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October 12, 2020, 04.07 PM

BEIJING, – Nine million people in China’s Qingdao city will undergo Covid-19 testing as local health authorities react following a tiny outbreak.

Although the Covid-19 virus first emerged in China, the country has found relative success in containing further outbreaks in stark contrast to many parts of the world still afflicted by rolling lockdowns and high case numbers.

As the Chinese port city of Qingdao faces Covid-19 tests, surging infection numbers in Europe are forcing governments to impose another round of containment effort.

Read also: Remdesivir Shortage Hits Europe as Covid-19 Cases Rise

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce a new three-tiered alert system for Covid-19 cases in England.

Meanwhile, German authorities shuttered Berlin bars and clubs after 11pm until the end of October whereas France is believed to be mulling local lockdowns in major cities.

In the United States — the world's worst-affected nation with 7.7 million infections and 214,000 deaths — President Donald Trump controversially declared himself immune after his treatment at a Washington hospital last week.

Read also: Regeneron’s Unapproved Antibody Drug Praised as Trump Recovers

Six cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on Sunday in China's city of Qingdao prompting health officials to announce the country's first mass Covid-19 testing in months for more than 9 million residents.

Five districts will be tested "within three days" and the whole city "within five days", a statement from Qingdao's municipal health commission said.

It is unclear whether all 9.4 million Qingdao residents would be tested as authorities did not give a precise figure.

China has extensive, quick test capabilities and by noon Monday the health commission said more than 277,000 people had already been tested in Qingdao, with nine positive results.

In June large areas of the capital Beijing were subject to mass tests after the city of more than 20 million detected virus cases linked to a food market.

China has bounced back since the virus emerged, closing the country down and hammering the world's second-largest economy.

Hundreds of millions traveled across the country for the "Golden Week" holiday last week as the country edges back to growth, while rapid tests and swift lockdowns have tamped down secondary waves of the virus.

Read also: Golden Week Sends Millions of Chinese on the Move Since Covid-19 Outbreak

The picture elsewhere in the world, however, is strikingly different as countries battle new waves and alarming spikes.

Three-tier system

Britain's leader Boris Johnson will unveil his tiered system on Monday, with northwestern Liverpool expected to be the only city placed in the top category.

Like governments across Europe, Johnson's Conservative cabinet is seeking to balance bringing down the rate of new infections against frustration and concern about the economy.

The new alert system, which will classify all areas as either "medium", "high" or "very high" risk, is an attempt to bring transparency and uniformity to restrictions introduced to combat the spread of the disease.

Read also: Boris Johnson Considering Second Round of Coronavirus Lockdowns in UK

"This is a critical juncture and it is absolutely vital that everyone follows the clear guidance we have set out to help contain the virus," a Downing Street spokesperson said.

Several urban centers in northern England have already been hit with a range of curbs on social life such as a ban on different households mixing, but the south has escaped stricter restrictions for now.

The national death toll from coronavirus in Britain is more than 42,000 — the worst in Europe.

Globally more than 37 million people have now been infected, and at least 1.07 million have died.

Trump claims immunity

Trump's doctors gave the president the all-clear Saturday to return to the campaign trail after he was ruled no longer a coronavirus transmission risk, and on Sunday he said he tested "totally negative".

But he has yet to be declared virus-free, and his immunity claim is unproven.

"It looks like I'm immune for, I don't know, maybe a long time and maybe a short time, it could be a lifetime, nobody really knows, but I'm immune," Trump told Fox News.

Read also: Trump Again Downplays Virus as White House Outbreak Spreads

However, it is not yet clear to what degree contracting Covid-19 confers immunity, with early studies suggesting a few months while newer ones have indicated it could last longer.

Meanwhile, a study by Australia's national science agency found the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 can survive on items such as banknotes and phones for up to 28 days in cool, dark conditions.

Researchers at CSIRO's disease preparedness center tested the longevity of SARS-CoV-2 in the dark at three temperatures, showing survival rates decreased as conditions became hotter. 

(Writer: Sébastien Ricci, with AFP bureaus)


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