Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

At Least 160 Dead, Hundreds Missing In Europe Flooding; L.A. County Reinstating Indoor Mask Mandate; Two Athletes Test Positive For COVID-19 In Tokyo's Olympic Village; Hundreds Protest In Miami In Solidarity With Cuba Demonstrations; Biden Administration Promises To Appeal DACA Ruling; Myanmar's COVID-19 Crisis Deepens Amid Distrust Of Junta; U.K. Restaurants See Signs Of Revival And New Challenges; American Designs Surrealist Fashion For The Modern Era. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired July 18, 2021 - 00:00   ET

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


[00:00:00]

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, the desperate search for survivors as Western Europe reels from what's been called a catastrophe of historic proportion.

England about to lift all COVID restrictions but the virus not cooperating, as cases rise to a six-month high.

Plus, concerns mounting inside the Olympic Village as two athletes test positive for coronavirus ahead of the games.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

HOLMES: It is a desperate search for survivors underway in Western Europe as the death toll climbs from those devastating floods. At least 160 people are now confirmed dead, with hundreds still missing.

Rising waters, landslides and power outages making rescue efforts more difficult. Germany and Belgium bore the brunt of the disaster; thousands left homeless and whole communities underwater.

Meanwhile, the Dutch Red Cross is supporting people in the city of Venlo. Residents are forced to evacuate there because of a surging river. But cleanup efforts are already beginning in some areas, where waters have receded.

Germany's president said recovery will take a long time. In the coming hours, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, will see the damage first-hand, when she visits one of the country's hardest-hit flood zones.

The once scenic town of Altenahr in Germany has been ravaged by flooding with mud and wreckage as far as the eye can see. But residents are now banding together to clear the detritus as they come to terms with what's been lost. Atika Shubert with more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All day, helicopters circled the once picturesque German town of Altenahr, nestled into the bends of the Ahr River, now choked with mud and debris, cut off from neighboring towns without communication.

DEBORAH STRETCH, ALTENAHR RESIDENT: I'm happy that I'm alive.

SHUBERT (voice-over): This is home for Deborah Stretch but her family in the U.K. had no idea if she had survived until they saw her on TV. Now she is delivering fresh cups of coffee to keep spirits up.

STRETCH: I came over the mountain, down here and then I just saw (INAUDIBLE). Unbelievable. We were all just crying, everybody. It was awful. It was really, really terrible. And everybody's walking toward the -- this is our little town. It's gone, it's just gone.

SHUBERT (voice-over): Residents try to clear what they can, working with firefighters, police and soldiers. But the closer we get to the river, the greater the devastation. On a hotel wall, the historic marker of the water level of the last great flood in 1910. That is now dwarfed by this catastrophe.

SHUBERT: To give you a sense of scale, I am standing at the banks of the river. This hotel right beside it had water all the way up to the third story. You can actually see the water line right there, marking just how far up the floodwaters got.

SHUBERT (voice-over): This was no ordinary flood. The water took out chunks of the road, sweeping through the local cemetery. At least one house was carried away by the flood.

Neighbors told us the body of the person who lived there was later found in a hillside vineyard.

Restoring critical infrastructure is a top priority to get the help the town needs.

"We are trying to make this road passable again," explains First Staff Sgt. Pfennig (ph).

"Over there, you can't see it from here, there is a railway bridge, completely unusable and, on this side, there is also a lot of damage. But we are taking some of the material here to stabilize that bridge and to facilitate movement of heavy equipment," he explains.

But it's not until we come around the bend that we see the sheer scale of their task.

SHUBERT: This here is a railway crossing. And that explains what we see over here. The river swelled so high, so quickly, that it was able to tip over the bridge holding up the railway line. You can see all of the trees, the debris that it had collected further upriver.

[00:05:00] SHUBERT (voice-over): It just became this wall of water, knocking down everything in its path. This is a scene of destruction that is just incredible. This town has never seen anything like this.

SHUBERT (voice-over): For generations, this town has lived off the river and all that it brings. But now, as extreme weather hits this once tranquil valley, the waters have turned against them -- Atika Shubert for CNN, in Altenahr, Germany.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Extraordinary.

In hard-hit Belgium, residents are combing through what's left of their homes and businesses. European officials touring the devastation Saturday vowing to help the nation rebuild. Chris Burns with that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this small town of the Ardennes region of Belgium, the cleanup is underway after the terror and the struggle to survive catastrophic flooding.

