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New lockdowns from China to Europe as virus trials stumble

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 Tuesday with the suspension of two clinical trials in the United States.

China meanwhile rushed to test an entire city of nine million within days after a minor coronavirus outbreak in the sprawling country, and Europe struggled to tackle a new surge of infections.

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, cafes and restaurants to close, and non-medical face coverings mandatory in all indoor spaces for people aged over 13.

In Britain, Labour opposition leader Keir Starmer called for a 2-3 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 September 21.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce tighter restrictions and faster testing in a prime-time TV interview late 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.

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

– ‘Ethically problematic’ –

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.

China Tests Entire City For Virus As Europe Tightens Controls

China rushed Tuesday to test an entire city of nine million people 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, and many nations that suppressed their first outbreaks now face a second wave.

Without a vaccine, governments are wary of allowing the virus to spread unchecked.

More than four million samples had been collected as of Tuesday in the Chinese city of Qingdao More than four million samples had been collected as of Tuesday in the Chinese city of Qingdao Photo: AFP / STR

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.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered pubs to close early to help stem the virus spread Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered pubs to close early to help stem the virus spread Photo: AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS

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

In Europe, governments are battling to curb surges with new controls and increased testing, while trying to avoid the devastating nationwide lockdowns of March and April.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the Netherlands will go into “partial lockdown” from 2000 GMT on Wednesday, with all bars, caf?s and restaurants to close for two weeks at least.

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

Map with number of Covid-19 deaths by country as of October 13 at 1100 GMT Map with number of Covid-19 deaths by country as of October 13 at 1100 GMT Photo: AFP / Simon MALFATTO

Hospitals in Paris will have most of their intensive care beds packed with Covid-19 patients as soon as next week, the system’s chief warned Tuesday.

“It’s inevitable,” Martin Hirsch, the head of the 39 hospitals in Paris and its suburbs, told the Parisien newspaper, estimating beds would reach 70-90% capacity by October 24.

Russia on Tuesday reported its highest-ever number of daily virus deaths, at 244, and a record number of new cases at almost 14,000.

With the pandemic already claiming more than one million lives worldwide, scientists in different nations are rushing to develop vaccines and effective treatments With the pandemic already claiming more than one million lives worldwide, scientists in different nations are rushing to develop vaccines and effective treatments Photo: AFP / Yasin AKGUL

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 on Tuesday became the latest high-profile figure to go into quarantine after coming into contact with a person with Covid-19.

And Portugal’s football federation said star striker Cristiano

China still allowing use of pangolin scales in traditional medicine

The Chinese government continues to allow the use of pangolin scales for traditional medicine despite promises to crack down on a trade that has made them the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world.



Photograph: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

A report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals online sales platforms such as eBay and Taobao continue to advertise pangolin products, while major pharmaceutical companies, including the leading China Beijing Tong Ren Tang Group, offer similar items directly on their websites.

The researchers behind the Smoke and Mirrors report found 221 companies had been licensed to sell items containing pangolin scales, which appeared as an ingredient in 64 different products.

The watchdog group said this revealed major loopholes in China’s regulations that needed to be closed if the government is serious about protecting endangered wildlife.

Pangolin have almost disappeared in China because of a medically unproven belief that a broth containing the scales has medicinal qualities, including helping women who have problems lactating. Over recent decades the circle of slaughter and smuggling has steadily widened to neighbouring nations, then south-east Asia, and now Africa.

An estimated 200,000 pangolins are consumed each year in Asia, of which Chinese traditional medicine is the main driver. The latest world wildlife crime report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says 71% of pangolin scale seizures were destined for China. Vietnam is another major market.

Hopes for change were raised this summer when the Chinese government, which is due to host a global biodiversity summit, announced that pangolin scales had been removed from the official listing of approved ingredients in the traditional pharmacopoeia.

This won international kudos and, along with President Xi Jinping’s announcement of more ambitious cuts to carbon emission, prompted optimism that China was ready to take on an environmental leadership role, in contrast to the negligence of the US under Donald Trump.

But the EIA report reveals huge gaps in Chinese enforcement. The government continues to allow pharmaceutical companies to use pangolin scales from the national stockpile, which is “shrouded in secrecy and never seems to run out”. A related report earlier this year found China’s medical insurance system was still reimbursing users for traditional remedies containing pangolin, which undermined the broader goal of reducing the illegal trade.

“China has taken some half measures but not gone the full way in banning the use of pangolin scales in medicine,” said Chris Hamley, a senior pangolin campaigner at the EIA. “Given the massive illegal trade and weak regulation internally, it is very likely that pharmaceutical companies are using illegal scales. Our report found a whole bunch of those.”

