BEIJING: China rushed to test an entire city of nine million people within days on Tuesday after a minor coronavirus outbreak, underlining Beijing's capacities as European nations in particular struggle to contain surging new infections.
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. 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 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.
Cases have climbed rapidly in Britain, France, Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic in recent weeks, raising fears that the death rate could rise. 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.
President Emmanuel Macron is widely expected to announce tighter restrictions in a prime-time TV interview Wednesday night, with some media speculating Paris and other cities could face evening curfews. 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.
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 Ronaldo had tested positive for the virus. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose country has the highest death toll in Europe, on Monday had already ordered pubs in Liverpool to shut as part of a new strategy.
He said businesses forced to close would get support from the government, but his focus on shutting hospitality venues sparked anger, as have similar measures elsewhere.