More Chinese cities have been put under tighter COVID controls as the country continues its zero-tolerance approach in the face of record symptomatic cases in Shanghai.
Restrictions have been tightened in cities including Xian, in northwestern China and Suzhou, a city near Shanghai, with unnecessary travel discouraged due to case numbers.
Shanghai, a financial hub of 26 million people at the centre of the country’s recent COVID surge, has faced an extremely strict lockdown for several weeks, with residents banned from leaving home.
Under China's tough rules, even people with asymptomatic or very mild cases must go into quarantine at centralised facilities, where many people have complained about poor conditions.
Employees encouraged to live at work
People are relying on the government to deliver food, but some have been unable to get enough, leading to small-scale protests.
Residents in Xian have been urged to avoid unnecessary trips outside their residential compounds, with employees encouraged to work from home or live at their workplace.
Between 16 April and 19 April, the city will also suspend dining at restaurants, various entertainment and cultural venues and some face-to-face school sessions.
Responding to concerns over potential food shortages, a Xian government official said the announcement did not constitute a lockdown and that the city would not impose one.
While in Suzhou, which has reported more than 500 infections in its latest outbreak, employees have been asked to work from home.
Police in hazmat suits were spotted dispersing protesters against harsh COVID rules in Shanghai.
Food shortages and family separations
China's president, Xi Jinping, said there should be no let-up in virus control and prevention efforts while China would strive to minimise the policy's impact on the economic and social development.
On Saturday, Shanghai reported a record 3,590 symptomatic cases for 15 April, as well as 19,923 asymptomatic cases.
The asymptomatic case number was up slightly from 19,872 cases a day earlier.
Some with COVID in Shanghai are being held at vast exhibition centres with no showers, little privacy and lights kept on 24/7.
The country has adopted a zero-tolerance approach to the virus, but domestic support for the policy has worn thin in recent weeks after food shortages and family separations.
Experts have told Sky News that Shanghai's strict lockdown could also have "massive global effects in the supply chain".
Analysts have said broad supply chain disruptions are likely to lead to delays in shipments from companies including Apple, and to affect country's economic growth rate this year.