China on Wednesday reported over 20,000 new Covid-19 cases, the highest ever daily infection tally in the country since the start of the pandemic in 2019, reported AFP.

Shanghai – China’s most populous city with 2.5 crore citizens who are now in lockdown – is at the epicentre of the spread of the virus, accounting for over 80% of the national tally. On Wednesday, Shanghai recorded 311 symptomatic cases, and 16,766 asymptomatic cases, according to Bloomberg.

The northeastern province of Jilin, which has been in lockdown since mid-March, recorded 973 symptomatic cases and 1,798 asymptomatic cases.

The surge in cases in the country is driven by the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November.

This comes in spite of Beijing’s strict “zero tolerance” policy for the disease that enforces strict lockdowns, mass testing and travel bans.

Shanghai has been under a two-stage lockdown since March 28. The administration has asked residents to consistently test themselves for the infection.

China on April 3 had sent thousands of healthcare workers accompanied by the military into Shanghai to mass test the city’s residents for the coronavirus disease. The People’s Liberation Army had dispatched over 2,000 medical personnel. Over 10,000 healthcare workers also arrived from other provinces to amp up testing in Shanghai.

Despite most of the cases being asymptomatic, citizens are not permitted to self-quarantine. Children who test positive are also separated from their parents.

Overall, China recorded 20,472 new infections on Wednesday, with no new deaths.

Shortage of essentials

Reports have said that the economy has been hurt by the strict virus containment measures. The tourism and services sector has been impacted.

Residents are also facing scarcity of fresh food.

Shanghai was in a “race against time” to contain the outbreak, Wu Qianyu, an official with the city’s health commission, told Reuters on Wednesday.

Chinese authorities are working hard to resolve any “bottlenecks” so that residents can get access to essentials, said Liu Min, vice-head of Shanghai’s commerce commission, according to Reuters.

Emergency supply stations will be set up in and around the city for vegetable and fruit supplies. Meanwhile, food and other necessities will be shipped to Shanghai from other provinces, Liu added.

Liu noted that the 11,000 delivery riders can get back to work if they test negative since home delivery of vegetables and fruits has been a big challenge for the country.

With home delivery through official channels becoming increasingly difficult, residents are resorting to other means, like using the application ‘WeChat’ to try to source essentials, added the report.

Meanwhile, India reported 1,086 new Covid cases on Wednesday, bringing the overall tally to 4,30,30,925 cases, reported the Union Health Ministry.

There have been 71 deaths due to the coronavirus, taking the death toll to 5,21,487. The recovery rate remained at 98.76 per cent. The cumulative vaccination doses administered so far have exceeded 185.04 crores.