Residents in Pepinster are finding what's left of their belongings, covered in mud, the first step in piecing their lives back together.

"We are emptying the basements. They were completely flooded. Now we are trying to recover especially my daughter's bakery equipment that was flooded. We are trying to recover what can be recovered. But almost everything has been lost."

Not much left of some gardens, either, turned into virtual junkyards by the flood.

But there is help from other locals; small brigades, armed with shovels, brooms and buckets.

"We do our best to keep going, to keep going and to keep the morale high. And we keep going. We are getting a lot of help from volunteers, people that we absolutely don't know and stop to help us. Now they are emptying the mud that was in the basement. It's really a beautiful act of generosity."

And there's help coming from the Belgian government and the European Union, as officials tour the devastation.

URSULA VAN DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Now important is you've seen the destruction, important is the reconstruction. This is -- we are in for long haul there. But we stand by the side of people who are concerned in this region and not only this region.

BURNS (voice-over): The Belgian government has earmarked millions for the reconstruction.

But will that help be enough?

Were officials prepared for this disaster?

And will they be in the future?

ALEXANDER DE CROO, BELGIAN PRIME MINISTER: We will have to look at how frequent we think in the future events like this can happen. This is, 200 years ago, something like this happened. But what the future will look like, we will have to do the correct analysis.

BURNS (voice-over): Analysis not only of what should have been done but of what impact climate change will have.

BURNS: Authorities say it will take weeks to get basic services back in operation for towns like this one and much longer for everything else. But what lurks in the back of everyone's mind here is when will be the next time -- Chris Burns, CNN, Pepinster, Belgium.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(WEATHER REPORT)

HOLMES: Turning now to the U.S., dry thunderstorms and high temperatures this weekend are raising the risk of even more wildfires. Already, there are at least 70 large fires across 11 states, mostly in the west of the country.

The National Interagency Fire Center says the wildfires have burned more than 1 million acres. Oregon has seen the most land charred by far, thanks, in part, to the largest fire in the U.S. this year, the Bootleg Fire, which started earlier this month.

[00:10:00]

HOLMES: And it's spreading at an average rate of 1,000 acres an hour. It's only 22 percent contained.

The British health department says every adult in the U.K. has been offered at least one vaccine dose by now. And that is ahead of schedule. It means every adult will have the chance to receive both doses by September.

Nearly 82 million vaccines have been administered across the U.K. and nearly 68 percent of British adults have received both shots. This comes just as England is set to lift all its remaining social distancing restrictions. It's not all good news. Phil Black explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.K.'s daily confirmed cases continues to climb dramatically. Almost 55,000 were reported Saturday. Among those to test positive recently is the man whose job it is to coordinate efforts against the pandemic here, the U.K. health secretary.

Sajid Javid says he is fully vaccinated and the symptoms are mild and he's isolating at home with family. He has tested positive just as the government is set to embark on an unprecedented experiment in England. From Monday, pandemic restrictions disappear; life, effectively,

unlocked, even while people here are still enduring a surging wave of infections. No other country has sought to restore freedoms in these circumstances. And there is tremendous uncertainty.

The government's own scientific advisers say they don't know just how this is likely to play out, because, ultimately, it will come down to the people and how they choose to behave, how cautiously they choose to behave, now that they are no longer being told precisely what to do.

The government hopes widespread vaccination coverage will prevent soaring infections from translating into high numbers of people requiring treatment in hospital. But critics, scientists here and overseas, simply don't buy that. They believe the plan is unethical.

They say the Delta variant is so contagious that, inevitably, vast numbers of people are going to be falling ill in the near future and many of them will be seriously ill. The government has also been warned by its own scientific advisers about potential consequences for the whole world.

They say this move creates the conditions in which an immune-escaped variant is more likely to emerge. They're talking about a mutation of the coronavirus, a new variant, that is better at beating existing vaccines -- Phil Black, CNN, Essex, England.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Cases are also on the rise across the U.S. and health experts are urging people once again to get vaccinated. That's because the overwhelming majority of people who are ending up in hospital or dying are unvaccinated. A little more than 48 percent of the population here in the U.S. is fully vaccinated when you take a look at CDC data.

That means there is a long way to go before hitting so-called herd immunity, which potentially starts at around 70 percent. U.S. vaccination rates have actually barely budged lately and the U.S. President is blaming social media, Facebook in particular, for spreading vaccine misinformation.

