A Hong Kong lawmaker who was standing just behind Chinese President Xi Jinping during a photo op session on June 30 has tested positive for Covid-19 two days after.
Two steps behind
Steven Ho Chun-yin, who is the Legislative Council (LegCo) member for Agriculture and Fisheries, had stood behind the Chinese president, with one standing row of officials between them. Xi was visiting the city on the 25th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from British rule to China.
Ho, like all the other LegCo members who met with Xi that day, had tested negative for Covid-19 on June 30. However, on July 1, he returned an “uncertain” test result, before testing positive for Covid-19 on July 2.
According to RTHK, Ho said his July 1 sample had “extremely low infectivity” and was classified “uncertain”. However “for the sake of public security”, he did not take part in any of the day’s events.
Ho relayed this information via his Facebook account.
Ho is part of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong Party, and has been part of the LegCo since being elected in 2012.
Ho had also initially said that not only was he fortunate to stand behind Xi, he was also able to greet him, and say, “Thank you for your hard work, Mr President.”
Xi was visiting Hong Kong as part of the 25th Anniversary commemorations for the city’s handover to Chinese rule.
It was the first visit out of mainland China that Xi had made since the beginning of the pandemic, and the first time he had visited the city since the 2017 inauguration of Carrie Lam as chief executive.
According to Nikkei, during the 2017 visit, Xi visited for three days and spent the entire time within the city.
However, on this occasion, Xi spent the night in the adjoining city of Shenzhen.
Preparations for the visit had been ongoing for the week prior to his visit, and it was only confirmed relatively late that Xi would attend the commemorations in person.
According to The Wall Street Journal, exacting preparations had been made for Xi's visit. For instance, those who were afforded the opportunity to interact with Xi have been in a "closed loop", with multiple covid-19 testing, as well as isolating in hotels for several days. Xi also apparently did not shake hands with anyone during his time in Hong Kong.
Both mainland China and Hong Kong have been pursuing "zero-Covid" strategies for the past two years. However, Hong Kong, like many parts of the world, had encountered a severe outbreak of the disease earlier in the year.
Currently, the city is enduring a rising case load, while Macau is also fighting an outbreak, with the city requesting assistance from the mainland. Reuters reports that officials in the city are requiring residents to take three more Covid tests. Since mid-June, 12,000 people have been put in quarantine, while 852 cases have been reported.
In addition, the tough restrictions on internal and external travel have hurt the city economically, causing some to cast doubt on its position as a global city, while its competitors around the world have largely opened themselves up to international travel.
This incident has revealed that even in the strictest of measures, and with the most careful planning, the virus has still been able to penetrate preparations.
As of now, Ho has informed the Hong Kong authorities and is isolating at his home.
Top Image by Information Services Department via RTHK & Steven Ho Chun-yin/Facebook