As China continue to wage a grim battle to curb the spread of the Omicron variant in Beijing and Shanghai, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday asked officials to adhere to the much-criticised dynamic zero-COVID policy, saying that the epidemic prevention reached a "critical stage." Xi presided over the ruling Communist Party’s high-power Politburo meeting in Beijing at which the Covid-19 epidemic situation was analysed, the official media reported.

He stressed that epidemic prevention and control is at a "critical stage" and called for efforts to adhere to the dynamic zero-COVID policy, which drew criticism at home and abroad for its strict implementation with lockdowns, extended quarantine and numerous mass testing.

The review meeting was held as both Beijing and Shanghai reeled under heavy measures to bring down the Omicron cases.

China will surely win the war against Covid-19 with its scientific and effective epidemic control policy that will stand the test of time, the meeting concluded.

The meeting said China has since March withstood the most challenging COVID-19 control test since the anti-epidemic battle of Wuhan, and has secured progress with nationwide concerted efforts.

As the pandemic is still raging across the world and the coronavirus keeps mutating, there is a great deal of uncertainty concerning how the pandemic will develop, according to the meeting, which warned against any slackening in the control efforts.

"Relaxation will undoubtedly lead to massive numbers of infections, critical cases and deaths, seriously impacting economic and social development and people's lives and health," the meeting said.

The meeting stressed the importance of unswervingly adhering to the dynamic zero-Covid policy and resolutely fighting any attempts to distort, question or dismiss China's anti-Covid policy, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, Shanghai continued to be under lockdown, Beijing was under semi-lockdown conditions though officials relaxed restrictions of movement in several communities in the city as cases abated.

While, Beijing for the second-day held mass testing of its 21 million people on Thursday, the sixth in the last two weeks.

China so far spent about USD 257 billion on testing alone since last year, costing about 1.5 per cent of its GDP, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

The National Health Commission announced on Thursday that 5,058 Covid-19 cases were reported in the country that included 360 positive cases of which 261 were in Shanghai.

Apart from Shanghai, 12 other provincial-level regions on the mainland saw new local Covid-19 cases, including 42 in Beijing and 14 in Henan.

In all, as many as 12,755 people are undergoing treatment in hospitals for Covid, the commission said.

Wednesday saw 13 deaths from Covid-19, all in Shanghai, bringing the mainland's total Covid-19 deaths to 5,141 since the coronavirus broke out in Wuhan at the end of 2019.