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CNN International: Alexei Navalny's Condition?; Iraq's Drug Crisis; India COVID Cases Rising; Tiger Woods Crash Investigation; Brazil's COVID Crisis. Aired 2-2:35p ET

Aired April 7, 2021 - 14:00   ET


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello. I'm Richard Quest in New York.

We're awaiting the trial of Derek Chauvin to resume. The former Minneapolis police officer is on trial for killing George Floyd last summer when he was kneeling on his neck.

Before the lunch break, the jury heard testimony from a special agent who investigated Chauvin's actions during the fatal incident. We will take you back to the trial when it resumes in the next 20 minutes, half-an-hour.


We're getting new details on the February car crash that left the golf legend Tiger Woods recovering from some very serious leg injuries. In a press conference over the last hour, the Los Angeles county sheriff said Woods was traveling at unsafe speeds, about 65 kilometers per hour over the speed limit, but was not impaired, nor distracted.

The captain in charge said it is believed Woods mistakenly hit the gas, instead of the brake, prior to the impact.


CAPT. JAMES POWERS, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: A second reading of this event data recorder is the acceleration pedal percentage, which is the pressure applied to the accelerator pedal during the collision.

This measurement was at 99 percent at the area of impact -- at all the areas of impact of the collision. The data recorder also recorded braking. There was no evidence of braking throughout this collision. It is speculated and believed that Tiger Woods inadvertently hit the accelerator, instead of the brake pedal, cause that 99 percent rating on the accelerator pedal.


QUEST: Kyung Lah is in Los Angeles.

So, there, we have some extremely important details about what happened. I suppose the important thing is that there is no question of him being incapacitated or impaired through drink or likewise during the incident.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that they simply didn't seek a warrant, Richard, for that.

And the reason why that the investigators here did not seek a warrant is because the first responding officers, when they were speaking and engaging with Woods, they did not feel that there was probable cause to request a search warrant. So, without the probable cause, they have no standing to request that search warrant.

So, there was no blood withdrawn. There was no Breathalyzer given, especially given the state of his injuries. He was taking to the hospital instead. So there was no search warrant on what there might be, impairment.

Also, the other question that a lot of people had were, was there any texting? Was he on the telephone. And what investigators here say is that, in this final report, they simply are discounting that as something that would be associated with the crash, if it even happened, that they did not even go there, that would not be the primary cause of this crash.

So, what is that primary cause? That cause is speed. I'm going to talk in miles per hour here, because that's what law enforcement used, saying that it is 84 to 87 miles per hour is the believed speed that Woods was traveling at in this stretch of roadway.

The posted speed limit is 45 miles per hour. So, that's almost double in miles per hour that he was traveling. When he finally did hit that last tree, when the car was mangled, as we have seen -- it was resting right near a tree -- he hit that tree at 75 miles per hour, so an extraordinary rate of speed.

So, at this point also, Richard, you played a bit of sound where he didn't -- he didn't hit the brake, that there was no braking involved here. And one thing that investigators here can't be sure of, but that they do suspect, is that, in a moment of panic, he may have hit that accelerator instead of hitting the brake.

And then that was simply an error made as the crash was occurring -- Richard.

QUEST: Is Woods likely to face any criminal charges, dangerous driving, anything else? Or is this one of these things where all he's done is visited the consequences upon himself?

LAH: Yes, zero.

That exact question was asked. What number of citations will he get? What type of court proceedings? And we were simply told zero, and that this is not preferential treatment, because a lot of people are going to simply jump to that because of his fame, because of his wealth. Was that preferential treatment?

What investigators here are saying is, because this was an accident where there were no witnesses, there were no injuries other than to the driver, that no law enforcement saw this accident occur, that all they have is the data off the black box, essentially, the event data recorder on the vehicle, that they are looking at this as a solo accident, simply an accident, and they will not be citing Tiger Woods.

QUEST: Kyung Lah in Los Angeles, we thank you.

Global COVID-19 cases have risen for the sixth consecutive week. According to the World Health Organization, more than four million new cases have been reported over the last week, and more than 71,000 new deaths. Southeast Asia in the Western Pacific region saw the largest increases in cases.

Meanwhile, Chile's president has announced the country's postponing elections over a recent surge in cases. Local, regional and constitutional assembly elections will be pushed back by five weeks to mid-May. Chile's reported more than a million COVID cases as of Tuesday and nearly 24,000 related deaths overall.


Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro is brushing off accusations that his response to the COVID-19 amounts to genocide, even as the country's death toll soared to almost 337,000 people. Brazil's recorded nearly 4,200 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, the highest count yet.

