Shanghai's medical system is "on the verge of crashing" amid a coronavirus outbreak, Chinese newspaper Global Times reported on Thursday, citing an anonymous national health official.
The number of ill people will continue to climb in the coming days and then drop after all cases are rounded up and strict health measures are put in place, the expert said.
It will be a "very difficult task for Shanghai" to push down the number of cases and test the whole city by Monday, the official said.
Since Monday, millions of people in the city's south and east have been under lockdown. The measures are due to be lifted early on Friday, when a lockdown will be imposed for four days in the older party of the city, west of the Hangpu River. The entire population will be tested twice.
Shanghai accounted for around 20% of the country's 1,800 full-blown Covid-19 cases and about 80% of the 6,600 cases without symptoms detected on Wednesday.
China is currently suffering its worst coronavirus outbreak in two years thanks to the arrival of the Omicron variant. The numbers are low compared to many other countries, but China is trying to stamp out all cases under its zero-Covid policy.
Expand testing capacity
Shanghai's party leader, Li Qiang, said the authorities needed to expand testing capacities and press ahead with the construction of isolation facilities.
A quarantine facility with 15,000 beds is soon due to open for ill people with mild symptoms or asymptomatic cases at the Pudong International Exhibition Centre in Shanghai's east.
The city of 26 million has counted around 20,000 cases this month.