China reported 31,444 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, the highest ever since the pandemic broke out in late 2019, reported the Associated Press, citing the country’s National Health Commission.

Several cities across China have imposed lockdowns and other restrictions to curb the spread of the infection. On Sunday, the authorities had reported China’s first Covid-19 death in six months, pushing the toll to 5,232.

On Monday, authorities in Guangzhou province suspended access to its Baiyun district which is home to 37 lakh residents. In some areas of Shijiazhuang, residents of the city with a population of 1.1 crore, were told to stay home while mass testing was conducted, reported AP.

Nearly 66 lakh citizens in the eight districts of Zhengzhou have been told to stay home for five days from Thursday. The local administration has also ordered daily mass testing to curb the further spread of virus.

The recent restrictions have also taken a toll on output at factories including the world’s biggest iPhone plant at Zhengzhou where violent clashes erupted between workers and security personnel on Wednesday, reported Reuters. The protests broke out at the Foxconn factory due to claims of overdue pay and frustration over severe Covid-19 restrictions.

Nomura analysts estimate that more than one-fifth of China’s total Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, is under lockdown, reported Reuters. The bank has also lowered China’s GDP growth forecast for next year to 4.0% from 4.3%.

In April, authorities in Shanghai had imposed a complete lockdown in the financial city as it became the epicentre of the Covid-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant. The lockdown had led to anger among citizens as the curbs impacted the supply of food and other essential items.

“Shanghai-style full lockdowns could be avoided, but they might be replaced by more frequent partial lockdowns in a rising number of cities due to surging Covid case numbers,” Nomura analysts wrote, reported Reuters.

China’s ruling Communist Party continues to follow “zero-Covid” strategy that aims to isolate every case and eliminate the virus entirely to prevent overwhelming of healthcare systems.