He's even accusing them of, quote, "killing people," for not stopping that misinformation. Facebook has responded, the company claiming that, quote, "85 percent of Facebook users in the U.S. have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19."

It also says, quote, "President Biden's goal was for 70 percent of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4th. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed."

The nation's leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, agrees misinformation is a big problem. Here is what he told CNN's Jim Acosta.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: Disinformation and misinformation is really a problem. When we go out into the community and ask people why they don't want to get vaccinated, very often they come back with things that are really just not true.

So that's one of the things that the surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the other day made an appearance at the White House press conference and really stressed the importance of countering misinformation with correct information.

And that's really what we are trying to do, Jim, to get out there with trusted messengers, to get people to understand the facts about vaccine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: And, when you have a virus variant that spreads much more easily on top of disinformation, of course, that's a recipe for disaster. In Los Angeles County, masks are making a comeback. Officials making them mandatory again indoors for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. And less than three hours from now, that begins actually.

[00:15:00]

HOLMES: And that's because COVID-19 cases have gone up 300 percent compared to July the 4th.

And Canada is making up for lost time with its vaccination campaign. The country now has more than 48 percent of its total population fully vaccinated. That's according to Johns Hopkins University. Paula Newton explains how things are improving for the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: For Canada, this is quite a milestone, given the slow start it got off to. Both Canadians and Americans now at over 48 percent fully vaccinated.

But if you go back to a split screen even in May, Canada had very few people fully vaccinated. It was trying to get as many doses as possible, first doses, into as many people as possible.

And the reason there has been a lot less vaccine hesitancy here was what was, unfortunately in the spring and late winter, a punishing third wave of the virus, hospitalizations were through the roof. They had to transfer patients from hospital to hospital just to make sure they could get care.

Really, cities like Toronto, in fact, have only now emerged from lockdown. Canada is still being quite cautious. They say they will open borders to fully vaccinated international visitors, possibly throughout August and September. But they say that, because of the Delta variant, they will continue to be quite cautious -- Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now as to where the coronavirus came from, the lab leak theory may be gaining a bit of traction. CNN learned on Friday some senior White House officials now find it at least credible that the virus could have, accidentally, escaped from a lab in Wuhan.

But President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA's vaccine advisory committee, had this to say to Jim Acosta.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: I, together with many highly qualified vaccinologists, including -- and virologists, I mean, including a recent paper by 21 internationally renowned virologists and evolutionary biologists from all over the world, indicate that, although we keep an open mind, that it is possible that it could be, as they say, a lab leak, that the most likely explanation is a natural evolution from an animal reservoir to a human.

DR. PAUL OFFIT, U.S. FDA VACCINE ADVISER: I am with Dr. Fauci. I think the chance that this was created by laboratory workers, that it was engineered, is zero. There is a wonderful podcast called "This Week in Virology" with Vince Racaniello.

And he has, over the last few weeks, had a series of virologists on, who have analyzed this virus, as virologists do, and came to the conclusion that the fact that this was engineered by people is zero. I mean, this is -- was engineered by Mother Nature. Only she could be this evil, actually, to come up with a virus this awful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: President Biden has given the intelligence community 90 days to figure out how the coronavirus came to be. That 90 days wraps up in just a few weeks.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

HOLMES: And, after the break, some breaking news, two Olympic athletes in Tokyo's Olympic Village have, now, tested positive for COVID-19. Selina Wang, joining me to discuss, after the break.

Also the 2020 games mark the second time that this Tokyo man has lost his home to an Olympic stadium.

Was it worth it?

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:20:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING) HOLMES: Welcome back. In Washington, D.C., Saturday night's Major League Baseball game between the Nationals and the Padres was disrupted in the sixth inning by a shooting outside the stadium. Police say at least three people were wounded but there did not appear to be an ongoing threat. Here's how it looked from the seats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. The action is outside of the stadium.

HOLMES (voice-over): Nervous fans were later given the all clear to safely leave the stadium. The game was suspended until Sunday afternoon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: With five days to go until the opening ceremonies in Tokyo, two Olympic athletes, at the village, have now tested positive for COVID-19. Olympic organizers, not revealing the names or nationalities. It comes as coronavirus cases are surging in Tokyo and raises the fears that the games could turn into a superspreader event.

