China has recorded more than 13,000 new COVID-19 infections as local authorities say they have found a new subtype of the Omicron variant.
The new subvariant was found in a patient with mild COVID-19 symptoms in a city 70 kilometres from Shanghai, the Global Times reported.
The subtype evolved from the BA.1.1 branch of the omicron variant, the news outlet said, citing sequencing data from local health authorities.
The subvariant has not been reported in any other parts of China or globally.
Another COVID-19 infection was reported by authorities in Dalian city, northern China, which did not match any previously found in the country, Bloomberg reported, quoting a statement made by the municipal government on its WeChat account.
China is one of the last countries to be aiming for elimination of the virus and it is struggling.
While small by the standards of some countries, the daily increases are some of the largest since the virus was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019.
Shanghai with its 26 million people last week began a two-stage lockdown, with residents of the eastern Pudong section supposed to be allowed to leave their homes Friday, while their neighbours in the western Puxi section underwent their own four-day isolation period.
Despite that assurance, millions in Pudong continue to be confined to their homes amid complaints over food deliveries and the availability of medications and health services.
Notices delivered to residents said they were required to self-test for COVID-19 daily and take precautions including wearing masks at home and avoiding contact with family members — measures not widely enforced since the early days of the pandemic.
While Wuhan endured a 76-day lockdown in 2020 with relatively little complaint, Shanghai residents — many of whom were in isolation even before last week’s lockdown began — appear to be growing increasingly fed up with the measures and methods being used to enforce them.
Why the South China Sea dispute matters
Although coverage in China’s entirely state-controlled media remains overwhelmingly positive, complaints have been appearing online, including in the form of videos and sound recordings purporting to show heavy-handed practices by officials and volunteers and alleging that sound medical advice has been ignored in favour of political expediency.