He called on the National People’s Congress to close the loopholes when it reviews China’s wildlife protection law. Companies and their European investors could also make declarations not to use pangolin scales, which can be replaced by other herbal products. The international community could also use the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna

China Qingdao city says it tested 3m people for COVID-19 in 2 days

  • The Chinese city of Qingdao says it has tested 3 million people for COVID-19 in just 48 hours.
  • After finding 12 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, health authorities pledged to test all 9 million residents within a week.
  • Qingdao’s reaction shows how seriously China still takes the virus, and the scale of the drive is unheard of in the US and Europe. 
  • Authorities in many US cities and European countries have struggled to roll out comprehensive testing schemes.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Chinese city says it has tested 3 million people for COVID-19 in just 48 hours, the latest example of just how far the US and much of Europe lag behind in terms of testing capability. 

On Sunday, the eastern city of Qingdao announced it would test all 9 million residents after identifying 12 cases of coronavirus linked to a local hospital. Officials said everyone would be tested within five days.

In a Tuesday update, the Municipal Health Commission of Qingdao said none of the 1.1 million tests that had returned so far were positive, according to the Associated Press.

However, China’s National Health Commission said Tuesday that there were six new cases of the virus in Qingdao recorded in the past 24 hours, according to the AP. The reason for the discrepancy is not clear so far.

China effectively rid itself of the coronavirus in August, having recorded its first day without a new locally transmitted case on May 23. 

The news from Qingdao after a dozen new cases shows just how seriously the country is still taking the virus.

Testing 3 million people in 48 hours is a feat that would be unheard of in cities across Europe and North America.

xi jinping china poster

A woman with a protective face mask walks past a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Shanghai, China, on March 12, 2020.

Aly Song/Reuters


Many authorities in US cities, who struggled to roll out comprehensive testing programs during the worst weeks of the outbreak in July, are still failing to do so in the face of another surge in cases this autumn and winter.

“One of the biggest obstacles to containment has been the fact that we don’t have a testing strategy and people don’t know their status,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told Business Insider in August.

“When you look at countries that have been able to contain [the virus], they didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. They tested, traced, and isolated.”

Dr. Carolyn Cannuscio, a social epidemiologist who leads the contact-tracing program at the University of Pennsylvania, also told Business Insider: “We have a broken testing system, and that sets us up for failure in contact tracing because people are waiting so long to get their test results that we have missed a critical period for counseling those people to stay home and avoid infecting others.”

At one point in May the US was testing more people than

China using pangolin scales in traditional medicine despite claiming the contrary, says environment report

China is still allowing the use of pangolin scales in traditional medicine despite pledging to crack down on wildlife trade given concerns that close contact between humans and animals could lead to another devastating pandemic. 

A new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency has found that 221 companies in China remain licensed to sell products using pangolin scales, including leading traditional medicine company Beijing Tong Ren Tang.

Such goods are also being actively advertised and are available to domestic and international consumers via online shopping sites, according to the report.

The watchdog group is urging the Chinese government to close the loopholes that have allowed the pangolin trade to continue. One step the EIA is calling on Beijing to implement is to change the country’s wildlife protection law to fully prohibit the sale or possession of pangolin parts.

“Amid mounting concerns about the role of wildlife trade in causing the coronavirus pandemic, it is critical that the Chinese government ends all legal use of pangolin scales, instead of allowing the multi-billion dollar TCM industry to carry on as usual,” said Chris Hamley, senior pangolin campaigner with EIA.

Source Article

Asia Today: China city says it’s tested 3 million for virus

Authorities in the eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao said they have completed coronavirus tests on more than 3 million people following the country’s first reported local outbreak of the virus in nearly two months

The National Health Commission, however, said Tuesday that at least six new cases of the virus were found in Qingdao in the past 24 hours.

The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear. China’s methods for logging and reporting of virus numbers has been questioned since the pandemic first began late last year in its city of Wuhan.

The National Health Commission numbers released Tuesday reported a total of 30 new virus cases in the previous 24 hours nationwide. It broke down those numbers into 13 cases in which people had symptoms and 17 cases in which they had no symptoms. The total number of locally transmitted cases, both with and without symptoms, was 11, while the rest were listed as imported.

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from coronavirus among 85,591 cases it has reported. It has not provided a running total of asymptomatic cases, believed to number in the thousands.

Qingdao is a major commercial harbor and industrial center known for electronics and the country’s most famous brewery, as well as the home of the Chinese navy’s northern fleet.

China’s last reported local outbreak was in the northwestern city of Urumqi in the far western Xinjiang region, with all cases since then found among those arriving from outside China.

