An elderly woman receives a throat swab for a COVID-19 test at a swab collection site in Beijing. AFP
The draconian movement curbs on Shanghai, an economic and financial hub, have caused frustration among its 25 million residents and triggered rare protests over issues such as access to food and medical care as well as loss of income.
While some people have been let out for light and air in recent weeks, residents for the most part say they still cannot leave their housing compounds.
Shanghai cases have fallen for eight straight days and the city says its outbreak is under effective control, allowing it to shut some of the makeshift hospitals it raced to build as case numbers ballooned.
Shanghai officials postponed the "gaokao" university entrance exam for city students by a month.
But authorities have also indicated that a full easing is still far off and warn against complacency to stick to China's zero-COVID goal.
In a Saturday announcement underscoring that expectation, Shanghai officials postponed the "gaokao" university entrance exam for city students by a month. The last time that happened was in 2020, during the initial virus outbreak.
The city's top Communist Party official, Li Qiang, a close ally of President Xi Jinping, told a Friday government meeting that it was "necessary to issue military orders at all levels, and take more resolute and powerful actions to overcome the great war and great tests," according to an official statement.
The number of infections in Shanghai outside areas under lockdown — a gauge of whether the city can further reopen — fell to 18 on Friday from 23 the day before. Total new cases declined slightly to around 4,000, data released on Saturday showed.
Shanghai is also building thousands of permanent PCR testing stations, in line with other cities, as China looks to make regular testing a feature of everyday life.