now at this point, officials can't say how many of those deaths were directly caused by the danger of heat. But they say the connection is clear. That same heat wave contributed to 17 wildfires across the United States. The National Inter-Agency Fire Center says more than 1 million acres have burned throughout 12 states.

In Oregon, the latest wildfire the country has seen this year, the Bootleg Fire, has scorched more than 273,000 acres since it started 10 days ago. But there is a bit of good news. The fire is now 22 percent contained. All right. Coming up, a serious spike in new coronavirus cases is

raising questions about the plans for England's so-called Freedom Day, which is now just about 48 hours away.

Plus, Southeast Asia is becoming a new hot spot for the Delta variant. We'll go live to Singapore, where they're seeing a rise in cases linked to karaoke bars. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Israel's prime minister says vaccines alone aren't fixing the coronavirus pandemic. Naftali Bennett blames that the vaccines give, quote, "significantly less effective protection against the Delta variant."

Israel reported more than 850 new cases on Thursday, the highest number in four months. But fewer than 50 of those were serious cases, which is much better than at the height of the pandemic in January.

In just two days, England is set to fully reopen. That means no more mask requirements in shops and in most public places. And bars and restaurants will be able to pack in more customers.

But a sharp rise in cases is throwing all of that into question. On Friday, the U.K. reported more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time in six months. Phil Black joins me now from Essex, England.

Phil, so there's been more blowback to the reopening plan. I was reading 1,200 scientists signed onto a letter in the medical journal, "The Lancet," saying England lifting its restrictions could be a threat to the whole world, which is just basically adding to the chorus of naysayers.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kim, a lot of people watching to see what happens here. Case numbers are already very high. They're expected to get much higher, as much as 100,000 a day, according to the government.

And yet the government says it is determined to proceed with this plan, to effectively throw away the pandemic rulebook here in England from Monday. It is an unprecedented experiment. No other country has tried to reopen society in the middle of a growing wave.

And there is tremendous uncertainty. Even the government's own advisers say they don't know how this is going to turn out because it will ultimately be determined by how cautiously people choose to behave.

And the modeling shows that if people very quickly return to a prepandemic way of life, you could still see a wave of hospital admissions that is as great or even greater than what England has experienced in previous infection waves.

So there's a great deal at stake. The government believes it can work because of the advanced vaccine program. And it also believes dealing with the inevitable wave that comes with reopening, it's better to try to manage that through summer, where there is less of the other sorts of pressure that hospitals experience during fall and winter.

They also hope that with students not in school there's less opportunity for the virus to spread there. So they are determined to proceed as I said. But there is tremendous criticism here, internationally and from scientists who believe this is reckless and unethical because we're talking about the Delta variant.

And it is so contagious. The vaccine program is advanced but not complete.


BLACK: So their view is that this decision will inevitably lead to vast numbers of infections in the near term. And many of those people will fall seriously ill.

There is another concern here, one that could impact the whole world. That is the belief among scientists that this creates the circumstances which allows for more mutations, allows for new variants to develop. And it increases the risk of a variant that is better at beating, working around the current vaccines -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, that variant throwing everything into question. CNN's Phil Black, thank you so much.

Well, Singapore has seen clusters of new infections linked to karaoke bars. Authorities are delaying reopening plans and, starting Monday, they'll be tightening social distancing restrictions again. Journalist Manisha Tank joining me from Singapore.

Singapore provides a real contrast with England, as we were listening to, on how to deal with the pandemic and how to navigate our way out of this. I understand the country had a zero COVID model but now that's changing. Basically, they're acknowledging the country will have to live with this virus.

Take us how they're planning to return to normal. I guess the watchword is slow and steady.

MANISHA TANK, JOURNALIST: Yes, it is slow and steady to a certain extent. But I think what's quite interesting about this, Kim, is you have the U.K. and Singapore basically saying the same thing, which is we must expect that COVID-19 isn't going away.

But Singapore, as you indicate, has a very different tack to the U.K. What we're being told here is, test regularly. Soon test will be available in all of the pharmacies. But also it's all about vaccinations, Kim. By National Day, which will be happening in August, we can expect that two-thirds of all Singapore residents will be vaccinated.

That means a double dose. That means full vaccinations. But what we have here in Southeast Asia is a real patchwork of experience. Of course, this is one small country in a myriad of others, where we have trade relationships and economic relationships.

