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Hong Kong (CNN)China's southern metropolis of Guangzhou has locked down more than 5 million residents, as authorities rush to stamp out a widening Covid outbreak and avoid activating the kind of citywide lockdown that devastated Shanghai earlier this year.
Guangzhou reported 3,007 local infections on Wednesday, accounting for over one third of new cases across China, which is experiencing a six-month high in infections nationwide.
The city of 19 million has become the epicenter of China's latest Covid outbreak, logging more than 1,000 new cases -- a relatively high figure by the country's zero-Covid standards -- for five straight days.
As the world moves away from the pandemic, China still insists on using snap lockdowns, mass testing, extensive contact-tracing and quarantines to stamp out infections as soon as they emerge. The zero-tolerance approach has faced increasing challenge from the highly transmissible Omicron variant, and its heavy economic and social costs have drawn mounting public backlash.
The ongoing outbreak is the worst since the start of the pandemic to have hit Guangzhou. The city is the capital of Guangdong province, which is a major economic powerhouse for China and a global manufacturing hub.
Most cases in Guangzhou have been centered in Haizhu district -- a mostly residential urban district of 1.8 million people on the southern bank of the Pearl River. Haizhu was locked down last Saturday, with residents told not to leave home unless necessary and all public transport -- from buses to subways -- suspended. The lockdown was initially supposed to last for three days, but has since been extended to Friday.
Two more districts -- with a combined population of 3.8 mi