The number was also higher than any other nation's.

Matt Rivers is in Mexico City.

President Bolsonaro has the ability, apparently, to brush off whatever bad news or however grim the statistics that come out of Brazil.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that's something that he's done, Richard, throughout this pandemic. He consistently manages to turn himself into the victim, despite the fact that no country right now in the entire world is at a worse moment in terms of this coronavirus pandemic.

Bolsonaro specifically talking about what you mentioned there, Richard, being accused of being genocidal. Yesterday, he said -- quote -- "They called me homophobic, racist, fascist, a torturer. And now what is it now? Now I am someone who kills a lot of people, genocidal. Now I'm genocidal."

He's obviously being sarcastic there. But there is a reason why critics are labeling him genocidal, and it is because he has done very little to combat what is unquestionably the worst days of this pandemic for Brazil so far.

There is no coordinated federal response to all this still. We're more than a year into this pandemic, and Bolsonaro continually says he's anti-lockdown, he's more concerned about the economy. Apparently, there is -- at no point will he prioritize people's lives, actual human life, over these lockdowns.

The scary part, Richard, is that, despite the fact that there was a record number of deaths set in a single day during the day yesterday in Brazil, that number will likely go higher. I have spoken to several epidemiologists who say it could be as soon as next week that you could be recording more than 5,000 deaths in a single day from the coronavirus.

That would be more than the single-day record worldwide, which, of course, is held in the United States. You could also see Brazil set the seven-day average for coronavirus deaths. You could see them set that record as well.

Unfortunately, when you look at ICU capacity across the country, people are going to keep dying in Brazil. And yet you continue to have a horrific federal government response in Brazil that what experts say is directly leading to the loss of life.

QUEST: And the rest of the region, Chile delaying elections, a bad situation still in Mexico. Is there any -- in the area you cover, Matt, is there any indication of a turnaround?

RIVERS: I mean, depending on where you look, you can find bright spots. It is a large region, Latin America.

But I think the overall story here continues to be Richard, that the main population centers, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, these countries continue to go through very, very difficult times. And they're -- the way out, of course, is vaccines, right? And there just aren't vaccines available throughout this region.

And as the lack of vaccines, that issue becomes even more glaring when you're talking about these variants that are spreading, the Brazil P.1 variant, which basically evolved because of this unmitigated spread in Brazil. That's now gone to many other countries in this region. It's more contagious by something between two and three times more than previous strains.

There's a lot of concern that it's affecting young people more and more. So, there's this dual thing happening here, Richard, where you have these variants spreading because of a lack of control of this virus in Brazil, and that is affecting other countries in the region, even more so because these vaccination campaigns simply are moving just extremely slowly.

QUEST: Matt Rivers, who's in Mexico City.

Matt, thank you.

Still come, COVID numbers are spiking in India, as the country sets a new record. An update from the region and around the globe. It's just coming your way.

This is CNN. You're in the NEWSROOM.



QUEST: India set a new record for daily COVID-19 cases. It follows large crowds gathering for a major religious festival.

CNN's Vedika Sud of reports from New Delhi.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: India has reported over 115,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the highest single-day rise since the beginning of the pandemic.

Now, according to India's Health Ministry, the spread of infection is higher than the first wave last year. Following the state of Maharashtra, the union territory of Delhi has also imposed a night curfew until month-end.

However, movement of essential services will be permitted. One of the world's largest religious festivals, the Kumbh Mela, is being held in the northern state of Uttarakhand in India, where tens of millions are expected to converge through the month.

The state has reported an average of 530 new cases between April 1 and 6, which is significantly higher than the cases reported in the last week of March. India has the third highest confirmed total cases of COVID-19 after the U.S. and Brazil, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University.

Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.


QUEST: We're still very much in the midst of fighting the virus itself.

But we're also continually learning more details of the after-effects. A new study shows over a third of COVID-19 patients who have recovered from the virus are diagnosed with a neurological or psychological condition within six months of the infection. It's the largest study of its kind so far.

Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is with me now.

And, of course, I do have a sort of a vested interest in it, since I do remember -- well, I did have exactly some neurological and psychological difficulties about three months afterwards, the long COVID fog that descended upon me, which made life very difficult, but I recovered from.

So what's this study telling us what is happening?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Richard, this is one of the unfortunate signature features of this virus, is that it does seem to be associated with neurological issues, not just during the acute infection phase, but also afterwards, as you described it, in the long COVID long-hauler phase of things.

