Shanghai brought its community Covid-19 infections back to zero, with new cases rising just slightly, keeping the city on track for a full return to normality by the end of June. New infections increased for the second day, nudging up 1.2 per cent to 868 in the past 24 hours, according to data released on Saturday. Symptomatic cases dropped 4.5 per cent to 84, while one patient died, compared to a zero death toll recorded a day earlier. No cases were discovered in low-risk unguarded zones, indicating that the mainland’s commercial and financial capital is able to limit infections to only people in quarantine. Cumulative death toll since April 18 stood at 581, or 0.09 per cent of the 624,000 people who have caught the disease since March 1 in one of China’s largest population centres. “Shanghai has maintained a status of societal zero-Covid, which could give city officials the confidence to enforce its plan to gradually relax lockdowns,” said Meng Tianying, a senior executive at Shanghai-based consultancy Domo Medical. “Anti-pandemic curbs will still be strictly implemented at factories, office buildings and bus and subway stations, as local authorities are trying to stop the virus from leaking to public places.” On Thursday, Shanghai detected three new cases in so-called unguarded zones – areas which had been case-free for 14 days, heightening worries about a resurgence of the outbreak. The cases, the first spotted in communities outside quarantine areas in six days, involved members of a family in Xujing, a town in the Qingpu district in southwestern Shanghai. Zhao Dandan, deputy director of the Shanghai health commission, told a press briefing on Saturday that all the close contacts of the patients tested negative. By Friday, some 560,000 residents, about 2.2 per cent of the city’s 25 million residents, were still living in high-risk “lockdown zones”, which have been totally sealed off to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, Zhao said. Shanghai announced on Monday it would relax the seven-week citywide lockdown, in a phased plan to return businesses and life to normal by late June. A total of 273 bus routes and four of the city’s 19 subway lines will reopen on Sunday. To ease any bottlenecks in screening passengers for the coronavirus, the government would add nucleic acid test results and identity data to the city’s transit passes to enable uninfected commuters to board more quickly. Employees of several state-owned firms have been told to return to work from June 1, when they will be allowed to travel between their homes and offices, according to two company officials. Since mid-April, thousands of key manufacturers, including Tesla and China’s biggest chip maker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp, have received the green light to resume production under a “closed-loop” system that lets workers sleep on site to avoid physical contact with outsiders. Shanghai has yet to decide whether workers at those factories could commute from home starting on June 1, two local government officials said. The city, a gateway for foreign businesses and capital to enter the mainland, aimed for a 5.5 per cent growth in economic output this year, slower than last year’s 8.1 per cent. It is set to miss the target, though, due to the lockdown that began on April 1, which has caused huge losses in industrial production and consumer spending. Last month, Shanghai’s industrial output plunged 61.6 per cent from a year ago to 136.4 billion yuan (US$20.4 billion), the local statistics bureau said on Friday. Consumer spending was valued at 71.7 billion yuan, down 46.3 per cent year on year.