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China daily local Covid-19 cases hit two-year high of over 1,500

A medical worker in protective suit collects a swab from a resident at a makeshift nucleic acid testing site, following cases of the coronavirus disease in Shanghai, China March 11, 2022. [Reuters]

Mainland China reported more than 1,500 new local Covid-19 infections on Saturday, the most since the initial nationwide outbreak at the start of 2020, as the Omicron variant prompts cities across the country to further tighten measures.

China's 588 daily cases were far fewer than those of many other countries, but the growing number could complicate Beijing's "dynamic-clearance" ambition to suppress contagion as quickly as possible.

Of the daily total, 476 were locally transmitted, the National Health Commission said, including five people initially classified as asymptomatic who developed symptoms later.

The country reported 1,048 domestically transmitted asymptomatic infections, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, for Friday, the health authority said, up from 703 a day earlier.

Several cities have taken measures such as cancelling group events, launching rounds of mass testing and cutting face-to-face classes in school.

The northeastern province of Jilin, one of the hardest-hit regions, said it had dismissed the mayor of Jilin city and a district head in the capital, Changchun.

Changchun has ordered all but essential businesses to halt operations and banned its 9 million residents from leaving their residential compounds for non-essential reasons.

Similar measures have been applied in urban areas of Jilin city.

In the financial hub of Shanghai, the Disneyland resort said it would reduce its guest capacity and from Sunday require visitors to present negative nucleic acid test results taken within 24 hours.

The venue for the Canton Fair, China's oldest and biggest trade fair, has been temporarily closed as it was recently visited by a suspected confirmed case, local authorities in Guangzhou said.

A meeting convened by a government task force, which coordinates China's Covid-19 response, said on Friday all localities needed to tighten prevention and control measures and to treat this as their top political task.

"The hard-to-come-by results of prevention and control must not be allowed to go to waste," said state broadcaster CCTV. "Do not relax, resolutely hold to the bottom line that there cannot be a large-scale rebound of the epidemic."

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