A medical worker conducts COVID-19 tests for residents in Shanghai on Sunday. AP
China's financial hub of Shanghai continued to report a spike in cases, with companies in the country struggling to maintain output amid stringent curbs.
Authorities said they would start lifting lockdown in some areas from Monday, despite reporting more than 25,000 new COVID-19 infections, as they strive to get the city moving again after more than two weeks.
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Some areas are struggling to find food and medicine after spending more than three weeks locked down in China's battle to contain its biggest COVID-19 outbreak since coronavirus was first discovered in central Wuhan in late 2019.
Coronavirus patients leave a makeshift hospital in Shanghai on Saturday. AP
Shanghai has classed residential units into three risk categories, to allow those in areas without positive cases for a stretch of two weeks to engage in "appropriate activity" in their neighbourhoods, city official Gu Honghui said.
"Each district will announce the specific names of the first batch (of communities) divided into the three types, and three subsequent lists will be announced in a timely manner," he told a news briefing.
However, a "dynamic clearance" policy remains Shanghai's "best option", said Liang Wannian, the head of the National Health Commission's working group on COVID-19.
It was misleading to characterise Omicron as "big flu" and lowering China's guard would expose its huge elderly population to risk, especially as the virus mutates, Liang said on a visit to the eastern city.
A patient is disinfected as he leaves a makeshift hospital in Shanghai on Saturday. AP
"If we lie flat, the epidemic would just be a disaster for these kinds of vulnerable people," the People's Daily newspaper of the ruling Communist Party quoted Liang as saying.
The city faces pressure not only to curb local transmissions but halt the spread to other regions, he added.
Shanghai added 25,173 new asymptomatic infections on Sunday, up from 23,937 the previous day, although symptomatic cases edged down to 914 from 1,006.
The snap lockdown, announced by Shanghai's city government on Sunday, will split the city in two roughly along the Huangpu River for nine days to allow for "staggered" testing. It is the biggest COVID-related disruption to hit the city.
That compared with 5,656 new asymptomatic cases and 326 new cases with symptoms reported a day earlier. Shanghai on Sunday announced a two-stage lockdown of the city of 26 million people to carry out COVID-19 testing.
Most will be stuck indoors again until midnight, as they have been for the past two months under a ruthlessly enforced lockdown that has caused income losses, stress and despair to millions struggling to access food or get emergency healthcare.
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