Xi Jinping in Covid scare during Hong Kong handover trip

Sum Lok-kei in Hong Kong – 5h ago

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AHong Kong legislator who appeared in a group photo with Xi Jinping during his visit to the territory has said he has tested positive for Covid, as Macau kicks off a new round of city-wide coronavirus testing.

© Provided by The GuardianPhotograph: Selim Chtayti/AP

In his first trip outside mainland China since the pandemic began, the Chinese president stayed for less than 24 hours in Hong Kong and met only people who had undergone quarantine.

But Steve Ho, a legislator from the pro-government Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, revealed on Sunday that he had tested positive for Covid, a day after he met Xi.

Ho said he tested negative for Covid on 30 June, when he and other local politicians met Xi. In footage released by the Hong Kong government, Ho was seen standing two rows behind Xi when the group had pictures taken. The participants were masked.

Related: UK scientists warn of urgent need for action on vaccines to head off autumn Covid wave

Ho later tested positive, on 1 July, and refrained from attending events celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s transition from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Related video: Xi Jinping visits Hong Kong (Sky News Australia)

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Xi Jinping visits Hong Kong

Hong Kong continued to have close to 2,000 new Covid cases a day, but its new chief executive, John Lee, said he had no immediate plans to conduct universal testing.

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Lee said universal testing should be done at the start or towards the end of an outbreak. For now, he thought testing close contacts and people who had been in premises with confirmed cases was enough.

He also said there was no timeline to shortening Hong Kong’s seven-day inbound quarantine.

Meanwhile in Macau, officials kicked off a new round of city-wide Covid testing on Monday for its more than 600,000 residents, as officials raced to contain the worst outbreak to hit the world’s biggest gambling hub since the pandemic began.

Macau has only one public hospital, whose services are already stretched on a daily basis.

The move comes as the former Portuguese colony reported 90 new cases on Sunday, taking the total number of infections to 784 since the middle of June. More than 11,000 people are in quarantine.

All non-essential government services are shut, schools, parks, sports and entertainment facilities are closed and restaurants can only provide takeaway services.

Casinos are allowed to remain open but most staff have been asked to stay home, in line with instructions to the city’s residents. The government said it would not shut casinos to protect jobs.

The stringent measures come after Macau has been largely Covid-free since an outbreak in October 2021.

With Reuters

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