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Hong Kong leader tests positive for COVID-19 on return from APEC summit

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Hong Kong leader John Lee tested positive for COVID-19 on his return from an Asia-Pacific summit, the city’s government said Monday, days after he met Chinese President Xi Jinping and other heads of state.

Lee visited Thailand’s capital Bangkok last week to attend a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, with his office saying he tested negative on rapid antigen tests for all four days he was there.

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“The Chief Executive is undergoing quarantine in accordance with the guidelines provided by the Centre for Health Protection,” a government statement said.

The APEC summit was Lee’s first overseas trip since the pandemic began nearly three years ago, as well as his first since taking office as Hong Kong’s chief executive in July.

Lee met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Vietnamese President Nguyen Phuc and several other senior officials at the forum.

At the informal leaders summit on Friday, Lee sat between Xi and Widodo, with all three unmasked.

The trip aimed in part to revive Hong Kong’s status as a regional financial hub, after the city was effectively cut off from the rest of the world through the pandemic due to strict quarantine requirements for incoming travelers.

The government has relaxed restrictions in recent months, scrapping mandatory hotel quarantine and reducing the number of compulsory tests for arrivals.

Masking remains mandatory in public places, with residents required to check-in on a government-run app at dining and entertainment venues.

Lee’s office said he would continue to work from home during his mandatory isolation period, and that members of his staff who travelled with him had tested negative.

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