Shanghai has postponed the annual college entrance examination to July, as China’s financial and commercial hub continues to implement strict Covid-19 control measures to contain the latest outbreak. The exams, known as gaokao , will now be conducted from July 7 to 9 – a month behind the original schedule – as students carry on with their online classes because schools remain closed, Shanghai Vice-Mayor Chen Qun said in a press briefing on Saturday. He said entrance exams to middle school in Shanghai have also been delayed for a month to July 18 and 19. “After carefully assessing the current situation amid the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve made the decision to defer the exams after receiving approval from the Ministry of Education,” Chen said. He also indicated that the municipal government would unveil a time frame for reopening schools once the pandemic has been contained. The announcement comes after daily new Covid-19 cases in Shanghai decreased for the 14th consecutive day, down 1.3 per cent to 4,214 over the past 24 hours, according to official data released on Saturday. Symptomatic cases rose to 253 from 245 a day earlier, while 13 patients have died. China reported 4,620 positive cases on Saturday, with most cases in Shanghai. Meanwhile, 53 positive cases were reported in Beijing, which is struggling to contain the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. Chinese high school students who want to enter colleges in the United States or Europe are also affected by the latest Covid-19 disruptions. The College Board, an American non-profit organisation which administers the Advanced Placement exams for postsecondary education in the US, announced on Friday that it has cancelled this year’s AP test in China “given the scale and uncertainty of the situation” on the mainland, according to a report by the Associated Press . In China, gaokao is widely considered to be the most important entrance exam that can make or break a young person’s future. It is also intended to help level the playing field between the country’s rich, providing an opportunity for students from disadvantaged families to gain entry to a top university. Xi says China’s Covid policies will ‘stand the test of time in Shanghai’ “Students are supposed to overcome a series of difficulties in preparing for the exams this year, and a one-month postponement can help them find their best form now that the [Covid-19] outbreak shows signs of stabilising,” said Yan Jinglan, a professor of foreign studies at the East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai. “Those students who can hold their nerves to make better preparations during the next two months will be the winners.” Deferring the exams to a later date reflects the Shanghai government’s strong commitment to keep in check new coronavirus cases, following China’s dynamic zero-Covid-19 policy . All primary and middle schools in Shanghai have been closed since March 12, owing to a resurgence of the Covid-19 outbreak, that required students to shift to online instruction. The mainland’s commercial and financial capital, with about 25 million residents, went into a citywide lockdown on April 1. The municipal government has not yet announces when Covid-19 control measures would be relaxed. Shanghai orders tests, standstill curbs in Jinshan after finding cases As a hub for high-end manufacturing, such as electric vehicles , Shanghai has been ramping up efforts to resume production and reopen its economy. Some 1,000 workers – about 90 per cent of total employees – at the Shanghai plant of lithium-ion battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) have already returned to their posts, according to local media. CATL’s plant is located in the city’s Lingang free-trade zone , where US electric carmaker Tesla ’s GigaFactory is also based. Covid-19 cases in Shanghai have already surpassed 600,000 since the latest outbreak began on March 1. The cumulative death toll increased to 528 since an initial three fatalities were reported on April 18, with most cases involving unvaccinated, elderly patients with underlying ailments. Shanghai has been chasing a societal zero-Covid-19 goal since mid-April. On Friday, the city’s low-risk unguarded areas, known as “precautionary zones”, recorded 18 new cases, down from 23 a day earlier.