Live COVID-19 updates: Trump, Biden attack each other in dueling town halls over coronavirus, other issues

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BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- The following are the updates on the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden held competing town halls at the same time on Thursday night via different TV networks, attacking each other over issues ranging from the pandemic response, the QAnon conspiracy theory to the Supreme Court expanding.

Answering questions from voters at the ABC town hall in Philadelphia, Biden slammed Trump for downplaying the threat of the coronavirus that has infected more than 8 million people and killed 216,000 in the country as of Thursday.

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CANBERRA -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a plan to repatriate tens of thousands of citizens stranded overseas amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the plan announced on Friday afternoon the Howard Springs facility southeast of Darwin in the Northern Territory (NT) will be used to quarantine 5,000 travellers returning from Britain, India and South Africa over the next five to six months.

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QINGDAO -- Qingdao, a coastal city in east China's Shandong Province, has completed a citywide nucleic acid testing covering all its 11 million residents starting Monday, after a new cluster of local COVID-19 infections emerged.

As of 8 a.m. Friday, over 10.16 million of the collected samples had been tested, and results showed no new positive cases, Xue Qingguo, Qingdao's deputy mayor told a press conference, adding that the results of the remaining samples will be released by 6 p.m.

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COPENHAGEN -- Europe should "gradually escalate" targeted measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the World Health Organization's Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, said at a virtual press conference here on Thursday.

He presented troubling figures on the evolving epidemiological situation in Europe. According to Kluge, COVID-19 is now the "fifth leading cause of deaths and the bar of 1,000 deaths per day has now been reached." Enditem

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