Shanghai’s daily new Covid-19 cases rebounded in unguarded low-risk zones after staying clear for two days, a reversal that underscored the challenges in stamping out the highly transmissible Omicron variant, even amid a month-long citywide lockdown. New cases declined for the ninth straight day, dropping 6.8 per cent to 7,333 in the previous 24 hours, according to official data released on Monday. Symptomatic cases fell 7.7 per cent to 727, while the death toll decreased by 16 per cent to 32 from a day earlier. The improving outlook was sullied by 58 new infections found in so-called “precautionary zones” – classified as unguarded areas without a single case in the past 14 days. It galvanised local authorities to tighten their controls again, curbing even the limited movements by residents in those zones. Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, who has been overseeing the anti-pandemic work in Shanghai since April 2, instructed local officials to double down on lockdown controls to identify and quarantine every single case, even though the overall outbreak is showing signs of abating. Cumulative infections in Shanghai rose to 577,000 since March 1. “Shanghai’s battle against the virus is still at a critical stage, so no let-up is acceptable because it could cause a resurgence,” she said during a Sunday meeting with local authorities, according to a report by Xinhua News Agency. “Strengthened efforts must be made to chase the zero-Covid goal.” Elsewhere, mainland China added 7,741 new cases on Sunday, 6.8 per cent fewer than a day earlier. On Monday evening, Beijing Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said 36 new infections had been detected, taking the total to 400 since the Omicron variant surfaced in the capital on April 22. ‘China’s Motown’ is paralysed as Shanghai’s lockdown idles plants Shanghai has been aiming for the so-called “societal zero-Covid” goal since mid-April. That means reducing new cases in low-risk unguarded zones to zero, a situation described as when new cases are limited to people already in quarantine. Gu Honghui, deputy secretary general of Shanghai government, on Sunday urged people living in the “precautionary zones” not to leave their residential compounds and to avoid unnecessary gatherings. The municipal government has yet to announce that it has achieved the societal zero-Covid goal. Over the weekend, the local government allowed another 1,188 manufacturers to resume production under the “closed loop” system, where workers essentially sleep on-site to avoid contact with outsiders. China lockdown: April deliveries at Tesla’s Chinese rivals fall as Shanghai locks down They, along with the first batch of 666 manufacturing companies including Tesla and China’s largest chip maker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp that started operations in mid-April, are still facing a broken supply chain and disrupted logistics after a month of lockdown. The Shanghai Administration of Market Regulation said in a statement on Monday that it would simplify approval procedure to let more restaurants, food processors and dessert shops reopen their businesses soon. Meanwhile, people living in Songjiang, Putuo, Jinshan, Fengxian, Chongming and Qingpu, the six districts that have achieved societal zero-Covid goal, are now allowed to venture out onto the streets and do shopping. Still, local authorities said only a limited number of them would be allowed to move around in limited areas. “We presume the Shanghai government is anxious to get the economy back on track soon, but it has to take a go-slow approach because the pandemic has not been contained yet,” said Ivan Li, a fund manager with Shanghai-based Loyal Wealth Management. “In the next one or two weeks, most of the city’s manufacturers, service providers and retailers will not be able to resume operations.” The number of severe cases jumped to 441 from the 342 reported on Sunday, while the number of patients in critical condition climbed to 93 from 61. Zhao Dandan, deputy director of Shanghai’s health commission, told a press briefing on Monday that 15.14 million residents, or 61 per cent of the city’s population, were living in 55,384 “precautionary zones.” He did not elaborate on how many people could leave their residential compounds to go shopping or work in the “closed loops” arrangement.