The executive board for the International Olympic Committee is meeting right now and likely discussing all of that. We expect to hear more from the IOC president, Thomas Bach, in the coming hours, when he hosts a news conference.

Selina Wang, joining me from Tokyo, to talk about this.

Let's start with these reports from athletes testing positive. Not a good sign, not a good thing but not entirely unsurprising, in some ways.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Michael, we have a growing number of COVID-19 cases, linked to these Tokyo games, now up to 55, Michael, with athletes, officials and contractors testing positive.

You mentioned two athletes testing positive in the Olympic Village. Just today, we also got news that a third Olympic athlete, who resides outside of the Olympic Village, has also tested positive.

Now I took a visit to the Olympic Village. Normally, it is a place for partying and celebration. This year, it is very much an antisocial, socially distanced bubble, very much sanitized. These athletes are asked to dine alone.

But there are issues that medical experts have raised with the way this Olympic Village is designed. For instance, many athletes are asked to share rooms. I visited a room that was just about 110 square meters, with eight athletes, in that room.

Meanwhile, Michael, the mood here on the ground not surprisingly is tepid. You have Tokyo in a state of emergency, alcohol banned from restaurants and the city just reporting 1,400 daily cases. That is the highest level since the end of January. So the big question is, as we see these Olympic participants arriving

en masse, can organizers, can Tokyo, keep these cases isolated and prevent them from turning into superspreader events?

HOLMES: Yes, on another note, of course, with the Olympics, atmosphere is everything.

What are the plans to, perhaps, improve on, that given the empty stadiums?

WANG: Yes, even though spectators are banned, the stadiums will be mostly empty. The IOC officials say they will still try to create this crowdlike atmosphere with fake noises and fake clapping. They say they will use previously recorded cheers from previous Olympics and play them in the stands.

They're also going to be showing these live cheer maps of people watching these games virtually from all around the world. Fans can also submit short selfie videos submit them to organizers, and they will be played in the stands.

But it will be a major challenge to create that type of feeling, at a time like this. The IOC chief Thomas Bach, also admitting that there is a lot of skepticism towards the games in Japan. But he said that the hopes that the sentiment, the mood, will turn once the games begin.

Now Michael, that is still a possibility and there is still a chance that people here could become optimistic about these games, once we start to see these events and games, begin on television. But really, it all hinges on how the COVID-19 situation develops.

HOLMES: Absolutely, Selina, thank you so much, Selina Wang in Tokyo for us.

[00:25:00]

HOLMES: The long journey leading up to the Olympics riddled with problems, as we know from the global pandemic, of course. But delays and protests as well. But the disappointment runs even deeper for one man, whose home was uprooted for the massive Olympic stadium and for another man, who spent thousands for tickets he won't be able to use.

CNN's Will Ripley, following both of those stories.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Japan's Olympic stadium, a symbol of the troubled Tokyo games. And for Kohei Jinno, a reminder of the home he lost. Jinno got an eviction notice in 2013 when Japan won the 2020 bid, a year of national triumph and personal loss.

Around 200 families, mostly senior citizens, evicted; their housing complex demolished five years ago, replaced by Tokyo's multibillion- dollar 68,000 seat showpiece, a bitter pill made worse because it happened before. KOHEI JINNO, TOKYO RESIDENT: Oh, I was born about there.

RIPLEY: That stop sign?

JINNO: Yes.

RIPLEY (voice-over): He points to a stop sign, where his childhood home used to be. It was also torn down to build Tokyo's 1964 Olympic stadium, rising from the ashes of World War II.

"The first Olympics was during the reconstruction period. We were happy to cooperate," he says. "But this time we were treated without compassion."

Jinno thought it was too soon for Japan to host another Olympics. And that was before the pandemic.

RIPLEY: The stadium that cost him his home will sit virtually empty during the games, the first spectator ban in Olympic history. Tokyo is under a fourth COVID-19 state of emergency.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Cases surging, vaccination rates low; a recent poll shows nearly eight in 10 Japanese don't want the games to go ahead.

Kazunori Takishima calls it mass hysteria. A self-described super fan, he's been to every Olympics since Torino in 2006.

He says, "The decision to ban spectator suspect based on emotion, not science."

Takishima has 197 reasons to be angry. That's how many tickets he bought for Tokyo 2020, spending nearly $40,000. The spectator ban crushing his dream of a world record for attendance.

"To be honest, all I have now is sadness," he says.

