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Coronavirus

Hong Kong lawmaker who met Xi Jinping tests positive for COVID

Steven Ho had tested negative before meeting Chinese president on Thursday

Chinese President Xi Jinping was making his first trip outside the mainland since the beginning of the pandemic. (Pool photo via Reuters)

HONG KONG (Reuters) -- A Hong Kong lawmaker who met President Xi Jinping during a rare visit by the Chinese leader to the territory last week said he tested positive for COVID-19 two days after the meeting.

Steven Ho, who is part of the city's largest pro-Beijing party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday and has self-isolated, according to an announcement on his Facebook page on Sunday.

Ho said he tested negative for the virus on Thursday, the day he was shown in a photo with Xi, displayed by local broadcaster RTHK.

Xi was in Hong Kong to mark the 25th handover celebration of the territory to the mainland from Britain and swear in the city's new leader John Lee. It was his first public trip outside the Chinese mainland since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Ahead of Xi's visit to Hong Kong, officials ramped up coronavirus testing and quarantine protocols along with a massive security force, blocking roads and the airspace around the picturesque Victoria Harbour.

China adheres to a "zero COVID" policy which aims to eradicate all outbreaks, at just about any cost, running counter to a global trend of trying to coexist with the virus.

Xi's visit to Hong Kong was his first since 2017, when he swore in outgoing leader Carrie Lam and stayed in the city for the duration of his trip.

During last week's visit he came into Hong Kong on Thursday and Friday but stayed overnight in neighboring Shenzhen. The whereabouts this time, and the reasons why he may have chosen Shenzhen, have not been officially confirmed.

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