BEIJING: China's leaders staged a triumphant ceremony to celebrate beating the coronavirus on Tuesday as billions of people around the world still suffer the fallout from the pandemic and the global death toll nears 900,000.
The upbeat mood in Beijing comes as concerns grow about a resurgence of Covid-19 across Europe, with France tightening restrictions, cases in Britain spiking and schools resuming around the region.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has tested positive for Covid-19, prompting French Prime Minister Jean Castex to take a test, officials said, after the pair shared the same car to follow a stage of the cycling's premier sporting event at the weekend.
Worldwide infections to date now stand at more than 27 million and over 890,000 people have died from the disease, with the pandemic showing no sign of peaking. But in China the virus has been all but banished through lockdowns and travel restrictions earlier in the year that have officials touting the nation as a coronavirus success story.
President Xi Jinping said China had passed "an extraordinary and historic test" during an awards ceremony for medical professionals decorated with bugle calls and applause.
"We quickly achieved initial success in the people's war against the coronavirus," Xi said. "We are leading the world in economic recovery and in the fight against Covid-19."
The nation's propaganda machine has been attempting to seize the narrative surrounding the pandemic, reframing the episode as an example of the agility and organisation of the Communist leadership.
Beijing is also touting progress on its vaccines as a sign of global leadership and resilience.
China put its homegrown Covid-19 vaccines on display for the first time at a Beijing trade fair this week and authorities hope the jabs will be approved for use by year-end.
The vaccines are among nearly 10 worldwide to enter phase 3 trials, typically the last step ahead of regulatory approval, as countries race to stub out an illness that continues to ravage large parts of the globe.
Spain has become the first country in Western Europe to pass half a million infections. The nation had largely gained control over its outbreak but cases have surged since restrictions were removed at the end of June. In Morocco, the government shut all schools and imposed a lockdown on Casablanca on the day classes were supposed to resume after cases surged in the city.
In England, officials fiddled with quarantine rules again, imposing curbs on travellers from seven Greek islands popular with holidaymakers, after Britain at the weekend registered a level of infection not seen since late May.