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Hong Kong lawmakers test positive for Covid after photo with Xi

#Hong #Kong #lawmakers #test #positive #Covid #photo

A Hong Kong lawmaker who posed for a group photo with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the head of state’s visit to the financial center this week confirmed on Sunday that he has since tested positive for coronavirus.

Xi visited Hong Kong amid tight security to mark the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain, on his first trip outside of mainland China since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Steven Ho, a 42-year-old member of Hong Kong’s main pro-Beijing party who sits in the city’s rubber stamp legislature, was one of about 100 officials granted close contact with Xi for a photo op Thursday afternoon.

According to photos released by the government, Ho was two rows directly behind Xi.

Lawmakers tested negative on the first day of Xi’s visit on Thursday and returned an unsafe test on Friday, he said.

He did not take part in any events on Friday after the uncertain test result, he said in a message on social media.

“The July 1st sample was one of extremely low infectivity and was classified as ‘unsafe,’ but for reasons of public safety, I did not attend the events that day,” Ho wrote.

Ho was the second member of the DAB party to test positive around Xi’s visit.

Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s sole representative on Beijing’s top legislative body, tested positive on Thursday and was absent from all events.

China is the only major economy still taking a zero-Covid approach to eliminating outbreaks as soon as they occur, using emergency lockdowns and mass testing.

Xi has not left China for nearly 900 days and the vast country’s borders have largely been sealed off to most outsiders.

Hong Kong is aiming for a lighter version of zero-Covid but has maintained many travel and gathering restrictions throughout the pandemic.

Extraordinarily strict rules were imposed to ensure that both the coronavirus and political opposition were out of Xi’s orbit during his trip to the city, where a pro-democracy movement has been crushed since major protests three years ago.

Hundreds of government officials, lawmakers and other invited guests were forced into an anti-Covid “closed-loop” regime that included limiting their social contacts, conducting daily PCR tests and checking into a quarantine hotel in the days leading up to the visit comprised.

During the visit, parts of the city were cordoned off, prominent dissidents were closely monitored by the police, and several journalists were banned from reporting on the official events.

Nine arrests were made by the city’s national security police in the week before Xi’s visit, and at least two arrests were made on Friday.

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