RIPLEY: Looks like a storm coming.

KAZUNORI TAKISHIMA, TOKYO RESIDENT: Yes, it looks very sad.

RIPLEY (voice-over): As Takishima talks about his heartbreak, the skies open up.

"It's raining right now," he said, "the God of the Olympics is angry. I think it's a sign. It's not too late to allow spectators."

An Olympic dream about as distant as a sunny day -- Will Ripley, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Cuba cracks down on protesters who held the largest anti- government rallies in decades. And, for the first time, we get an idea about how many people are being detained. We have all of that and more, after the break. (MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I am Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Anti-government protesters in Cuba are getting support on the streets of Washington. Hundreds of people rallying outside the White House and the Cuban embassy on Saturday. CNN affiliate WSBN says many of them were Cuban Americans, who traveled from across the U.S. to support fellow Cubans, who held the largest anti-government rallies in decades last weekend across Cuba.

Since then, Human Rights Watch says more than 400 people have been detained on the island. The number includes Cubans who went missing, as the government cracked down on the protesters.

Cuban officials are silent on how many people have been arrested. But they say some detained protesters are being released. CNN has not independently confirmed that claim nor the number of detained. But in Havana, the government held its own political show of force. Patrick Oppmann with that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Cuban government on Saturday staged a massive demonstration, the largest we've seen since the pandemic. It was billed a revolutionary reaffirmation. Tens of thousands of government supporters took part in it.

And it seemed like it was a direct response to President Joe Biden's comments, criticisms of the Cuban government, calling Cuba a failed state, saying that Communism was not an ideology that worked.

And his offer to restore the internet here after the Cuban government took it down, in large part, following massive anti-government protests that we've seen in the last week. Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel took part. He was the main speaker. Also on hand was the former Cuban leader, Raul Castro, obviously showing his continued support, even though he has retired.

Miguel Diaz-Canel says that the world had been lied to and that Cuban police had not beat up protesters. But of course, hundreds, if not thousands of videos now on social media paint a very different picture.

And CNN has seen in our own coverage, going out and covering these protests, people, Cubans being forcibly arrested simply for saying they won't liberty or a change in government -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now the wife of Haiti's assassinated president returned to the island on Saturday in preparation for his funeral. The first lady, Martine Moise, was injured in the attack that killed her husband and has been recuperating in the U.S. at a Miami hospital.

Acting prime minister Claude Joseph greeted her at the airport in Port-au-Prince. The funeral for Jovenel Moise is set for Friday.

The assassination of Moise left Haiti without a fully functioning government and elections are not scheduled until late September. On Saturday, international diplomats based in Haiti called on the designated prime minister, Ariel Henry, to form a government and organize elections as quickly as possible.

Moise had picked Henry to become prime minister but Henry was never sworn in. Claude Joseph has been an acting prime minister in the interim.

Barack Obama calling on Congress to protect child immigrants. The former U.S. President taking to Twitter after a federal judge declared the DACA program illegal.

It stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and began during the Obama administration. The program creates an opportunity for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to stay, without any fear of being deported. CNN's Joe Johns with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The judge in Texas essentially invalidated DACA. He said it was against the law, because Congress never signed off on it with legislation; also because it never went through the federal rulemaking process.

[00:35:00]

JOHNS: But he postponed any enforcement of the case until it came up through the appeals process.

Now the President of the United States for his part put out a statement on Saturday, saying he was deeply disappointed with the ruling, also indicating the administration would appeal the case and would put DACA through a rulemaking process. But he indicated, in his view, Congress does need to act.

Former president Barack Obama also weighed in, essentially saying the same thing on Twitter. It was during his administration that DACA was first introduced.

It was just about one year and one month ago that the United States Supreme Court threw out the Trump era challenges to DACA. Now hundreds of thousands of people inside the United States are once again in limbo about their status -- Joe Johns, CNN, at the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: The Afghan government resumed peace talks with the Taliban on Saturday in Qatar. Both sides expressed hope for peace, although the fighting has been escalating all across Afghanistan. Negotiators are expected to talk again on Sunday.

Meanwhile, officials in Afghanistan say about 12,000 families in a northern province have fled heavy fighting. And the U.N. estimates more than 2,000 people in Kandahar have been displaced this month.

Sources tell CNN U.S. intelligence assessments warned the Taliban is advancing at an accelerated pace ahead of the pullout of foreign troops in September.

Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, why mistrust of Myanmar's ruling junta may be fueling the country's deepening COVID crisis. We'll be right back.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

HOLMES: A COVID crisis is unfolding in Myanmar, fueled in part by February's military coup. The country has seen record-breaking numbers of new cases and deaths in recent weeks. And experts say the actual numbers are likely much higher, after the junta takeover crippled the nation's health care system. CNN's Vedika Sud with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Myanmar's junta doesn't care much for human lives. It's proven that, day in, day out, since it seized power five months ago, targeting and killing hundreds of democracy protesters and detaining thousands more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since February the 1st, we haven't had any reason to trust in them.

SUD (voice-over): The army takeover pitted Myanmar's health system as the pandemic raged. Doctors and nurses left their jobs to join the underground democracy movement. Health workers, not spared from state violence. Now COVID is surging across the country. Lines of coffins surround crematoriums, like this one in the capital, Yangon.

[00:40:00]

THOMAS ANDREWS, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON MYANMAR: This is a complete catastrophe. The entire health system is in shambles. The number of people being infected is just going through the roof and no one trusts this junta to provide information or health care or vaccines that they need to confront this pandemic.

SUD (voice-over): This man asked us to hide his identity for the fear of the junta. He is one of thousands of people in Myanmar, who have demanded a return of Aung San Suu Kyi's election-winning National League for Democracy. Now nine of his family are sick with COVID-19, including a grandparent in his 90s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): The regime is in complete denial, in criminal denial about the scale of the crisis. Before the coup, the health care system we had wasn't perfect but at least we knew that they were accountable to the people.

SUD (voice-over): In largest city Yangon, desperate people line up for oxygen, a surge in cases plain to see, despite the junta's failure to adequately count cases, let alone manage them.

The smattering of tests that the crippled health care system is capable of conducting show one-third of patients positive for COVID- 19. Residents have resorted to trying to fill their own oxygen cylinders or desperately scouring social media to locate supplies.

Volunteers, like this woman, say the junta is looking on, as its people run out of breath.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): There were some people who died because I couldn't get oxygen in time.

SUD (voice-over): She works throughout the day, picking up oxygen from suppliers and delivering it to those who need it most. She says she receives 5-6 requests per hour. She's able to help 5-6 people a day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): People are not able to be treated by proper doctors, they just want an oxygen supply, which is the only answer for them. So without oxygen, they will surely die.

SUD (voice-over): In the days just before the coup, Myanmar had begun one of Southeast Asia's earliest COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. But inoculations faltered after the junta seized power, as residents refused to cooperate with military authorities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): I would rather allow myself to contract COVID-19 than have their vaccine.

SUD (voice-over): In the meantime, the ministry of health is appealing for volunteers to work in understaffed state-run hospitals. And many fear coming out of hiding at all -- Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: The family of an American journalist detained in Myanmar is raising new concerns about his health amid the outbreak. Danny Fenster has been locked up for nearly two months after being arrested on incitement charges. He is facing up to three more years behind bars.

And now, Danny's family says they are concerned he may have contracted COVID while in prison.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Bryan Fenster is Danny's brother and he joins me now from Detroit. Thanks for doing so. I know it's a tough time for the family. Your

brother is in this notorious prison in Yangon, a place not known we should say for adherence to public health standards. Myanmar is struggling with the coronavirus.

What do you know about the status of Danny's health?

BRYAN FENSTER, DANNY'S BROTHER: Well, you know, we had a call with him last week, the first time my parents got to talk to him, which was just unbelievable to witness. But almost immediately, we were kind of taken aback because he explained he had COVID symptoms.

He was feeling better at the time. We were really looking forward to talking to him this week. That did not happen.

So of course, we don't know much. He had a virtual hearing this past week and he told his lawyer that he did have COVID. So -- and we just found this out today. There is an article in the Associated Press. So we are shell-shocked but not surprised, given that he is in a place where he can't outrun this virus.

HOLMES: Absolutely.

Have you found a decrease in communication, a drop in the ability to communicate, since the COVID surge?

FENSTER: Yes. We found out a few days ago that the country was going to essentially be on lockdown from the end of this week through next week. So we didn't get that call this week we were looking so forward to. We are most likely not going to get a call next week, either. And we are just devastated.

HOLMES: Understandably, for the families, this has been a real emotional roller coaster for everyone.