And it's been really tough in this situation to get everyone on the same page. If you look at Indonesia, you've got a surge in cases, with the Delta variant and also the fact that only 5.8 percent of the population of 270 million people have actually been vaccinated.

Over in the Philippines, you also have a very slow rollout of the vaccine. In fact, more than 3 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose shot arrived from the United States earlier this week. So that is beginning to get under way.

But again, the Delta variant has just been picked up in the last week. So even though cases were coming down in the Philippines, we may see them rise them.

A similar story in Thailand and Malaysia. Coming back to Singapore, you indicated this, we have seen a sudden surge in case. A surge relative to the zero community case numbers we had just a week ago. And that occurred in nighttime establishments, karaoke bars, that have flipped to get dining licenses so they could continue business

But we've seen this explosion in cases there. Now there is very tight ringfencing going on. The government is testing anyone related to those clusters, even though it accepts this road map, this idea that COVID-19 is endemic.

Like I said at the beginning of this, it's going to mean more vaccinations, more testing regularly. Now we all have Trace Together app, a track and trace, as it's called in other parts of the world, where it shows up whether you're vaccinated or not.

And that will be your passport into getting into restaurants or gyms or whatever it might be. So we're beginning to accept that this is very much a new normal way of living.

BRUNHUBER: Interesting. Journalist Manisha Tank in Singapore, thank you so much.

Straight ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, COVID-19 has found its way into the Olympic Village, with Tokyo 2020 just six days away. We'll go live to Japan next. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: With just six days to go, the Tokyo Olympic Village has detected its first case of coronavirus. It comes as the Japanese capital has seen a surge of COVID cases. Still organizers are determined to push ahead. The IOC is holding an executive board meeting to go over all of the final details.

CNN's Blake Essig joins us live from Fukushima, Japan.

Blake, COVID in the athletes' village, just as athletes are starting to arrive, I mean, this must be adding to already growing worries there.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Kim, across the country right now, cases are increasing. And there was always the fear that the Olympics would bring in potentially more cases. And, you know, it's small right now.

But the numbers are growing by the day. Now even though Fukushima isn't under a state of emergency, cases here are also increasing. And as a result, no fans will be allowed to attend the baseball and softball games scheduled to be played inside the stadium behind me in the distance during the Olympics.

Back in Tokyo, COVID-19 cases are surging this past week. The daily case count hit its highest case mark in six months. Because of health and safety concerns, these Olympics Games have been and continue to be deeply unpopular with the majority of Japanese people.

The effort by organizers to cement the positive legacy and create an upbeat tone through events like the torch relay simply has not worked. I spoke to anti-Olympics protesters, who told me it's not too late to cancel the games, especially with the surge in cases.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I really think these Olympics will come at the cost of human life. If the games are held, I'm worried about the COVID cases spiking even more than they, already, are. The games should be cancelled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I think it's definitely possible to cancel the games. Just because there's a week to go, we shouldn't give up on trying. There are athletes who are hesitating about taking part. Cancelling the game sends out a clear message that human lives are valued.



ESSIG: And despite the health concerns IOC president Thomas Bach, who is incredibly unpopular here in Japan, says that canceling the Olympics is not an option and the risk of spreading COVID-19 because of Olympics is zero.

He is holding a press conference at some point this evening after his visit to Hiroshima yesterday to promote peace, that visit was met with anger from people who felt Bach used Hiroshima's image as a tool to increase public support for the Olympics.

So far, 45 people involved with the games have tested positive for COVID-19 after riving in Japan, the first case, as you mentioned, Kim, being reported today from inside the Olympic Village. At this point, all we know is that the person who tested positive isn't believed to be an athlete and they were taken to be in quarantine outside of the village. Positive cases have come from athletes, coaches, contractors and delegation members from Uganda, Serbia, Israel and Nigeria. The member from the Nigerian team that tested positive has been hospitalized.

While this is only the first case requiring hospitalization, one of the big concerns from medical professionals and the general public is the potential strain on the health care system.

Now it's important to remember, even though an estimated 80 percent to 85 percent of the people living in the Olympic Village are vaccinated and won't likely end up in the hospital if they become infected, still about 20 percent of Japan's population has not been vaccinated and are vulnerable, if the Olympics turns into a superspreader event -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much, Blake Essig. Appreciate it.

That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. For our viewers in the United States and Canada, "NEW DAY" is just ahead. For everyone else, it's "CONNECTING AFRICA."