China has relaxed masking and social distancing requirements in the wake of falling case numbers, but has maintained robust testing as it seeks to return the economy to full functioning.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— South Korea has reported 102 new cases of the coronavirus, its first daily increase of more than 100 in six days. The rise is a cause of concern as officials lowered social distancing restrictions this week after

China tests entire city for virus as WHO slams herd immunity idea

China rushed Tuesday to test an entire city of nine million within days after a minor coronavirus outbreak, as the WHO warned that letting the pathogen run free to achieve herd immunity was “scientifically and ethically problematic”.

The virus is still spreading rapidly around the world, with well over 37 million infections, and nations that had suppressed their first outbreaks are now struggling with fresh surges — especially in some parts of Europe.

In the absence of a vaccine, governments are wary of allowing the virus to spread unchecked, with China launching a sweeping drive to test all residents of Qingdao after a handful of cases were detected on Sunday.

“As of 8 am… our city has taken 3.08 million samples for nucleic testing,” the city’s health commission said Tuesday, adding that no new positive samples were found.

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

In scenes contrasting with the fumbled testing efforts of other nations, health workers in protective clothing swiftly set up tents and residents queued deep into Monday night to provide samples.

In opposition to economically painful lockdowns and social distancing, there have been proposals in some countries to let 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 Organization said such plans were unworkable, and required mass vaccinations to work.

“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday, describing the idea as “scientifically and ethically problematic”.

“Allowing a dangerous virus that we don’t fully understand to run free is simply unethical. It’s not an option.”

Further illustrating the challenge, a 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.

– Vaccine setback –

The pandemic has claimed more than one million lives worldwide, and spurred breakneck efforts to develop vaccines and effective treatments.

Some have made it to late-stage clinical testing, but the optimism was dented Monday when Johnson & Johnson announced it had temporarily halted its 60,000-patient trial because of an unexplained illness in one participant.

There are ten firms conducting Phase 3 trials of their candidates globally, including Johnson & Johnson.

The pharma giant has been awarded about $1.45 billion in US funding under Operation Warp Speed, championed by President Donald Trump, who is keen for a political boost ahead of the November election with a coronavirus breakthrough.

Critics have excoriated Trump for his handling of the crisis, with more known infections and deaths in the United States than anywhere else in the world.

Trump was sidelined from the campaign trail for 10 days after he got Covid-19, but returned to the stage Monday.

“I went through it and

Asia Today: China City Says It’s Tested 3 Million for Virus | World News

BEIJING (AP) — Authorities in the eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao said Tuesday that they have completed coronavirus tests on more than 3 million people following the country’s first reported local outbreak of the virus in nearly two months.

The city’s health department said no new positive cases had been found among the more than 1.1 million test results returned thus far. The city said it had a total of 12 cases, six with symptoms and six without, since the new outbreak was first spotted over the weekend at a hospital.

The National Health Commission, however, said Tuesday that at least six new cases of the virus were found in Qingdao in the past 24 hours.

The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear. China’s methods for logging and reporting of virus numbers has been questioned since the pandemic first began late last year in its city of Wuhan.

The National Health Commission numbers released Tuesday reported a total of 30 new virus cases in the previous 24 hours nationwide. It broke down those numbers into 13 cases in which people had symptoms and 17 cases in which they had no symptoms. The total number of locally transmitted cases, both with and without symptoms, was 11, while the rest were listed as imported.

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from coronavirus among 85,591 cases it has reported. It has not provided a running total of asymptomatic cases, believed to number in the thousands.

Authorities in Qingdao have said they plan to test all 9 million people in the city by the end of the week, similar to previous mass testing campaigns in other cities where outbreaks have been detected. Testing began with “close contacts, close contacts of those close contacts and more casual contacts,” gradually expanding to all districts of the city, the health department said.

Qingdao is a major commercial harbor and industrial center known for electronics and the country’s most famous brewery, as well as the home of the Chinese navy’s northern fleet.

China’s last reported local outbreak was in the northwestern city of Urumqi in the far western Xinjiang region, with all cases since then found among those arriving from outside China.

China has relaxed masking and social distancing requirements in the wake of falling case numbers, but has maintained robust testing as it seeks to return the economy to full functioning.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— South Korea has reported 102 new cases of the coronavirus, its first daily increase of more than 100 in six days. The rise is a cause of concern as officials lowered social distancing restrictions this week after concluding that the viral spread was slowing after a spike in mid-August. The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency brought the national totals since the pandemic began to 24,805 infections and 434 deaths. Fifty-eight of the new cases was reported from the Seoul metropolitan area, while 33 of the new cases have

China city says it’s tested 3 million for virus

BEIJING (AP) — Authorities in the eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao said Tuesday that they have completed coronavirus tests on more than 3 million people following the country’s first reported local outbreak of the virus in nearly two months.



