Seventeen million people in the Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen began their first full day under lock down with restrictions also imposed in Shanghai and other major cities in an effort to extinguish the biggest threat to the nation’s zero-tolerance Covid strategy.

The southern city took the measures on Sunday as authorities battled an Omicron flare-up in factories and neighbourhoods linked to nearby Hong Kong, which is recording scores of daily deaths as the virus runs rampant.

Shenzhen is one of ten areas nationwide to issue some level of stay-at-home order.

Health officials have warned tighter measures could be on their way, as concerns mount over the resilience of China’s “zero-Covid” approach in the face of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.

Authorities reported 2,300 new virus cases nationwide on Monday and almost 3,400 a day earlier, the highest daily figure in two years.

Photos shared with AFP by a Shenzhen resident showed entrances to a housing compound blocked by large plastic barriers, as residents swapped jokes on social media about their rush to grab laptops from offices before the lock down.

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