China's daily COVID cases hit record high: health bureau
People wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) walk along a street in Beijing on November 23, 2022, amid a lockdown due to Covid-19 coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by Noel CELIS / AFP)

BEIJING, China (AFP)— China's daily COVID cases have hit a record high since the beginning of the pandemic, official data showed Thursday, as the country works to curb the spread with snap lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions.

China recorded 31,454 domestic cases -- 27,517 without symptoms -- on Wednesday, the National Health Bureau said.

The numbers are relatively small when compared with China's vast population of 1.4 billion.

But under Beijing's strict zero-COVID policy, even tiny outbreaks can shut down entire cities and place contacts of infected patients into strict quarantine.

The unrelenting policy has caused fatigue and resentment among swathes of the population as the pandemic nears its third year, sparking sporadic protests and hitting productivity in the world's second-largest economy.

Wednesday's figures exceed the 29,390 infections recorded in mid-April when megacity Shanghai was under lockdown, with residents struggling to buy food and access medical care.

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