A Hong Kong lawmaker who appeared in a group photo with Xi Jinping during his visit to the area has said he has tested positive for Covid as Macau begins a new round of city-wide coronavirus tests.
On his first trip outside mainland China since the start of the pandemic, the Chinese president spent less than 24 hours in Hong Kong, only meeting people who had been quarantined.
But Steve Ho, a lawmaker with the pro-government Democratic Alliance for the Improvement and Progress of Hong Kong, revealed on Sunday that he had tested positive for Covid, a day after meeting Xi.
Ho said he tested negative for Covid on June 30, when he and other local politicians met with Xi. In images released by the government of Hong Kong, Ho was seen two rows behind Xi as the group had photos taken. The participants were masked.
Ho later tested positive, on July 1, and did not attend any events marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s transition from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
Hong Kong still had nearly 2,000 new Covid cases a day, but the new chief executive, John Lee, said he had no immediate plans to conduct universal testing.
Lee said universal testing should be done at the beginning or toward the end of an outbreak. For now, he thought it was enough to test close contacts and people who had been inside buildings with confirmed cases.
He also said there was no timeline to shorten the seven-day quarantine in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, officials in Macau on Monday began another round of city-wide Covid testing for the more than 600,000 residents as officials rushed to contain the worst outbreak to hit the world’s largest gambling hub since the start of the pandemic.
Macau has only one public hospital, whose services are already stretched daily.
The move comes as the former Portuguese colony reported 90 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections since mid-June to 784. More than 11,000 people are in quarantine.
All non-essential government services are closed, schools, parks, sports and entertainment venues are closed and restaurants are only allowed to offer takeout services.
Casinos are allowed to remain open, but most employees have been asked to stay at home, in line with instructions to residents of the city. The government said it would not close casinos to protect jobs.
The strict measures come after Macau has been largely Covid-free since an outbreak in October 2021.