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Covid-19 cases in China’s largest city, Shanghai, have risen again as millions of people remain isolated at home under a sweeping lockdown.

On Sunday, health officials reported 438 confirmed cases detected in the past 24 hours, along with 7,788 asymptomatic cases. Both figures were up slightly from the previous day.

Although low by some countries’ standards, the number of daily cases is among the highest since the virus was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019.

Shanghai, with its 26 million people, began a two-stage lockdown last week, with residents in the eastern section of Pudong expected to be allowed to leave their homes on Friday, while neighbors in the western section of Puxi were undergone their own four-day period of isolation.

Despite this assurance, millions of people in Pudong continue to be confined to their homes amid complaints about food deliveries and the availability of medicine and health services.

Notices given to residents said they were required to self-test daily for Covid-19 and take precautions, including wearing masks at home and avoiding contact with family members – measures little applied since the first days of the pandemic.

A city official last week apologized in response to complaints about the government’s handling of the lockdown, and a deputy premier made demands for sweeping improvements during a tour of Shanghai on Saturday.

Sun Chunlan, who sits in the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo, called for “resolute and prompt measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Shanghai as soon as possible”, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

However, Sun stressed “steadfast adherence” to China’s tough “zero-Covid” approach, imposing lockdowns, enforced isolation of all suspected cases and mass testing, while acknowledging the social toll and resulting economy.

“It is a daunting task and a huge challenge to fight the omicron variant while maintaining the normal functioning of basic functions in a megacity,” Sun said.

She called for safeguarding key industries and institutions and the functioning of supply and industrial chains in the mall, while ensuring “basic living conditions and normal medical needs for people”.

State media reports indicate that Chinese President Xi Jinping is leading the continuation of the tough approach, while seeking to avoid further damage to the shattered economy and ensure overall stability ahead of a key party congress scheduled for November.

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