So let's take a look at what this study found, as you said, largest one of its kind. It found that 34 percent of folks were diagnosed with a neurological or psychological condition within six months of infection. Anxiety was found in 17 percent of those folks and mood disorders in 14 percent.

So, you can kind of think of it in two ways, that some of these folks, it was probably, maybe to some extent, the anxiety of having this horrible illness, but it was also there's an organic component. It is known that COVID basically attacks the brain. It can cause encephalitis. It can cause all sorts of neurological issues.

It's not like, say, the flu in that way. And what folks are experiencing are the after-effects of all of that -- Richard.

QUEST: I remember one thing the neurologist said to me was that, although the brain can look normal, you have no idea really of what's going on within it that creates this sort of anxiety or these neurological difficulties, and that the relationship between that and the number of blood clots that people have experienced as a result of COVID is something that's still to be explored.

COHEN: That's right.

That's research that they still need to do. They also need to look at the effects of hypoxia. I mean, as we all know, COVID is a disease where people have lower levels of oxygen than they need, what effect is that have on the brain?

There are so many mysteries about this disease that they still need to figure out. And to your point, Richard, when there are problems, let's say, in the lungs, you can image those lungs. You can -- there are there all sorts of things that you can do with other bodily organs that you can't do with the brain.

The brain is a far bigger mystery than our other organs.

QUEST: Elizabeth, thank you very much.

COHEN: Thanks.

QUEST: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

More in a moment.



QUEST: The COVID crisis in Iraq has left the shattered country more vulnerable than ever to drug abuse and addiction.

Iraq reported 7,300 new cases on Tuesday -- coronavirus cases, that is -- the highest daily number. The virus is overshadowing the growing scourge of drug abuse. Some dealers are turning to a women to help them smuggle drugs in from neighboring countries.

CNN's Arwa Damon interviewed Iraqis at the center of this crisis. And we have agreed to change some of their names and hide their faces to protect their identity.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tentacles of a different form of warfare are leeching into Iraqi society.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Little by little, I would say to myself, what is wrong with my son?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I have been doing drugs, crystal meth.

DAMON: Far too many are susceptible, when joy, happiness, a vision for the future is blurred away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Life in this country is miserable. The guys said, this is better. It will take you somewhere else.

DAMON: Officials say the drug networks here have grown more complex over the last few years and, as of late, recruiting more women.

Thuraya, her husband and the man she refers to as their friend smuggled, sold, and used crystal meth.

THURAYA, DRUG DEALER (through translator): My husband said: "Let's start dealing."

DAMON: The friend would get it from the Iranian border, from the big dealers, she says.


(on camera): They used her mostly to smuggle their drug stash through checkpoints, because she would just hide it underneath her clothes. And women here tend not to get searched.

THURAYA (through translator): I didn't think. I wasn't afraid, because I was high.

DAMON (voice-over): They were all captured in a house they were selling out of with around $18,000 worth of crystal meth.

Iraq's anti-drug unit, which officials say is undermanned and underfunded, has yet to make what they would consider a significant bust. Their biggest seizures are in the countries south, close to the border with Iran, the main transit point for crystal meth.

The era of COVID-19 has resulted in a surge in demand, General Hamad Hussein (ph) with the anti-drug unit tells us, more unemployment, more frustrated youth idling in the streets, more targets.

The drug dealers will give someone a hit or two for free, General Hussein explains. Once they are hooked, they often start to deal themselves, to finance their own addiction. The unit has intelligence that dealers are active in this market.

(on camera): They have about five or six wanted people in this neighborhood.

(voice-over): General Hussein chats with people, giving them the hot line number for tips -- they get hundreds a day -- and tries to ease some of the distress that exists between the population and the security forces.

He compares the booming drug trade to another face of terrorism.

"The era of traditional warfare with two armies facing each other is over," he says. "The enemies of Iraq are also using drugs to destroy the core of our society, our youth."

The anti-drug department prison in Baghdad's Western District is full. Each cell is meant to hold 30. But there are more than 50 men here, dealers, and addicts. Up until 2016, Khaled says he had steady work as a security contractor. Then it all fell apart. He lost his job, spiraling into depression.

Friends pushed him to try crystal meth.

KHALED, PRISONER (through translator): They insisted, try it, try it. It will help you forget. I was trapped. I couldn't get out.

DAMON: The love of his life left him.

KHALED (through translator): There isn't a single day that I don't think about her and the good days we spent together.

DAMON: Khaled's cell mate, Mahmoud, who agreed to show his face on camera, says he ended up stealing from his elderly mother to fund his crystal meth habit.

MAHMOUD ADNAN, PRISONER (through translator): I would never have thought that I would fall this far.

