BEIJING-China’s daily Covid cases have climbed to the highest since the pandemic began, official data showed Thursday. The numbers are relatively small compared with China’s vast population of 1.4 billion and the caseloads seen in Western countries at the height of the pandemic. But under Beijing’s strict zero-Covid policy, even small outbreaks can shut down entire cities and place contacts of infected patients into strict quarantine.

The country recorded 31,454 domestic cases -- 27,517 without symptoms -- on Wednesday, the National Health Bureau said.

The unrelenting zero-Covid push has caused fatigue and resentment among swathes of the population as the pandemic’s third-anniversary approaches. The latest figures exceed the 29,390 infections recorded in mid-April when the megacity Shanghai was under lockdown, with residents struggling to buy food and access medical care.

Several cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing have tightened Covid restrictions as cases surge.

 The capital now requires a negative PCR test result within 48 hours for those seeking to enter public places such as shopping malls, hotels and government buildings, Beijing authorities said. Schools across the city have moved to online classes.