China's daily Covid cases have climbed to the highest level since the pandemic began, official data showed Thursday, despite the government persisting with a zero-tolerance approach involving gruelling lockdowns and travel restrictions.
The numbers are relatively small when compared with China's vast population of 1.4 billion and the caseloads seen in Western countries at the height of the pandemic.
The country recorded 31,454 domestic cases -- 27,517 without symptoms -- on Wednesday, the National Health Bureau said.
The unrelenting zero-Covid push has caused fatigue and resentment among swathes of the population as the pandemic's third anniversary approaches, sparking sporadic protests and hitting productivity in the world's second-largest economy.
On Wednesday, violent protests erupted at Foxconn's vast iPhone factory in central China, with video showing dozens of hazmat-clad personnel wielding batons and chasing employees.
The latest figures exceed the 29,390 infections recorded in mid-April when megacity Shanghai was under lockdown, with residents struggling to buy food and access medical care.
Several cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing have tightened Covid restrictions as cases surge.
"The path to reopening may be slow, costly and bumpy," Ting Lu, chief China economist at Nomura, said in a note.
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