Where is everyone now emotionally nearly two months into Danny's imprisonment?

I can't imagine how difficult it's been.

FENSTER: It's terrible. You know, I keep telling people, it's like I'm -- we are walking in a desert.

[00:45:00]

FENSTER: It's 110 degrees out and there is no one around. Concrete, the heat is piling up and there are vultures just kind of -- sorry to be graphic -- just taking chunks out of us, you know. Every day, it gets harder and harder.

I've been doing more of these interviews just to kind of give my parents a break, because they are exhausted. They're extremely emotional and extremely frustrated.

HOLMES: I'm curious, have you heard or has the family heard from President Biden directly? I mean, what do you want him to do?

FENSTER: No. No. We have not heard from anyone from the administration. We want him to take action here. It's 55, going on 56 days too long.

HOLMES: And the thing is, too, he is a journalist.

What's the benefit for Myanmar to be keeping him at all?

FENSTER: We don't know. We don't know. Again, going on 56 days, there is still no charge, there's still no evidence that has been presented. These hearings are happening every two weeks and we are just in agony, because we get little glimpses of hope. Well, maybe this is it, this is it. But then we hear again there will be another hearing.

HOLMES: All right, we will be keeping our eye on it and keeping this situation in the public eye. Bryan, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

FENSTER: Thank you. We appreciate you listening still, thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of our lives, as you all know. In some ways, children are bearing the brunt of that. The U.N. says nearly 23 million children around the world missed their routine vaccinations last year and that's making them vulnerable to other illnesses. Kim Brunhuber explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Breathing heavily and hooked up to tubes, these children aren't victims of COVID-19 but another disease that can be fatal that's almost entirely preventable: measles.

Although the risk of COVID to children is relatively low, the U.N. cautions that they're at risk of contracting other diseases, because of pandemic-related disruptions to immunization campaigns.

Globally, more than 22 million children missed their first dose of the measles vaccine last year. That's 3 million more than the year before. Up to 17 million children likely didn't receive a single dose of any childhood vaccine in 2020.

And nearly 23 million children across the world missed out on their routine vaccinations last year due to pandemic-related lockdowns, the highest number in more than a decade.

Pandemic restrictions largely cut off access to health services and immunization outreach. Funding shortfalls, vaccine misinformation and instability in some parts of the world has added to the troubling picture of low vaccination rates.

As countries begin to ease their COVID-19 restrictions, the gap in global vaccination coverage has set the stage for what one World Health Organization official said could be the perfect storm.

DR. KATE O'BRIEN, IMMUNIZATION DIRECTOR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: As we go from 2020, where we did see actually a period of social engagements, that were interventions in themselves for reducing transmission of these vaccine-preventable diseases, in 2021, we have potentially a perfect storm about to happen.

And we don't want to get to that perfect storm, to be ringing the alarm bell. We're ringing it now.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Backsliding of childhood vaccinations across the globe has stoked an increase of easily preventable but devastating diseases, including polio and measles.

The World Health Organization report finds many children who didn't receive a single dose of the DTP vaccine, which is one of the first shots a child gets, are from 10 countries, led by Nigeria and India.

DR. EPHREM LEMANGO, CHIEF OF IMMUNIZATION, UNICEF: Most of these children that missed their first dose of vaccine live in communities that affected by conflict and crisis, live in communities that are underserved, premature (ph) in places and they live in informal slum settings, particularly urban poor areas.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, global childhood vaccination progress had stalled at around 85 percent for several years. But UNICEF's executive director says the pandemic has made a bad situation worse -- Kim Brunhuber, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Just terrible, isn't it?

Now restaurants, across London, buzzing once again. But while the demand is there, the staff is not. Coming up, what's behind the worker shortage. We'll be right back.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:50:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

HOLMES: Restaurants across London back in business after long closures due to COVID-19. But while their pandemic problems are starting to ease, the industry is facing new challenges. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Food not made at home or delivered in a box but chef-developed, expertly prepared and beautifully plated, is back. After more than a year of closures and restrictions, London's restaurants are buzzing again. From his acclaimed restaurant, NOPI, chef Yotam Ottolenghi told us it's about bringing people together.

YOTAM OTTOLENGHI, RESTAURANTEUR: As someone who serves food for a living, not doing it feels so terrible and unnatural.

ABDELAZIZ: The author of 11 cookbooks told us lockdown forced him to change and innovate.

