A Hong Kong lawmaker photographed earlier this week standing close to Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on Sunday that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
Steve Ho Chun-Yin said he tested negative on Thursday when he attended the photo shoot during the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the transfer of the city from Britain to China.
The pro-Beijing lawmaker was one row behind Xi, the day’s handout photos showed.
Ho said he tested slightly positive on Friday and needed to be retested. According to a statement on his official Facebook page, he did not attend any of the handover celebrations that day. He then tested positive for the virus on Sunday.
The fact that anyone who came into contact with Xi tested positive for the virus will be seen as a blow to the government of Hong Kong, which spent a lot of time and resources preparing for the visit and trying to ensure that the Covid is spread. – remains free.
The border between Hong Kong and mainland China remains largely closed due to the virus.
Prior to his visit, hundreds of officials and lawmakers in Hong Kong were forced into a “closed-loop” system to prevent the virus from spreading. They were only allowed to travel between home and work in a private vehicle and had to spend a night in a quarantine hotel on the eve of the completion anniversary. They were also tested daily.
Xi, who has not traveled outside mainland China since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago, spent Thursday and Friday in Hong Kong. He attended the anniversary events and the swearing-in ceremony for Hong Kong’s new Beijing-appointed leader, former security chief and police officer John Lee.
Concerns over the visit began to emerge last week, even before the trip was officially confirmed, when two top Hong Kong officials tested positive for Covid-19.
China has been isolated from the world in its approach to Covid-19 as it continues to pursue a zero-tolerance approach that critics say is rooted more in political ideology than science.
Xi himself has imposed a strict “zero Covid” policy on China, with state media often reporting that he “personally commanded and made arrangements” for the country’s fight against the pandemic.
Despite high vaccination rates and a reduction in the overall number of cases, the Hong Kong government remains committed to its own “zero Covid” style policy, enforcing strict social distancing and contact tracing measures, as well as strict border restrictions – including a mandatory seven-day hotel quarantine for all arrivals.