Hong Kong officials test positive for Covid, casting doubt over Xi's potential visit
Banners mark the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China in Hong Kong on June 23.
Hong Kong CNN —Two top Hong Kong officials have tested positive for Covid-19, potentially derailing any chance of an official visit from Chinese leader Xi Jinping next week to mark the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover to China.
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang and director of the Chief Executive’s Office Eric Chan both tested positive through nucleic acid tests and are undergoing isolation, a Hong Kong government statement said on Thursday.
Their infections raised concerns over a potential visit by state leaders for the city’s July 1 celebrations, which include the swearing in of Hong Kong’s new leader and the anniversary of its 1997 handover from British rule.
It also casts doubt on the robustness of the city’s “closed-loop” arrangement, which requires officials to avoid public engagements and enter quarantine ahead of the planned ceremonies.
Xi has not left mainland China since the outbreak of the pandemic more than two years ago.
And although whether he will attend the handover ceremony remains a tightly guarded secret, the Hong Kong government has started to prepare for the arrival of a delegation of state leaders from across the still largely sealed border with the mainland.
Top Hong Kong officials entered the closed loop system on Thursday, under which they can only travel between home and work by private vehicle and must spend a night in a quarantine hotel on the eve of the handover anniversary.
“Mr Tsang and Mr Chan last went to work on June 22 and June 20 respectively.
They wore masks and followed relevant disease prevention measures at work, including rapid antigen tests conducted daily with negative results obtained.
The statement made no mention of the two officials’ symptoms.
2 official on July 1, as incoming Hong Kong leader John Lee takes the helm.