OTTOLENGHI: This is where all the magic happens. There is an immense flexibility and a hospitality. People who think on their feet, act on their feet. So as an industry, we move really quickly from serving people on sites to deliveries and takeout.

ABDELAZIZ: Head chef David Bravo said he used his time at home to get creative.

DAVID BRAVO, HEAD CHEF, NOPI: Having all this time, we were just kind of thinking of new dishes, new recipes. What we can do with leaks or what we can do with carrots, using them in different forms.

ABDELAZIZ: But while people are eager to finally dine out, the industry cannot find the human resources needed to serve them.

OTTOLENGHI: We're struggling to hire on all fronts. We put an ad out for kitchen porter and we have very few candidates applying.

ABDELAZIZ: A third of venues reopened without adequate staffing, according to one survey. Post-Brexit immigration rules and the sense of instability makes recruitment and retention more difficult.

General manager Pierre Malouf told us many of his friends and colleagues have quit their jobs.

PIERRE MALOUF, GENERAL MANAGER, NOPI: It feels very sad. A couple of times on the bus to work, I did have a little cry, because I think you -- we didn't get a chance to say goodbye. It was such a mass exodus. We never got the closure. And now we have to rebuild again.

ABDELAZIZ: Pre-COVID, an estimated half of hospitality workers were E.U. citizens. But over the last year, many have returned to Europe, government data shows. But while the industry struggles to find solutions, consumer demand is soaring.

OTTOLENGHI: The one thing I'm really confident in is that people will want to eat out, because it's one of the few joys, communal joys, that we still have. And restaurants are the perfect places for that.

ABDELAZIZ: Hope that the revival of London's food scene will lead to renaissance and reunion -- Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now the notion that fashion could be a form of art is a polarizing topic in some creative circles. But a young American designer in Paris is hoping to enlighten the debate with a surreal approach.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANIEL ROSEBERRY, COUTURIER: My name is Daniel Roseberry. I am from Dallas, Texas.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

ROSEBERRY (voice-over): I am the first or the only American working as a couturier. I've been in Paris now for two years as the creative director of Maison Schiaparelli, which is a storied house from the '20s and '30s and early '40s.

Elsa Schiaparelli was an Italian and she moved to Paris and founded her maison, here on the Place Vendome. Her archrival was Coco Chanel. And they were in direct competition with each other.

She was the first designer to foster relationships with the artists of her day, Dali, Cocteau, Giacometti. So I would say that the foundation of the house is really rooted in her relationship with art and surrealism.

[00:55:00]

ROSEBERRY (voice-over): I think that being an American gives me a different perspective. And I think there is, always, like this push and pull, where I feel rebelling against couture and all of this kind of classic French-ness behind it but also, a total surrender.

I have never done couture before, I am not classically trained and it required a lot of getting used to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, here for the singing of our national anthem, please welcome Lady Gaga.

ROSEBERRY (voice-over): Dressing Gaga for the inauguration was the honor of a lifetime, in a way. And I loved having her input, too, because, originally, what's she wanted with something all white, a very neutral, almost pure gesture.

But once she saw this sketch, she actually suggested the red and the blue. And that is what we did and it was so much stronger than white.

The audience, as I felt it, at the beginning of the pandemic, was not interested in seeing frivolity. Today, I do feel that there is a shift. Fashion, especially couture, where there are no commercial boundaries, there is no limit on the imagination, it is purely emotional, this, I think, has a huge role in what people want to see right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: All right.

Well, a mortifying moment for one famous filmmaker at Cannes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking French).

Can you tell me which prize is the first prize?

SPIKE LEE, JURY PRESIDENT, CANNES FILM FESTIVAL: Yes, I can.

Mai ouis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cool.

LEE: The film that won the Palme d'Or is "Titane."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait, wait, no.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking French).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking French).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Now the oops moment there was Spike Lee committing a major faux pas by announcing the Palme d'Or winner a little prematurely. He was meant to announce the best actress. French filmmaker Julia Ducournau won for her film, "Titane." She is only the second female director to take home the coveted award.

Lee did apologize for the mistake. And you may recall the massive controversy in 2017 at the Oscars, where, I think it was Warren Beatty initially announced the wrong film, as winner of Best Picture. At least Spike Lee got the name right.

Thank you for spending part of your day with me, I am Michael Holmes, "CONNECTING AFRICA" starts after a short break.