The daily lives and businesses of Shanghai residents should not be neglected by authorities as they battle a surge in Omicron cases in China’s bustling east coast metropolis, prominent epidemiologist Zhang Wenhong said on Thursday. In a post on Weibo, the director of Huashan Hospital’s department of infectious diseases called for authorities to ensure residents’ livelihoods, keep medical channels open and protect private businesses as the city works to keep the outbreak under control. In future, maintaining a normal life should be stressed as much as the “dynamic zero-Covid” policy, Zhang said. Shanghai is currently battling its worst outbreak since the coronavirus pandemic emerged in 2020. As tough control measures were put into place, there were complaints from the public that patients could not get timely treatment at hospitals and that they were inconvenienced when residential compounds were locked down. “These problems exist and we should not avoid them,” Zhang said. “In the future fight against the epidemic, we must solve these problems one by one. Otherwise, success against the outbreak will mean less.” On Thursday, Shanghai announced four confirmed local cases and 979 asymptomatic local infections. Amid an exponential rise in asymptomatic Omicron cases, Shanghai faced a “difficult battle”, Zhang said. “The number of people infected is more than expected and medical resources have become stressed. Shanghai even launched backup hospitals,” he wrote. Medical teams were busy at new centralised quarantine centres which took in many asymptomatic cases and confirmed cases with mild symptoms, he added. Beijing sends Covid-19 teams to 10 provinces in push to beat Omicron To keep the city and basic economic activities functioning while the outbreak continued, there needed to be policy adjustments backed by data, Zhang said. Shanghai policy required constant screenings, focusing on key areas and cutting off the transmission link. “The turning point in this outbreak has not appeared but we are gradually meeting the criteria for having a turning point,” he said. Shanghai authorities have repeatedly stressed there will be no citywide lockdown, even as the neighbouring city of Suzhou suspended indoor dining and closed gyms and cinemas. Shenzhen has reopened after public transport was suspended for a week and movement in the southern tech hub was restricted. China’s top Covid-19 strategy official Liang Wannian has said the country will only consider adjusting its strict virus response after overall conditions change at home and overseas, including having better tools to fight the virus, the prevalence of a less dangerous strain and the pandemic becoming less serious abroad. However, there have been small adjustments in pandemic policy. For the first time this month rapid antigen tests were approved, with the tests available for anyone to use in early detection, but they are particularly aimed at those in central isolation or at local medical clinics. On Thursday, China logged 2,010 local confirmed cases with most from the northeastern Jilin province, which has been racing for weeks to contain its outbreak. There were also 2,722 local asymptomatic cases across China, including 979 from Shanghai and 791 from Jilin province.