New lockdowns from China to Europe as coronavirus trials stumble

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  • Countries in Europe are facing new lockdowns in the second wave of the coronavirus.
  • Vaccine programmes have been paused as participants became ill.
  • China plans to test an entire city of nine million.


As Europe imposed new restrictions to try to stall a surging second wave of the novel coronavirus, hopes for vaccines to rapidly provide relief suffered a blow on Tuesday with the suspension of two clinical trials in the United States.

LIVE | All the latest coronavirus and lockdown updates

China meanwhile rushed to test an entire city of nine million within days after a minor coronavirus outbreak in the sprawling country, a far cry from the struggle in Europe to tackle surging infections with tough new steps including partial lockdowns.

The virus is still spreading rapidly worldwide, with over one million deaths and 37 million infections. Many nations that suppressed their first outbreaks now face a second wave.

Hopes for a rapid vaccine rollout suffered a setback as US pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly said it had suspended the Phase 3 trial of its antibody treatment over an unspecified incident, the second in less than 24 hours after Johnson & Johnson ran into a similar problem.

In Europe, the Netherlands imposed a "partial lockdown" to curb one of the region's worst coronavirus surges, with all bars, cafés and restaurants to close, and non-medical face coverings mandatory in all indoor spaces for people aged over 13.

Entire city tested

In Britain, Labour opposition leader Keir Starmer called for a two to three week "circuit break" lockdown to slow the rates, saying the government had "lost control" of the outbreak having ignored stringent measures suggested by scientific experts on 21 September.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce tighter restrictions and faster testing in a prime-time TV interview late on Wednesday, with some media speculating Paris and other cities could face evening curfews.

Meanwhile China - where Covid-19 first emerged late last year - launched a drive to test all residents of Qingdao after a handful of cases were detected on Sunday.

More than four million samples had been collected and 1.9 million results returned as of Tuesday afternoon, Qingdao authorities said, adding that no new cases had been found beyond already confirmed infections.

Chinese officials intend to test the entire city - around 9.4 million people - by Thursday.

In scenes contrasting with the fumbled testing efforts elsewhere, health workers in protective clothing swiftly set up tents and residents queued up to provide samples.

As the rest of Europe struggled to contain the disease, Russia also reported its highest-ever number of daily virus deaths, at 244, and a record number of new cases at almost 14 000.

Italy imposed new, tougher rules to control a resurgence, including an end to parties, amateur football matches and snacking at bars at night.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki became the latest high-profile figure to go into quarantine after coming into contact with an infected person.

Cristiano Ronaldo tests positive

And Portugal's football federation said star striker Cristiano Ronaldo had tested positive for the virus.

In opposition to lockdowns and social distancing, some politicians have proposed letting the coronavirus circulate in the population to build up "herd immunity" - where so much of the population has been infected there are insufficient new victims for the virus to jump to.

But the World Health Organisation has dismissed such plans as "ethically problematic" and requiring mass vaccinations to work.

Furthermore, study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal indicated that exposure to the virus may not guarantee future immunity - and the second infection could come with even more severe symptoms.

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