People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk across a street during the morning rush hour in Beijing, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)


© Provided by Associated Press
People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk across a street during the morning rush hour in Beijing, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The city’s health department said no new positive cases had been found among the more than 1.1 million test results returned thus far. The city said it had a total of 12 cases, six with symptoms and six without, since the new outbreak was first spotted over the weekend at a hospital.

The National Health Commission, however, said Tuesday that at least six new cases of the virus were found in Qingdao in the past 24 hours.



A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks by a poster which advises people for social distancing, on a street in Beijing, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)


© Provided by Associated Press
A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks by a poster which advises people for social distancing, on a street in Beijing, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear. China’s methods for logging and reporting of virus numbers has been questioned since the pandemic first began late last year in its city of Wuhan.

The National Health Commission numbers released Tuesday reported a total of 30 new virus cases in the previous 24 hours nationwide. It broke down those numbers into 13 cases in which people had symptoms and 17 cases in which they had no symptoms. The total number of locally transmitted cases, both with and without symptoms, was 11, while the rest were listed as imported.



A man adjusts his face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus on a street during the morning rush hour in Beijing, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)


© Provided by Associated Press
A man adjusts his face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus on a street during the morning rush hour in Beijing, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from coronavirus among 85,591 cases it has reported. It has not provided a running total of asymptomatic cases, believed to number in the thousands.

Authorities in Qingdao have said they plan to test all 9 million people in the city by the end of the week, similar to previous mass testing campaigns in other cities where outbreaks have been detected. Testing began with “close contacts, close contacts of those close contacts and more casual contacts,” gradually expanding to all districts of the city, the health department said.

Qingdao is a major commercial harbor and industrial center known for electronics and the country’s most famous brewery, as well as the home of the Chinese navy’s northern fleet.

China’s last reported local outbreak was in the northwestern city of Urumqi in the far western Xinjiang region, with all cases since then found among those arriving from outside China.



People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk on a street during the morning rush hour in Beijing, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)


© Provided by Associated Press
People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk

China still allowing use of pangolin scales in traditional medicine | Illegal wildlife trade

The Chinese government continues to allow the use of pangolin scales for traditional medicine despite promises to crack down on a trade that has made them the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world.

A report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals online sales platforms such as eBay and Taobao continue to advertise pangolin products, while major pharmaceutical companies, including the leading China Beijing Tong Ren Tang Group, offer similar items directly on their websites.

The researchers behind the Smoke and Mirrors report found 221 companies had been licensed to sell items containing pangolin scales, which appeared as an ingredient in 64 different products.

The watchdog group said this revealed major loopholes in China’s regulations that needed to be closed if the government is serious about protecting endangered wildlife.

Pangolin have almost disappeared in China because of a medically unproven belief that a broth containing the scales has medicinal qualities, including helping women who have problems lactating. Over recent decades the circle of slaughter and smuggling has steadily widened to neighbouring nations, then south-east Asia, and now Africa.

An estimated 200,000 pangolins are consumed each year in Asia, of which Chinese traditional medicine is the main driver. The latest world wildlife crime report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says 71% of pangolin scale seizures were destined for China. Vietnam is another major market.

Hopes for change were raised this summer when the Chinese government, which is due to host a global biodiversity summit, announced that pangolin scales had been removed from the official listing of approved ingredients in the traditional pharmacopoeia.

This won international kudos and, along with President Xi Jinping’s announcement of more ambitious cuts to carbon emission, prompted optimism that China was ready to take on an environmental leadership role, in contrast to the negligence of the US under Donald Trump.

But the EIA report reveals huge gaps in Chinese enforcement. The government continues to allow pharmaceutical companies to use pangolin scales from the national stockpile, which is “shrouded in secrecy and never seems to run out”. A related report earlier this year found China’s medical insurance system was still reimbursing users for traditional remedies containing pangolin, which undermined the broader goal of reducing the illegal trade.

“China has taken some half measures but not gone the full way in banning the use of pangolin scales in medicine,” said Chris Hamley, a senior pangolin campaigner at the EIA. “Given the massive illegal trade and weak regulation internally, it is very likely that pharmaceutical companies are using illegal scales. Our report found a whole bunch of those.”

He called on the National People’s Congress to close the loopholes when it reviews China’s wildlife protection law. Companies and their European investors could also make declarations not to use pangolin scales, which can be replaced by other herbal products. The international community could also use the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) to encourage nations to take tougher action