Xi Jinping pictured with COVID-positive lawmaker while traveling in Hong Kong

On his first trip outside mainland China since the pandemic began, Chinese President Xi Jinping was pictured with a pro-Beijing lawmaker from Hong Kong who said he later tested positive for COVID-19.

Steve Ho, a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city’s largest pro-China party, was part of a group photo taken with Xi during the Chinese president’s visit to Hong Kong on Thursday.

Xi visited the city to mark the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China.

Ho was pictured a few rows behind Xi and everyone in the photo was wearing a mask. While Ho tested negative on Thursday, lawmakers said they received an “uncertain” result the following day. Ho later tested positive on Saturday, according to Reuters.

“The June 30 sample came back negative. The July 1 sample was classified as uncertain, containing a low viral load with extremely low risk of transmission,” Ho wrote on social media, according to the South China Morning Post. “But to protect public safety, I did not participate in activities on July 1.”

Ho was among about 80 lawmakers who were photographed with Xi on Thursday and also took part in a meet and greet session, according to the Financial Times.

“I didn’t just say ‘Hello President,’ I also said to Xi, ‘Thank you for your hard work, President,'” Ho wrote on social media, according to FT. “He gave me a nod. He was very kind.

Hundreds of Hong Kong lawmakers followed strict COVID protocol ahead of Xi’s visit to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID. According to CNN, they were only allowed to travel in a private car between home and work and had to stay in a quarantine hotel the night before Xi arrived. They also passed daily tests.

Xi did not stay in Hong Kong overnight on Thursday. He returned to China on Thursday evening and returned to the city on Friday to attend the inauguration of new chief executive John Lee, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Ahead of his trip to Hong Kong, Xi visited Wuhan on Tuesday, where he continued to champion the “zero COVID” policy as the most “economical and efficient” strategy for his country, according to Bloomberg.

It comes as eastern China is seeing a surge in COVID infections. Two counties in Anhui province are already under lockdown, while Macau could also face a citywide lockdown if the number of cases continues to rise.


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