ENAS KAREEM, ACTIVIST (through translator): "Please, I am begging you help me. I am a user. Please save me from this."

DAMON: Each appeal coming through on Enas' this Facebook page is one more person she hopes she can help recover, one more drug addict she can keep out of prison.

(on camera): This is a message from a teenager in Basra. He writes that he's 15 years old, that he wants treatment, that he wants to get better, but he doesn't know what to do.

(voice-over): Enas, a middle school biology teacher who realizes some of her students were using, is trying to raise awareness about the options that exist for addicts. Many users who want to recover are afraid the authorities will just detain them.

What most don't know is that, if they willingly go to rehab, there are no legal repercussions under Iraqi law.

KAREEM (through translator): There are three paths with drugs, recovery, prison or death. There is no fourth option.

DAMON: The beds at this rehab center are full. The doctors here tell us they have to cycle out patients faster than they would like to. This young man says he used to drive a tuk tuk. One of his passengers offered him crystal meth, and that was it, he was hooked.

(on camera): His parents found him with a gun to his head, because he was having hallucinations that people were coming at him and ordering him to kill himself.

(voice-over): Ahmed was discharged two days ago, but he says he still has cravings. His mother is too afraid to take him back home to Southern Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He went from being a person to a monster.

DAMON: She's scared, scared he will use again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I will kill myself. I can't take it.

DAMON: When high, Ahmed at times would beat her, set things on fire. Crystal meth.

QASIM (through translator): I was going to get married, buy things. I lost it all to the crystal.

DAMON: Crystal meth, he says, made him feel powerful, like there was no limit to what he could achieve, a tantalizing state of mind in a country that has repeatedly shackled its own youth. And now risks losing more of it to addiction.


Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.


QUEST: And when we return: The White House says it's concerned about the condition of Alexei Navalny.

An update on the jailed Russian opposition leader in a moment.


QUEST: The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has tested negative for COVID-19, according to his lawyer.

The jailed Kremlin critic said on Monday he's continuing his hunger strike, despite having a fever and a severe cough. He also says there's a tuberculosis outbreak amongst his prison cell mates. Russia, though, says Navalny won't get any special treatment in

prison. Any health issues will be addressed according to prison policy.

Meanwhile, the human rights group Amnesty International is warning his life may be in danger.


CNN's Matthew Chance with this report:


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From inside this grim penal colony where Alexei Navalny is languishing, reports are emerging of the Russian opposition figure's failing health.

The latest from Navalny, unconfirmed by the authorities, that he is coughing hard, running a high temperature and been moved to a sick ward on the prison grounds.

A group of sympathetic doctors has even gathered at the gates demanding access to the jailed Kremlin critic, who has complained of a tuberculosis outbreak behind bars.

ANASTASIYA VASILYEVA, DOCTOR AND NAVALNY ALLY: I'm in great trouble about his health, about what could happen tomorrow with his health. And I understand very clearly about some symptoms that he has now that it can lead to the very severe condition and even to the death.

CHANCE: But those in power are pushing back on the claims he's at death's door. This closed-circuit television footage purports to show Navalny in his prison dorm after complaining of a bad back and lack of sensitivity in his legs. You can see him walking across the room and chatting to a prison guard, suggesting his poor health may have been exaggerated.

There's also this, broadcast on Russian state media, silent video of Navalny fast asleep in bed, recorded by a prison employee during an inspection. The opposition figure has described being woken every hour by guards, tantamount to torture by sleep deprivation, he says.

There's also been an extraordinary access granted to this woman. Maria Butina is her name, once a high-profile prisoner in U.S. jail after being convicted of conspiracy to be a foreign agent, now a reporter on Russian television, and comparing Navalny's prison conditions with her own.

"You should spend time in an American jail," she screams at him off- camera. "At least here, it's clean," she says.

It was, of course, Navalny who was taken suddenly ill on a flight from Siberia last year, suspected nerve agent poisoning. Amid concerns of neurological damage, the opposition leader, who was jailed after recovering and returning to Russia in January, says he is on hunger strike until he gets proper medical care.

But Russian officials are showing no sign of relenting. Navalny's wife said she just got this letter from the penal colony requesting her husband's passport. Without it, the letter says, he can't be treated in hospital.

Russia's stubborn bureaucracy now threatening the health of its beleaguered opposition leader.

Matthew Chance, CNN, in Pokrov, Russia.


QUEST: And thank you for watching. I'm Richard Quest in New York.

Stay with CNN. Our coverage of the trial of Derek Chauvin continues right now.

This is CNN.