During his first trip outside of mainland China since the beginning of the pandemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping was pictured with a pro-Beijing Hong Kong lawmaker who said he later tested positive for COVID-19.
Steve Ho, a member of 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 25-year anniversary of Hong Kong being returned to China.
Ho was pictured a few rows behind Xi and everyone in the photo wore a mask. While Ho tested negative Thursday, the lawmaker said he received an “uncertain” result the following day. Ho then tested positive on Saturday, according to Reuters.
“The sample on June 30 came back negative. The July 1 sample was classified as uncertain, containing a low viral load with an extremely low risk of transmission,” Ho wrote on social media, according to South China Morning Post. “But to protect public safety, I did not participate in the activities on July 1.”
Ho was part of the around 80 lawmakers who were photographed with Xi Thursday and also took part in a meet-and-greet session, according to the Financial Times.
“I did not 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 nodded at me. He was very amiable.”
Hundreds of Hong Kong lawmakers followed a strict COVID protocol ahead of Xi’s visit to minimize the risk of COVID exposure. They were only allowed to ride in a private car between home and work, and had to stay in a quarantine hotel the night ahead of Xi’s arrival, according to CNN. They also took daily tests.
Xi did not stay in Hong Kong overnight Thursday. He traveled back to China on Thursday evening and returned to the city Friday to attend the inauguration of the new Chief Executive John Lee, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Prior to his Hong Kong trip Xi visited Wuhan on Tuesday, where he continued to defend the “zero COVID” policy as the most “economic and effective” strategy for his country, according to Bloomberg.
This comes as eastern China is seeing a rise in COVID infections. Two counties in the Anhui province are already under lockdown, while Macau could also face a citywide lockdown if case numbers continue to climb.