Shanghai’s education bureau has shut most schools and asked them to hold classes online from Monday as worsening COVID-19 infections hit major cities across China.

The bureau on Saturday also asked kindergartens and childcare centres in the financial hub to shut all in-person classes from Monday, according to an online statement.

The Chinese authorities are worried as around 30,000 cases of fresh coronavirus cases a day are being reported and there are fears that the situation could spin out of control as people return to their rural hometowns during the upcoming New Year’s Day and Lunar New Year celebrations.

Workers at crematoriums in Beijing said they are overwhelmed as Covid-19 cases have surged in China, according to a report by leading news agency AFP.

One of the Beijing crematoriums told AFP that there was a week-long waiting list for a spot due to the surge in the number of deaths in the capital.

Some analysts expect the death toll to soar as draconian controls that had kept the pandemic in check for three years have been lifted after widespread protests in the country.

Chinese authorities have expedited vaccination of its most vulnerable people to tackle the next wave of infections. The World Health Organisation also raised concerns that China’s 1.4 billion population was not adequately vaccinated.